Month Thirty-Four

Dear Husband,

Well May will certainly go down as a month full of ups and downs and all arounds. This was a big one for us. Intense lows, significant highs, a birthday, mother’s day and two lots of long distance travel besides. I definitely can’t say that I wish the month hadn’t happened but I can say that I’m not ready to repeat it in the near future. I guess it kind of highlighted a few things for us though. Like whilst we’re probably ok at dealing with most things…eventually, we are not especially gifted at dealing with them right when they blow up. The 12 week Nuchal Translucency Scan was a case in point.

Going into this, we had no real fear or notion that things might go any other way than without a hiccup. People had previously told me “I’d be surprised if you pulled a bad number” and I seemed to have had a comparatively easy run so far in this pregnancy caper. And then we got news that scared the bejeezus out of us. And I had no idea what you really thought. I knew “worried” and “unhappy” but beyond the surface emotions that anyone would expect, I couldn’t figure out what you really felt. I felt that I tried to talk to you about it. I tried to bring up the topic a couple of times and it seemed to me that every time, you shut me down. You told me on more than one occasion that you were trying to be “strong” for me but my overwhelming impression was more that you were being “silent” instead.

I was scared out of my mind. I was terrified that something was wrong. I was also frightened that nothing was wrong but that given how easily this blindsided us, something else could be just around the corner waiting to pounce. Whilst I think I’m strong enough to cope with a lot though, a special needs child was never part of my “plan” for motherhood, especially not from day 1, and I didn’t know how to process that possibility (or potentially that reality). I was in a complete tailspin whilst I was trying to stay calm and optimistic that the tests would come back and say that I had nothing to worry about (apart from the bank balance!), and I really wanted to talk to you about it all but I didn’t think that you would be comfortable with that. And in a way you probably wouldn’t have been. “Comfortable” that is.

Given that fact that I was already pregnant and hormonal, there was no way I was going to have a conversation about what was going on without tears. I still find it slightly difficult to have a conversation about what went on between us (now that we are over that particular hurdle) without tearing up a little. But I desperately wanted to talk to you about it at the time and I didn’t think that you would let me. As we have discussed it since I know that this was not your intention at all. You were on an emotional rollercoaster yourself but you thought I was the one more comfortable with things being left unsaid. You would have tried to discuss it with me had you known that I wanted to talk it through but it seems I didn’t make it clear enough. So I think we both get an “F” for communication on that one.

The rest of the month was fortunately somewhat less dramatic. Towards the beginning of the month we went down to my parents place for mother’s day and cooked up a tapas feast which was fun. Well at least I thought so. I apparently managed to fall asleep for half the prep work though (you don’t understand how much effort it takes to grow a person, dude!) and I wasn’t the one who singed my arm hairs off whilst lighting the gas BBQ. Please try not to blow yourself up in future. The food was great however and I think mum enjoyed her “home cooked meal”. There was more than enough to go round by the end of it and with one less person drinking the wine on offer seeing as I am no longer allowed to indulge, there was all the more wine for you too. Which was also the case on your birthday dinner.

I had grand ideas for your birthday this year. It was your 30th and also the last time we would be just the two of us without having had kids. I thought it would be great to have a big party with lots of friends. We could have had it at ours or at another venue but I thought it would be fun to do something major. Eventually though, I did realise that my initial thoughts for a large celebration were more for me than for you. You favour intimate events over big or flashy ones and you’re “not big on birthdays” as you keep telling me (which if you insist on feeling for yourself then I can’t stop you but I’m secretly hoping that “Button” takes after me and does get excited). We therefore entertained notions for a while of going away to the Hunter Valley for the weekend so I could drive you around the wineries. After a couple that we had invited to join us were unable to make the trip however, we decided to join them in Melbourne instead. And I got to drive everyone to the Macedon Ranges wineries.

It was a fun long weekend though, for me and for you I think. It was unfortunately preceded by you suffering from the flu for a few days which turned into a cold whilst we were away however. You were definitely not at your most perky for the whole trip (especially when the airline managed to get our luggage all wet) but you seemed to come into your element at Curly Flat Winery which you fell in love with, the Holgate Brewery which you have been hanging out to visit for ages and on the evening we spent for your official birthday dinner at Portello Rosso and Murmur. Since I was only allowed to enjoy the food and not the alcohol that weekend, I will admit that the food at the tapas restaurant was pretty damn good. And watching you at the end of the night was hilarious because you, my dear, were absolutely hammered! It was really the perfect evening out, especially as we had a third couple at dinner who made for more excellent people at the table.

