Category Archives: Fear

The Fear That Underpins it All

I’m getting clucky.  Really clucky.

And that can only be a bad thing because, for a number of reasons, there’s no way we are going to be trying to conceive any time soon.

And that makes me sad.  Sad in a way that reminds me so strongly of how I felt when we were trying to get pregnant the first time around.

When we were TTCing, I didn’t get angry.  Or jealous.  Or frustrated.  I know I’m in a vanishingly small minority among IFers, but I used to love seeing babies and pregnant bellies; I wanted to hear people’s stories about pregnancy, birth, and parenting.  It gave me hope; I think in a way it enabled me to live vicariously through other people’s experiences.  So no, I never felt angry or jealous.

But I did feel sad.  Sad down to the core of my being.  And I really don’t want to feel that again.

There are so many anxieties that fuel this sadness.  How on earth am I going to take time out of my very demanding, very inflexible career to have a baby?  How will we support two children if I do take time off?  When will my husband be ready to embrace the idea of having another child?  Worse yet, what if he never wants another?  When will there be time for the third child I already know I want?

And behind it all, there is the other.  That base fear that underpins it all.  What if there is no second child?  What if this time the treatments don’t work?  What if I wait too long?

What if I miss my chance?

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Filed under Baby Making, Round 2, Fear, Infertility

Change – Part II

The move is complete.

We’re settled in the new house and we’re all enjoying it. Will loves having free access to the oh-so-toddler-friendly courtyard and we are literally next door to two parks. (And we finally have our internet reconnected!)

We have a lovely little routine going on. I’m happy. I’m settled. And in 5 days that all changes. In 5 days I start work.

I finally signed my contract. I’ve even been to the hospital to organise my ID badge.

Holy crap, this is really happening.

I still have the same anxieties about the job and the study it will require, but in some ways I guess I’m feeling more confident about the transition.

I wrote in this post about how accepting this job also meant moving house and starting Will in day care, and I had some regrets and concerns about both those things, but the good news is that now that these transitions are behind us  I’m feeling much more comfortable with our choices in those areas.

I was reluctant to leave a geographical area that I liked for one that I was not very familiar with. I do miss my old familiar haunts. I miss that H could be home 5 minutes after finishing work and sometimes popped in during the day (we now each have a 25 minute commute in opposite directions); I miss my close friend from my mothers’ group who lived just around the corner and who I saw almost every day; I miss being able to walk to Will’s weekly swimming lessons.

BUT. I’m happy in our new suburb. It’s different, yes. But I’m comfortable here (which has nothing to do with the fact that I have found 4 cafes serving great coffee all within a 5 to 10 minute walk. Okay, it’s not just about that). We like the house, and we like the area, and the move went as smoothly as these things can, all of which equal one less thing to worry about.

The transition to day care is also going fairly well. We had Will wait-listed at 4 centres, and for a while it didn’t seem he was going to get a spot at any of them which caused a significant amount of anxiety. I was furiously brain-storming other options when I got a call to say that he had a place at our preferred centre – I’m sure you can imagine my huge sigh of relief!

We started orientation a week after moving and I’m really happy with how it’s going.

Keen to get out our front door on his first day at school

The centre is great and Will’s teacher is lovely. He gets a little upset when I drop him off but he settles within a minute or so. There were some issues with separation anxiety during the first week which affected Will settling for sleep but that has resolved now. He plays with his little friends, gets cheeky with his teachers, and even naps on his own little mattress – something which I thought would be a real challenge.

I don’t want to minimise the difficulties. I miss him dreadfully while he’s at day care and I still have some guilt – and sadness – about not being home with him every day, but at least now I know that he is happy there, and that’s a huge weight off my mind.

From next week he will be at day care 3 days a week, with his baby sitter for one day a week, and with his dad for one day a week. H has been able to cut down to 4 days a week at work for which I am incredibly thankful. I only wish that I could do the same!

To be honest, I’m still terrified. There are still so many unknowns, but I guess only time will tell….

