The longest third ever

CW – miscarriage talk

It’s 3am and the light of my phone is bathing my face in the otherwise dark room. My partner rolls over to look at me, bleary eyed and probably half asleep.

“Babe. You need to sleep.”

“I’m just looking up the chances of miscarriage at 11 weeks. After a clear Harmony test.” I say this tongue in cheek because I know it will annoy him, but every word of it is true.

“Oh. That’s great.” These words are breathed out in a kind of sigh, and they are blanketed so heavily in sarcasm, I know he is quite awake.

My husband thinks I have a morbid obsession with miscarriages. He’s right. He also thinks that using Google to self-diagnose, and trawling though countless forums about miscarriage experiences is basically the worst thing I could do. He’s probably right about that too. He’d be shocked if he realised the extent to which I have self-diagnosed and trawled though! Whilst I am no member of any forum, such as babycenter.com, I have – no joke – spent hours and hours reading thread after thread of the angst, fear, hope and joy that comes with trying to conceive, failing to conceive, conceiving but losing, and birthing. You should see my Google history.

I started experiencing anxiety after the birth of daughter a year ago. It has waxed and waned, but at the moment is hanging around 24/7. It doesn’t bring panic attacks and it doesn’t stop me from doing things. It could, but I don’t let it. It just physically annoys me and mentally drags me down, like the rock that’s sitting in my chest right now.

I know everyone thinks I should loosen up and stop worrying about miscarriage. But all those people that think that have never experienced what I, and so so many women have experienced. Ours came before our daughter, it was our first pregnancy that we lost. So our daughter is our little rainbow pocket rocket. Getting pregnant again though, now, is an anxious experience of course, but it is somewhat buffered by the existence of our sweet little girl running around me all the time. However, I just assumed that I would miscarry again. I don’t know why, I just did. I told a friend in Mother’s Group, “I just feel like miscarriage is part of my story.” What a terribly pessimistic thing for me to think! But I know I think it for the same reason that women who have lost, fight the urge to get attached to the attachment inside them. Why women don’t announce until they feel sure, so sure, that maybe this one will stick for good. For self-preservation. The friend in my Mother’s Group said that maybe it will always be a part of my story because of the effect it has had on my life, but it doesn’t necessarily leave me doomed to have more.

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Stories of miscarriage can trigger a reliving of my own experience that throws me off for days. When someone close to me lost a pregnancy a year after my own miscarriage, and when I was close to popping out our rainbow, I was sucked into the black hole of grief that had taken me some time to escape. When a pregnant friend had some bleeding and messaged me, concerned, I was of course so worried about her. She was given the all clear, after a doctor offered her an ultra sound to check out what was happening. This threw me into a bizarre emotional rage that my doctor, when I had seen her about my own bleeding and cramping, did not offer me this. She did not even use a foetal doppler to check for the heartbeat… and I know there is one at the clinic! I cried at home, so full of rage and resentment at the realisation that perhaps if my doctor had have performed this simple check, I could have been made horrifically but at least immediately aware that my baby was gone. I could have had the warning. I could have had an operation. I could have avoided losing my baby in the toilet of my workplace, Friday night, sometime between 3 and 4 o’clock when most staff and thankfully all students had gone home.

This fit of regretful, sad rage only lasted twenty minutes or so. I even vowed that next time I saw my doctor I would ask her why she didn’t check my baby’s heartbeat. Did she follow protocol? Why did she just let me go home with basically a “well there’s nothing we can do, except wait and see” prognosis? There is clearly no point – no point – in pursuing this, but for those twenty minutes or so I was completely irrational and angry – I was a different person to who I actually am.

Because we lost our first baby at 10 weeks, getting to this magic number was an all consuming task for me. I counted down, day by day. I waited impatiently for the scan and DNA test we would be doing. My partner came with me on the day, with our one year old. We started the scan, and straight away were presented with a little blob on the screen, heart beating away inside. One sac, not twins, and a good looking little blob.

Then my worst nightmare, the words “Hmmm, this doesn’t look like a ten week old foetus though”. My heart dropped, I stopped breathing. And the voice in my head was saying “It’s dead. It’s gone. You’re gonna miscarry again.” Then another voice, “Stop it Jacqui – YOU CAN SEE IT ON THE SCREEN. There’s a heartbeat.”

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It was 8 and a half weeks. But it was fine. My dates were wrong, with an incredibly long cycle and an astoundingly late ovulation. The receptionist cracked what she thought was a joke, “A week a half early!? Whose fault was that?” I think I muttered something like, “Um, my body’s?”.

