Dealing with a Miscarriage

11036339_10153964321348475_5450913379786268348_nEvery time I thought about sitting down to write this post, I found an excuse not to. I wanted to avoid it. Maybe I didn’t know exactly what to say. Maybe I felt like this would make it more final.

On Friday the 13th March at eight weeks pregnant we met with our Fertility Specialist who confirmed that my pregnancy was no longer viable and I would miscarry. She told me that due to the stage of the pregnancy that I was in I would have to miscarry naturally (as the Doctors don’t like to perform a d&c unless it’s necessary) and they weren’t sure when this would happen but it would possibly be in the next few weeks. The idea that I would have to wait around knowing what was coming but not knowing exactly what to expect was scary.

I asked if I would need to cancel a work trip I had coming up. She told me that we could use the trip as a reason to have the procedure – and she set off to refer me to an available gynaecologist. Suddenly I was booked in for the following Tuesday afternoon with the Doctor who I had previously chosen as my obstetrician for this pregnancy. I wasn’t looking forward to going under general anaesthetic but I was relieved that it would be all over soon and that I didn’t have to wait around for the inevitable.

Standing in the gynaecologist-obstetrician’s office for our first appointment before the procedure was emotionally difficult. Seeing all the pregnant women as we walked through the waiting room, and all the photos on the walls of the babies that had been delivered hurt. But the doctor was really lovely and compassionate, and he put my mind at ease regarding the operation.

On the day of the procedure the anaesthesiologist read my chart and saw that I’d been going through IVF. He shook his head and said how sorry he was for my loss. He was so genuinely sorry for me that I had to hold my tears back when I thanked him. After the operation I woke from the anaesthetic and burst into tears, I kept apologising and was embarrassed at my lack of control. But the nurse kept telling me it was ok and talked to me about what I’d been through. Later they let my husband sneak into the recovery room to sit with me which isn’t usually allowed. Everyone’s kindness was very overwhelming. Weeks later I received a letter from anaesthesiologist to say he had discounted his rate for me so that we were left with no out of pocket for his services that day.

For some reason when I think of how compassionate everyone was towards me I tend to cry like I’m doing now – I’m not sure why. There are some really good people around us, that’s for sure.

I wouldn’t describe this experience as devastating. I still get out of bed every morning. I still have some very good days. I still appreciate the wonderful things in my life. But I would describe it as heartbreaking. And it has changed the way I view my life. Sometimes it all just feels so meaningless and lacking purpose – I feel a lot of doubt. So I just keep going, pushing forward each day at a time hoping that those feelings won’t stick around.

It’s been over four weeks since the procedure, and physically I’m feeling completely normal again. My husband and I have plans underway to buy an investment property. It’s an idea which just came to me for no particular reason and it’s something I wouldn’t have considered doing at this time if our pregnancy had continued, only because I would have been so caught up with the anticipation of the baby that it wouldn’t have even been a consideration. It’s giving me something good to focus on as I spend my time reading and researching the real estate market.

My husband and I also decided to book a holiday for just the two of us to Port Douglas in a few weeks. It is much needed and I just can’t wait for the opportunity to spend time together, completely alone, with no rushing around or sightseeing. This will be a real opportunity for both of us to rejuvenate and start fresh.

I’ve also been trying to focus on healthy eating and exercise as I strive to lose three kilos that I put on during my very brief pregnancy. Despite cutting out dessert and other treats it is not budging. I keep expecting it to melt away with little effort but it is still hanging around. It’s quite frustrating but I also realise that I need to be more patient and persistent, so I’ve been working a little harder in the lead up to our holiday.

My husband is doing well. I think he was more upset than me when we received the final news about the miscarriage because he still had hope that everything would be ok. He is much more optimistic than me. But he seems to be really positive again and he keeps telling me he thinks next time will be ‘the one’. I hope he is right.

Now we are back to waiting. My least favourite part of IVF. I need to go through one normal cycle before we can start tracking my hormones again on the second, during which I might be able to go through with the next FET. They say it can take awhile for your body to return to normal after a miscarriage. Once again I just have to be patient.

