When times are tough…. You find out who your friends are

Sometimes, as a parent or just a grown up, times are a bit tough.

The last couple of weeks have been exhausting. M (the toddler) has been miserable with teething and general naughtiness, honestdad has been working long hours and I have been in quite a bit of pain. Hence the lack of posts!

Today my best friend had my daughter for the day whilst I was at work. As I was transferring the baby seat, she snuck a cupcake into my lunch box. She wore M out and played with her all day. She fed me dinner when I got back from work and sent me home well rested and happy.

When things are tough you won’t hear from most of your friends. A true friend gives you help even when you don’t ask for it. A true friend spends her precious vacation days entertaining your kids so that you can save money on childcare.

I am very lucky to have a true friend.

You can see it if you squint! Analysing pregnancy tests

Just like mirages in the desert, when it cones to pregnancy tests, the eye sees what the mind wants. To all other eyes, there is no line on your freshly pee’d upon stick, but if you turn it to the side and squint… there it is! A line, a mark… maybe.

Ladies spend their whole lives not seeing things. The bad habits of our partners (until they move in), our own flaws, but put a pregnancy test in front of us and we have better eyesight than a microscope.

Any woman who is trying to conceive is an expert at analysing the home pregnancy test. We have used enough. If you are a stranger to the world of hpt’s, you may be surprised to hear that reading the results isn’t simple. Oh no!

We all want too see a bfp (big fat positive). We dream of that pink or blue line creeping across the window. A positive test is brings untold joys and happiness. Anything else can be the source of hours of scrutiny.

For example, you pee, you aim, you wait. Your 2 minutes are up and to the untrained eye there is nothing there. A big fat negative. But you aren’t untrained. Hours of googling has prepared you for this moment. You squint, you turn the test under the light. Ah ha! A shadow? A line? It might be the plastic cover causing the confusion so you rip it off (any ttc gal worth her salt knows how to do this in 2 seconds). Hmmm the line/shadow is still there. You call your partner who pretends not to hear you and then won’t commit to a yes or no. Damn it!

By this time the 10 minute ‘read’ window has lapsed. Never read a result after 10 minutes. Now you’re thinking it could be a evaporation line. Whole new can of worms is opened. You take a picture of the test and zoom in… hmmm is there even a line there?! So now you have to call in the big guns The ttc community. In another 5 minutes your photo is online and people are politely trying to tell you they see nothing. Are you mad?

The next day you get your period.

We all do it (or I hope you do else I’m a crazy person). The hpt manufacturers know we do too. The makers of the digital tests specifically sate not to open their tests. Heed this one warning – reding those strips is harder than cracking the da vinci code.

Like mirages in the desert, what we want to see isn’t usually there. I think we should keep analysing the results because one day it will probably be a bfp and you will have seen enough mirages to know when the real thing comes along.

I’d love to hear from other women about their hpt result reading stories, if only to reassure me that I’m not nuts!

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To pee or not to pee? That is the question

My early experiences with home pregnancy tests (hpts) were frightening ones. Buying them from another town, hiding in the bathroom at my parents house, shaking for 2 minutes till the result came in and hiding the evidence. My mom always told me ‘keep your legs crossed till you have a career’. Wise words honestgran!

My experiences with hpts while trying to conceive were a lot more plentiful! Like most ttc women, I was a binge pee-r. I had stocks of hpts, all brands, all types, ready to pee at the slightest pregnancy symptom.

I liked to grade my hpts. £1 shop strips for ‘not a hope in hell’ moments and expensive digis and first responses for ‘99.9% sure’ moments. I always preferred pink dye above blue and a test in plastic more than a strip.

When hpts are 3 for a £1 you can get pretty addicted. One month I peed on tests from 2 days post ovulation. Each one as Iine free as the last. These were days I knew I wouldn’t get a positive but took the tests anyway. I’d do it anywhere too. Slightly sore boob while typing at work? No problemo – pee on a stick in the loos at work. I wouldn’t have indulged this behaviour with £10 tests, that’s for sure.