We discussed what date to return for the blood test, as we couldn’t do it until I was actually 10 weeks. I stared at the calendar on my phone but didn’t really see it. Tears welled up and my partner whispered to me, “Hey – it’s okay, we just wait a little longer.” I looked him in the eyes which made me tear up even more, “It just took so much for me to get to this week, and now we are being rewound…”

I realised that my entire being of energy had gone into making it to the day we would see our little bean on the screen, see the heartbeat, and see that everything was looking okay. My whole mental and physical capacity had been used up, to get to this moment, and now I was deflated and forlorn.

But everything was fine, I had to keep telling myself, so there really wasn’t anything to be upset about.

And so we went back to 8 and half weeks. I let the weeks pass trying not to dwell too much on the time frame involved. I continued to feel my anxiety constantly, with no let up. All the time. I mentioned to my partner that maybe I should go to the doc, and see if I needed to take something. He pointed out that maybe it would disappear after the 12 scan, that my body was subconsciously on edge, even if I felt like I wasn’t stressing. I went for the 10 week blood test, and had a very, very anxious wait until the results came back a week later regarding Chromosome issues – all clear. Then there was just a week left until the 12 week scan, right in the midst of my family’s December Christmas celebrations. We told everyone that we were expecting, always with the caveat of “So far all looks good, but we are just waiting to see the baby again at the scan in a few days.”

Before the scan, my partner asked if I was nervous. I don’t know why, but I wasn’t. Maybe because I had had shocking nausea for weeks, and so I was pretty reassured that the hormones were still kicking around, and so was baby. I also think that with the extra week and a half, I had fallen into a sort of resignation. Whatever would happen, would happen, and I’d find out very soon.

The doc silently scanned away, checking the screen and taking screen shots and measurements. Just as I was about to ask (probably with some frustration) how everything was looking, she said all the things you want to hear. “Great measurements, looks perfectly normal, healthy looking baby” etc, etc.

And so here we are. We have made it to 14 weeks today. And my anxiety did peel away with the celebrations with family, and a slow and relaxing post-Christmas break of doing not much, and being away from home.

And today is therefore the beginning of the second trimester, and the end of the longest pregnancy third I’ve ever experienced. I’m still scared, but I’m feeling good. How lucky are we to have another little human on the way? So, so lucky.

Why did I write this blog? Not really sure, just a shout out to those who endure a tough time when pregnancy comes around again but you have lost before. I am fully aware that I wrote a very similar story last time, with my rainbow pregnancy, but I guess this is a pain that doesn’t really ever fix itself.

 

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Baby Butterflies

“What are you most worried that it will be?”

“Heart failure,” I say, to which my doctor nods and mutters “of course”.

“And maybe… anxiety?” I laugh because I think it’s funny to be worried that I have anxiety. My doctor laughs too.

I had been having a weird feeling in my chest on and off for weeks before I did anything about it. I had been trying to identify what sort of feeling it was and what was bringing it on. It wasn’t a pain. My heart was beating deep, not fast, and my breathing felt not restricted, but not quite right. It was kinda like butterflies in my stomach except the butterflies were pewter and stuck up behind my sternum.

Sometimes I would pick up my baby and walk into the kitchen where my partner was making dinner and feel the heavy-heart-beating-weird-feeling. Holding my ever growing and ever weightier baby I would say to him, “See – now, I’m getting it now!” This reinforced the idea that my heart was going to combust, my lungs fail or I had exhausted my chest and body in the first half year of being a mum.

I booked an appointment because one day while I was driving, I realised that I had had the weird-heavy-heart-butterflies for a full 24 hours. I needed to be responsible I told myself, for my daughter. I couldn’t wait this one out. Always fully booked, I had to wait a few days before I could see my doc. I took it easy, stopped driving and stayed home, didn’t pick up the baby too much, tried to rest. My sister messaged me every hour in case I had dropped dead and my baby was left alone. This sounds dramatic – but I was really actually very concerned.

The day I finally got to the doctor, I suddenly felt safe! I was so sure that something drastic was going to happen, that sitting there – about to get answers – I felt a great relief. The doctor poked and prodded and listened to my chest. “It’s like… I’m not short of breath… but I could just get a little bit more.” She nodded knowingly and motioned for me to return to the seat at her desk. My doc had previously proven herself a bit of an alarmist – I thought for sure she would send me for all the tests. Every test. It would be exhausting, but necessary. I could count on my doc to leave no stone untur-

“I don’t need to send you off for heaps of tests or anything,” my suddenly non-alarmist doc was saying.

“Oh?”

“Hundred percent anxiety symptoms,” she said smiling her warm but I-have-a-lot-of-people-to-see smile. “So now, you don’t need to worry… about it being anything serious. You can focus on trying to fix this. Your heart is not going to stop. Your lungs are fine.”

The doc asked me how I’d been feeling generally. I told her I was feeling fine. I guess that’s why I didn’t think it would be anxiety. I manage fine.  Then I remembered my little paranoid period where I would fully imagine someone killing me whenever I turned a corner in my house. So I told her about that. I told her how I felt pretty weighed down by the world. Not my personal world. The Trump world. It was the morning of the Manchester concert bombing. “Well, this morning’s events would not have helped that,” she said.