I still experience moments that remind me about our loss and feel a little sad. For me, I don’t so much feel that I am grieving the loss of a baby because I was still waiting for that first scan and the heartbeat. But I do feel like I’m grieving the loss of our hopes, and the possibility of what could have been. I feel like I’m grieving the loss of a very special moment in our lives – our first pregnancy.

I am also very grateful for many things – the fact that it happened at 8 weeks, and not at 12, 18 or 22 weeks. I’m grateful that we had warning that something was wrong before the first scan. And for the fact that I could have the d&c procedure to get back on track hopefully sooner than it may have been. I’m so grateful for all the kindness and generosity of the medical staff we dealt with. I’m really grateful for my friends and family who supported us, including all of the amazing women on Instagram who have reached out to offer me their kind words when I posted that things weren’t looking good.

And I’m grateful that we have three more embryos frozen.  Although I am a little more wary after this experience and I wonder about their quality, I still have hope that those embryos could become our babies and that I will get to be a mother one day soon.

No smooth sailing 

Our excitement of being pregnant has been somewhat short lived. Last Thursday night I experienced some sudden bleeding. It was such a scary moment. One minute I was pregnant without a worry and the next my whole world felt like it had changed in an instant. I called out for my husband and burst into tears when I told him what was happening.
Luckily he was my rock and he made an executive decision to ring the doctor’s emergency number for me. The doctor said that what I described was not a good sign. She told me to immediately lay down and rest. I had to take the next day off work and she would organise an urgent scan for me. 
There were a few tears that night. The whole thing came as quite a shock to us. I had been having some concern over the fact that I had almost no symptoms and felt like the few I did have were diminishing. But everyone I told would say it was normal and to stop worrying. I think that people feel that’s the right thing to say but I must admit sometimes it leaves you feeling unheard. 
This scan on Friday showed a pregnancy yolk sac but no fetal pole or heartbeat. The lady doing the ultrasound didn’t tell us much. Just that she would expect to see a fetal pole within the next week. 
Because our scan was so late in the day our doctor didn’t get the results before leaving work, so we rang her to ask ‘what now?’. The idea of hanging around for a whole weekend with no direction seemed unbearable. Our doctor said she was very worried to hear there was no fetal pole (in fact in our brief conversation I counted the word ‘worried’ three times). This wasn’t looking good. She instructed me to keep resting and no work while I continued to bleed. She would schedule another scan in a week. 
There were a lot of mixed emotions over Friday and Saturday. A little bit of hope but mostly grief. In my heart of hearts I just don’t feel like this is going to bring us the baby we were hoping for. Today I woke up and I’ve lost a kilo, all my bloating has disappeared. I know this is a bad sign and I feel like I’ve almost come to accept that this is not our turn. 

I spoke to my mum on Friday night and she told me not to get upset because it wouldn’t help. I think she wanted so much to make me feel better and fix my pain but didn’t know what to say. But to be honest over the past couple of days I think crying has been the most therapeutic thing for me. When my sister texted to check if I was ok I knew what she wanted to hear from me. “Whatever is meant to be will be” “these things happen”. So that’s what I would tell my close friends and family I decided. It would make them feel more comfortable as then the wouldn’t need to feel sorry for me. 