I sometimes miss the tests. Lately my cycle has been all over the shop so I have been able to engage in my secret peeing. My bathroom cabinet always holds a cheap test or 2, making honestdad very, very nervous. I have explained that I am getting reassurance of not being pregnant (another baby right now would push us into the poorhouse and my sanity out the window). But a little something in me gets a little excited at the thought of seeing a line. The memory of the hope and anticipation of tens (hundreds?) of tests comes flooding back.

Peeing on a stick is definitely addictive. When you are ttc, peeling on a stick is like waiting for an email that has told you your dreams have come true. Even if you are staring at a blank white box after 2 minutes (accompanied by a crushing disappointment) that 2 minute high drags you back the next time. And when you’re ttc, this high, this hope, goes a long way.

So pee away ladies!

Do we have to? Sex and ttc

There are many things that you need in order to get pregnan,t but the most important thing is sex. Sex during a loving relationship can be wonderful. Sex in a baby making relationship can be chore.

Honestdad and I have always had a pretty good sex life. Before having our daughter, when we could do it any time, any where, we probably did it about 4 times a week. It was fun, spur of the moment and relaxed.

After my miscarriage, I became a ttc monster. I NEEDED to get pregnant and I knew how to get there. Sex and lots of it. The first month trying again I made the moves on my husband around ovulation time and he was thrilled at my interest bedroom athletics. We did it twice a day for 3 days. How could that much sperm not fertilise my egg? Somehow it didn’t and my period came and we began another month of tcc.

This time i thought I needed even more sperm to get that baby. I knew that honestdad wouldn’t want to do it on a schedule so I came up with new and inventive ways to get him into bed. I was a woman possessed. We had quite a varied sex life that month. But then my period came again and we began another month of ttc.

After the first few months I stopped thinking of sex as something nice to do with my husband. It became a way of getting more sperm to make my baby. I read about different plans you could follow to give you the best chance of sperm meeting egg. One plan involved having sex every other day until 5 days before ovulation when you would do it every day. By my ovulation date I never wanted to see a penis again. Poor honestdad would cower when I entered the bedroom ‘do we have to? This isn’t very romantic!’ He was right. I even denied him sex when I thought he should be stocking up on sperm.

I dread to think how many times we did it in the months of ttc. As I’ve said in previous posts, I lost sight of what it was about. I pushed my husband to the limits and he still did as I asked. As much as he loves sex, he felt like a professional sperm donor. If I ever doubt my husband’s love for me I remember the monster I was for 8 months of ttc.

My advice to anyone in the same pattern is to take a step back. Remember your partner and enjoy the sex. I think you have as much chane of getting pregnant having sex once on your ovulation day as you are having sex every day for a month. I wish I could have made our ttc experience something I don’t look back at and wince. I hope that if and when we try again, I take my own advice.

Settling toddlers in the heat. Mission impossible

This is just a quick post to beg for advice about settling a toddler in hot weather. I live in the uk and when have hot weather we are not prepared. Air conditioning in homes here is non existent.

I am currently lying on the floor in my daughters room trying to lull her to sleep. We are trying not to take her back into the living room as that starts a week long tantrum fest at bedtime as she tries to ‘break’ us.

Sometimes I feel like bedtimes are a battle and I’m afraid my daughter has the better weapons.

Be strong honestmom!

Are we there yet?! Part 2 – the two week wait

Are we there yet? Part 2 – the 2 week wait

Last time my story ended with an ending. The end of a pregnancy and the end of relaxed baby making.

The urge to be a mom is strong and when you finally find a man who wants to put a baby in you, the urge becomes a manic need. Add to that a miscarriage and you have yourself a crazy lady. I’m sure others in same position will agree that although we look like a normal person on the outside, on the inside we are consumed with the need to get pregnant.

