Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Babies, babies, everywhere

Have you ever experienced that phenomenon when you test drive a car and suddenly you see that car everywhere you go, even though you swear you’ve never seen it on the road before? Well, it seems I am experiencing the same phenomenon when it comes to babies. 

I’ve started seeing pregnant women everywhere. And not just “ready to pop at any moment” pregnant women, now I’m looking at women, who might have just eaten too much for lunch, and wondering if they’re pregnant!  

And now, all the tv shows I watch are jumping on board too. All of a sudden Meredith and Derek adopted a baby, then lost it, then got it back on Grey’s Anatomy. Addison tried for a baby, couldn’t have a baby, tried again for a baby, couldn’t have a baby, tried to adopt a baby and the mother didn’t give it her in Private Practice. Then Julia tried to adopt a baby, held the mother’s hand through child birth, only for her to change her mind and keep the baby, then ended up being a foster parent in Parenthood.

Now, I’m not normally an emotional person when it comes to these schmalzy, over-the-top American storylines. But, since pregnancy became my brain’s topic d’jour, I’ve been bawling like the proverbial baby (funnily enough) through all of these episodes. And not just bawling, but saying to myself it’s so sad they’re experiencing these things - as if they’re real people!

I’m glad Meredith, Derek and Julia are now sorted out. It only leaves me having to support Addison through the trials and tribulations she’ll continue to face in achieving her dream of motherhood. Whatever happens Addison, my tissues are at the ready!

Monday, 28 May 2012

One of those days

It was one of those days today where work wasn't that busy but by the time I got home, watered the garden, cooked dinner, sorted out the rubbish, did the dishes, got the washing in, and folded the washing, I was exhausted. And not just exhausted but pissed off. Yes, I had one of those moments where we ask why does there always have to be so much to do?

It made me wonder how I would cope with a child. How would I get home from work at 5:45pm, collect the child, get home, sort them out, cook dinner and do everything else that needed to be done? I use to be a nanny. I was the hired help. The one that actually did all these things. But the difference was I didn't have to travel to and from work, I woke up and I was there. 

Now guaranteed, choosing tonight of all nights to try a new recipe that I had no idea how long would take to cook was not the best idea for a Monday night. I learnt my lesson. No more of those games for mid-week dinners. Mind you, it tasted bloody good!

I've already started to prepare for impending babydom by getting my husband to cook more. He's got cooking cards so he can practice some standard meals. He'll need to take more of a role in the kitchen when I become pregnant as no doubt I'll have moments of exhaustion where the isn't a chance I want to stand in the kitchen and cook. So that's good - it's a start. But being the perfectionist I am, it will take a lot for me to stand back and let him do it. But we're both learning!

This realisation has made me appreciate the efforts of my Mother so much more. She had three children at home, and as teacher, she was with children all day. Then had to come home and deal with them all night. But she did it. I suppose in the end you don't have a choice. You just have to suck it up and do it. Like any change in life, we have to adapt and run with it. Mind you, I think I'll see how many pre-cooked meals I can fit in the chest freezer in the garage. Hopefully enough to get us through the first year!

I know today was nothing more than a moment of weakness - wishing for a clone. To be able to be in two places at one time. To be able to do two things at once time. The working mothers out there will shake their heads at me and look down on me in shame. I can hear you all saying now, oh, young, naive Fiona, how much you have to learn!

Being the organisational freak that I am, I'm sure I will be fine. It's just about making shifts here and there. And learning how to fit into a whole new lifestyle. Well, that, and living off easy dinners like beef stirfry and fried rice! Clearly, I need to extend my husband's repertoire! 

Thursday, 24 May 2012

The power of three little words

I watched a movie called The Help the other day. It’s a great movie about African-American maids in the 1950s and how they go to work to raise white children while someone else looks after their own child. Despite this, the main character always makes sure she instils confidence and self-worth into the children she raises. Her mantra for all of them is “You is smart. You is kind. You is important.” Of course, we’ll use the correct grammar in repeating this to children!

Can you imagine how different your life would have been if you had someone constantly telling you you were smart, kind and important? Could hearing this every day instil confidence and self-worth? Could that confidence and self-worth stop children from taking drugs, over eating, drinking or making themselves throw up? Could those words encourage a child to embrace and revel in the brilliance of who they are? Could those words develop those children into successful, intelligent and caring adults?

