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Sunday, 2 October 2011

Imaginary Pregnancy Symptoms

Oh YES! How could I forget? Food cravings, specifically meat. If it's meaty, I want it. Yeah, baby.


I had gastroenteritis in the week. It's got to be related to that and absolutely nothing to do with pregnancy.

The Two Week Wait

14 days.
336 hours.
20,160 minutes.
1,209,600 seconds.

It doesn't sounds a lot written down, does it? But, to quote Madonna, time goes by so slowly. Dear child, I don't have the option of hanging up on you. Nor do I look like that in a leotard (thankfully.)

I am going slowly mad. I'm 9 days past ovulation. I have ultra sensitive pregnancy tests. Chances are, if I tested now, I could conjure up something akin to a line, if, of course, I am pregnant. But I know of old, that if I do test now, then all I will conjure up is a wishy-washy half line, that may be evaporation or may be something else. Now, that hell is even worse than this one. So close and yet so far. Alternatively I may get a big fat negative. But will that stop me wondering if I am pregnant? Of course not. I will tell myself that it's too early to test. So I'm trying to hold on until next Saturday. It will be a miracle if I get there.

Twice before Papa and I have conceived on month two. Twice before on month one.  There is a reasonable chance that we might have hit the jackpot this cycle. But then we weren't old and fat and knackered before. Yes, I still ovulate, but that doesn't guarantee the quality of my eggs, or his sperm. Will they meet successfully? Did they?

To pass the never ending time, I have done what millions of other women trapped in the two week wait do: I've Googled. Everything from how early can I test, to how should I tell Papa if I do conceive. He wants us to test together. It's a moment too raw, too full of hope and fear, for me to share. Besides which, he will make me wait until my period is actually late. Which is sensible, of course, but hell on a stick. I haven't yet decided how I should test.

I am having all sorts of pregnancy symptoms, naturally. I have spots, which I don't normally have, but the weather is unseasonably warm. I have a sense of my own uterus. I know this sounds weird. It's like a clenched muscle in my abdomen, or as though someone has started to inflate a balloon in my womb. Like period pain without the pain. I can just feel it. I've woken myself up in the night feeling it. It's psychological, obviously. Even if something was in there, it's not big enough to cause any bloating. A bunch of cells the size of a grain of sand can't make one's insides feel like this. But still, it's there. And I wish it would bugger off, because it makes concentrating on everyday life jolly tough.

I really need to get a grip on myself. I wonder if you're already here, dear child, floating darkly in my tubes. But you won't be floating. You'll be dividing furiously, and that makes me excited, and terrified, in equal measure...

I hope pregnancy is less emotionally charged than this.

Mama x

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Wibble, Wobble

Dear Child of Mine,

I ovulated on Friday; it's rather odd to think that you might be floating inside me already, multiplying hourly and drifting on down to the comfort of my womb. It's sweet - but, forgive me - it's also a bit creepy. Pregnancy is a wonderful and magical time, but I have to say it's been a bit weird to find out that someone else is inhabiting one's body, even though I've pushed that thought to the back of my mind. I must confess, that the first time at least, I may have even coughed out the word parasite. Don't worry, though, I'll get over it. It's a bit like finding out someone's been wearing your knickers.

Papa and I are not really going for sex every 2-3 days throughout my cycle, as is the current guidance. You probably don't want to know this, but I'm guessing that anyone reading a blog about TTC is probably interested. Thankfully - THANK THE LORD! - I am actually ovulating. I *thought* I was, as I have mittelschmertz (crampy pain on ovulation), but it was a great relief to have it confirmed with the ovulation prediction kits. That's one thing less to worry about, with me being almost 40 and all.

Sex every 2-3 days seems rather a lot, especially as one approaches 40. Papa would say he disagrees - but to be honest, there were moments even in the "week of passion" that he looked at me as though I was a mad woman who was only interested in harvesting his sperm. Truth is, he's was pretty much spot on.  I did manage to hold off suggesting that he do the deed himself and I hop on at the last moment. But there's always new depths to be plundered next month...

