Yesterday, I was not merely pleased; but ecstatic, surprised, delighted, comforted, jubilant and more than a little bit relieved to be feeling my first real, sustained and absolute peace and acceptance for the wee soul that I’ve been growing for the past few months.
I had a regular checkup conducted by a locum, as my lead midwife is shoveling her own personal piles of poo at the moment the poor lady. The locum (who has been a practicing midwife since the 80’s) confirmed that the baby had rolled and is no longer breech, but facing the direction he ought to be. He is not currently engaged, and I’m measuring and feeling on track, contrary to the scan results, which told us that I am growing a 95th percentile monster baby which will need to come out early. A completely different take on things came from this appointment. Clearly I need to take extra care and be extra vigilant counting movements and so forth, but if he is happy and wiggling, I am very hopeful he will stay put until his due date on my 36th birthday, and perhaps, I can even experience my first (and only) natural labour without being induced. All very heartening news, particularly after a less-than-positive visit to the high-risk maternity clinic last week.
Here I am with our eldest son Daniel at 27 weeks. The kids are all quite excited to meet their new little brother. It is nice to be joining in on their enthusiasm finally
If you haven’t already figured it out, this is going to be an unabashed pregnancy post. So if you can’t handle the jandal, best to tune out now.
For those of you wishing to join me on the journey through this narrative, settle in, as there’s going to be some raw nerves exposed as we wend our way through today’s blog.
This pregnancy has been on the cards since our third child (who will be 4 in June) was born. A much discussed and wanted addition to the family, it took us 18 months of TTC (Trying To Conceive) to get anything more than a chemical positive test.
So why wasn’t I over the moon when the bloods came back confirming we’d managed to plant one that stuck? My reaction was sorrowful, and shameful and a far cry from the picture perfect joy I’d planned to be feeling.
We have three amazing, healthy, happy and very demanding children already. We Love them with all and we are and like them very much as well. They bring joy, laughter, chaos, and even sometimes a sleepy veil of calm into our world that you can only get from children.
I also have an absolutely solid support network, and we are blessed to be able to afford help around the house. We have every intention of getting a full time nanny once the fourth baby arrives.
Happily ever after is my everyday existence, and I should feel blessed to the point of being genuinely giddy just to wake up in the morning surrounded by the safety and security of picket fence perfection. The cherry on top ought to be the fact that we are lucky enough to have a fourth child brewing in my belly and know that we will be able to give them all the love and security they need to be happy and healthy in their journey through infancy, childhood and then life.
I hated, yes hated the idea of another mouth to feed and starting all over again. I was sick, I was tired, I was so resentful it made my skin crawl and my teeth clench. Cognitively, all of this pointed me in a dark direction indeed.
Here’s the thing.
Despite the fact it is still, for the most part, taboo to talk about these less than maternal feelings, it is estimated that one in eight women suffer from some level of pre-natal depression. The symptoms can be mild to completely debilitating. Some women scarcely get out of bed for the duration of their gestation, others have much more severe issues including psychotic episodes or engage in self-harm. Relationships suffer, and there is evidence that there may be a correlation between Pre-natal depression and an increased chance of anxious or depressive tendencies or episodes in the child. Tearfulness, paranoia, self-loathing, hopelessness, despair, even grave thoughts of self harm or, the most unspeakable thoughts about the innocent life you are carrying, and, maybe, just a little bit… wishing it away.
These feelings are real. They are terrifying. They made me hate myself and feel shame and anger because I had every intention of relishing this final experience.
And goodness gracious, what a prat I am to be complaining when I know dozens of couples who have had their hearts broken trying to conceive or losing a child. What the hell is wrong with me? The only reasonable explanation is that I am a terrible person.
Try as I might, I couldn’t feel anything but despair and resentment when cognitively I wanted to feel joy and appreciation.
With support and/or medication (I am not medicated and have never had success with synthetic anti-depressants, but they are a necessity to many people I know and Love) and coping strategy, there is absolutely light at the end of the very dark tunnel.
When the sixth month loomed on the horizon and I realized that the only moments of peace or happiness I felt were when I was too busy to remember that I was pregnant, I accepted that it was time to face the fact something was wrong and out of my control.