I think they could. But of course, actions speak louder than words. How many of us are guilty of saying to a child “I’m too busy to speak to you right now.” Probably all of us. But what does that say to a child? It says “You’re not important enough for me to stop what I’m doing and pay attention to you.” What a horrific message to send to a young mind.

Think about it. Is what you’re doing really THAT important you can’t stop? Maybe – if you’re performing life saving heart surgery! But nothing should be that important where you can’t at least say “Mummy just needs to finish this but I really want to hear what you have to say. Sit down here and wait for me because I want to give you my full attention.” Do you see the difference?

What I love about this mantra is it doesn’t mention pretty! I had a lot of friends who were always told they were beautiful but they always knew that referred to their external beauty. So they fell into the trap that everyone always judged them on their looks, or their looks were all they had to offer someone. I would much rather my children know they were smart, kind and important as I believe knowing that creates inner beauty.

I spent so long being over weight and being told “You’d be so pretty if only you lost weight.” Even now, all these years on, my soul dies a little more just thinking of those words. It’s taken me so many years of personal growth and counselling to rebuild that damaged soul. So much so I couldn’t imagine being responsible for killing my child’s soul.

I have no doubt that parenting is hard. And I have no doubt that I won’t always remember to say these words. I have no doubt that there will be times when my anger and frustration gets the better of me and I won’t always act the way I want to.

But what I do know, is I will always endeavour to be mindful of the words I say to my child. I know the pain of constantly thinking you’re not good enough and I refuse to let my child suffer the same pain. In the end, these words do have the power to create amazing human beings. But only if we commit to saying them!

Monday, 21 May 2012

It takes two baby!

My husband and I went to our first counselling session today. Not because there’s anything wrong with our marriage – we went because we don’t want anything to BECOME wrong with our marriage. The whirlwind our lives have been in the past 6 months means stress and tension have been high. We both realised that in those moments, we are not at our best. So we wanted some tips on how we can deal with the stressful and tiered moments without damaging ourselves, and our relationship, in the process.

A big part of wanting to do this was establishing some good behaviour patterns before the baby arrives. If we get snappy and irritable with just the normal part of life without a baby, there was far too much potential for things to spiral out of control once a baby was introduced into the equation. 

Now guaranteed, I work in communications for a profession and have a Graduate Diploma in psychology so my expectations of how my husband and I communicate might be higher than others. But really, it’s just about ensuring we are communicating with each other in a way that we both understand and we’re honouring ourselves in the process.
It was a great session that allowed us to speak openly about how we interpret situations and things that do and don’t work for us in a heated moment. I’m not sure we could have had the conversation by ourselves, but with someone else there, we were both able to verbalise and respectfully request each other to think about supportive behaviours we could use to deal with those moments.
The counsellor told us that the important things to remember were identifying if the moment was one of stress and exhaustion or if there was a real issue to deal with, and how we focus on recovering afterwards. She said recovery was the most important thing in building and growing a relationship. We’re working hard on doing that and focussing on our values and the kind of husband and wife we want to be.
Think about it, if you had to write down the values of a good wife or husband, would you say whingey, dis-interested and unsupportive? Or would you say caring, loving, involved and supportive? I know which list I’m going for and I endeavour to stop myself in my moments to check which list I’m currently in. If it’s not the right one I change my behaviour. It’s hard but it’s worth it.
I’ll do the same thing when I become a parent. What kind of mother do I want to be? Uncaring, judgemental, and pretentious or loving, non-judgemental and open? By taking the time to clarify our values before going into a relationship, it means we have the power to constantly check on them when we’re in the relationship. In the end, I think today was one of the greatest things my husband and I could have done. Not just to secure the longevity of us, but the long-term happiness of our family and really, as a parent, isn’t that all you ever want?

Sunday, 20 May 2012

A wakeup call

I had morning tea with my fabulous friends Stacey and Leanne today. I asked for a catch up as not only are they good friends I hadn't seen for a while, but both had babies in their late 30s. They were exactly the people I needed to talk to!