And part of me did feel that way – “whatever will be…”. The rational part of me. But the emotional part didn’t necessarily feel  that way at least some of the time. I felt sad, disappointed, hopeless. I knew everything would be ok in the end, but I was frustrated. I felt like “nothing ever goes smoothly for us”. 
I texted a friend who had been through a miscarriage recently, as well as another friend about to commence IVF and was a bit more honest with my feelings. That helped. And talking to my husband helped a lot too. I think he has more hope than me though, so I feel a bit guilty speaking about moving forward and dealing with a miscarriage which hasn’t happened yet. 
I have also worried about work. Its not a good timing to be off sick. I’m working on an important project – a project that’s important to me. I really wanted to do well with it. IVF and becoming a mum is one part of my life but I also care a lot about my job and doing as well as I can. Sometimes it can be difficult to juggle both when things don’t go exactly to plan. I’ve already started to consider the logistics of a miscarriage and what it might mean for work and upcoming travel. 
As much as work has been a concern, on the other hand I think maintaining an interest in other areas of my life has helped keep me sane during this difficult time. While part of my world is kind of falling down, there’s more to me and my life than just that part of it which keeps me going. The pregnancy didn’t define me, if that makes sense? I am still me, and I have other parts of my life to focus on.
This weekend has also reminded me how much I appreciate my husband and our relationship. In between the tears we have still been making each other laugh. It reminds me that no matter what happens we will be ok. We have each other and we’ll always be ok while we are together. It’s easy to forget that our husbands suffer in these situations too, and to accept all the emotional support but forget to check on them. I have to remember to ask him how he is feeling and offer my support more often. 
I don’t know about everyone else who goes through the IVF journey, but I know for me there have been moments where I consider what would happen if it all ends with no baby. How would we be if we just remain childless (well childless between us, we are fortunate to have my husband’s children already part of our lives)? How would that look and would we be okay? I always conclude that we would be. It would be sad, disappointing and downright heartbreaking to not become a mother. But we would still have a fulfilling and happy marriage. We would still have adventures together and find meaning and purpose in our life. It would look different to what we had hoped but it would still be good.
For now we just have to be patient until we find out for sure what is happening. So much has changed in just three days and yet we still don’t know for sure what is going on and how this will end. At least I do know for sure that whatever happens in the end, everything will be ok.

I’m Pregnant!

I’d been warned by those who went before me that peeing on a stick (of the home pregnancy test variety) during the two week wait was addictive. Of course I thought I’d be the exception. By the Thursday that was just eight days past my frozen embryo transfer I had caved in and decided to give it a go.

That afternoon after work I grabbed one of the cheap tests that I had left over from an ovulation kit – which I no longer needed once I started IVF. You know the flimsy sticks that don’t quite look like they’re legit?

Due to my impatience I didn’t strictly time it, but after awhile it seemed obvious that there was no second line appearing, while the control line was very much developed. I felt a little disheartened but my husband assured me he still had faith and suggested we take the dog for a walk to take our minds off it.

I was feeling calm while we walked and chatted but when I returned an urge to check the test one more time came over me. I started digging through the bin like a crazy woman, through all the dirty tissues and empty toilet rolls, I couldn’t find it. Then I saw it – sitting right in front of me on the bathroom bench – with a faint but noticeable second pink line.

 

I called my husband in and showed him, and we just looked at each other with excitement and no words. My hope was restored, but I knew it was very early. Even if it was a true positive it could end in a chemical pregnancy. And as well as that I’d left the test longer than the 10 minute expiration which meant it may not even be valid.

So the next day my husband and I picked up another three pack of the same tests, as well as a First Response Early Result (FRER)  test. Four tests, addicted much? I used the three cheapies over the course of the weekend, and the results were all similar – a very faint pink second line. My habit was now one test a day strong, but I’d gone too far and there was no going back.

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Monday was my birthday, it was one day before my scheduled blood test and I had the single FRER test left in it’s box. I opened it, I peed on it, and I left it for 5 minutes. There it was, a clear second line confirming that I was (at least at this stage) pregnant.

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It was the best birthday present I had ever received. But as it seems with every step of this trying to conceive journey, there was still the next hurdle to worry about. My HCG results. My blood test was on Tuesday, but I still hadn’t heard anything by 3 pm Wednesday. There is no more true a test of patience than that there two day wait!

By this time I decided to just pick up the phone and ring my fertility clinic. The receptionist said she could see my results had come in and she’d just check if there was anyone available to talk to me about them.

Then the nurse came on the phone and she said “Unfortunately your HCG…”. My stomach dropped. “…results haven’t come in yet”. Oh dear god woman don’t do that to me! She followed with “Oh wait, can I put you on hold?” and so she did for what seemed like an eternity (but was probably about two minutes). “We just have them printed out now” she said and then suddenly the hold music started again for what seemed like forever. I wondered if she’d accidentally hung up on me and if I should ring back. But finally she came back, and told me it was good news – I was pregnant! I asked about the ‘numbers’, even though I had no clue what they meant and she told me they all looked good. Another hurdle over!