By the end of the weekend though (and even through some parts of it), I was exhausted. The pregnancy is still taking a lot out of me energywise and it also appears that you delightfully have passed your cold on to me. So now of course, I’m sick and tired but I have to just suck it up because unlike you, I am not allowed to take either cold & flu tablets or the mini pharmacy you have had with you over the past ten days made up of zinc, ginger, Echinacea and multivitamin pills. Hopefully this passes soon and then we can maybe enjoy some time together when we are both fully on deck?

Other than that this month, we went to see a friend with a newborn so that I could take photos and we went to a Medieval Fayre to watch the international jousting tournament (not to mention the fencing, sword fighting, musket shots and other assorted visual oddities for Doonside). I got some great shots at both so I was pretty happy. The puppy got accosted by everyone at the Fayre so I think he was a bit overwhelmed (I also think we were an attraction in and of ourselves). I’m not sure whether it would be cruel to make him like a horse coat to wear to next year’s event or cool…and you…well I think you had a good time too. It does occur to me though that despite doing a lot of things together this month, we were perhaps actually just doing them at the same time.

I think both of us in our own ways try to talk to the other without putting in enough effort to realise that we’re approaching things in the wrong way – or at least not the best one. When I first see you after you pick me up at the station each night I like to talk to you about your day. Theres no TV to be missed or puppy trying to put a half chewed pigs ear on your lap and I can talk whilst driving so it seems like the perfect time to get your attention. You prefer to not have the distraction whilst navigating through traffic at night however and tend to save anything more complicated than “do we need to go to the supermarket” till later. Occasionally I might try to strike up a conversation at home that’s a bit more in depth but the aforementioned distractions are pretty detrimental (the tv was even on mute last night and you were still vague and half tuned out!).

Then we get to the end of the evening when you’re relaxed and I’m a couple of points away from comatose. We get into bed and I’m lights out and off to the land of nod to which I occasionally get a disgruntled “you’re just going to go to sleep then are you?”. Or sometimes you try to chat to me on the way to dropping me at the station when I’m a) not quite awake yet, b) mentally prepping myself for work and not my marriage, c) slightly peeved that no matter how many times I try to tell you that I’m not the nicest person in the morning, you still get offended if I’m short with you and d) frustrated that you choose now of all times to have a conversation that it is impossible for me to continue to its natural conclusion without us both being late for work. Our timing apparently sucks.

And it doesn’t make it any better that I have had a lot more going on at work and you have been wishing that you have. When I started my current job, I used to be in at 8:30am and by 5:15pm I was winding up and watching the clock till it seemed a decent time to leave without feeling like I was skiving off. Since we moved to the new office however and perhaps more so over the last couple of months, I am rarely out the door by 5:30pm and on a number of occasions, not by 6:30pm either. This never seems to go down very well with you however. I fully admit that I may be reading things into the situation that aren’t there but I have been feeling more resentment over the situation from you than concern that I might be working too hard. You seem put out that I can’t accommodate you by sticking to a routine. It has been a little frustrating.

But then I am trying to understand that you have been frustrated by your work too. You still want assurances from them that you are heading in the right direction for progression and perhaps promotion. You want to know that they have the same plans for you that you have for yourself but haven’t been able to get that confidence. You have just applied for an internal position that has become available as well. One that you were advised that you were too junior to apply for previously. This time around though you have more time behind you at the company and the commencement of relevant studies (not to mention the support of some individuals in the company already) and I think your equal parts worried that you will get it as you are that you won’t. I have my fingers crossed that whichever way it works out thought it is for the best.

Because I do want the best for you and for us. Despite the fact that I may have seemed a more little self absorbed of late and that I have definitely been less tolerant of situations in general (thats what more hormones will do for you), I am happy that we’re in things together. I think you’ll be a great father and I’m kind of excited about this year could bring.

Happy 30th and here’s to the next 30 (don’t groan!).

Lovingly yours,

Your Loving Wife

* Photo taken at Feathertop Winery on our last trip to Beechworth.

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Week Fourteen

Dear Button,

I’ve never been much of a drinker. Despite growing up around wine, as a teenager I came to wanting alcohol pretty late and even then, I drank for the taste and not the ability to get absolutely wasted. And since in the nightclubs I went to (if you didn’t drink beer) you either got crappy house wine or spirits, I used to drink Baileys or as I now refer to it, tart fuel. Whatever was sweet and not too sickly. Which is fine, but now my palate has expanded a little to encompass red wine and so too has my exposure to said wine. So much so that Sparky and I have started going away to some wineries every year and we even went to some new ones for Sparky’s birthday this weekend. Some very nice wineries where I would have been more than happy to partake of a tasting but I couldn’t because I was pregnant!