We met 5 years ago working together. It was an often stressful and manic work environment and we supported each other by lending a helping hand and keeping each other laughing. At the time, I never imagined having conversations about babies with them, but I thank god I have them in my life to support me through this.

Both of them told me that they feel pregnant on their first go. That was it, that simple. Stacey told me alot of her friends are in their late 30s and early 40s and many of them are having babies. Suddenly I realised I was making this so hard for myself. The fear of potentially not falling pregnant was causing the anxiety and there was nothing to fear. Nothing but something that may or may not happen. And certainly not something that warranted concern now. I'm not sure why we get ourselves worked up by things that may or may not happen. What happened to crossing that bridge when you get to it?

It was the wake up call that I needed. There was something in their voices that suggested why are you getting worked up about this? It wasn't a case of them taking it lightly, it was simply their perspective. Given they've got friends having children at an older age than me, they saw it as I still have plenty of time - but no time to waste.

A weight was lifted off my shoulder and I felt the concern, worry and anxiety slowly slip away. I was so glad as I feared it would do me more detriment than good. I once had a counselor tell me I worried and about worrying and it seemed I had fallen into old patterns. But a good shot of reality and a different perspective produced a much needed mind shift! 

I was glad I could bring something to the occasion too - other than the banana and choc chip muffins. Both of the girls are starting to look at getting back to work after a few years off. I could understand the difficulty that comes with that and the fear of being out of the game for a while. So as someone who's learned career counseling and recruitment in the past year, I was more than happy to lend my services to help them get back in the game.

That's the beauty of great friendships, the ying and yang, give and take and once again the mutual support. There's nothing more precious in life than sitting with good friends, being able to talk openly and know you are being listened to. While we haven't worked worked together for 3 years, we're still supporting and encouraging each other, and making each other laugh. There's nothing better than coming away from a few hours with good friends and feeling energised, happy and optimistic.

Friday, 18 May 2012

To test or not to test - that is the question

One of the things that’s causing me the greatest anxiety when I think about falling pregnant is how scientific we should be in the process. Should I go down the track of getting the ovulation test, spit test and basal thermometer, or should I just wing it?

When you look at all the ways to test if you’re ovulating or not, you wonder how much time you have in your day to actually do all these things. As one woman put it, if you want it that badly you’ll find the time. But does that process turn the whole baby making process into nothing more than a scientific experiment?

I took the discussion to two friends who have recently fallen pregnant. Both of them said they didn’t bother with any testing and just winged it. One had been off the pill for several years and the other had been off for a few months and both fell pregnant the first go.

Now, the important thing to consider is both of them are a few years younger than me. And it seems that when you’re talking about age in “pregnancy” terms, you may as well be talking about dog years! Just the difference between having children at 37 compared to 35 is astounding. Your chances of falling pregnant plummet, but the chance of down syndrome, genetic diseases and even multiple births sky rockets!

One of my friends said “We thought having a baby was just as much a mind matter as it was a scientific matter. So we decided to not be actively trying for a baby, but we just weren’t preventing it from happening.” I thought that was a great way to look at it. It was just the pep talk I needed!

So overall, my assessment of all of this is there is no guarantee. As I do more research, talk to more people, read more stories – I realise that there is no apparent rhyme or reason to how these things turn out. Testing can be beneficial but is that because of the testing or just blind luck?

We all know we get pregnant in the middle of our cycle. Just by doing simple maths you can basically figure that out. Yes, it depends on the length of your cycle, whether it’s normal or not, the swimming strength of the sperm and whether their GPS is working. The funny thing I’ve realised is that when you look at the chain of events that needs to unfold for a sperm to fertilise an egg, you realise how enormously unlucky those people that fell pregnant by “accident” truly are.

And as I embark on this adventure, I'd kill to be that unlucky. But really, lucky or unlucky is really in the eye of the ovary!

Monday, 14 May 2012

Any which way we can

I found out today that an acquaintance will have a baby in a few months – through a surrogate mother. Now, this woman and her husband have been trying to have a baby for nearly 10 years. They have literally tried every method known to man and no luck. You can understand that if something was wrong – sorry but your ovaries don’t produce eggs, or sorry, you’re sperm count is too low. But no, there was no reason why they couldn’t fall pregnant, they just couldn’t.

