Thursday, 8 March 2012

38 weeks and a day

Meaning that there are only 13 days until my due date, the date that has been etched on my mind for nine months now.

Last week's midwife appointment was exciting in that she told me that the baby is 3/5 engaged. I thought he/she must be because my heartburn was a lot less than it had been. I next see her on Tuesday when I'll be 38+6, then after that I'll be on to weekly appointments! this can only mean that things are scarily close!

How do I feel? Impatient, a bit scared, very excited.  How's M feeling? Pretty much the same! Every time I wince at a pain (i.e. a baby headbutting cervix pain or hip pain) he looks all concerned and does a few deep breaths!

Full term bump:

38 weeks:

What am I worried about? Visitors, feeling overwhelmed by it all, not knowing when or how it's all going to happen.  But these worries are mild; normal mum-to-be anxieties.  I actually feel like I am normal.  In fact, I had my last CBT last week and it was great! I just walked out and was happy.  My earlier pregnancy worries have vanished, and while my personality dictates that I will always have a bit of anxiety, the excessive worries I had have gone.  In fact, I'd forgotten the extent of them until I looked at the stuff that he'd noted down early on at the first appointments (November I think).  He even showed a graph of how I'd been rating things every time - a nice downward stepping pattern to virtually negligible anxiety at the last time.  I had forgotten how worried I was that ICSI meant he/she may have abnormalities.  I had forgotten how I couldn't switch off my brain and followed and chased thoughts about delivering early and having the baby not survive and how I would back up these chased thoughts with images in my head.  So my worries now about too many visitors, although not insignificant, are mind-numbingly boring worries in comparison.  And, above all, completely NORMAL.  I like the word normal.

I've been thinking about what kind of mum I'll make.   But then I'm reminded that I had the best teacher for motherhood, the best teachers for parenthood.  They taught me what being a parent should be like and, while I'll never claim to be perfect just as they didn't, I have had the best guidance to what being a parent is about; the best experiences to back it up.  I know that a lot of people can't say that.

I know mum would be so sad that she isn't here now; it saddens me too.  But it serves as a comfort to me (and would be to her if I could tell her) that she has taught me and shown me everything that I need to know already.  I'll always have questions for her, who wouldn't?  But, I know that I can hear her voice if I think hard enough.  I don't actually have to think that hard. I can think of how she would advise me, what she would say and I don't think I would be far wrong if she could tell me these things herself.  Her grandchild will get to know her through me (and his/her auntie) through all the funny stories we will share and because of the way we were parented; a way that was perfect for us, for our family.

This week I have been busy.  On Monday I was disappointed that I couldn't initiate my nesting instinct.  I knew I wanted to deep-clean the kitchen.  I had hope that I would suddenly be all "ooooo cleaning I can't wait!" when it clicked to Monday. It didn't happen.  Still, I managed to pluck up enough enthusiasm to do it and I ended up spending 2-3 hours cleaning.  I decided to go into town afterwards but as I was ambling along the high street I suddenly hit this wall of pain and tiredness.  I managed to hobble to the bank and then did the supermarket shopping.  M wanted to meet me in town but I really couldn't face it and so he saw me at home, stuck to the sofa, having found a pot of pasta sauce on the drive which I must have dropped in my haste to get the shopping inside so I could crash.

When he came in he gently told me off, as did my dad when I spoke to him later.  "You're supposed to be resting and taking it easy!".  I know, I know.  But sitting doing not a lot has never been me and, as I said to both of them, I felt fine at the time.  I never thought that I would pay for it later. But it has made me realise that, despite what they tell you about getting on all fours and scrubbing skirting boards being good for labour and baby's position, I really do have to pace myself.  I can't do as much now.  Having never been restricted movement-wise in my life before it's quite difficult to remember that I can't do certain things.  So, having had plans for Tuesday (seeing my bump buddy friend who's due on Saturday) and Wednesday (meeting the grandparents and cousin for lunch and shopping) I decided that today would be a lazy day.  It's really hard being lazy for me. I actually have felt guilty about it, spotting things to do! I have to admit I did put washing on, did put my clean clothes away, and did the last of the baby clothes ironing (for the last time I promise!).  We do have plans for tonight though!

