Monday, 01 February, 2010

(Warning: As usual, this is quite long-winded!)

So Ben and I have always wanted to have children. We knew that perhaps we might not be able to (because some couples can't and there's always the chance that we were one of those couples). But we have always wanted to (even though [and rightly so] the prospect of raising children is both terrifying as it is glorious).

Anyway, a couple of years ago, we decided to start “trying”. But I didn't want to do charting (that's when you take your temperature at the same time every day in order to work out when during the month you're the most fertile). We just decided not to let anything stand in nature's way, and if it happened it happened. In my own head, I decided to trust God with the whole thing—that he would cause it to happen in his own good time (hopefully when he thought I was ready!) and if he didn't, well, it would be really sad, but I would accept his will on the matter.

Around Christmas last year, things were rather stressful for all sorts of reasons I won't go into. (Really, Christmas is just stressful, no matter who you are!) My cycle was late, and I thought it was just stress because that's happened in the past. But on a whim, I decided to do a home pregnancy test just to make sure. I remember the morning I did it, I woke up much earlier than Ben, and then when I got the result, I was so shocked, I went and woke Ben up straight away because it was positive.

I'm not sure about Ben, but for me, initially I felt both excited and terrified, plus it was all kind of unreal—like it wasn't really happening. We didn't tell anyone else. Instead, on the Monday (which was the Monday before Christmas), I went to see my GP. She sent me for blood and urine tests, and also reeled off a list of what I could and couldn't eat, plus activities to avoid. And then Christmas and New Year happened and another week passed.

(Another thing to mention: it was amazing how quickly the information started to overwhelm me. My brain had barely registered that I was pregnant, and here was the nurse taking my blood asking me all these things that meant nothing to me. “[Something something something something]?” she said to me. “I'm sorry,” I said. “What does that mean?” She didn't help matters by just repeating what she just said, but finally explained what she meant when I responded with more blankness. [C'mon, I've just found out I'm pregnant! I haven't thought about any of that! I don't know anything! I haven't been given any pamphlets saying, “So you're going to have a baby ...” Give me a break!] Now I can't even remember what she asked me.)

The following week, back at work, I went to visit my GP. Ben came with me. She gave me the results of my test: I was indeed pregnant. She had told me the last time who I wanted for my obstetrician gynaecologist (OBGYN) (and I had said, “No idea.”) This time, I came equipped with a name, having looked up various things on the internet. (Thank goodness for the internet! It's hard to find out info like that when you're trying not to tell anyone. And in the process of trying to find someone, I did end up telling people because, of course, they want to know why you're asking and will be suspicious anyway, even if you said, “Oh, I'm asking on behalf of a friend ...”) So my GP gave me a referral and advised me to make an appointment ASAP because OBGYNs get booked up fast (I did not know this!) She was right; my first choice was booked up, so I had to find another one. I rang another and managed to get in with that one, and then had to get my GP to change the referral.

(Incidentally [just for those who have no familiarity with this sort of world—and I must say, I certainly don't expect you to!], I also didn't know about the myriad of options available to women regarding birthing care. Some go to OBGYNs, some go to birthing centres, some see midwives, some do home births, etc. As I said, the amount of information I was presented with was somewhat overwhelming, and as I didn't know any better and, to be honest, couldn't have made an informed choice anyway, I just obeyed my GP and went to see an OBGYN.)

(Also, I was thankful that I had bought a secondhand edition of What to Expect When You're Expecting several years ago. I know it's a bit out of date, but some of the information stays the same, and it's been quite a Godsend having it as whenever I'm worried about something, I can just go look it up and be reassured.)

That night, we told immediate family. We had dinner with Ben's parents and sister, who were overjoyed. Apparently Ben's mother and sister have been praying for us to have kids for the past couple of years! (They also have been praying for a girl; I guess they want a granddaughter now that they already have a grandson from Tim and Ros.) We rang Tim and Ros, and then my mum and dad (he happened to be in the country at the time, which was convenient!)

We were just about to fly out for Hong Kong/China, but of course, my GP couldn't give me anything. She just advised me to “be careful”. I was already a little anxious about the pregnancy (which is normal: information overload + changes in my body + prospect of everything changing + morning sickness [which is such a misnomer, but I guess “all day sickness” doesn't have the same ring to it]); the prospect of travel just drove my anxiety a bit higher. The final straw came the night before we were due to fly out when I tried to complete online check-in and found that we weren't seated together on the plane. Then I had a bit of a meltdown! Poor Ben coped very well with it, and of course, it was easily sorted out the following day at the airport when we checked in properly, but because I was so anxious and stressed, that's one of the closest times I've ever come to throwing up.