The perseverance she has shown on her quest to become a mother astounds me. What better example of the adage “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” do you want? This is a woman that was not prepared to let anything stand in her way. Now granted, she’s lucky she’s had the money to try IVF several times, and now of course, to go down the surrogate path. Many of us simply don’t. But I am so impressed that she has refused to take it sitting down. That my friends, is someone who is prepared to stand in the face of fate and say god damn it, I will make it happen!

It makes me question though, how far are we prepared to go for our dreams? A lot of times, other factors come into play. The money runs out, the stress on the body is too much, the stress on the relationship takes its toll, the constant hope runs dry. Or, at the very worse, age simply defies us! 

I’m not sure if I could do it myself. I’ve seen too many of those stupid American tv shows where the surrogate turns around at the last minute and either doesn’t give the baby up or comes back later trying to claim it. And whooshka – your heart is ripped out of your chest. I hope and pray this doesn’t happen to them! 

My husband and I haven’t talked about what other options we’ll look at if we don’t fall pregnant naturally. Most fertility specialists don’t even think about talking to you unless you’ve been trying for a year. But alas, time is not on my side. I don’t have a year to waste if it doesn’t work. If that should be the case, I’ll be chasing down the first fertility specialist I find and we’ll at least give it a crack.

When I think of the other options – egg donors, sperm donors, adoption, foster care and of course surrogate, it all just seems so overwhelming. And expensive! And draining!
But if I’m brutally honest, it really makes me hope and pray to the powers that be that it happens the good old fashioned way, and quickly. Should that be the case, I will always know and appreciate how truly lucky we are and will be enormously thankful and grateful everyday. Even when the child is being a nightmare and I want to leave it in a forest somewhere - my love and gratitude will make sure I always bring them home, hug them and send them off to bed with a kiss!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Mother's Day

Today is Mother's Day. My husband, bless his heart, said to me this could be your last non-Mother's Day. That made me bolt right up. The prospect that come this day, in 12 months time, we could have a baby, was a surreal thought, but one that bought a smile to my face.

We spent the day celebrating with my mother and grandmother. As I watched them open their gifts, I thought come this time next year, you could be a grandmother and a great-grandmother. How delighted they would be!

It's interesting though, for some reason, this Mother's Day, more than any other, really made me think about my Mother. Probably because we have spent so much time together in the past few months organising my wedding, but also because as I approach motherhood, it makes you think of your own Mother.

She did it tough my Mum. Three kids by the time she was 25. My parents didn't have a lot of money and both worked two and three jobs to put food on the table and shoes on the feet. Mum studied while we were young and Dad would take us on road trips to get us out of the house so she could do her assignments. It was quality time with my Dad, who at one stage, was living in Melbourne, and we only got to see him on weekends.

While we didn't have a lot, and certainly nothing fancy, we had love, laughter, hugs and kisses. There was no pretending, no having to buy love, no fake emotions. So many of the girls I went to high school with must have suffered this fake childhood and this made them fake people. And at the 10 year reunion, they were fake adults. I always thank my parents for grounding me and making me real.

So this year, I paid particular attention to what I gave my Mother - tulips and a book. Doesn't sound like anything too spectacular but I knew she would love both and she did.

The other thing I thought about today was how many of my friends were struggling with the fact they weren't mothers when they so desperately wanted to be. Today would be the one day of the year where that was rammed home to them more than any other.

As I read everyone's posts on Facebook about how thankful they were for their lovely gifts and lovely children, I thought I would contribute something out there to everyone else. I posted "Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers, those trying to be mothers and those wanting to be mothers. Our time will come". My husband told me if I didn't want people asking me if I was pregnant yet that wasn't a good way to go about it. But not being a woman, I don't think he understood the message.

The message was really one of hope. If you're trying, keep trying. If you want it, keep wanting it. If you are one, be grateful and celebrate. If anyone sees that message and starts asking me if I'm pregnant yet, I'll eat my hat! I don't think they'll start asking me that until I stop drinking wine - that will be the dead give away!