Tonight is our tour of the hospital maternity suite.  On the 10th of March last year we had our IVF information session at the same hospital. So 364 days later ('cos it's been a leap year) we are having another information session but from the opposite perspective.  Unbelievable. Amazing! How things's can change in a year.

I've been thinking about this a lot - how things can change I mean. My friend who I saw on Tuesday gave me a book written by one of her best friends who would've been our age who died aged 22 of cancer.  Reading it I was so inspired by her and her positivity and I feel like I really got to know her.  She wrote about how you can measure a year and quoted the song from the musical Rent, Seasons of Love:

Five hundrend twenty five thousand 
six hundred minutes
Five hundrend twenty five thousand 
moments so dear
Five hundrend twenty five thousand 
six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year

In daylight, in sunsets, in midnights, 
in cups of coffee, In inches, in miles
in laughter in strife,

In Five hundrend twenty five thousand 
six hundred minutes
How do you measure a year in the life?

Since then I have had this song as a kind-of ear-worm, constantly bobbing up from time to time. It reminds me of the last year, of what we have achieved.  How would I measure the last year?

Some of the ways I have measured the last year of my life have included by counting injections, pills, medicines, days in hospital, days to go, days to wait, symptoms.  For what? What purpose does my counting have after all? To outline just what a rough time I had?  I'm not going to deny that it was rough, it was horrible, and it was and is still the biggest and scariest thing that I have ever had to endure.  But, that's it. It's almost over now (or just beginning!) and I have (or nearly have) all that I have ever dreamed of.

I went through 'all' of that.  A few short months.   Compared to the person who put that song into my head it is nothing. Nothing at all.  It made me think of mum, of course. Of what she endured.  How she never moaned even on her darkest of days.  She was inspirational, too.

I'm no inspiration.  I'm not special.  I'm just a normal girl who (selfishly?) wanted a baby and who has (almost) got one.  These people, who endure illness forever, for the rest of their days, who suffer indescribably, do they moan?  I've found that they are (generally speaking) happy people, people who are grateful for all they have, all they have done and seen, and all they are.  They don't pity themselves.

I should measure my year in those moments where you just 'be' and savour things.  Measure it in smiles, in laughs, in cuddles, even in copious amounts of cat-fluff that appear from nowhere after I've just swept the floor.  Measure it in the kicks I feel in my tummy, even measure it in the few stretch marks that have started to appear.  I don't mind these stretchmarks.  They're nothing.  They're not scars of pain or cancer, they're the marks of mummy-hood; marks for which I am grateful as I got what I wanted, what I needed, when so many people's scars are true scars. I could measure my year in the friendships I've nurtured and grown, in the children whom I've taught, who've said "I get it, Miss!", not in the number of detentions I have given out or the reports I've completed.  I should measure it in the number of thank you and good luck cards I have received, the number of presents, both for me and the baby - symbols of how lucky and loved we are.

I know that what I have been through isn't insignificant.  It certainly hasn't been from our perspective and I think it would bother me if I or others thought it was.  Infertility does leave scars too.  Yet, now those scars may start to heal and we are coming out of the other side, the lucky ones. The incredibly lucky ones. The ones for whom it worked, who get to take home a baby at the end.  Our nightmare is over.

I am the happiest I've ever been since those naive days of childhood when my sister and I used to play mummies with our black baby-dolls given by grandma, with their short afro hair and knitted outfits, making them cots from cardboard boxes and copious amounts of sellotape.  I am happy, albeit tainted with the loss of my mum, but still happy because she would be happy. She would want us to be happy more than she would want anything else.

So, now, every time I see another pile of cat fluff, I will be grateful. Grateful that it's there at all, that I am here, now, only having to worry about cat fluff.  Not worrying that I'll never be a mummy or that I'll even live another year. I feel inspired to seize every moment, just as these inspirational people have done. How would you measure your year?