After the miscarriage I felt as if it would all be ok if I got pregnant the next month. The dr had told me to wait 3 months, the internet told me to wait 3 months but none of that mattered. What mattered is that I needed a baby in me right now. I downloaded all the apps that told me when I was ovulating and some that had chat rooms full of manic women just like me. This is where learned the lingo and the horrors of the two week wait.

For those not in the know, the 2 week wait is the time between ovulation and when your period is due. This is the time that you can analyse everything about your body to convince yourself that you are pregnant. It starts from 1dpo (1 day post ovulation). ‘did we do it enough? Did we do it too much? Surely this month we did it’ Then it progresses. Every tiny twinge in your stomach could be a sign of an embryo implanting itself into your womb. Every itch on your breast must mean they are growing ready for the milk you’ll not need for 10 months. The gone off milk in the fridge making you gag is obviously the first sign of morning sickness. You take online quizzes that confirm it i – you must be pregnant!’

But the body is a bitch my friends and Mother Nature sure has a sense of humour. You are so sure you are pregnant and then your period is late. Most people have succumbed to the loud call of the pregnancy test by now but if you haven’t, you buy one and decide to take it in the morning. You’ve told your husband that this it this time. You wake up in the morning and there she is – your period. Yep, she sure has a sense of humour!

I think I had 6 week waits before I got pregnant. Each one more excruciating than the last. The first two weeks of your cycle are long enough or you to admonish yourself for the craziness, promise yourself that you won’t be like it this month but of course you fall back into the same trap.

I wish there was some way to not do it to yourself, some advice I could give. The truth is that when you want something so bad you wish it were so and you ‘think’ yourself into being pregnant. Each period gets more painful.

So here is the honest truth for those ttc. The month I got pregnant, I had never felt less pregnant. No sore boobs, no morning sickness, no tiredness. All I had was pmt. I didn’t bother analysing myself because I was so sure I wasn’t pregnant.

Pleas try and relax if you are ttc. If you find yourself poking your boobs, Smelling bad food to see if you gag, lie on the bed to see if you notice any pangs in your tummy or check your knickers constantly for some implantation bleeding… Stop!

Next time – sex and ttc

The end of the road? Pregnancy loss

If you read my last post you will remember that honestdad and me started trying for a baby and were surprised when we were successful the first month out the gates. I wish that was the end of my ttc story and that i could launch into the next 9 months of being a mum. Sadly it didn’t turn out that way.

I guess now is a good time to tel you a little bit about myself. I’m short, chubby and what you could call ‘sickly’. I have asthma, a stomach condition and arthritis. A real catch right?! Luckily I had been quite healthy for a while when we started trying for a baby.

To err on the safe side, my GP referred me to a special clinic at the local city hospital. It is a charity funded unit that cares for women who are likely to have a complicated pregnancy. My first visit there was at about 6.5 weeks, to have a chat about the upcoming 9 months.

So far pregnancy hadn’t made me feel any different. In fact I think I felt better than ever. I drove to the hospital, about an hour from home. Honestdad didn’t come as he was saving his holidays for when the baby arrived. I wasn’t expecting a scan on that trip was pleased when they could fit me in. I lay on the bed and the nice lady put the gel on my stomach and moved the ultrasound wand. “I think we’ll have to use the internal scanner if you don’t mind’, she said explaining that this was standard so early in pregnancy. So she lubed up the wand, inserted it and moved it till a glorious little bean could be seen. The lady explained it had a nice heartbeat. ‘Oh there is another amniotic sac, you know what that means’ – I did… twins. She moved the wand around again and took a deep breath. There was no heartbeat for baby number two. It looked like it had stopped growing shortly before as it was a bit smaller than it’s twin. THe nice lady gave me free pictures and explained that twin without a heartbeat would probably have been absorbed into the womb by my next scan.