I haven't made any secret of the fact we want kids. When people ask when we will start trying I always say towards the end of the year and that's always been the plan. Somehow, going under the radar, and if the fates allow, we get pregnant in the next few months, than I might avoid being asked all together. If not, I'll deal with the barrage of questions when they happen.

Either way, I felt blessed today that I got to spend a fabulous day with my Mother and my 87 year old grandmother. God knows there won't be many more days I get to spend with her so as you get older, you realise that every day you get to spend with the people you love is a blessing. I just hope my child feels the same! 

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Baby bonus bewilderment

Today marks my first day off the pill. So things are starting to become real – very real! Now we need to have the conversation about the likely time junior will arrive and whether we take the Federal Government’s paid parental scheme option or the baby bonus option. In all my reading about it I found out that you can be financially better off on one than the other. Given I have never qualified for any government funding before, this was a whole new world to me.

After trawling through a few websites, I found a calculator that helps you figure it out – although you need to know all the details of yours and your partner’s salary and leave intentions. You can find it at

Now, I must admit, I threw in a few random dates to figure it all out and I’m not sure that was helpful. If we assume I get pregnant first go and have the baby in April 2013, in the 2012/2013 financial year we’re better off on the baby bonus but in the 2013/2014 financial year we’re better off on paid parental leave. That leaves us in a bit of a predicament as we can’t choose both!

Changing the dates so the baby would be born in July, coinciding with the start of the financial year, we would be better off on paid parental leave. Now you might figure it’s all much of a muchness but in this scenario, we were better off to the tune of $4000. Now if that’s an extra $4000 in my pocket while I’m not working, than I’ll take it!

Hence, it creates a bit of confusion! But in all reality, there’s no point doing this until you’re actually pregnant and know when you’re baby is due. There’s also no point unless your partner can tell you how much leave he is planning on taking. So it was an interesting exercise to do, just to try and understand it all. But we’ll be leaving any decisions until there’s a baby to make a decision about. As the reality of the situation is if there’s no baby, there’s no choice to make!

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

A shift in perspective

I had lunch with my fabulous friend Jo today. Everytime I talk to her, and preface something with “You’ll never believe this”, she always listens to the rest of the story and says “Oh yeah, the same thing has happened to me.” And I thank god I’m not alone.

I spoke to her about my fears and concerns about falling pregnant. It was quite timely as tomorrow is my last day on the pill so the anxiety has probably hit a high point today. She listened, nodded her head and told me what I was experiencing was totally normal. I felt bad even mentioning it to her as she’s experienced her own problems of late – and not just the perceived, most likely non-existent ones like the ones in my mind - but real ones. 

Jo has a wonderful and slightly disturbing way of always honing in on the exact button that needs pushing in me. When talking about her own problems today, she mentioned how upset she gets it when people tell her she already has one baby so she should be happy with that and not worry about having another one. I so got that – it’s the equivalent of someone saying “Sorry, your dreams are shattered and the life you always thought you’d have won’t be happening. But buck up soldier and you’ll be right!”

Right there was the light bulb moment. That exact statement is my biggest fear. That we can’t fall pregnant and people tell me “You have a great husband and lots of people don’t even have that so be thankful for what you have.” It’s such a stupid statement. As if we aren’t thankful for what we have. But when you’ve dreamed of something all your life, and someone tells you you can’t have it, and there’s no point being upset about it, well, funnily enough, it doesn’t make you feel better.

Loosing a dream, or being forced to fight really hard for it is a grieving process and we go through the 7 stages:
1. Shock
2. Denial
3. Anger
4. Bargaining
5. Depression
6. Testing
7. Acceptance

We quite often yo-yo back and forth in between them. So you can’t have your dream = shock. Realising you can’t have your dream = denial. Being told to buck up = anger. Figuring out some way to make it happen, or trying to focus on the positive = bargaining. Realising it’s futile = depression. Wondering if you’ll make it through = testing. Realising the truth of the situation =acceptance. 

From 1 to 7 is a really long trip. A really long, emotionally draining and energy sucking trip. We’ve all been there – when something has fallen through, when we’ve lost a loved one, when a relationship has ended. 

