Sunday, January 29, 2006

And then

Three days ago I was lying on the couch, drifting in and out of sleep as I listened to C talking to some friends on the phone.

He was telling them that I was finally pregnant! With twins! Joyous shrieking emerged from the phone and C and I smiled at each other and tangled our toes together happily. At the end of the call he looked at me and said: I don’t think we should tell anyone else now. Not until after we really are 12 weeks.

It’s ok, I said. That’s only 6 days away.

Then we decided to watch an episode of The Sopranos and I got up to do a quick wee.

And then.

And then.

You know how this is going to go, don’t you?

For a couple of seconds, as I stared at the blood on the toilet paper, I simply felt confused.

Like Time had suddenly reversed itself and I was right back in that same place, in that same moment every month when I would hope against hope that this time, this month was our time, our month and each time I was disappointed. It was as if I had been tricked. I was wrong. I had never been pregnant at all.

I looked down at the toilet bowl filled with bloody water and I moaned, just slightly, the tiniest of sounds, and C who was in the loungeroom setting up the dvd heard that awful note in my voice and came running.

And when I saw his face my eyes started to scrunch up and I folded into myself and I started to cry.

It was a public holiday and everyone was closed and I had no idea who I could call and what I should do until in the end I rang the House Of Groovy IVF Love. And bless them, the Fertility Sisters were calm and soothing and understanding. They gave me advice and they wished me and C luck and said they were crossing their fingers for us.

C and I got ready to go into Emergency which means I packed a book to read during the inevitable long wait and he ducked down to the shops to buy me some pads.

I was expecting some Super strength, surfboard sized monstrosities but instead C handed over a pack of ultraslim regulars. I started to say that maybe the thicker sort would be better but he stopped me.

No, he said, quietly. I decided not to get those. Because you’re not going to need them. You’re not.

At that point there were more tears at his ever faithful optimism and that’s also how I know that babies have no kneecaps because the sticky strip on the back of the pads is decorated with whacky true facts.

I’m not going to bag on about the dire waiting room at the hospital with its Night Of The Living Dead atmosphere and its non-stop television advertorial for tooth whitening kits (“In just eight days?! I can’t belieeeeeve it!”).

The triage nurse grilled me about blood colour(not bright red) and amount(consistent but not gushing) and pain (no) and clots (no) and finally she suggested that perhaps the blood could be coming from my anus rather than being related to the pregnancy?

No, I said, firmly. It is not. It is related to my pregnancy.
Well, she said, it could be constipation related.
No, I said. I don’t have constipation.

Well, she said, I’m just warning you that the doctor may want to check that so don’t be alarmed.
Really, I wanted to say, I feel more alarmed at your enormously ugly headband, but thanks for the warning.

Two hours, half of The Wierdstone of Brisingamen, and one ultraslim pad later, we were in, sans anal probe, with the doctor who probed at my stomach, indicated that it would be several hours more to wait for an ultrasound (due to the public holiday) and then sent me home.
His diagnosis was that the bleeding could be absolutely fine or it could be the start of a miscarriage and either way there was nothing much that could be done. Did I want a bloodtest? There was still no pain, there were still no clots. I had my first appointment with the Antenatal Clinic the following morning at 8am. I decided to forgo the bloodtest and get some sleep.

Bright and early the next morning, we rocked up to the antenatal clinic, pristine Yellow Card in hand. I was calm and collected. I was also still bleeding. At the desk I managed to give my name in a steady voice. The midwife told me to wait for the clerical nurse.
But here’s the thing I said, and my Steady Voice suddenly went to shit, I’m bleeeeeedddiiing…..

Three minutes later I was across the hall in Ultrasound.

As the wand glided over my lubed up belly, C and I clutched hands and in my mind a little voice suddenly said: Please don’t take them both.

I had already thought about the possibility that we had lost the second twin, the one that was a week behind its sibling at the 7 week scan, but my greater fear was that we had lost them both and that now, my empty abdomen would be revealed in all its pathetic failure. That once again my crappy, infertile body had failed the test, only this time we got a little further in the ride, far enough to start discussing names and thinking about baby rooms.