(A word about all day sickness: I know it's common in the first trimester to be really tired. I didn't have that. Instead, I felt like the wind had been taken out of my sails. I didn't have the energy to do things. I spent a day or two working at home, and I just didn't get much work done. I felt nauseous a lot, and discovered that the nausea would recede if I ate things. So I'd be eating all the time, which is really weird for me because I don't normally snack. People think I'm really into food because of all the food photos but it's actually not true; I take photos of food because I like the way it looks before it gets decimated by eating. I usually like eating but I'm not a fan of cooking. And most of the time, I don't snack; I just eat when I'm hungry. I'm also rather notorious for skipping meals—especially on weekends when I get up late and go straight to lunch. So eating all the time was really weird for me. I stocked up on dried fruit, nuts and crackers, and would carry them around with me. I was lucky: I never threw up [I know other girls who have spent the whole of their pregnancy throwing up, and I'm really thankful that that hasn't happened to me. My mum said that she didn't have any morning sickness at all so I don't know if that's affected my genetics!] But the nausea made the food thing very urgent, and I had to stop procrastinating on making dinner because otherwise I would just feel worse. In addition, I found that even thinking about certain foods made me nauseous. There were certain things that I used to eat that I could not bring myself to eat anymore. It's made the whole business of eating a bit unpleasant as I never know what to expect! On the other hand, I've had no weird cravings, unless you count my dairy addiction: I've always drunk a lot of milk, but now I'm consuming cheese and yoghurt way more than I used to. Oh, and bread and butter too.)

Anyways, fast forward through our trip (which I'd like to blog about another time in brief because there are things that just don't come through with photos). I coped pretty well through most of it. As I said, I was very nauseous when we checked in, but once the seating arrangements were sorted, I calmed down, and most of the trip was fine. It was just during the last hour or two that I thought I was going to lose it, and wished I had brought crackers on board: I couldn't eat the final meal they served, which was dinner. Just looking at it made me feel nauseous! When we landed, my brother came to get us and took us by cab to his place. He asked if we wanted dinner. Ben wasn't hungry because he'd eaten his dinner, and I didn't particularly want to eat, but I knew I had to fill my stomach. So we went down to the local 7-Eleven to get supplies, and my brother bought me plain congee, which I slowly consumed in his tiny flat and started to feel better.

During the rest of the trip, I was mostly fine. I just carried crackers and nuts with me the whole time, and was careful about what I ate. It was interesting talking to my relatives about their pregnancy/birth experiences; my American cousin's wife told me that she had eaten sushi and sashimi all the way through both her pregnancies (but then she's Japanese, so maybe that makes a difference!) (I am not willing to take the risk.) My aunt on my dad's side said she had had no morning sickness. But then she also said she had no pain during labour for both my cousins, so I'm not sure how much I can believe her because perhaps she's forgotten! The times when I felt the worst usually coincided with stress—like when we caught the train to Guangzhou (the second time I've come close to throwing up), when we landed in Lijiang (because the pilot was taking the scenic route to show us the mountains and the plain; Ben said it was the most amazing thing he'd ever seen; I was feeling too ill to look out the window, and everyone else around us on the plane kept crying out as the plane banked and dipped), the first night in Lijiang (because we had communication troubles trying to get hold of my uncle and aunt who were staying in a different place to us, but we had arranged to meet for dinner. I could get hold of my dad, but not my uncle, and then we started running out of credit on our prepaid SIM card. So then I started freaking out because we were alone in a foreign city where we couldn't speak the language, plus I was hungry and still feeling sick from the plane ... anyway, we went and had some dinner and I had a cry and calmed down), and then every now and then if I pictured food I couldn't stand the thought of eating.

China also made me a bit anxious because I wasn't sleeping well (because of the hard beds; mattresses in Hong Kong and China are much harder than here!), because they don't have laws regarding smoking in public places so sometimes we were in restaurants where there would be someone smoking at the next table and there was nothing we could do about it, and because of the toilets: most of them are squat toilets, and you learn very quickly to always carry tissues with you because there is no guarantee of toilet paper or even soap to wash your hands afterwards. (Yeah, pregnancy means you have to empty your bladder a little more frequently. I think getting up throughout the night prepares you for having a newborn!)

But anyway, we survived the trip. We didn't end up going to Beijing because it was -20° Celsius and there were snow storms, so that was a bit of a relief because I had been very nervous about that leg of the trip. And then, the day we arrived home in Sydney, I had to go give a blood sample because the nuchal translucency test was being done that Friday and they needed a blood test to go along with it. I wasn't sure if I could manage getting out to the eastern suburbs given my fatigue and jet lag (I only slept for a couple of hours on the plane and of course it was very uncomfortable), but after a nap, I drove out there without incident. Of course, Prince of Wales is a rabbit warren and I got lost! Reception couldn't help so I had to call the place. And of course, had I not wasted time doing that, I would have been there in time before the endocrine lab closed (it closed at 3), which meant I had to go to such-and-such pathology to get the blood taken, and, as I said, Prince of Wales is a rabbit warren! But, hurrah, I found the place and they saw me pretty much straight away and only took one vial, so I was able to get out of there, do a bit of shopping at Metro green grocer and go home and collapse.