As I thought about all my friends, and the different stages they're in, I realised we’ll all experience this trip about different things in our lives. Meaning we are never alone!
In the end, realising the absolute truth in the statement “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, means I can start this journey tomorrow with faith, hope and the knowledge I have a superbly, wonderful friend that will hold my hand along the way.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Two for the price of one

I found out today that the likelihood of having twins natural increases once you’re over 35. It was a weird, kismet moment to read this as I’ve been plagued with this bizarre thought over the last week that we could have twins. I have no idea why as we don’t have any twins in our family. But, for some reason, the thought has just been there.

I do tend to get “feelings in my waters” from time to time and even premonitions of things that will happen. But equally, I also have random thoughts that turn into nothing. But it was a very spooky moment for such a random thought to suddenly be grounded in fact!

This led me to have a conversation with my husband about what we would do if we had twins. He suggested we could sell one to a group in Afghanistan but I told him we would not be selling any of our children for money! He asked if we could sell them for cider. I said no.

But when he decided to get serious, he responded with his normal, level-headedness, which was “We’ll deal with it.”

I wouldn’t mind twins to be honest. At the very most I only want two children so if we had them at the same time it would be over in one foul swoop. Although I’m well aware that the early years will be tough. But overall, I think I’d like it.

Mind you, I wouldn’t be one of those mothers who dresses her twins in exactly the same clothes. What is with that? Not only do you look the same as each other but you have to dress the same too. I’m not sure that’s the way to raise two, independent children who are strong and secure in their OWN self-identity. But I’ll continue with that discussion should I end up with two for the price of one!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Return of the fat

One of my greatest fears of being pregnant is getting fat. I know, you kind of have to get fat if you want to get pregnant. You can't avoid it. But for me, it's a bit more involved than that.

This October marks the 10th anniversary of me loosing 35 kilos. It's a lot of weight to loose and it's a lot of weight to have kept off for 10 years. So the thought of even having to put some of that weight back on chills me to the bone.

At 62, my Father just lost 20 kilos for my wedding. So it just goes to show you that no matter your age, if you put your mind to it, you can achieve anything. So it's not like I don't think I could get the weight off, it's just the thought of letting myself eat enough to put the weight on in the first place.

Don't get me wrong, I have no intention of starving myself through a pregnancy. I've seen friends eat whatever they like, succumbing to the "I'm eating for two" syndrome. Then they complain about putting on 20 kilos. I will be careful about what I eat and focus on the fact that every morsel I put into my body is fuel for my baby. So I won't be eating mountains of crap!

It will be something I will need to be focussed on and I will need to push myself out of my comfort zone. With the control I've had over to keep the weight off, I'll have to lax that a bit to ensure I have a healthy baby. Whoever heard of a woman no wanting to put weight on in her pregnancy? Oh well, there's always a first I guess!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

The big IF

In all the time my husband and I have been talking about having kids, I’ve been pessimistic about the prospect. Even talking to other people, I also couch any discussion about babies with “…if we are lucky to have them.” The big IF rears it’s ugly head.

I suddenly started thinking this was a very pessimistic view to the baby challenge. Although, I often swing between thinking is it pessimistic or realistic? I say it as to not get myself, my husband or who we’re having the conversation with too excited. It’s really all about managing expectations. But it’s not my normal view on life.

My life would be so much simpler if I could be a pessimist. I would never have expectations and I would never be disappointed when my expectations don’t come to fruition. But try as I might, that approach to life has never worked for me.

Even all the years I was single, there was always a part of me that continued to try to meet someone. I was always proactive in terms of dating and putting myself out on a ledge to meet someone. So why can’t I take the same approach to this?

Somehow, the disappointment seems greater if I don’t have a baby than if I didn’t meet someone. I’m sure the disappointment would have been just as great if I had not have been lucky enough to meet my husband.

I seem to be in an internal struggle between the power of positive thinking, believing the universe will bring me everything I want and hard, cold, reality.

I just saw on the news that 1 in 6 couples now require assisted pregnancy services. That’s a pretty high number. That’s the reality of the situation. But the more I think about it, the more I realise that maybe, just maybe, the universe has bought me everything I ever wanted because I never stopped working to make it all happen.

Ahh, hello light bulb moment! Right, new approach to this caper. From this day on, I will replace the IF with a WHEN and believe it in with all my heart!


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