I took the scan pics home to honestdad who was relieved that we weren’t having twins. Another example of his brutal honesty. I agreed it would have been tough but i secretly wished that there was a mistake and that the little twin just needed another week to grow and get a heartbeat. Google is wonderful place where you can always find the answer you want instead of the cold hard truth.

I had another appointment at 9.5 weeks and was hoping for another scan. This time honestgran came along for the trip. I did the usual, peed in a pot, had my blood pressure taken and waited. A consultant called me in. She didn’t seem like the sort of person you would expect to be a gynaecologist as seemed a little uncomfortable with people. She explained that she wanted to do a scan to check whether the ‘dead’ twin was going to cause any issues. She moved the outside scanner over my belly, frowning away. I thought that was her way of doing things. She said that we would have to move to another room that had an internal scanner. I wasn’t worried. She put in the wand and stared at the screen for 10 long seconds. ‘I’m sorry, the second baby has no heartbeat. It hasn’t grown since your last scan. I’m afraid there are no heartbeats anymore.’

My heart stopped. I swear it did. I can’t remember everything from that day. I remember I had to go and get my mom from the waiting room, trying to get her attention without crying. I wouldn’t let her hug me and i couldn’t look at her. I can remember every detail of the horrible flower pattern from the chairs in the room. I stared at it the whole time we were in there, just so I didn’t look at my mom. If she’d have shown me any affection I would have fallen apart.

The consultant explained my options. Wait for a miscarriage, take a pill that they use in abortions or have a d&c. I wanted it over. I chose the d&c and asked for it to be done asap. They fit me in the next day.

Now was for the worst part. I had to call honestdad and tell him. I hated him for putting me in this situation. If he was a better husband he would have been there with me but instead I was all alone, trying to ignore my mom so I wouldn’t fall apart. I don’t think I got the words out well, but he got the jist. He’s not good with emotions and I didn’t expect much from him. I was angry with him.

I was angry when he left me at the hospital the next day to go through the procedure alone. I hated that he wasn’t there when i woke up. I hated him. It didn’t occur to me that he had lost his baby too I don’t suppose i cared. I only felt my own pain and that was enough for anyone to handle.

You need a general anaesthetic to have a d&c. It made me feel ill enough that I could stay in bed for a few days. I cried and cried and didn’t want to see anyone as they didn’t understand. When honestgran tried to talk to me about things from her ttc past i cut her off because i could only deal with my own feelings.

Honestdad and I had it out one night after he’d been drinking. He was honest and harsh and it hurt. I needed to hear how he felt, i needed to stop thinking it was only me that was effected. We both cried that night and it made us stronger, it helped put us back together.

The pain you feel losing a baby is absolute. I felt like my heart had been stomped on. I felt like i had let everyone down. I felt guilty as it must have been something i had done to cause this.

A tough reality about miscarriage is that no one talks about it. You can’t bring it up at dinner, you can’t announce it on your return to work. A sad fact is that no one can understand miscarriage unless they’ve had one. other people feel uncomfortable and you feel bad for bringing it up. it is one of those subjects that our open society hasn’t really found a way to handle. This fact only adds to the loneliness.

Another tough reality is that it often happens for no reason. I wanted answers. Why? Who could I blame? How could I stop it happening again? There are no answers. There is not big truth. It just happens.

My advice to other couples going through this is to try and go through it together. Take things slowly. After a few weeks things will start being funny again and you will want to try again. Take pleasure in the small things. My husband laughs when i say that glee will always hold a special place in my heart. He bought me the season 1 dvd the day of the d&c and watching every episode got me through the next few weeks. I laughed, I cried and I found the old me.

The old adage ‘time heals all wounds’ isn’t really true. I have tears in m eyes writing this and I hold my daughter close every night remembering what we lost before we had her.

So here we were, September 2010 and feeling pretty lost. Something within me would not be beaten, the first thing I wanted to do was start trying again.

Here we go again…