I’ve felt pretty good since my baby came along. Hardly ever down, pretty positive, very supported. This anxiety thing is a whole new ball game for me – depression, I know how that feels, but this is different. I knew I lost my Zen a bit after the baby came: I started to feel this new sort of stress when my partner and I would take the baby out, anywhere. To Bunnings, to the supermarket, to Queensland. I started saying things like “I just feel real stressed when we leave the house.” Hubby would ask why – if she cries, she cries. If she poos, she poos. If we forget something, we’ll deal with it. Even when I was with him I felt a deep concern about getting in the car and heading out with the baby.

So I guess that’s around when it started. And to be honest, having someone say, look you might have post-natal anxiety – meant that I could immediately feel relief that I wasn’t dying from something more serious, and start to take action to try remedy it. [I messaged friends and fam after the docs – “I have anxiety, LOL. I really shouldn’t say LOL, but I’m so relieved I’m not dying!”] I’m a mentally strong person, but I haven’t always been very organised. Feeling anxious about getting out and about has caused me to write more lists, pack my bag early, and talk through exactly what I need, where I will be, what time I will leave and how it will all work out.

We all know people who have crippling anxiety that stops them from living normally. I can live normally, I just recognise the pewter butterflies when they attack, and try to calm them down. Sometimes I feel like I’m a little allergic to my baby though. It usually hits me when I am getting ready to leave the house with her. Sometimes just as I open the front gate. Today I was merely rushing around doing things and the butterflies were in manic mode. And still, it hits about half of the times that I pick her up.

She’s my little allergen.

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P.S. If you need help, make sure you see someone. 🙂 And look out for your new mum friends who might be staying at home a little too much, or seeming a bit stressed about the new little life in their life.

Welcome to the Cult – a Cloth Nappy Obsession

It’s the middle of the night and I can’t sleep. I command myself to stay off the MCN (modern cloth nappy) Buy Swap and Sell sites but I ignore my own warning and have a look anyway. Oooh, 6 Close Pop-Ins and postage for $110. Damn they’re cute. That’s less than $20 for each. Posted… I force myself off that group and head to the support group. I see that someone has just joined and has declared how happy she is that she’s begun her cloth nappy experience. “Welcome to the cult” someone has replied. I chuckle in the dark.

My stash (more coming)

Before my love of cloth nappies escalated (some of my stash above – just the ones I stuffed today), I would scroll the online community sites and be absolutely amazed at the level to which mums (and the odd dad) were obsessed with these things. I had inherited a full set of prefolds and covers from a friend – a great get – and had received 4 weeks of a nappy service (best present ever) when our first child came. The nappy service just dipped my toes into the whole experience (and every dirty nappy I chucked into a bin for someone else to wash). I had no idea the extent to which modern cloth had become a cult following and really – a big market for nappy sellers to that group (apparently only 10% of nappy users use cloth). Friends already on the cloth nappy wagon added me to MCN Review groups and the Clean Cloth Nappy Down Under group on Facebook. In the early days (oh how naïve I was then) I would read out posts to my partner. He would suffer, feigning interest, as I crawled down the rabbit hole further and further:

“Look babes – these women are OBSESSED! Look how many nappies this lady has?!”

“Oh my god, so much poo talk…”

“Wow, now they’re discussing what kind of SPATULAS they use to flick poo off into the toilet…”

“I mean seriously, how many nappies can a baby REALLY need?”

“I’m totally happy with the prefolds – I don’t need to buy any more nappies EVER.”

“How hard can washing them be?”

“What the f*** is FLUFF MAIL?”

“Sweet baby cheeses, someone made a cloth nappy key ring.”

 

Now, with some genuine interest:

“I think we need one of those hoses to shoot the poo off into the toilet.”

“Do these nappies smell right?”

“DO NOT USE THE RUBBER GLOVES IN THE BATHROOM, they are my poo gloves.”

“Can we have another baby so I can buy more nappies?”

“FLLLUUUUFF MAAAAIIILLLLLL!!!”

“I need to talk to you about a new clothes line.”

“Don’t look at the PayPal account. But if you do, I can justify every purchase.”

“No seriously – can you smell these for me?”

“You don’t understand. Washing nappies is a science.”

“Imagine if we have twins – I would have to buy like, a full new set of nappies.”