Actually, it was sweet. We made a little nest in our room and retreated to bed around 8.30pm each night. It started off being rather romantic, with candlelight and drinks and cuddling. By the end of the week when we were mainly both knackered and fantasising about our comfy nest for sleep only, then we had to dig deep and pull and few tricks out of the bag (fnar). But we did it. We managed sex four times in my seven days, which seems somewhat lacklustre written down, I'll be honest, although we both felt as though we deserved a sticker at the time. Maybe we'll be able to achieve the golden seven next month. After ovulation, we've decided to practise baby making strictly for fun. We average at about twice per week. Anymore over exertion than that will surely result in injury?

We looked after a 10 week old baby yesterday, and blimey, that was a shock. I'd forgotten how much jiggling, walking about, rocking and "sshh"ing small babies need. Baby Ruth was an absolute joy, and I was really thrilled to be trusted to look after her. I needed the instruction manual though, crikey. She bawled for about 20 minutes, and I tried everything - shhing, jiggling, feeding, winding, rocking, dummy, bottom changing. At this point I could feel the panic rising. Eventually she looked a bit tired and I managed to cuddle her up just right and rock her off to sleep. She then slept on my lap for three hours!

I'll be honest, at one point I looked at Papa and asked what we had done. He just looked pale and grim and agreed with me. He actually buggered off to the shop at one point to get some crisps for the older children. Then she settled and we had the conversation again. She did cry, and it was a bit scary, but she stopped pretty quickly. David never seemed to stop. It was quite a revelation to look after a "normal" baby. The older children were being a pain though - charging about everywhere, shouting and jumping on me and the baby and kissing her. That added to the stress no end, as each time I'd settled her she'd wake again.I'm not sure whether the experience has left me shocked and scared, or reassured. The rest of the time was lovely baby cuddles, and I know those feel a million times nicer when the baby is actually yours.

Papa is out at a beekeeping event today, so I've plenty of time to reflect on it alone. I'm afraid of those baby days, but we want a third child, so we have to put up with it to get to the size and shape family that we want. I'm feeling a bit anxious about everything. We seem to have so many changes on the horizon: the possibility of a new family member, wondering whether we'll cope, Papa will need to get a new job, we may need to move house as a consequence. It's all a bit overwhelming. If it wasn't for my age I know we wouldn't be planning to have a baby right now, but if we want one then we have to take the gamble...

I'm not really sure what my role in life is right now. I'm trying not to fret and to simply let the breezes of fate blow me wherever I need to go. I'm finding it really, REALLY tough to relax and let this happen. It'll all be OK - won't it?

With love
Mama x

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Not getting obsessed

This is me, not becoming obsessed with TTC. Ha!

I promised Papa that we'd "just stop using contraception and see what happened." I meant it when I said it, I really did. I just started off reading a few things, mainly about nutrition, which was fine - sensible, even. I was getting my head around the idea. We talk about names, how we'd parent differently this time, how we'd tell our families... But it was dreaming, and we were going to be so cool about this we'd be sub-zero.

Now, it's month two. I'm going to ovulate at some point in the next couple of days. I have an app tracking my cycle, which, to be fair, I've had for six months. Now it's highly tuned in to fertility symptoms as well as periods. I'm proud to report that my cervix is high, soft and open and I have egg white cervical mucus (if you're wondering what the hell I'm talking about, Google Toni Weschler, Taking Charge of Your Fertility, which I read before we starting trying to conceive David.)

I encouraged Papa to move a television up to our bedroom, and may even have spent time making us a lovely little nest to retire to each night at 8pm. Papa didn't mind that bit too much. It has lovely clean linen, fresh towels in the en-suite and scented candles. Lovely. Except that I've developed the motherload of all colds, and have spent the last couple of nights bunged up and sore. But that's not got in the way too much. Nudge-nudge, wink-wink.