I was fortunate to have had a bit of leave up my sleeve to take that day off; I'm not sure if I could have done any work! The following day was Australia Day (which I used to rest instead of doing work, although I had had vague intentions of doing work; deadlines, you see!) Then on the Wednesday I had my first appointment with my OBGYN. I didn't realize that Ben was needed, and he had a work appointment, which he then had to move. But I was glad that he came because one of the things the OBGYN did was an ultrasound with her small machine, so we got to see the baby for the first time! I have to confess that, up to that point, I had been wondering if my body was just making it all up—that it was like Glee where Terri had a hysterical pregnancy because she wanted so much to get pregnancy. I worried that soon all would be revealed and we would have to tell everyone I wasn't really pregnant. (Yeah, the strange thoughts that go through your head when you're expecting ... blame it on “baby brain”?) The point is, it was just lovely and amazing and grounding to see the baby for the first time. (Hereafter, I shall refer to him/her as “Peanut”.) It was even more amazing to see Peanut wave his/her arms! I thought, “Oh my goodness! Peanut is real! Peanut is alive! That is so cool! Praise be to God!” etc.

After that, Ben had to go off to his meeting and the OBGYN sent me for more blood and urine tests.

On the Friday, which just happened to be our tenth wedding anniversary, Ben came with me to do the nuchal translucency test. That's the one where they assess the risk of your baby having Downs Syndrome and other genetic diseases. They can't rule them out completely, but the nuchal translucency plus the blood test can tell you the likelihood of those things. I've learned that whenever you go to anything medical—doctor's, dentist's, OBGYN's, etc.—always bring something with you to do because they are invariably running late and you are rarely seen at the time you're booked. So Ben read and I knitted, and couples came and went around us.

We had a very friendly ultrasound lady. The equipment there was way more sophisticated than my OBGYN's (of course!) And because the ultrasound lady was trying to get shots of various things, we got to look at Peanut for a lot longer—me on the chair with my belly being poked and Ben sitting next to me in this dark room with a rather large screen up on the wall opposite. Peanut was quite stubborn this time: Peanut was down the bottom of my uterus in a corner all curled up. No amount of prodding could get Peanut to move. Furthermore, Peanut was rather active that day and kept moving arms and legs. The ultrasound lady said that Peanut certainly had character!

Anyway, at that session, we were given our photos. So I am very pleased to present in utero our beloved Peanut:


Peanut is due in August (God-willing), which means I shall finish up work in July. I do hope to keep blogging about pregnancy things (mainly keep a record), but I will try to keep it from being ridiculous or boring. (Unfortunately what fascinates me may not fascinate you, so feel free to skim-read.)

Ben and I are looking forward to becoming three.


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Congratulations, Beilharzen! Welcome to the slightly-bewildering world of pregnancy (and birth…and children…). God has blessed you greatly with this new life. We’ll be praying for Peanut’s growth and development, and for you guys as you prepare.

I’m sure you’re surrounded by baby veterans, but always happy to help with books/advice/recommendations/listening.


Posted by Ben A on 01 February, 2010 5:25 PM

Praise be to God indeed!  Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.

I had a similar sort of morning sickness.. except I threw up! I’m suitably impressed that you coped OS.. that must have been tough.
It sounds like you’re doing marvelously otherwise!
Book recommendation on something a bit less technical and a bit more human: ‘Birth’ http://www.birthnet.com.au/

Great pic!! Peanut is cute! :D
Praying for you all!

Posted by sammi on 01 February, 2010 7:01 PM

Thanks everyone! I will be sure to ask for help when I need it!

Posted by /Karen/ on 01 February, 2010 7:56 PM

Lovely news, Karen.

Thanks so much for sharing all of this… people swap engagement stories but rarely pregnancy stories! And it’s kind of similar don’t you think, all this excitement leading up to a big day!

So happy for you guys! Actually never been more excited for anyone except my sister! I think it’s because I think that you will both be amazing parents and love the idea that someone could grow up in your family.

Looking forward to many more posts on the topic. smile

Congratulations! This is so fantastic! smile

Posted by Diane Lovell on 03 February, 2010 5:10 AM

Don’t laminate your ultrasound picture smile That is my advice.

Posted by Elsie on 03 February, 2010 6:37 PM

Congratulations again smile


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