Not that I’m blaming you or anything. I’m just saying that this is one of the few occasions (and there have only been a few) that it would have been really nice to have a couple of glasses of wine without feeling guilty that I might be causing you brain damage or something. Which is why I didn’t actually drink this weekend. Just so as you know. I got to be designated driver instead and laugh at Sparky who drank more than enough for both of us. It was his birthday after all…

So yeah, we were away this weekend, in Melbourne. We went down to see some good friends of ours and it was great to get away even though I did get pretty tired. I’m not sure if it was the complete break in routine, being out and about for long periods of time or perhaps the lack of sleep that I was getting because Sparky spent a good couple of days snoring due to being sick but I was exhausted. I also have the sneaking suspicion that I may have caught the cold that Sparky has spent over a week trying to shake. Not much I can do about that however. Literally!

Apart from that, I just thought you might like to know that I really don’t fit into my pants now. Well, except the stretchy ones that is. I have been growing ever closer for a while but I finally had to cave and get one of those belly band things. Jeans are now pretty much out as are the majority of my work pants. I have previously spent a couple of afternoons with some buttons undone underneath long tops and jackets and now due to the belly band, I can actually come to work with my pants undone. An interesting experience. Especially since the band thing that I happened to buy was reasonably tight and has a tendency to ride up – taking the pants with it! I tell you that a wedgie is not really any more comfortable than a waistband cutting into your abdomen. I should be thankful though I guess cause I’m only going to get bigger and then I’m sure I’ll have a whole new set of wardrobe issues to deal with day to day. So…

You are:

  • Beginning primitive breathing motions apparently.
  • Quite possibly mastering the swallowing reflex because you’re probably sucking your thumb.
  • Weighing around 25-30g (which is a whole lot less than I have put on!)

I am:

  • In the possession of a placenta which has reached complete functional maturity (yay me) because it can actually act as your lungs, kidneys, liver, digestive and immune system. You know, just until you get that sorted yourself.

Oh, and we also know your sex now too. I was going to ask last week but I didn’t officially have permission from Sparky to know and I figured it was only right to get that first. I know there are a whole heap of people out there who believe that parents should try and keep this as a surprise for the birth but I’ve never been very big on surprises. I’m also figured that at this point, especially given the testing that I’d gone through, some lab technicians would have known what sex you were, my OB and midwife would have known what sex you were, before too long anyone performing ultrasounds would have known what sex you were and if that many people knew, I may as well know. My mother felt the same way. I think her words were well if you know, I should know too! I also think it makes it easier if people want to pass on clothes and such to us. This way I know if I have to steer clear of pink and dresses for example.

We have actually offered to keep the knowledge from those who would prefer not to know in advance though like your other grandmother and your great-grandmother. So of course Sparky and I are going to have to be really careful about personal pronouns (I have already let one slip to someone else) so we’ll see how that goes. Its certainly going to make some names conversations interesting. Clearly were are no longer all that concerned with identifying names we’d choose for one of the sexes because they won’t apply to you. For those that don’t want to know your sex now however we are going to have to phrase things carefully. Perhaps in terms of names that clearly have a male and a female version. Michael and Michaela, Gabriel and Gabriella…

Alles Liebe,

Lexelah

Week Thirteen

Dear Button,

I don’t even know where to start regarding last week. The beginning would be a logical place I suppose and Monday may as well be the beginning because that was the day that everything went pear shaped. That was the day that we had the Nuchal Translucency Scan scheduled.

Actually, we really had the scan scheduled for the Tuesday but having realised over the weekend that I had double booked myself, duh!, Sparky rose to the occasion and found me an earlier appointment on the Monday. So having already had the requisite blood tests, we trotted off to the clinic to have an ultrasound and an assessment.

The ultrasound was pretty cool. It was one of those 3D ones so not only could we see a bigger you this time around but we could also look at a lot more angles. You didn’t seem that impressed with being pushed and shaken about though because you weren’t very active at all. The technician needed to get you to go for a swim so she could measure the fluid in your neck and I had to shake my hips a couple of times and actually get up and jump around before she could get something she could use. But get something she did though and then we had to wait around for the assessment.