When I first started musing about cloth nappies, my mum was very negative – (sorry Mum, but you were) or let’s say, cynical. She was fairly adamant that the power and water I would use washing nappies would make the savings from not buying disposables redundant. Now obviously I live in the echo chamber of MCNs, but I have seen much information that confirms that environmentally, and economically, I’ve made a good choice – especially since I don’t use a dryer. This came with my nappy purchase recently:

Info card that came with my Cloth Nappy Market purchase

**Before I continue – there is no judgement for those who use disposable nappies. Motherhood is bloody hard and whatever works for you, is what you should do. Also, washing nappies requires a certain commitment of time and effort – not everyone has the time and space needed to do this. **

For me the landfill issue is what justifies every moment of my cloth nappy lifestyle. Every year, for every child, you might be putting 300 kilograms of nappies into landfill. Disposables are made using energy and water, and take hundreds of years to break down.

We still use disposables at night-time and when we are away for more than a few days. I always have some back up in the nappy bag. For anyone wanting some environmentally friendly ‘sposies’, these nappies are great, and fully compostable.

Ecoriginals

(I actually know someone who composts them.) You can get them delivered, but they are more expensive than your more mainstream option. You can also get compostable wipes, but I’ve embraced cloth wipes too, which is easy if you are already washing nappies!
18493005_10158615946465433_559969515_oI made this for bath time >>  by cutting a hole in a zip up pouch that had some sort of baby related bath gift inside. (#hoarder) You fold them into each other like normal wipes and tissues. Wet as you go or fold in damp.

My (to be honest, sometimes frightening) obsession with cloth nappies has really made me question why I love it so much. Why I want to buy all the nappies. Why, when it was my birthday, I wanted to just get more nappies. I mean, I don’t even wear them. WHY DO WE LOVE THEM SO MUCH?

Being at home (I’ve been at home with baby for 5 months now) can be a lonely experience. It depends on your personality I think, and your ability to be alone how well you cope. I’ve always been good alone. Especially alone and busy. I talk to myself, I set tasks and I pump my fist to no one when something is a success. But I’m in this strange new situation where despite me being busy all day – all day – cleaning, cooking, breast feeding, washing, playing, shopping… I can go the whole day without doing anything for myself besides having a cup of tea. I treasure doing stuff for myself. I love puzzles, I love reading (LOL, haven’t read for months), I love learning, I love gardening (LOL plants are dead), I love accomplishing.

I loved being a teacher, and I miss it. Sometimes I feel that when I left my career behind I also left behind a little of my identity. I like to have purpose, and yet every time I set about doing something, there is a nappy to change, a mouth to feed, a baby to entertain, or dishes to clean. (These are all purposeful things, I mean, without me my baby would starve and the household would fall apart.)

But when I wake up and think NAPPY WASHING DAY, I jump out of bed and get started. I still feel new to this so getting the washing done correctly is SO important. I check the water level, make sure the detergent amount is good, make sure they’re pegged properly, ensure the safety of the precious nappies as they get smashed around in the Heavy Duty cycle. This is where the Clean Cloth Nappies Down Under group comes in. This Facebook group admin offer you all the information any novice cloth nappy user needs. They give you a nappy wash routine based on your detergent, your machine, even the hardness of your water. The admin (and the whole group community) support you as you sanitise and strip your nappies, choose detergent, fit your nappy to your baby properly… everything. I can’t adequately laud their greatness. They are angels. You have a problem, you ask them. I had smelly nappies after I washed them. The smell was still there a wash and a soak later and that broke me. I thought about giving up cloth. I was wasting water and time trying to fix it. I asked the CCDNU ladies, they gave me the help I needed and I am back on track with beautiful, healthy, clean smelling nappies again.

Trump gloves and cloth for poo removal

[Obviously it’s not sunshine and rainbows – every day (or two if I’m lucky) I put on my Trump gloves and rub my baby’s shit off a nappy. Yeah, I do that.]

My point is I love cloth nappies and I love the feeling of success that every good wash brings. But I also love the colours and the prints. I love their feel as I slide them under my baby’s butt. I love the fact that I reuse them. I love WASHING THEM. They’re pretty and awesome, but they give me purpose! It empowers me because I am doing something fantastic. I am literally saving a kilo of rubbish from going into the ground every day. I am a planet crusader, AND I’m saving money. But on top of this, I’m taking poo and wee ridden nappies and every third day I’m returning them to their natural, crispy white and bacteria free state because I am good at washing them. Think about that for a moment.

Stuffing time!

For stay at home mums who might feel like they have not accomplished much (besides keeping their baby alive and well and happy), being capable of reusing something that others throw out every day is a bloody marvellous achievement.
So cloth ladies, when you stand back and look at your freshly washed nappies drying, when you stuff them ready to go and stack them into a kaleidoscopic pile of environmentally friendly beautifulness, make sure you look around the empty room, nod your head at the imagined applause, high five your baby, and pump your fist in the self-adulation that you truly deserve.

Now I’m off, need to get the gloves on.

P.S. My fluff mail came with a cloth nappy key ring. My life is complete.

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