She then booked me in for an 8 week scan – which isn’t until 13 March. So yet more waiting and hoping that everything turns out ok.

Regarding symptoms – I really have only experienced some tiredness in the evening – but nothing extreme like friends had described to me. Slightly sore boobs, and bloating but not as bad as I sometimes get before my period.

So with more waiting I am continuing my reading, walking, puzzles and cooking and for a little while longer until I can hopefully see a growing baby on that 8 week scan and put my mind at ease – until the next hurdle.

 

 

 

 

 

Activities to keep you sane during the 2WW

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Before I even began IVF I heard from friends who had been through it all before that the two week wait, that period of time between the transfer and blood test results, was by far the most gruelling stage in the process.

Rubbish I thought! How could it be worse than the injections, the hormones, the egg retrieval and recovery? Surely not!

Well now that I am towards the end of my two week wait (that’s 2WW) to the trying to conceive (TTC) veterans, perhaps I can see their point.

For the most part it hasn’t been horrific. But from the moment you leave the procedure you are left feeling like “now what?”. I went through a natural frozen transfer which meant absolutely no medication. So it was literally just wait. And therefore you feel like you have no control and it is all in fate’s hands.

And wait I have. With varying degrees of patience. I have googled every possible pregnancy symptom and absence of symptoms, statistics, forums, you name it I’ve looked it up! But Google isn’t always your friend, it can drive you mad if it doesn’t tell you exactly what you want to hear.

Then there is the swaying back and forth between thinking it may have worked and feeling hope to believing it’s just not possible.

But there have been a few things which have helped me relax and stay sane during this time.

Here are my top 5 activities for the 2WW:

1. Start a puzzle. I haven’t done a puzzle since I was a child, but there is strangely calming and meditative about it. Yesterday I had anxiety and nothing helped until I sat down and became absorbed in my puzzle. I felt better within minutes. Nerdy but true.

2. Reading. A good novel can be a great distraction. And unlike movies, you can’t google and read at the same time.

3. Try a new recipe. There’s something satisfying about mastering a new dish, and it keeps the mind busy.

4. Go for a walk with your partner. A great way to spend quality time together, talk about your concerns and get some fresh air. I have found we end up talking about many different things and our attention naturally drifts from the 2WW without having to force it.

5. Meditation. I recommend this for everyone, regardless of what you are going through. I’ve found I have more time to meditate now I’m not drinking as my favourite time to sit down and do this is right after work and before dinner. I recommend the HeadSpace app if you’re a beginner. It’s very helpful in keeping your thoughts from obsessing about the 2WW.

So tell me what’s have you done to keep busy during the dreaded 2WW? And what helped the most?

The week that’s been

What a strange week it has been since I had my frozen embryo transfer. The six days that have passed feel like weeks.

The morning of the transfer I went to my first acupuncture appointment at 8 am, and returned home to wait for the procedure. My husband had also taken the day off work to spend the day with me. We hung around and watched a movie to pass the time, but I didn’t pay much attention and kept looking at the clock. We left to arrive early so we had plenty of time to find a park and weren’t rushing, but we ended up arriving 30 minutes early so we walked around the hospital for a while.

Then we sat in the waiting room for what felt an eternity but was only about 20 minutes. I was feeling nervous for no particular reason. When we finally got taken into the transfer room we met with the embryologist who told us that the first embryo they thawed hadn’t survived the process but the second one was successful and was looking good. After this transfer it leaves us with 3 embryos in the freezer.

They showed us a photo of the embryo on the computer screen. It which was pretty amazing to know that such a small cluster of cells could possibly turn into our much wanted child.