Today I took receipt of seven ovulation prediction kits. I did one, and it did not detect my Luteinising Hormone. Panic. What's going on down there? Is it an anovulatory cycle? Or maybe it's because I could hold my wee in for the required four hours? Is it possible I will ovulate on day 15, not 14? I gazed at the faint second line many times, fantasising that it was a positive pregnancy test... I have an ingrown toenail. Last time I had one was the very month that I conceived David. Is it a sign?

What am I doing? What am I DOING? This all feels so lovely, so important, so gripping. I know it's a sort of madness. Today I've been Googling good positions for conception and thinking of ways to keep the sex interesting. I'm also a bit unsure about whether we should make love tonight, because we did it last night, and they say it should be every 2-3 days, but I ovulate on Friday, and what if we miss the egg? Maybe a quickie would be good? But then there's the issue of work, and tiredness and football practice tonight, and children and life getting in the way. It's not sexy if I start with the charts and basal body  temperatures, is it?

It's a kind of lunacy. I'm trying very hard to not share my fever with Papa. I'm trying to be nonchalant. If only getting pregnant could happen as a result of the knowing, intelligent part of your brain. It's too much like a lottery, and much too important to leave to chance.

I'm trying not to kill the magic, but dear Lord, it's hard. Let me trail an air of sparkle and mystery about me, not desperation...

Friday, 16 September 2011

Tough Day

Dear Child of Mine,

I'm having a *really* tough day. I'm blogging about it in the hope that I'll sort my head out.

I've had a couple of real concerns about pregnancy recently. Firstly, I have very short labours and I live rurally. If your birth is as fast as David's, then I won't make it to the hospital on time. I want to have a home birth, but I have a high BMI, so I know it's contra-indicated. I've tried hard to find out the information I need about how I will be treated, but it seems that no-one will discuss this with me seriously until I get pregnant. Which seems like madness.

Secondly, I am really concerned about my ME. I've been good recently - I still get tired, but if I am sensible then I can manage a "normal" day of work and family with no problems. I've been trying to raise my stamina since July and, to be honest, it is making a difference. Part of me thinks that if I just start living a normal life. then this ruddy illness will go. However. What if it doesn't? What if, unlike most people with CFS, it doesn't abate during pregnancy. What if it gets worse? This doesn't worry me as much, but what scares me is this: what if I get sick when you are a baby? How will I look after you?

Yesterday I asked the advice of a good friend who had CFS and, since her diagnosis, has had two pregnancies and is training to be a midwife. She gave me some good advice. She felt better in both her pregnancies, and has clearly gone on to not only look after her babies, but also train to be a midwife. This is reassuring. She also told me that, with my doctor's agreement, I'll more than likely be able to continue with my CFS medication. This is a great relief. However, she ended up saying that she worries that I'm taking on too much.

This freaks me out. How can I get better if I don't take on more? On the other hand, I am taking on a lot after a period of illness, and I can't bear the thought of giving any of it up. I am really motivated by the things I am doing. Specifically these are: my sewing work and professional writing / the OU degree I've just started. Things I can't change that I need to manage are: my marriage, my older children and our wider families.

I am angry with our wider families. They never help us out or look after the children, and this makes me really cross. Yet they are demanding of our time and attention, and all feel as though we should be looking after them. This makes my piss fizz. It's unreasonable of me, though, I know. If they decided that they were going to make a life change, but they needed me once a week / month whatever, then I'd be cross. Would I feel this way about helping out with my Grandchildren? Hmm, I don't know. I'd like to think that I would be happy to help out. I don't expect them to help with the childcare, but to take the kids out, or even to make it look as though they're looking forward to their company is not too much to ask, is it? Our mothers especially cause us a lot of stress. I can't see this going away as they get older, either. In fact, I think their expectation of us and our time is going to increase significantly. It makes me incandescent that they expect us to look after them when they've not offered us any support as a family. However, this is unfair of me, and really, I can refuse, can't I? When they are actually old and infirm, which may not be for another 20 or so years, then it will be up to us - and whoever else is left - to decide on the appropriate course of action. Which probably will not be them living in our home. Both Papa and I have siblings who don't help out - if we became less available, then this might force them into helping out more.

