Happy, funny, strong, reliable, witty,mature,straight,stubborn, fiercely independent, intelligent, logical capable,kind,giving,calculating ,self-preserving were all words that have been used in the past to describe me. Maternal was never one of them. It never worried me.
I grew up around adults primarily and from a young age was treated as a mini adult. Probably the most frequently utilised term to describe me as a child is that I was “here before” or knowing. Looking back I have always been intuitive. I have learned to trust my gut, a lesson learned in my 30’s. So at 34 when I felt like something was “wrong” with my pregnancy I was glad I listened and booked that early scan.
I had waited until I was ready to have a baby before I made a decision to try for one. As a child I had always felt wanted and had that stayed with me. Although I know that in the 70’s having a baby in your 40’s wasn’t the done thing I realised my parents were besotted by their baby. My siblings were delighted to have a baby in the house again. I wanted any child that I bore to feel that level of love too. So I waited until I ticked all of my criteria. Good job, happy home life, devoted husband, lovely warm and adequate home. I prepared my body with folic acid, cut down on alcohol, sugar and wheat. I started walking regularly and cut out my daily diet coke. I switched my morning coffee to an orange juice and felt wonderful. When it didn’t happen straight away I wasn’t disheartened, I knew that it would happen eventually. I never had cholesterol or threatened diabetes. I had switched GP’s and had at the age of 34 had to go on my second course of antibiotics ever in my adult life. He did a pregnancy test and it was negative, and he told me with a wry smile that sometimes “trying “for a baby caused bladder infections. He saw no reason that I couldn’t conceive and was pleased that my lifestyle would lend itself to motherhood. His advice was not to stress and keep going. I was doing wonderfully and just to watch myself. May June and July came and went and I had kind of put the baby making on the back burner. July saw another negative test and although a bit disappointed I was not disheartened.
I woke in August with the worst cramping of my life and remarked to my husband that I felt awful. My monthly curse had come and I felt like it was the worst one in my life. That week we booked a holiday and joked it may be our last for a while without a baby, we laughed that we may even conceive in the sunny climes. We jetted off on holiday towards the end of September and not before time I was exhausted and off my food. There was a smell on the flight and the bus journey was nightmarish. A nightcap and I was asleep. The following morning I almost missed breakfast. I dragged myself down and felt ill at the smell of bacon. I suffered heartburn and couldn’t stomach my usual glass of Vina Sol at lunch. My clothes were oddly tight even though I lost weight. The holiday was lovely but I felt like I had been drugged. I was due my clockwork menstruation and it never came nor did the realisation that I was pregnant.
When my better half suggested my tender chest may be pregnancy related while I swigged from a bottle of Gaviscon I decided to do a test. I picked some up the following day and when we got in from town I did it. Then I did a second one. I checked online and figured I was around 8 weeks gone and the following Monday made an appointment to go and see the doctor. We sat in the waiting room expectant and thrilled. We held hands and muttered excitedly about names and schools and made plans. The doctor congratulated us and talked us through our options we filled out some forms, he drew blood and off we went. We celebrated with a meal and an early night, God I was tired. As I was off work that week I rested and looked at little Babygro’s in the shops and admired mothers with trollies and prams and wondered did we need a bigger car? I downloaded some apps and switched my vitamins to expectant mother ones. Now that I was pregnant I ate smaller portions more often as I was suffering with heartburn and felt exhausted. I bought some essentials and was glad that I had been buying swanky PJ’s in a larger size for this very reason. I mentally thought about buying things and even indulged in towels and stuff for hospital as well as some new slippers.
It all made sense, abdominal pain, sickness, exhaustion. I cut down on my commitments both social and work. I’m pretty high energy all of the time. I cannot explain the exhaustion and excitement.