Once the Doctor came in the whole process was over in a matter of minutes. We were told it was business as usual and to go about life as normal until my blood test results on Tuesday 17 February. It was a surreal feeling to leave the hospital feeling completely the same, but knowing we had an embryo on board which could end up being our baby. After that I returned for my second acupuncture appointment and then went home to relax.

The following couple of days were easy and I even found myself forgetting at times that I could be up the duff. But by Saturday I found myself more consumed by feelings of concern that it may not stick, and that we could be in for disappointing news. I’m not sure how I managed to convince myself within a matter of days that no symptoms meant it hadn’t worked. Rationally I know that’s silly, but your mind does crazy things in the two week wait.

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That night we went to see Angus and Julia Stone perform. During their set Julia decided to sing a song they weren’t planning to. She said that she had sung this particular song at her friend’s wedding many years ago and that same friend had called her that morning which was why she wanted to play it. She dedicated it to anyone in the audience who had been lucky enough to meet someone to have babies with. I held my husbands hand and hoped it was a ‘sign’. I started crying, not sad tears just tears of overwhelming emotion as it just really touched me. This is the song…

On Sunday we decided to get out of the house and walked around a shopping centre for a couple of hours, and went to see American Sniper at the cinema that afternoon as a distraction. It seems like distraction is the key in this two week wait.

In the past six days I have swayed so many times between thinking ‘it may have worked’ or ‘we could be pregnant’ to ‘surely we couldn’t be that lucky the first time’ and ‘I would have felt at least something by now’ and googling all the things – thinking if I can just find something which aligns with my experience it will make me feel better, for at least ten minutes.

At least I’m half way there. My thoughts are with all the other women who are in the middle of their two week wait, wishing and hoping and waiting for their ‘Big Fat Positive’, or even the women waiting to get to their two week wait. May 2015 be our year x

Tomorrow’s the Day

I finally received notice yesterday afternoon that my frozen embryo transfer is scheduled for Wednesday. I felt so emotional when I received the message that I felt tears prick my eyes. It’s finally happening. My husband was just as excited as I was when I picked him up and he read the message.

When I got home I texted one of my close friends in Brisbane. I’d seem on Facebook that she had chosen the venue of her wedding and I wanted to congratulate her and hear how the plans were going. I also knew that she had been trying to fall pregnant since the last half of 2014 and I asked her how everything was going.

When she told me she was 8 weeks pregnant the tears returned. I am so excited and happy for her. And the thought that we could possibly be going through pregnancy with our first children together left me feeling overwhelmingly joyous. I told her about my FET on Wednesday and she was just as excited for me as I was her.

This morning she sent me a photo of parsley in her garden with the message below. It really does make a big difference to have friends who are so kind and supportive along this journey.

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I emailed my mum this morning to let her know we would be having the transfer tomorrow. She told me that she’d already bought a little outfit for our baby. I told her that it was ok because I had already bought one on the weekend too – just between us. When she went on to describe what she had bought I couldn’t believe it – we’d chosen exactly the same outfit from the same store – over 3,000 km’s away from each other.

I have spent so long convincing myself at each point of the IVF process not to get my hopes up. But at this stage it is becoming almost impossible not to get butterflies in the anticipation of what could be.

It is a surreal feeling to think that I might be officially pregnant in a couple of weeks. I also know rationally that it is statistically a 50% chance of success and therefore a 50% chance of… not success (failure seems like an ugly term to use when discussing fertility).

And even if we so get the news of a positive blood test, each pregnancy has a 20% of miscarriage. So I accept that this might not be it for us, but I am still allowing myself to be optimistic.

As is the case of the entire IVF journey All we can do is wait and accept what happens as it comes to us.

Waiting for a Frozen Embryo Transfer

I read this post yesterday on the blog Uncomfortably Optimistic about the IVF process being one big waiting game. I certainly relate. It feels like the IVF process could be broken down as the following in pie graph form:

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I’m currently in the middle of a natural Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) cycle. Today was my third blood test this week and on Monday it will be my fourth. I met a lady in the waiting room on Tuesday who is also in the middle of IVF and she was on her fifth blood test for the week. Another thing I have learnt on this journey is that there is always someone worse off than you.