It makes me cross that I may have to think about curtailing my family because our families are unsupportive. Papa and I have talked many times about what their reactions to a possible pregnancy will be. At no time have we imagined them saying anything nice. I think that just about sums things up. I *really* don't want to have to adjust my plans because of their lack of support - but I do need to be practical, and it's possible I'll be sick after you are born.

Which brings me on to Papa. I adore him, I hope you can tell. He is a loving, faithful, kind man and a good father to Peter and David. However, he's a man of limited energy and he gets very stressed when he's tired. He won't get up in the night with you, under pretty much any circumstances. He's also not great with the demands of small babies. He's very process driven and wants everything to be as efficient as possible. Life has taught me that babies are anything but efficient. He's not especially patient. I don't doubt that he will love you, and support you, me and the boys. But he is not the sort of man who will be happy to pick up the childcare that I can't manage, and to be fair to him, his job is very demanding and will not allow him to do this. I tried to talk to him about my feelings and doubts last night. I wanted him to reassure me that he was looking forward to having another baby together. Instead he said "I'm worried about these things too, you know how I feel." I asked him if he still wanted to go ahead and try, and he said "yes, but it's complicated." Yes, yes it is.

Yet again, I am facing the likelihood of a pregnancy that my parents will moan about and my husband will dread. I feel very resentful that they've never supported me. When I hear of parents who burst into spontaneous tears of joy upon hearing the news of a pregnancy, I actually feel very jealous. Similarly with husbands: I know Papa wants another baby, he would not have agreed to try to conceive if he did not. He often talks quite enthusiastically about you. But he's pessimistic by nature, a bit doom and gloom, and would prefer to say "oh shit, we've fucked everything up" upon hearing of a BFP, than "that's wonderful, darling." Of course, he's a good man and he will make sure we have a good life. He will provide for us and love us. But his love is a slow burn, and he's not going to rush to be supportive of me when things are tough. His first thought will always be for himself.

And so, because of the people around me, I have to decide whether or not I can continue down this road. It really, really fucks me off that it's the 21st century and the burden of childcare still falls pretty much solely on the mother. Is it wrong to feel resentful? Should I expect support? Am I just being unrealistic, or ungrateful? Is it sensible to assume that the CFS symptoms will go away with pregnancy and not return afterwards? What worries me is that it will be Peter and David and I who end up doing all the hard work.

As for me, well I will have to give up my business pursuits, but possibly not my degree. It's possible that I can do enough work during naps and evenings to make sure that I pass my course. Will we have enough money though?

Money is tight right now. We manage month to month, but we don't save enough. We're just about to remortgage, so there is an opportunity for us to relieve this a little by extending our mortgage terms by a year or two, which would make things easier. But I won't be able to work properly with a small baby, and we won't be able to afford childcare this time, unless I get a well paid, regular job. Would that be a bad thing?

- - - BUT - - -

Then, there's me thinking that a baby will ruin my life forever. But the other perspective is that this is for three years. Three short years. Then the baby will be at school, part time at least, and I will have time to build my business again, taking on more professional writing again, and finish my degree. Assuming I get pregnant in the next few months, it will be 2015 when I start to get some help with the childcare. I will be 41. Is it going to be any harder starting my career at 41 than it is at 37?! In seven years, I'll be in the same situation as I am now: I'll have a six year old, a 13 year old and a 21 year old. I'll be 44. Is 44 too old?! No, of course not.

This is not forever. Having a son or daughter, with all the love and pleasure that brings, is.