My husband is at this stage fussing over me not allowing me to carry baskets of washing or heavy shopping. The 4am cramps were soothed by a hot water bottle and explained away as my womb expanding. I got the flu jab and the nurse asked was everything ok, that there was an early pregnancy unit and I said I was fine. My scan date came and I became a bit concerned, six weeks away and I decided that I wouldn’t wait as according to my dates I would be 15 weeks along and I couldn’t wait to tell people. It might be a relief to those who wondered was I ever going to have a baby and equally this baby seemed to be growing at a serious rate.
I decided that I would go to a private clinic and not avail of the public clinic as I wasn’t overly concerned but still wanted that little bit of reassurance. I was slightly older and this is something to be aware of too.
My sister had had two unremarkable pregnancies and my mother had six children all naturally with no help. Women in the third world gave birth daily. But I wanted that scan. I did not want to wait. What was a €100 for a bit of a peace of mind? I had already decided that I would go privately go for an anomaly scan at 20 weeks too. My friend had advised that having worked with an obgynae. We had spoken about it generally but not specific to me ages ago. Mentally I had stored the information like the sponge I am.
My job saw me up and down ladders and standing all day. In fact I had confided in one or two people in work, just in case I fainted or fell, so that they could tell someone I was an expectant mother. I made an appointment for a scan privately. I got one for the following week and would be 10 weeks along. We made arrangements to call to my sister afterwards to show her the scan, and had intended to go to Dublin the following weekend after a concert to see one of my all-time favourite bands Chic. This was the day we were going to share our news with my in-laws. This baby was going to see Nile Rodgers at 11 weeks! What a cool baby. I had downloaded an easy listening album onto my iPhone because, apparently, babies start hearing in the womb and I wanted them to understand the importance of music. Mr G joked that he would get some soil from his backyard in Dublin to bring to the hospital so that the baby or “Johnny Appleseed” would touch Dublin soil first. Very Kerrygold advert and very tongue in cheek. I watched online as my baby grew from a seedling to a prune. I read stories of women that had miscarried. I made a mental note not to look at those stories anymore; they were making me concerned about the level of my abdominal pain. Something felt wrong. We joked about whether the baby would have a Cork accent or whether they would support football or rugby.
The pain and nausea were increasing and by the time our scan came the following week my trousers felt tight and I was excited but oddly apprehensive on the day. I went and got my eyebrows done , I didn’t want our baby to see me with bad eyebrows, how mad does that sound? I wanted everything to be perfect. Mr G took a half day and off we went with a litre of water and a lot of leg crossing. My initial reaction to the sonographer was that I knew her somehow and as it turned out I had met her before. I hopped on the bed and we talked dates and she poured the gel on my tummy. I knew by the sonographers face that something wasn’t right. She looked concerned and her false sense of cheer made me feel a dread to the pit of my stomach that I will never forget. On autopilot I rang my doctor and the sonographer left the room to speak to practice nurse. I looked at my husband, at his hopeful face and felt utterly hopeless. They referred me onto the CUMH so I paid my fee, and took the receipt and listened to the sonographer saying you might just not be “that pregnant” yet. Of all the things to try to do to an intelligent competent woman, patronise or belittle their knowledge of their body is the worst thing you can do. In that instant I knew our longed for baby was no more.
The drive from Ballincollig, ten minutes seemed endless and on autopilot I gave all of my details. I didn’t cry until the midwife asked me if I was ok. They scanned me and told me to return the following day to have an internal scan. They confirmed that I was pregnant, but that there was no heartbeat, and judging by the size of the mass in my womb I was around ten weeks along. I knew that I knew my body. I didn’t cry afterwards, I went back on autopilot calling to my sister and the following day into work. I cried in work and one of my colleagues put some make up on me. I went to the early pregnancy unit alone. I didn’t want anyone with me. I wanted to process and absorb everything myself.