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Filed under Fear, Photos, Working Mother

Change – Part I

Next year everything changes.

I haven’t really written about my plans for next year, partly because I find it hard to carve out time to sit down and write a post (as opposed to tweeting which can be done on-the-go from my phone) and partly because I’ve been struggling with some pretty serious ambivalence about what 2012 will mean for me and my family.

In summary: a new house in a new suburb, a new job, new childcare arrangements, new study commitments… all of which leaves me feeling a like there’ll be very little left in my life from the last 14 wonderful months.

In the middle of this year I applied for a job – a very competitive and sought after training position at a hospital on the other side of town. I applied partly because I felt like I should – not a good reason, I’ll grant you (and it would take too many paragraphs to explain why I feel that way, if I even could) – but also because I do truly want to take this step in my career. This is where the ambivalence kicks in – I want the job, but I don’t want what it will mean for my life for the next five years (which is the length of the training program – at a minimum).

To be honest, I didn’t think I’d get the job. During my interview the director of training was pretty blunt about the difficulties of the role when I had a child at home (this was the first question they asked me – yes, I know they technically aren’t allowed to discriminate) and about the relative mediocrity of my previous academic record (average to above average grades, although in a very competitive field). I left the interview sure I would not gain the position.

When they called me the following day to offer me the job I was forced to abruptly face the realities of the situation: turn down the job knowing I would almost certainly never be offered the role again, or accept the job and say goodbye to so many of the things I love about my life.

I hesitated for a fraction of a second and then accepted the job.

On an intellectual level it’s a no-brainer. It’s a position on the training program that I’ve always wanted to be on; in 5 years time (if I make it!) I will leave the program with a fantastic career, one that has the potential to be both lucrative and family-friendly. This is the job that will enable me to send Will to private school, to take annual overseas trips, to provide him with opportunities he might otherwise miss out on. Out of the diverse career field I am in this is the job that I think I am best suited to and will most enjoy.

But.

This job will mean a 40 to 50 hour working week. It will mean major study commitments with some pretty serious exams – the first set in September next year. It means moving in order to be closer to my base hospital. It means overtime, nightshift, and weeks rostered to out-of-town locations.

How the hell do I do that and still manage to maintain any semblance of the close relationship I currently share with Will? Where will I find the energy to continue nurturing my marriage? When will I have time for any self-care activities like yoga? How do we care for Will when both of us have jobs that involve working odd or extended hours?

And.

How the hell are we ever going to have another kid?

That’s the big one for me. The reality that this fertility-impaired girl might have to wait until she’s 36 to try for more kids. I can’t ignore what 5 more years is going to do to my fertility. It’s that uncertainty coupled with the knowledge that I will only be able to spend a fraction of the time I currently do with my son that makes me feel almost sick every time I think about it. I haven’t even returned my contract because that would just make it seem too real, too final.

Holy crap, what have I gotten myself in for?

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Filed under Fear, Non-IF Stuff, Working Mother

Alternate Reality

Warning: this post is pretty raw and deals with SIDS/cot death

Have you seen that movies Sliding Doors? In it Gwyneth Paltrow lives out two possible lives.  We see two futures unfolding, each the consequence of just one moment.

Today I’m living my own version of Sliding Doors. I exist mostly in my true life, but my mind keeps imagining an alternate reality, one that I could be living today if yesterday’s events had been different.

~ ~ ~

Yesterday Will had not woken up by 7:20. That’s unusual but not unheard of. I went to his room to get him up – standing at the door with my hand ready to push it open I had a horrible sense that something was not right. In the past week or so we have been having issues with Will moving around the cot, occasionally getting jammed up against the sides and crying out for us, but once I found him asleep upside down. He sleeps with blankets (because it’s damn cold here at night and he’s always been a back sleeper who rarely moved around at night) and finding him with his head precariously near his blankets made me uncomfortable.

I think all mothers have had similar moments of fear; SIDS is most mothers’ worst nightmare. I’ve certainly had a sense of foreboding before but it has always been unfounded, when I push open the door I find that all right with my world and my son’s smile has swept away the fear.