Even though it’s not the most pleasant thing to be getting needles stuck in your arm every second day, I would still prefer to be in this stage of the process than I was a week ago, when I was waiting for Tuesday to get here so I could start my blood tests. And I’d prefer to be where I was last Tuesday than where I was in December when I was told I’d have to wait until January to even start our next cycle. Patience is one of the most important attributes at getting you through the IVF process.

Once  the transfer takes place there will be more waiting, and the type of waiting which I’ve been told by IVF veterans is the worst kind – the dreaded TWO WEEK WAIT… the wait before it’s time to do a pregnancy test. I guess I will cross that bridge when we (finally) get there. It still hasn’t completely sunk in that I will be having one of my frozen embryos returned to me possibly this week or the week after.

Apparently the procedure is simple – one of the easiest parts of the process. I’m nervous about what may lie ahead – whether we will have to deal with disappointment or an exciting (but nerve racking) positive pregnancy test. But I will just have to be patient and wait for that when it gets here.

Australia Day – My favourite Australian destinations

Since it is Australia Day I thought I’d post about some of my many favourite places in this beautiful nation, of those that I have been fortunate enough to visit so far.

I’ve only chosen a few but I could fill a book about my favourite places, because I tend to fall in love with everywhere I go.

Gunbalanya (Oenpelli), Arnhem Land, Northern Territory

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I have so many favourite spots in the Top End. I’ve been living here for the past 6 years and have had plenty of opportunities to explore (and still so many places to see). I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to travel to some remote Aboriginal communities in my previous job. I have met some of the most fascinating, inspiring people and have been fortunate enough to have them share their stories and culture with me.

I travelled to Gunbalanya as a tourist when my parents were visiting. My husband and I took them out to Kakadu and we booked into a tour while we were there. We climbed the big hill in the photo above and learnt about the aboriginal art work. It was really magical – definitely a special part of the Top End.

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Nitmiluk Gorge, Northern Territory

My most recent trip to Nitmiluk was just last week, when my husband and I drove down from Darwin to stay at the relatively new Cicada Lodge, situated on the Katherine river right near the start of Nitmiluk Gorge (otherwise known as Katherine Gorge).

The photos below are from a canoe trip we did in 2013.

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Nitmiluk Gorge is by far one of my most favourite places in the world. I’ve been down the first few gorges a few times on cruises, and once by canoe. There is something simply magical about this place. You can almost sense all the ancient history that has passed by the magnificent, tall gorge walls. And when you’re canoeing down the gorges in silence you feel like you’re not alone as the walls, the trees, the water, the wildlife, the history is alive and all around you.

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Mount Beauty, Victoria

This place is special to me because it is where my husband grew up for the first eight years of his life. His family still have the house here where his grandparents lived, where he lived and would visit every school holidays as a young boy right through to adulthood.

The name is absolutely spot on because it is just simply beautiful. The first time my husband took me here we did a leisurely road trip through small country towns.

We stopped at Myrtleford where my husband was born and we visited his father’s grave who had died tragically at the age of 26 in a car accident – the same year my husband was born.

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Mount Beauty is popular in winter as it’s close to the ski fields including Falls Creek and Mount Bogon, but both times I have visited it has been summer and equally stunning. Enclosed by mountains and featuring a big lake, it’s very picturesque and my photos don’t do it justice.

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We once took the children for a week after Christmas and we enjoyed fishing, swimming, playing lawn bowls and checking out a surprisingly impressive fireworks display on the local school oval for New Years Eve.

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This place is particularly special to me because of what it means to my husband.

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McLaren Vale, South Australia

My first trip to South Australia was only last year when my husband and I travelled down to catch up with some of our closest friends.

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We stayed in Adelaide and visited the Adelaide Hills and McLaren Vale wine regions which were stunning. We were blessed with beautiful weather. The green rolling hills contrasted with the crystal clear blue skies.

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Wine tours are always a lot of fun, and I love to learn about the region, the wines and the wine making process from each of the vineyards. I hope to go back to South Australia soon to check out the many other regions.

