Sunday, April 14, 2013

Taking the plunge

It’s been a long time between drinks, both literally and metaphorically. The last time I had an alcoholic beverage - a very nice glass of gewurztraminer - was sometime in early January. And the last time I posted to this blog was shortly after the national census in March. Why this combination of abstinence and radio silence?

Well ... drum roll please ... because I have once  again taken the plunge and am nearly four months pregnant, with the baby due in early October. Woo .. hoo?

The main reason for my fall-off in motherhood-type musings, then, is that winning combination of marrow-deep exhaustion, endless nausea and frequent vomiting that characterise the first trimester (well, mine, at least). In this physical state, I’m feeling ahead of the game if I can get out of bed without being sick, drop off the child to her carer and get through a day of work.  

It’s been interesting - well, it’s passed the time anyway - to compare last time and this time, and I imagine the comparisons will continue all the way through the rest of the pregnancy to birth and beyond. Given that this blog was started well after my last pregnancy and birth experience, which I wrote about with the benefit of hindsight, I thought it might be fun - for me at least - to write about the second time round as it happens. Well, I won‘t be live-blogging the actual birth, but you get the idea.   

This time last year, I was still feeling pretty ambivalent about going through it all again. But time passes, and the idea of having another baby became more appealing. Or maybe I got to the point where I'd forgotten just enough of that very intense first year for it to seem like a good idea to take the plunge again.

So what’s happened so far? What’s the same and what’s different?

Having changed GPs, this time round I was congratulated on being pregnant, given a confirmation pregnancy test as well as comprehensive information on lead maternity carers ... and have not yet been compared to a car. Already this is a drastic improvement on how my previous doctor handled the news last time.

My current GP sent me for a 7-week dating scan. Having a lived appreciation of what is involved in bringing up one child, I spent much of the time beforehand convinced that I was going to have twins ... or even triplets. After drinking a litre of water in under an hour, so the radiologist would be able to find their way to the relevant bits, I sloshed my way to the ultrasound room. Again, we saw a shadowy egg sac and heard a beating heart. Fortunately, like last time, it was just the one. Phew. 

I have been for an optional 12-week scan, the principal reason for which is to screen for suspected chromosonal ‘abnormalities’. I had decidedly more mixed feelings about this scan this time round. Last time, I was excited about any opportunity to see what was going on in there, and the reason for actually having the scan felt very abstract and unreal. But this time round, I have a greater awareness of why the scan is offered and what it might mean for us, if the initial scan indicates that there might be a problem. I could’ve chosen not to have it, but at the same time I want to know even if if means facing more difficult choices further down the track. I’ve yet to receive the results, which are due next week. Fingers crossed.

While having the 12-week scan, the radiologist had some trouble trying to get a decent view of the embryo. While he focussed on getting a good image, he didn’t say much to me. In a state of heightened anxiety, I over-interpreted his silence to mean that he must’ve seen something concerning. Instead of the excitement of last time, I started feeling really upset watching the strange blob on the screen move around. I was on the verge of tears when he finally spoke, announcing that it’d taken him a while to get a good view. For the future, communication helps dude. Especially after my scan-o-rama experience last time.  

Even though I have been very tired and sick over the last few weeks, I’m fairly sure it hasn’t been quite as bad as last time (or maybe I’m just trying to kid myself this is the case). I’m starting to feel more like myself now, though some days are still better than others. I always go out with a trusty plastic bag or three with me: these came in handy the times I was sick right outside a core government department (on more than one occasion, I might add),  and at my desk just before a big meeting. On the plus side, I was less concerned with what might happen at the meeting, than with trying to look like I hadn’t lost my breakfast immediately beforehand. I think this is called perspective.

With a child around already whose needs and wants are very real and pressing, this baby - who I am yet to feel moving around - still feels very abstract and faraway. I’m finding it really hard to imagine having two little people around the place. The best I can come up with is a kind of clone of the one we already have ... only smaller. But, as I continually hear, babies are all different, and I’m wondering what new and special tricks this little one will have up his or her sleeve. Difficulty breastfeeding? All night feeding marathons? Reflux? Who knows...

Also in the abstract - and it’ll be interesting to compare what I write now to what I experience after the baby’s birth - I’m feeling like I might be a little more prepared this time round. Or, at least, that I have more of an idea of what to expect: how time-consuming a newborn baby is, how much they feed, how they might disrupt your sleep, the potential for feeling isolated, how you have to scale back what you can reasonably expect to do in a day and so on. But perhaps this is a comforting illusion? Time will tell ...

Finally, in quieter moments, there is one thing that I hope will be very different this time around. The birth experience itself. After last time, the doctors at the hospital assured us that there was no reason I couldn’t have another child and that it was very unlikely what had happened then would happen again. Unlikely ... but not impossible, says a small voice in my brain, who is still not entirely convinced that another baby is a great idea. For me, then, taking the plunge a second time round is about the triumph of hope over experience, of feeling more informed and preparing myself as much as I can (including specifying a preference for an emergency caesarean over forceps, if the need arises), and of feeling the fear and doing it anyway.