Yesterday that did not happen.

I actually stood still with my hand on his door and braced myself for what I might find – it sounds morbid but my sense of disquiet was so intense that I was preparing how I would tell my husband that something terrible had happened to Will. I went into his room and walked towards his cot. In the dim light I was half-way to the cot before I could see that Will was lying upside down and on his tummy, with his face buried in the blankets. He always stirs when I enter his room but yesterday he was still. Deathly still. I’m pretty sure I stopped breathing at this point. I put my hand on his shoulder – nothing. I said his name and gave him a little shake – nothing. All sense of control shattered and I screamed his name.

And he screamed back.

My little boy was just fine, with the exception of being somewhat terrified after being woken from a deep sleep by someone screaming at him.

But in the second before he woke, I lived what felt like a lifetime of a different reality. In that second, my son was dead.

I scooped up my crying child and ran to my bedroom where my husband, startled by my scream, was halfway out of bed. He held me while I held Will, held him tighter than I ever have before, concentrating on his breaths, his warmth, his wriggling – anything that proved just how very alive he was.

And then we went on with our day.

~ ~ ~

Only, it’s not that simple.

I experienced a terror so profound that I can’t just forget that it happened.

It feels like the hangover you get after a particularly bad nightmare. I keep having flashbacks of that second. That terrible second in which my son had died. I’m going about my day but I’m also living a second reality. While I’m watching my son play I’m also on the phone, making funeral arrangements. While I’m putting him down for a nap I’m also staring blankly at an empty cot crying for the child who should be in it.

I know that my son is healthy and safe. I know that my experience yesterday was such a small, insignificant thing compared to what so many people have gone through. But I feel traumatised. I’ve cried (albeit briefly) no fewer than three times today, and last night I stood at Will’s door for a full five minutes, too scared to go into his room to give him a dreamfeed.

I will never forget how I felt, and I think I will appreciate every second of Will’s life that much more because of it. But I don’t want to feel haunted by it – and I think that’s why I’m writing this post. I’m hoping that by putting my experience down as words it will become something a little more mundane, a story rather than a nightmare.

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A Working Mother – Update

My day at work last week went pretty well. I had to kiss Will good-bye three times before I managed to get out the door in the morning, but there were no tears. The morning was fairly quiet and H was able to bring Will in for a feed at 10.30 AM which was fantastic. It’s quicker and easier than pumping, and I got some awesome cuddles! The afternoon was extremely busy and I had trouble getting away to pump. I finally managed it more than half an hour after the time I intended. I ended up pumping in the office/break room which is used by a large number of staff. My initial plan was perhaps to pump in the shower room at work but I realised there was no seat and no electrical outlet to plug my pump into. It took me about 25 minutes to pump and much to my amazement nobody came into the room during that time. It is inevitable that I will frequently be sharing that room with others so I made sure to pack a muslin cloth to drape over myself and provide a little modesty. It’s not ideal but it will do.

Interestingly I didn’t find being at work too difficult (in terms of missing the wee man, although I did find it difficult to turn my brain back on!). I was so busy in the afternoon that I didn’t even have time to think about it. It was later that night after Will had gone down to bed that I started getting a delayed reaction – after only seeing him for a couple of hours all day I was feeling a little sad and had to give him his dream-feed a little early because I just couldn’t wait any longer. I made sure to have an extra 10 minutes of cuddles after the feed which was just what I needed.

The whole experience was made easier by the fact that H was caring for Will. I didn’t have to worry that Will would be upset or confused and I know that H is more than capable of caring for him.

I’m glad I was able to ease back into work last week on a day that H was able to stay home. Tomorrow I go back to work and Will is going to the home of a family friend for the day. She is loving, sensible, and has raised three children of her own, but the reality is that Will is spending an entire day out of our care, which gives me a whole new dimension of things to worry about…

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Filed under Baby Stuff, Fear

A Working Mother

My wee man is almost four months old. In 4 days I go back to work, and I’m dreading it. It’s only one 10-hour shift a week, but I’m dreading it.