Maybe we can scrape by financially. We're likely to have to work 5 years longer at least than we were when we started our careers. Maybe the advantage of that is making things easier at this time in our lives. Maybe my career can be turned down a notch whilst things change in the short term. Maybe it gives me time to do my degree, so that when the baby starts school I will be finished and ready for a new challenge. My degree takes 5 years to complete, part time. I must, however, ring-fence the finances to make this happen. I must make it clear to Papa that I expect to have the time to do this too, over the years.

We're not going to be able to rely on our families for practical support, and that remains a bummer. But, maybe a baby gives us an excuse to not be available quite so much. Maybe we can have that chat that says "look, much as we love you, we're really struggling with our own lives and, unless you can be more positive, then you've got to stop moaning." And really, if they're not going to help, they've vetoed their right to have any say in how we run our lives.

I can't bear the idea that my baby making days are over. I'd so love another baby, dear child. You would be loved and adored, by all of us. I've just lost my confidence that I can rely on myself. Six years ago I felt as though I could take on the world. Now I'm not even sure I can live a normal life. Is that confidence rather than fact? I'm so cross that I'm even having to have these thoughts.

I wish there was some sort of guarantee. I think, though, that in the process of getting all this out and written down, I've realised what I'm prepared to sacrifice. Marriage and older children - no, no way. Degree - no, it's my future. It's going to be expensive, and I'm going to have to be creative to find the time to get it done, but I'm not giving it up. I've got 10 years to complete it, so even if I must postpone, it doesn't mean I will give up. Also, God willing, if I have a pregnancy full of energy (or at least with more energy than I've had recently), I really need to use that time finding paid jobs, to build up a little fund that I can put towards my degree.

As for how I'll cope in the first few months - I'm really scared. Absolutely crapping myself. But I'm not going to know until the time is upon us. And I have two wonderful sons that we've brought up rather well, if I do say so myself. There's no real reason, that I can see, that we're not going to be able to do that again. I just need to be brave. Or accept that I'll only ever be Mama to two.

With much, much love,
Mama x

UPDATE: Papa and I went for a walk when he came home from work, and I talked him through the things I mentioned here. He was kind, encouraging and positive. I love him so much it hurts.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Not Pregnant

Dear Child of Mine,

Not pregnant. I'd didn't expect to be really, as expecting to get pregnant in your first month of trying seems a bit obscene. It happened to me before and I felt quite embarrassed. I'm still a bit sad though, and hormonal, and wasn't able to think of much else for the past week.  Papa seems more upset than I expected too; both his friends seemed to magically produce babies the first month of calling and I wonder if this makes him feel bad.

It does get easier, doesn't it?


Friday, 2 September 2011


Dear Child of Mine,

I'm feeling a bit fed up today. Papa and the boys are going back to school in the next couple of days, and I always find the anticipation of change rather problematic. It's rarely as bad as it feels once the moment is upon us, so I'm willing away the last few days of the holiday.

Your Grandpa and Grandma have just gone home from a three day stay with us. It was rather fraught. They are good people and I love them, but they have strange ways and I always end up feeling very worried for them, and usually rather offended by somethings they have said and done whilst here. I don't think they mean badly, they're just not very tactful. And they seem to think that anything we do that is  different to what they do or did is an implied criticism. It's not, and it's very wearing.

We have the child from hell staying over tonight. He's one of Peter's friends and is so boisterous we limit his visits to yearly. I'm not sure we could get away with less. His parents are lovely, and they often have Peter to stay at theirs, so really we're lucky that they tolerate once per year. As I type I can hear this child charging about upstairs and knocking stuff over and whipping up David into a state of over excitement. Fingers crossed they go to bed soon, and he grows out of it by next year. He'll be 15 after all. Maybe we will have a good excuse for putting off his visit once you are here.

I'm trying to eat more healthily in order to prepare my body for conception. I've enjoyed smoothies and porridge for breakfast and have packed the freezer with bags full of prepped healthy meals for when term starts once more. I'm making a big effort to eat fruit and cut down on drink. It's a bit boring. My wee is still yellow.

Yours grumpily,

Mama x