Far enough for the universe to have a great hearty laugh at our clueless stupidity.

For a moment there was nothing to see but grey fog and amorphous sludge.

And then.

And then.

Suddenly, suddenly, it was as if the fog cleared and there was a baby there, a real baby, a tiny little person with a head and arms and legs and it was dancing and C was making bubbling, delighted sounds.

Oh, I said.

And then I started to cry, big racking sobs and the technician hastily handed me her tissue box.

I can’t see that second bub, she said carefully. And I nod, I know, its gone.

As my playwrighting pal sbs pointed out in the last load of comments, it has been a year since I started blogging about the Great Big Fertility Ride.

When I started I was angry and hurt and I needed to write down my experiences because I felt my life was sliding out from under me. This way, it might still slide but at least I could map out my journey and maybe some day, one day, I could look back and see there was a pattern and realize that it wasn’t just random buckets of shit hurled upon me from on high.

One of my friends is at the same stage of pregnancy as me and we would chat about diet and delivery options and for awhile I almost felt like a normal pregnant woman. Except, I didn’t buy my pregnancy vitamins in bulk. For a few weeks I was beginning to feel that the ride was over. That I had finally arrived. But I see now that for people like me it never really ends until a healthy baby is delivered into your arms. And even that’s just the beginning of a whole new ride.

And for now, I still can't see the pattern.

And those fucking buckets of shit, they still keep falling.

Back at the antenatal clinic, the technician measures the heartbeat of Twin A and types onto the screen.

It looks so cute, says C, so wriggly, and she smiles. They’re quite active at this stage, she says. This little bub looks very healthy.

I’m still crying and snotting into my tissue but I don’t do it in that way you do when you scrunch up your eyes and fold into yourself, instead, this time, I keep my eyes wide open and I stare and cry and cry and stare because I can’t stand to miss one nanosecond of our beautiful dancing baby.

Sunday, January 08, 2006


Oh look I couldn't help it, alright?

We've told our families about it and the few very close friends who knew we were shooting up guineapig gonad juice or whatever the hell that stuff is in an effort to fall pregnant. We generally talk about it in hushed and sensible voices and the phrases "still early days" and "all being well" are scattered freely throughout the conversation. It's the sensible way of doing it but frankly it's not very satisfying.

But then last night we were out at the Robert Lepage show and maybe it was the unsettling puppetry or the soothing air of intimacy he created but afterwards we were chatting to some Not As Close Friends, one of whom has been through IVF and another who frequented the Chinese Fertility Goddess (and both of whom have 2 beautiful kids apiece) and we were talking about What We'd Been Up To Recently and finally I couldn't stand it anymore and I dragged the CFG recipient off to one side and said: ok, I do have some other news.

She looked at me. You're having a baby, she said.
No, I said. We're having two.
Oh my god, she said. Oh my fucking god. I am so Fucking Happy for you.

And then we did a little skipping hugging dance right in front of the theatre.

And it was deeply deeply satisfying.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Star Bright

On our very first New Year’s Eve together, 11 years ago, C and I stayed at a house near the ocean.

It was a little cottage that belonged to the hippie sister of a friend of mine and we house sat for a week while she chanted in an ashram somewhere and strained her own tofu.

The cottage was very sweet and rustic and full of home made crafts and home woven rugs. The kitchen was full of recycled glass jars crammed with home preserved vegetables and dried fruits. It reminded me of Little House In The Big Woods, with all its stored foodstuffs and preserves and Ma diligently making cheese out of the head of a pig and boiling maple syrup into sugar while Laura played with her cornhusk doll and plotted ways to kill or maim her perfect sister Mary.

That New Year’s Eve was meant to be quiet and intimate with just C and I and some nice wine and candlelight and half a tab of acid each. This was a new experience for me and naturally it ended in disaster. Instead of walking hand in hand through the moonlight and gazing in chemically induced wonder at the beauty of Nature, I tipped a candle over one of the chunky home woven rugs and spent the next eight hours obsessively picking wax out of every individual cotton fibre.