Now Sparky and I were expecting this to be a formality. We knew that all the tests and results would be combined and that we would be given a ratio for each of the three big things (Downs, Trisomy 13 and 18) that tend to be known abnormalities at this stage. A lot of our friends had received numbers like 1:20,000 or 1:8,000. We were told that as far as the clinic was concerned, they were not concerned about any number that higher than 1:300. Apparently our results however were outside of the norm. Your neck measurement was 2.4 which was a little higher than their allowed range. In addition to which my PappA and HCG levels in my blood were slightly out of whack. The good thing was that they could clearly see your nasal bone which is often underdeveloped at this stage for a downs foetus. When everything was put together though, the ratio we got for Downs was 1:16 and it scared the pants off us.

Now someone else might be able to look at that number and say you still have about a 94% chance that everything is ok and those are pretty good odds. Sparky and I on the other hand were not quite so sanguine. Both of us know that there are no guarantees in life. We know that even if you were born completely healthy and by all common standards “normal”, you may still at some point fall under the auspices of a “special needs” child. I will admit however that I am somewhat selfish and therefore the thought of parenting such a child has never been part of my, for want of a better word, “plan”. I’m not saying that I couldn’t or wouldn’t do it or that I won’t love you just as you are but right then? I personally wasn’t comfortable going forwards blindly worrying that something might not be “right” but not knowing. My first reaction was therefore I want to know, and now. I’m still not quite sure what Sparky’s personal reaction was but his decision was to let me go ahead with whatever I wanted to do and there was a choice.

We could of course have said thank you very much for your time and walked out. We also had the option of getting further tests and they were a CVS or an amniocentesis. For your elucidation, these are roughly as follows:

CVS

  • Entails a needle to the placenta
  • Apparently 99% accurate as does not actually test your personal cells
  • 1:250 chance that the procedure will cause complications/miscarriage
  • Could be done immediately and up to 14 weeks

Amniocentesis

  • Entails a needle to the womb to take amniotic fluid
  • 100% accurate as they are testing your discarded cells
  • 1:400 chance that the procedure will cause complications/miscarriage
  • Can’t be done before 15 weeks

Perhaps because I am impatient or not sure how I would deal with a couple of weeks of uncertainty, we opted for the first option. Immediately. We went from one clinic straight to the next and waited till we could get in to see the doctor. Which was not really a problem except for the fact that I hadn’t peed since before my first ultrasound. After a couple of hours, my bladder was really full and it was not comfortable. I ended up having to let some out and the lady was like ”try peeing for 20 seconds”. My first thought was that if I open the flood gates and pee for 20 seconds it’ll be all over Grover but then I thought maybe she meant a trickle so I tried that for 20 seconds (aren’t you glad I shared) and that seemed to do the trick.

The procedure itself was not really an issue for me. I hate watching needles being poked into me at the best of times and its apparently not much better watching an ultrasound screen than it is watching my own flesh but it actually hurt less than some of the blood tests I’ve had. And the whole thing went off without a hitch which was what we wanted. Then we were just waiting for the results. And the waiting sucked. I’d tear up on the train on the way to work and I’d tear up randomly through the day too. Every time I met someone for work or answered the phone, people would ask as a matter of course “how are you” and I didn’t know how to answer when the last thing I wanted to do was lie. Do I say “I’ll be ok”, “Well I’m still alive”, “Probably better than some so I can’t complain”, “It’s been a rough week but I’ll survive”…? I figured it probably wasn’t a good idea to say “I feel like a steaming pile of turd actually but thanks for asking” so I did feel at a bit of a loss till I got the first results back.

The tests we had done returned the first part to us within 2 days. They checked 5 chromosomes which would return a result on Downs, Trisomy13, Trisomy 18 and the X and Y chromosome. We were a bit of a mess whilst we were waiting for these results but were extremely relieved when they came back all clear. I of course burst into tears afterwards and whilst I was on the phone with Sparky I’m not sure he knew quite what to think (“you cry when you’re upset, you cry when you’re happy, you cry when you’re tired, I can’t keep up!”). The next part of the results we expected the following week. This would tell us if any whole chromosome was missing or even if part of any chromosomes were missing. Apparently though, I was batched with an earlier group by chance and two days after the first results (on Wednesday), we got the final ones (on Friday). All clear. Awesome.

So that was my week. We got some new pictures of you but it could have been better. With all that going on though, I didn’t really notice much in the way of changes or new developments. I think being so stressed I kind of lost my appetite for a while. Which is to say I ate like I used to eat before I was pregnant, not like an insatiable beast that must be appeased. Actually, I’m not that bad when I am eating like a pregnant lady but I definitely did go to eating every couple of hours rather than every hour and a half on the dot. I also just felt drained but that was as much an emotional as a physical thing and perhaps regarding the thoughts around the pregnancy as much as the actual physical pregnancy. I am now looking forward to next week which will hopefully be a bit calmer.