I did a bit of research, and after a total melt down at a midwife appointment I was referred to maternal mental health. I did not follow up, however, as I am not keen to take resources away from women who need assistance through the public system. We are covering the costs of our own therapy. Also, quite frankly, I have heard horror stories about intervention backfiring and women being labeled as unfit mothers, or worse, having children taken off them as a result of this illness. That’s a whole other massive kettle of fish I don’t have time to get into today though. Suffice to say, nobody has accused me of being unfit. It has been pointed out to me that I am currently quite a genuine pain in the ass and need a great deal of extra support (which I am absolutely getting) from family and friends to get by. The mental illness is magnified by gestational diabetes (despite doing everything possible to control my sugars and not putting on virtually any weight this pregnancy) and severe anemia. But such is the life of a thirty something year old woman creating a human. Again. Apparently.
I’m lucky enough to be going through this pregnancy at the same time as at least a couple of exceptional women who are struggling with their own mountains of stress. These women are my family. One of them is coping with a toddler, juggling work, and making it through a rough first trimester, exhaustion and stress, pretty much as a single mum as her husband is called away for work for months at a time, and is currently offshore. The other is working 12+ hour days, planning her wedding, suffering with terrible morning sickness, and also just moved house into a more suitable location for welcoming a new baby.
They are coping. I am not at liberty to say whether they are also battling with chemical depression, what I can say though, is that it is nothing short of a miracle that we’re all pregnant at the same time and our children will be given a chance to grow up together and so close in age! The statistical probability of all of this falling into place is actually quite mind-boggling, especially when one takes into consideration the amount of time spent trying to conceive for all of us.
So at 4:30am I sit here with a million other things to do. Attempting to get this blog out and move on with the mountain of things that ought to be done before my husband and I welcome around 200 guests to celebrate Love, laughter, friendship and sustainability (social, marital, environmental, and general) at a big Valentines day vow renewal party to mark more than ten years together.
Which is happening tomorrow. Bugger.
I just wanted to share with you the turning point (ha! It happened when he turned… funny) in how I am viewing the undeniable blessing of welcoming another life into our family.
Yesterday, I found meaning in a bunch of stuff and I found comfort in that meaning. Unlike my husband, I am a fairly spiritual person. I believe that the cycle of life and Love is infinite. I believe the echoes of people we have loved and lost come through genetically, in personality and in spirit in the new lives we welcome. I also believe in astrology (temper your judgments, I think it is cool and that’s my prerogative) This child is due on my birthday, in the year of my Chinese astrological year (year of the horse in case you were wondering). Not sure what the likelihood of that is, but I wouldn’t think it is huge.
This baby has been accommodating beyond imagination since the get go. We had booked a Christmas cruise as a family vacation several months before conceiving this child, and you are not permitted to cruise past 24 weeks gestation. The ship docked at 23 weeks and 4 days gestation, leaving us a whopping three-day window, so we didn’t have to cancel the family vacation.
Here is Grumpy with the children at Luna Park in Sydney Australia
A few days before returning from California where Grumpy was attending a trade-show and Daniel (our oldest son) and I were sightseeing, I called back to Auckland and booked a 4D scan to see his face in the hopes I’d bond with him (didn’t work) and because of the way he was sitting and where all the stuff like the placenta is placed, the stenographer was quite certain we wouldn’t be able to get a clear image. So I rolled onto my side, and viola, he turned around and smiled a peaceful little smile for us that I was able to share with friends and family on social media.
He was still breech the next day at the growth scan at the high risk maternity unit, so I’ve been asking him gently to roll over and face the right direction, and as is customary for this accommodating little man, he turned the night before my fortnightly appointment.
All of this got me to thinking:
He chose us. He chose me. And he’s coming to join us whether it is convenient or not.
And despite cognitively knowing this stuff before, I just couldn’t feel anything positive at the prospect of this until yesterday.
So I will go now and try and get my head around everything and prepare for tomorrow’s party where there will be much belly rubs and pictures with family and friends.
Thanks for tuning in. And if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, reach out. It is more common than you think, and opening up a dialogue with someone who understands will help you both. Not everyone will understand and some will make you feel like a royal asshole, but you aren’t. And with help, you are going to be okay. Even the big bag of crazy sharing this with you managed to pull through.
Much Love to everyone out there today.