What the sonographer told me shocked me. She warned me not to google it and that the doctor would need to see me and that it was likely I would be admitted. A molar-pregnancy, around six cases a year. D and C, high risk, disease,cancer,removal,placenta,specialists,back on the pill, risk,reoccurance, I was processing all that she was saying and looking at the other person that was sitting on the bed observing I tried to make polite conversation while they extracted more blood. I vaguely remember telling her my left arm veins were better, that the blood bank preferred my left arm when I donated. Indeed that vein was better and I rang Mr G giving him instruction as to what he needed to bring up.
At this stage I was in a sort of daze, however was equally on autopilot mode. Mr Glamity appeared looking ghastly white and incredibly worried. I had in my going through the motions not thought about, the impact of me being unwell, on him. I wasn’t thinking straight, in fact in hindsight I wasn’t thinking at all. All I was concerned about at the time oddly enough was not being pregnant. It hit me like a freight train. There was a flurry of needles, student nurses, doctors and midwives. Molar pregnancy is like that. Unusual and more unusual yet was that I just felt like there was something wrong. I cried. I cried so much that I just wanted it to be over. I was a priority case. I only told a few people about it. I felt oddly ashamed that my body, my tough nut body had really messed it up. I won’t go into the details about molar pregnancy; every case is different however the aftercare I got was impeccable. Mr G brought up my skincare bag, a vertiable suitcase of serums and lotions. I had a bit of fun with the nurses and midwives, helping them choose creams and laughing about my matching fancy PJ’s. I also must admit that I was flattered and loved the fact that they all read my weekly piece in the Cork Indo. Great tips. Work were brilliant. So supportive and interested in how I was doing.
A whole year later I am doing really well health wise. I am lucky; I didn’t need chemo or any major aftercare. I missed the Nile Rodgers concert. Not a big deal really but it upset me, watching it all unfold on twitter and Facebook. I still get a bit emotional when I hear a Chic song. I am I know bonkers. One f the midwives still calls into me to see how I am doing. She was so kind, all of them were.The first time that many of my colleagues friends and family will know about this is reading this blog post. I kept it private because I wasn’t sure what the future held and we were recently given the all clear to try again, should we want to. Personally everything is still raw and when this blog is published it will be one year to the day since my D and C. I had a million tests and feel like pregnancy is the scariest thought ever to me. I did nothing wrong, that is what affected me the most. I did everything by the book and it just didn’t work out. I don’t resent other people being pregnant or babies in the slightest. I am aware of how precious life is. I am irritated and annoyed at stories pedalled by pro- lifers on molar miracles. There is no such thing. A molar pregnancy is just not viable. Sometimes there are two, a baby and a mole. The statistics for these are totally minute and generally unviable. You cannot carry a mole because it is not a baby as we know it. What the future holds for me and having a family I cannot say. I don’t honesty know but if one more person asks about my womb I may just offer them a look at it. It really isn’t anyone’s business whether I have a baby. Being married five years makes people ask questions. Maybe once they read this post the questions will stop. Maybe we will get a cat or a dog. Maybe we will have a baby someday. I think we would be great parents, but I equally think we make a great couple, a me and you, just us two.
I have started I the gym again, gotten over an emotionally tough year. The people that knew have been a wonderful support. A worrying year and I have come out the other side. The other side of not trusting my body, doctors or my womb. I do trust in fate though. and whatever is for us….. whether we remain a twosome or otherwise. I am lucky I started this blog post last year. Re reading some of the details I had forgotten made me think. All of the little things I took for granted, feeling elated at the pregnancy , the utter desolation of not being pregnant . I don’t want to be treated differently or like a pariah. Yes I’m genuinely happy for people that have babies . I don’t feel any jealously at all. I’m not a jealous person and my experience hasn’t changed my personality one bit. Thanks be to God. Nobody knows what is ahead of us.
The next time you think of asking someone whether they are thinking of starting a family….. don’t. Bite your tongue and let them offer the information first. There is so much suffering that people can go through where fertility is concerned, and you know what ? Really , truly and honestly it’s so deep, so personal and if it doesn’t work out? So painful.