Friday, 23 August 2013

I'm a goddam medical mystery. And a failure to boot.

I wrote this in June, but I was afraid to post it.  It was a dark time for me; I wasn't sure how many details I wanted to share.  Time has since passed, and now I want to share it - for any woman struggling through pregnancy, with or without complications and/or antepartum depression


How common is pregnancy?

Probably about half the human population is physically capable, and it's safe to say that most of those do happen to experience it at some point in their lives.  Even for those women who don't experience pregnancy, there are several others who experience it multiple times.

Not only that, but pregnancy has been going on since the beginning of time.  It isn't even specific to certain parts of the world - women get pregnant internationally.  Plus Arnold Schwarzenegger in Junior.  

I think it's safe to say, then, that pregnancy is the most common medical "condition" of all time.     

So, I find it continually dumbfounding that the most common medical condition, particularly in an advanced nation such as Canada, is such a FUCKING MEDICAL MYSTERY.  

Perhaps it's because I've never actually experienced a significant or long-term medical condition, nor have I ever had much direct exposure to the medical system, but tell me:  How is it possible that doctors have so few immediate or precise answers?

Not only is my little Fraggle's health and well being entirely relying on me and only me, but I have essentially little-to-no control over her safety and development, let alone any true knowledge of how she is progressing.  

Every time I speak to a medical professional, they seem to apply 50 different random and uncertain measures of baby wellness, but they don't actually know the answers to anything.  

Is Fraggle happy in there?
Well, here, let's strap this monitor to your belly and listen to it for 30 minutes.

Is she growing?
Well, we can put this measuring tape on your belly to see if it's getting any bigger...

Can't you measure her?
Well, we can do an ultrasound, but we just did one last week and so any change would be imperceptible.  

Am I in labour?
Well, that depends on you - What's your pain level, on a scale from one to ten?

Am I dilated?
Well, if we check, we may dilate you, so we're not going to check.  Actually, let's check and make matters way worse.  

Is there a chance of me going into pre-term labour?
Well, let's do a test. 

What were the results of the test?
Well, they're inconclusive.  

Is she moving enough?
Well, that depends on you - Here, hold this little clicker and click it every time she moves.  

How many Braxton Hicks contractions are normal?
Well, you're having too many. 

What do you mean "too many" - what does that mean?
Well, we don't really know, except that you should sit still for several weeks on end.  

What causes them?
Well, there isn't a lot of research but we think your uterus is irritable.  

Huh.  Doesn't that just suit me perfectly.  What "irritates" it?
Well, moving.  So sit still.  But don't limit yourself.  But don't go shopping or anything.  And drink lots of water.  But don't let your bladder get full.   

So, my uterus doesn't want this little one in there, or what? I'm a terrible mother already? My body is incapable?
Well, no.  Maybe.  We don't know. This is not your fault.  Just sit still. 

Ok, so can these constant, uncomfortable, and terrifying contractions lead to labour?
Well, there isn't a lot of research but we doubt you'll make it to your due date.  Then again maybe we'll have to induce you at 42 weeks.  But just in case, stop moving.  

So now I'm terrified of pre-term labour.  How can I prevent it?
Well, sit still, and call us if anything changes, but no, Braxton Hicks contractions are not real contractions.  But we don't want you in pre-term labour, so please sit still. Hopefully we can just get you to 34 weeks.  

Ok, 34 weeks.  Good news right?
Well, yeah.  But let's get you to 37 weeks. You should probably sit still.   

Ok, what about after 37 weeks? Then we're good?
Well, every week after that is better.    

So, we're still aiming for 40 weeks then...
Well, no, 37 is full term, but yes, 40 weeks.  Please sit still.  

I never anticipated that keeping myself physically well would be so fucking emotionally exhausting... 

Fraggle ended up staying put until 40 weeks and 2 days.  And she rushed out of there like a bat out of hell.  