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How about you? What are some of your favourite places in this great southern land?

Why I don’t just want to have a baby.

When I was little girl I had three cabbage patch dolls who I named Christine, Teresa and Danielle, and I loved to dress them up and pretend they were my babies. I was fascinated by babies and toddlers – they were cute tiny people who did the funniest things.

The fascination kind of dwindled through my teen years and after a while it really just seemed that babies were a lot of hard work. When I was in my early 20’s I used to joke that I would only become I parent if I could adopt an 8 year old – when they would be capable of wiping their own arse.

When I met my husband he told me he’d had a vasectomy but would have it reversed “for the right person”. I was 26 and didn’t know whether I wanted to ever have a baby. I thought logically I had to cover my bases – just in case – and I told him that maybe… one day… I might… possibly… consider… thinking about having a child. I wasn’t sure but part of me wanted to keep the topic ‘open for discussion’ at some stage down the line.

Not long into our relationship my husband seemed to know for sure, without a doubt that he wanted to have children with me. And that was an amazing thing to hear someone to say, a real compliment. I would tell him I also wanted to have a child – and part of me really did – but to be honest on the inside another part of me was still so unsure.

I started to see babies everywhere and boy aren’t they adorable! I could imagine myself nursing my own baby, and my husband and I basking in it’s cuteness, laughing at all the hilarious things it would do – like the way it would bop along to our favourite songs, blow raspberries and waddle around like a miniature drunk person. And by this stage the ideas of nappies or sleepless nights didn’t even bother me anymore.

But there was something else which was causing me doubt. By now I was knee deep in step-motherhood… and it was a little bit like experiencing the preview.  In my front row seat… almost right up there on the stage… I experienced the reality of parenting as a life long commitment and shitty nappies paled in comparison to the fear this induced.

The hard work didn’t all suddenly end once the baby was sleeping through the night, or off to school or even when they are old enough to wipe their own arse. I was living the school runs and homework, sweaty teenagers, schoolyard dramas and not to mention the fussy eating. Oh the fussy eating!

Even leisure time poses problems. Holidays become really bloody expensive holidays. Sure I love spending my money on travelling and I’m quite happy to fork out for the 5 star suite over a backpacker hostel any day. But I’d never paid for FIVE flights in the middle of SCHOOL HOLIDAYS before.

The guilt… oh my god the guilt!! Trust me mums – us stepparents experience it too at least on some level. I was forever wondering if I was good enough…

The never ending pairs of broken school shoes, and school bags. The NEVER ENDING colds and flues and stomach bugs.

The worry of whether they will complete high school and find meaningful jobs instead of the only obvious alternative outcome which is falling out of school into the wrong crowd leading to a crack addiction and dependence on petty crime to pay for their habits.

After a couple of years of this step-parenting gig I started to wonder if I was cut out for having a baby after all. Because having a baby is not just having a baby. It is a lifetime of worry and fear and hard work and financial responsibility.

For some time I just contemplated and let this concept sink in. Almost subconsciously the ideas marinated. Every now and then I would weigh things up in my mind – the positives and the negatives, the what-if’s, the fork in the road and the two pathways I could take.

Somehow over time just as I saw my step-kids grow and I experienced the highs and lows with them, alongside it the worry, the stress, the concerns began to fade.

I was already doing the school runs, and the sweaty teenagers and the broken shoes and the never ending illness and I was surviving.

I learnt to deal with the guilt and the self doubt and I learnt from it. I got through the schoolyard dramas and gave the advice that I wasn’t sure was any good and I would critique myself for the following week. But I survived.

I struggled through grade 5 maths homework which made me wonder how I’d ever earned myself an honours degree when I couldn’t even work out how to bloody divide fractions. And stuff me if I knew how to explain it… I’m pretty sure the only memorable thing I have ever taught my stepchildren is that the saying “let’s google it” can be applied to every single problem that man kind will ever face. But we survived.