I’m going back to a job that I don’t love, because I worked too bloody hard and spent too many years at university to give it away now. If I keep my foot in the door going back to full-time work in 2012 will be so much easier. Perhaps not a good reason, but somehow I feel it’s what I should do.

I worry that I’m not going to be terribly committed to my work (hell, I wasn’t that committed even before wee man came along) and the control freak part of me is anxious about someone else looking after my guy for 10 hours straight. I felt more comfortable with the idea when H was going to be looking after Will, but a recent change in job situation means he will only be able to do that for the first two weeks or so.  Finding a place in a child care centre on this short notice is impossible (Will is on a waiting list that is about a year long). Finding a private nanny who was happy with only one day of work seemed daunting – and while I’m comfortable having Will cared for by friends or family I don’t like the idea of stranger looking after my guy. We have no family here, so unfortunately there isn’t a grandmother available to care for him while I’m at work.  We’re lucky that a family friend with three teenage children was considering returning to work one day a week. She loves Will and was thrilled when I asked if she would like to care for him. But to be totally honest I still don’t love the idea.

I don’t NEED to go back. My pay will only cover child care and some pocket-money (now that we will be paying for childcare the financial benefit of returning to work is almost nil). For some reason though, I feel like people will be disappointed in me if I choose to be 100% a SAHM. And part of me wonders if I might not enjoy that day of adulthood… but I get teary just thinking about it.

I have to admit, I’m a little stressed about this transition – there just seem to be so many unknowns. I’m comfortable in my current situation; Will and I have our routine and we cope really well and have a great time (mostly!). Ten hours is a long time to be away from my precious fellow – how will I cope? I’m worried that there might be an impact on my breast milk supply. I’m not sure how I am going to fit three pumping session into my work day – and I have no idea where I’m going to do it. I’m worried that my performance at work will be sub-par, and the effect this would have on my career aspirations. I worry that the change in routine might adversely effect Will’s behaviour. How will he cope with someone else putting him down for naps, for example?

I know that the likelihood is that in a few weeks we will have settled into a new routine and going to work will not seem such a big deal. But until then I reserve the right to be anxious!

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Filed under Baby Stuff, Fear, Non-IF Stuff, Uncategorized

A Timely Reminder

Since the Wee Man was born, I have already felt some of the fear and pain associated with infertility seeping out of me. Now that we have our precious boy safe and sound, I can feel more confident that when we decide to get back on the TTC wagon we will once again be successful. In IF terms, we had a pretty easy ride the first time along – we were successful with only our second medicated cycle. It’s no guarantee of course, but I know that with a little help my body can conceive and carry a child, and that’s reassuring. (My body doesn’t seem to know how to deliver a child, but that’s a story for another post!)

In the early hours of this morning though, I had a reminder of just how sad and scared I felt back at the beginning of this pregnancy. When I started bleeding a few days after our positive pregnancy test, my husband was at a work training course. I called him in tears, and he was understandably upset. We both thought our dream was over.

This training course was a pretty big deal for H. He had waited a long time to get a place on it, and it was a compulsory step in order to move his career in the direction he desired. H confided in two of the instructors, who gave him some wonderful support and advice and promptly sent him home to me, reassuring H that his absence would be ‘unofficial’ and would not affect the completion of the course.

In the early hours of this morning as I lay in bed in the heat, trying to fall back to sleep after feeding my beautiful little fellow, I checked my emails on my phone. H had forwarded me two emails – replies from the two instructors to an email H had sent them letting them know that Will had arrived safely.

It brought tears to my eyes. Firstly for the kindness they showed H at that difficult time, and for how genuinely pleased they are for us now. Secondly because in reading what H wrote to them in his thank you I was reminded of just how awful those few days were. My big tough man who rarely gets sad had described himself as ‘heartbroken’.

And now, as I hear my babe waking from his morning nap, I am reminded of just how lucky we are.

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Filed under Family, Fear, Infertility, Love