Monday, 12 August 2013

Let's be honest - what it's like to have a newborn

People kept telling me it would be hell.  That doesn't describe anything. That just scares me while also making me doubt that it's true.  So as I was laying in bed at 3am, I decided I needed a way to describe the joy/misery that is nerborn-dom.

I figure it's kinda like a natural disaster, a tornado or a hurricane.

First, the storm is coming.  You have some warning from the experts and you start to prepare, but you don't really know how bad it will be.  Will it be like the one you saw on tv? Or maybe it will pass right over you?

When the baby comes, the storm hits.  In an adrenaline-rushed flurry, you run to your storm cellar.  You grab whatever supplies you guess you'll need and you barely keep your wits about you. For the duration of the storm, you hold up in the dark and inevitably go nuts.  You're scared and you can't concentrate.  You have moments of lucidity and moments of panic.  You can't fall asleep, even if the noise outside did subside long enough for you to try.  You're terrified of what will become of you.  You cling to your partner to keep you sane and safe.

Not only that, but you are weak.  You've just finished competing in the iron woman competition and your whole body is wrecked. Also, you may or may not be recovering from a "saw the lady in half" magic trick you were forced to participate in yesterday (after the iron woman events).

On top of it, in a freak occurrence of nature, you are suffering from puberty, PMS, and menopause, simultaneously.

Oh, and there are stitches in your vagina.

Furthermore, you aren't alone in the cellar.  You've been entrusted with the care of a very tiny, very delicate baby koala bear.  Sure, it's a cute koala bear, but you have no idea how to take care of a koala bear, particularly in these traumatic circumstances.

And this isn't just any normal koala bear.  This is the world's most precious koala bear - a koala unicorn - the first and only of its kind known to humanity.  Should anything happen to this koala unicorn, you will never forgive yourself, and neither will society.

This goes on for a couple weeks - you locked down in the cellar during the longest tornado in Earth's history, scared and crippled by exhaustion.

But then the storm begins to subside. You inch your way to the cellar door and gently open it inch by inch, carefully emerging into the light.  Sure, there's an utter disaster around you, everything is a mess, and your whole world is wiped out.  Parts of your life before the storm have been lost forever (including bladder control) and you're generally very fragile.

HOWEVER, your surroundings have never looked so beautiful.  You're in awe of nature.  It may look grim in some ways, but also so promising in others.  Your friends, family, and neighbours will help you put your Humpty Dumpty world back together again.

Ultimately, you're hopeful that everything will be better than it was before.  You're just so fucking grateful that everything truly important - you, your family, and your koala unicorn - are safe and happy. Everything else will fall into place.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

You're gonna want my autograph

Just so you guys know, I'm totally famous.

No? You're doubting me?  Well don't.

On Saturday, Hubby, Fraggle and I went on a shopping trip.  We had some time to kill, so we decided to have lunch at a nearby pub.  WITH THE BABY.

Now, you should acknowledge what a monumental accomplishment this is for us - as nervous, pathetic and completely exhausted first-time parents - to leave home for several hours WITH THE BABY.  It's what you call stress.

That's not what made us famous though.  (Although I do think we deserve some international recognition for this achievement.)

While in the pub, I tweeted this:

It was priceless.  They were betting on the game, shouting, cheering, and otherwise raising the roof, all in the name of Tiger wandering around a big green field with a big stick.

What I didn't mention in my tweet was that there was also a young good looking gal sitting in the pub by herself, knitting.  Yes, knitting.

Hubby and I laughed, because only in our friendly, boring city would a pub's patrons include a bunch of old guys all worked up for a golf game and, of course, a knitter.  Not to mention the young couple with the newborn baby.

Still not famous eh?

Well this morning Hubby texts me.  "Call me when you're up, I have a funny story."

Hubby's driving to work listening to the radio.  The morning DJs are taking calls about the weirdest thing people have witnessed in a pub.  The conversation continues, and the one DJ tells her story - how last weekend she was hanging out in a pub, getting a total kick out of the group of old guys watching a game of golf as if it were the Superbowl.  Oh, and how meanwhile, SHE WAS KNITTING.