At some stage through the mundane, repetitive, stressful, expensive, guilt ridden existence that any kind of parenting is – I don’t even remember when it happened but at some stage – I realised that I didn’t want a baby after all. I wanted to be a MUM.

I don’t want to just pick out pretty décor for a nursery or hold y baby which is so adorable I want to eat her toes. I don’t want to just marvel at how my husband and I had possibly managed to create something so perfect and miraculous.

I want to be a mum farewelling my son on the first day of school, full of fear (that’s me, not him) and wondering how the hell it all went so fast. I want to have that difficult conversation about why the kids at school can be cruel sometimes, but that it’s all going to be ok. I want to shake my head at the fact that we have to buy yet another pair of school shoes, how can you possibly be growing out of them so fast?

I want to help my daughter through her struggles at high school, encourage and assure her of her talents and strengths. I want to be a role model who shows them that they can achieve anything they want – even if that means that I have to convince myself of it first.

I want to book those bloody expensive flights so we can all go on a holiday and create memories that they won’t appreciate until they are well into their 30’s. I want to stand beside my husband and experience all the high and lows together – the pride, the love, the frustrations and heartache.

It was only until I realised how hard it was going to be that I knew for sure that I was ready to have a baby.

But I don’t just want a baby. I want to be a mum.

Taking Action

I’ve had a strange week. Not in the sense that anything unusual has happened. More in the sense that nothing unusual has happened.

By now if everything had gone smoothly with the IVF I would be in the middle of my ‘two week wait’, possibly pregnant and probably being driven crazy wondering if I was.

But instead I am back to my standard daily routine. I can have a wine, I can relax a little. But I haven’t particularly enjoyed the wine as much as I thought I would and I don’t feel particularly relaxed.

When I was really sick, in the middle of the OHSS, I was looking forward to the break from IVF. Time to refresh before the next chapter begins.I thought it would be really good for me both physically and mentally.

But I’m just feeling… blah.

I can’t even define how I feel. Bored? Lost? Stagnant? Frustrated?

And I don’t think it’s just about the delay in trying to become pregnant. I can deal with that. I don’t feel particularly sad or disappointed about it specifically. Just feeling… blah.

Perhaps it is the readjustment of going back to how things were before we started IVF which has me a bit frazzled. It was all go, go, go… then nothing. Or maybe it’s the hormones messing with me.

The kids came back to our place on Monday as we have them every second week. I feel blah about that too. I assure you I’m not a wicked stepmum, I usually love having them around, and it’s not them who are the issue – I think it’s just the continued return to normality and weekly routine which is weighing on me.

I’m feeling a bit disengaged.

I just feel like there is a whole lot of nothingness to my life right at this particular point in time. I have Christmas parties coming up, and family visiting in a matter of weeks, so much work to do around the house including painting and renovations to finish. But it all just makes me feel ‘meh’.

Perhaps the answer is to simply throw myself into everything I want to achieve and never do.

Fitness and health, my Life Coaching studies, the aforementioned renovations, working on this blog. Time to take action and finish this year with a big bang!

God knows it’s been a challenging year. So instead of wallowing in my ‘blah-ness’ it calls for a whole lot lot of ‘snap the hell out of it’ and let’s make this time worthwhile. I feel the need to show myself that I can do whatever the hell I want to do and get it done!

Prove to myself I can achieve anything I put my mind to. And put myself first. That one is a big one for me and something I struggle with big time.

So yesterday afternoon when I got home instead of rushing to put dinner on or chat to the kids or do washing I went straight to my room and put my gym gear on. I jumped on the treadmill for the first time in months. I’d been too scared to do any exercise when we started IVF in case it affected our outcome. And ok let’s be honest, it was an easy excuse….

Getting on the treadmill – I walked and I ran a bit – easing my self into it after what my body has been through. I did some tricep dips and sit ups and push ups.

It felt really good and my mood was instantly lifted – no exaggeration. I felt strong and I felt proud.

I can do anything I put my mind to and I don’t have to wallow in a life on pause. I can make the next few months be whatever I want them to be.

The only thing I needed to change was the boundaries I place on myself in my own mind.