But in case you were wondering about your general development:

You are:

  • About 8.8cm long.
  • Producing insulin in your pancreas.
  • Producing urine in your kidneys.
  • Possessing your own unique fingerprints already.

Oh, and get this, now you also have intestines on the inside of your body. They apparently start developing outside the body, in the umbilical chord, and then sort of…migrate up to their proper home by week thirteen. Biology is weird!

Alles Liebe,

Lexelah

Week Twelve

Dear Button,

You are:

  • About two and a half inches long.
  • Pretty much in possession of every structure, organ and system that you’ll need for life at this point – although they definitely need to be further developed.

I am:

  • In possession of a big-ass uterus right now which as I understand it, is migrating upwards (all the better for my bladder I say, all the better for you to kick me you say).

Well this week it almost got to the point that I could set a watch by my stomach. Apparently I have to eat every hour and a half. Breakfast is at 8:30am and from that point forward, its Game On. If I haven’t eaten again by 10:05am, I am feeling it. Then I need to eat again before noon. And theres no way I’m making it to 5:30pm without two passes at afternoon tea. Especially when it takes over an hour to get home. Whenever I leave the refuel a little too long, my stomach starts to make those rumbling noises, my concentration slowly leaks out of my ears and that uneasy feeling grows like an insidious vine that is both pervasive and constricting until I start to feel ill. Joy.

I have to be careful how much I eat too. I made the mistake of eating a big lunch the other day and paid for it for the rest of the afternoon. So now I am making sure I don’t have too much at the same time as I satisfy the need. Which can be a tricky thing to negotiate at 10:30pm at night. Surely, the last thing I need before I go to bed is to eat carbs and sugar (which is about all that is available in snacking foods at our house) but then again, going to bed feeling like my stomach is in the middle of a panic attack is not my idea of fun. So I usually eat. I’m in training to become a barn.

Oh, I know that I’m supposed to eat more and that I’m also supposed to put on more weight than, well, you but I feel like I’m eating twice as much as I was before which doesn’t seem right. It doesn’t help though that the other side effect of feeling hungry is that I start to salivate. A lot. I can be at my desk or watching tv and I have to make sure my mouth is closed or I swear I’d be drooling like the puppy. Not a pretty look. I try not to think about food but I need to keep swallowing. If I happen to be lying down on the couch it is often more convenient to tip my head back. Its very sad. Pregnancy is so not glamorous. And its definitely not making me feel all mothery yet.

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day (in Australia) and Sparky, bless his cotton socks, wanted to know what I wanted for mother’s day. For being a mother. And I don’t know if it’s the practical/pragmatic part of me that goes well I’m not actually a mother yet so therefore I don’t deserve anything, or indeed the penny pinching part that says I don’t want to spend money we don’t have on something I don’t need right now but I was pretty much against the idea. To me, mother’s day is still about my mum. Mother’s day to me is still about being a daughter. I don’t think I feel ready to identify myself as a mother yet. Don’t get me wrong, I am looking forward to it and I want it but I’m happy knowing that I’ve still got a number of months ahead of me to get used to it. Then if you ever forget mother’s day, boy will I be narked.

Alles Liebe,

Lexelah

Week Eleven

Dear Button,

Well last week there was interesting news with the OB visit but this week you are doomed to disappointment if you were after something vastly entertaining. Basically because nothing much happened. You grew of course. And developed some more no doubt but I wasn’t sick, I wasn’t uncomfortable and I wasn’t anything else unusual or noteworthy. I don’t even remember being especially tired this week. I should therefore be counting my blessings I am sure. So I guess the update this week is as per the below.

You are:

  • The size of a small lemon or a large lime.
  • Apparently moving, dancing, kicking and hiccupping.

I am:

  • The same as last week really.

Which is also to say that I’m still malting all over the place.

My Pregnancy Misconception: One of the things you always hear about pregnant women (in addition to the fact that they are supposed to “glow” and have awesome nails that don’t break and chip all the time) is that they are supposed to have great hair that doesn’t fall out. Now I seem to have been blessed with good nails naturally so that’s neither here nor there and the glowing thing is not something I have noticed but neither is it something that I can say completely does not apply to me at present but in regards to my appearance, I have noticed the hair thing because is not happening…at the best of times, every time I wash my hair, I feel as though half of it falls out! Doesn’t matter what season it is, I seem to have enough hair for a barbie doll every week. I thought getting pregnant might end up fixing that for a season or two but apparently I was wrong. I have since been advised that first trimester is too soon to be enjoying this side effect. Bummer. I’m looking forward to that one.

Alles Liebe,

Lexelah