Too funny.

So I of course place a phone call to the radio station and tell the whole story to the gal, who totally remembers us and fully agrees that this is a perfect example of the perfect pub, in the perfect city, in the perfect small world.

Then she plays our conversation on the radio, and BOOM - famous. So you can totally have my autograph if you want.  Only $5, plus shipping and handling.

[For the purpose of this post, "famous" is loosely defined as "heard my voice on the radio, recorded it on my kickass iPhone, and played it later for my friend LB who said I can totally count this as my productive activity for the day. ]

Friday, 2 August 2013

Dear Fraggle

In case you didn't get the memo, I FINALLY gave birth to my tiny human a few weeks ago.  (Wait, has it been four weeks already? What the hell? Is she driving yet? Has she graduated?  Is she married?)

Although I have been saving a ton of blog material in this pathetic messy brain of mine, who knows if I'll ever find time/energy to expel it from my mind onto the interwebs.

So, I'll start with this one post, this one thing I've wanted to write for a long, long time - a letter to my darling daughter.


Dear Fraggle,

My god, I had no idea having you would be like this.  Nobody could have prepared me for it.  It doesn't seem to matter what people said or how they tried to warn me - the overwhelming nature of growing, birthing, and loving you has been, well, indescribable.

Sure, your life inside me was tricky for both of us, and for Hubby too, but my god I loved you.  I talked to you all the time, I sang you "I Will" by The Beatles on a daily basis, I imagined what you looked like, I adored when you moved inside me, and, above all, I worried about you pretty much every minute of every day.

And then you came out, in a flurry of (holy super painful) labour and only a few quick pushes. You came out and the nurse plopped you on my chest, and all I could really think was "wow, she's bigger than I thought she was."  Seven pounds eight ounces, with the cutest little face and ohmygosh so much long dark hair.  And those big brown eyes looking up at me.  And then Daddy cut your cord and before I knew it we were parents.

That first week was, (well, Fraggle dear, I'm always going to be honest with you) one of the hardest things we've ever done. Trying to feed you, laying crooked in a hospital bed opening my eyes every 5 minutes to look at you through that clear plastic bassinet, coming home and camping out in a not-dark-enough and anxiety-cloaked bedroom for days on end trying to figure out how the heck to keep you safe.

But then, then there was a light.  Slowly, very slowly, some weird normalcy began to emerge unlike any "normal" I have ever known.  A new normal where nothing else in the world matters as much as you do, and where Hubby and I truly rely on each other in a way we never had before, finding a way to exist as your parents rather than whoever those two fools had been beforehand.  I woke up the other night wondering, where is the grown up that is supposed to be caring for this child?

Now, honey, you'll be four weeks old on Monday.  I have no idea where this time has gone, or how I managed to survive it, but I'm starting to see what everyone was trying to tell me.  It was worth it.  All of it.  Because you are the most lovely, sweetest little baby known to humanity and it aches my heart how much I love you.  You are the most beautiful thing I've ever done. It kills me when you cry, and it warms me when your eyes gaze at mine.  And this week, when I was feeding you, you held my hand...

I love everything about you.  I love your jazz hands (aka newborn reflex), and your "ET phone home" (aka burping bliss), and even your giggle-cries (like Dick Van Dyke floating on the ceiling in Mary Poppins) and your monkey scream (which sometimes sounds more like a Michael Jackson "Ah hoo hoo").  I've watched your hair lighten, and watched your eyes shift from dark brown, to a deep sea blue that I can't describe, to now a grey blue that mesmerizes me, just like Hubby's.

I promise, no matter what, I will keep watching.  Be patient with me, though I'm not perfect, not even close.  But I will always do my best.  I will be there, for everything, all the time. I will support you, no matter what, without judgement.  I will hold your hand, and teach you things, and take you places, and adore you, unconditionally, forevermore.

Love always,