We spent this New Year’s Eve alone together too.

Just me. And C. And the twins.

On December 30th, the 7 week scan showed 2 sacs and 2 heartbeats.

I wish I could say I saw them twinkle like shining little stars in the ever expanding universe of my uterus but frankly we’re an older couple and the screen was so far away from the bed it was all C and I could do to squint at the shadowy peanut shapes inside the black blobs.

Even so, I felt my eyes become suspiciously moist.

The technician was excited. Look, she cried, as she twirled the dildocam like she was whipping mayonnaise. There’s bub!

All eye-moisture instantly evaporated. For some reason the word ‘bub’ coupled with her cheery upbeat tone and expectation that Everything Will Be Wonderful set my teeth on edge.

She twirled a little more. And here’s…other bub.

‘Other bub’ was said minus the exclamation mark. Even with our geriatric eyesight C and I couldn’t fail to note the discrepancy in size. Twin B was a week behind in development from Twin A.

I don’t have a copy of the scan but think King Kong and Naomi Watts and you get the idea.

As the technician measured the heartbeats (169 and 90-something) C, the eternal optimist, said: I’m cheering for the underdog!

The technician chuckled approvingly.

Mmmm, I said. And can you tell me, if Twin B fails, will I have a period?

The chuckling stopped.

Well, she said. You may get some spotting. Or it may simply be reabsorbed into the body. But…look, there’s a sac and a heartbeat. Sometimes the smaller one overtakes the other at around 20 weeks. I think we can give bub the benefit of the doubt! Let’s go with dad’s attitude!

So that’s what we’re doing. We’re going with C on this one. Go the underdog. And in the meantime I’ve started eating for a family of six. It is unpleasant to feel constantly hungry. It is even more unpleasant to feel you would like to rip the head off your husband and devour it because he took you to a function where there was NO FOOD and you didn’t eat for four hours. That only happened twice. I never leave the flat now without a handbag packed full of nuts and crackers.

I’m eight weeks pregnant now which is amazing and incredible and gobsmackingly weird. My body is changing before my eyes, (hey! I got cleavage!) I fall asleep at the drop of a hat and I eat and eat and eat. In the meantime we are working on a new show for January which is huge and monstrous and takes up a lot of my brainspace (the part that isn’t checking out my own cleavage).

I’m terrified and I’m elated and I’m cynical and trusting all at once.

I started reading baby books but after seeing the Narnia film I suddenly felt it was far more important to read all the books in the series again. I collect names of good doctors from my previously up the duff friends but I keep putting off booking my obstetrician and hospital. Apparently my subconscious thinks I can deliver on my own couch with my husband to bite the cord(s). There are times when everything seems too much and other times when I feel as if I’ve won the jackpot and this unsettled state is simply confusion because I’m finally getting what I want.

And meanwhile, the clock is ticking. I can pfaff about and read Voyage Of The Dawntreader and google potential doctors and freak out about scripts and shows but inside me, Stuff is Happening and will keep happening week by week.

Something about that makes me happy.

I apologise for the delay in starting up again but half of it was holiday and some of it was wondering how an infertile writes about being pregnant and then hitting the work again and there was tragedy too amongst the joy. I am going to try and write about this process as honestly and fearlessly as I can. And that’s the best I can do.
Apart from making headcheese perhaps.

On that first chemical New Year’s Eve, all I could do was concentrate on picking the wax out, thread by thread, knowing vaguely that one day, one week, one year, Nicole’s rug would finally be free of evil candle residue.

I remember stopping for breath, lifting my head for a moment to stretch my neck and seeing the Milky Way through the loungeroom window. The drugs were still coursing through my system and as I stared I saw that the stars had become huge and pulsating. They were like enormous shining crystals. I could faintly hear their tinkling and I wondered for a moment if I was seeing my mother amongst the angels, hovering in the night, fuzzed over with their own brilliance.

In those days there were no peanut shaped stars, no shining Kong and Naomi constellation.

The faint sounds you can hear come from this new galaxy which has only recently opened within me. A galaxy with two stars, tinkling, one a week behind the other.

That and the cheering of course.