Afraid to be Alone …and can we murder Horatio Caine?

I really had quite a difficult spell over December/January. I find this time of year really hard. Work starts to pick up from about September and in December it is crazy – insane stuff.

I do my utmost not to urinate at work, as I don’t actually have the time – no really, I have unbelievable bladder control.  I am in print and production and it seems like every year our clients are shocked and stunned that Christmas will fall on the 25th of December.

Every year it is this chaotic rush around and it builds to a fever pitch as the 25th approaches. It is so stressful and I am pushed further than I am willing to go.  Every year the schools my kids attend, plans an end-of-year something, so I am flying around trying to attend all these things at more than one school.  Add to that your own company end of year function, your department end of year function, your must see friends before end of year, and basically that leaves you with about two hours free on the 17th December sometime between 2 and 4 in the morning.  It is absolutely certifiable  i n s a n e!!

My son also has a birthday in December so that only adds to the pressure.  It’s the planning, booking a venue, the invitation, the annoying parents who do not RSVP.  These really pip me over the edge.  So I never know if they are coming or will just arrive, so I start catering and planning for “possible children.” <double scream> Several times I have had kids arrive whose parents did not RSVP – this is not a totally rare occurence.

Then my absolute favourite – Christmas shopping.  I end up having to do it on the 22 – 24th, as it is the only time I have!!  I end up dragging kids through shopping centres.  Usually  the combination of my frayed nerves and the sound of Mariah Carey doing what ever Christmas warble she has thrown together this year, is unfortunately enough to take what ever HO out of the ho-ho-ho christmas jollies for me.

This year was EXTRA special. I was dealing with “being-abandoned-by-my-maid-who-was-filling-in-for-my-actual-maid, as-my-actual-maid was-home-in-Zimababwe-for-the-holidays” situation.  Suffice to say I was one Valium short of a full nervous breakdown.

This set of circumstances pushed me into an entirely new sphere of off-the-hinges behaviour.  It even shocked me a bit.

In the first week of January I stood in my house trying to assess my situation whilst Isabelle was firmly attached to my left hip, with my hair tightly entwined around her mucus incrusted chubby little fingers, which she was rhythmically pulling. I had stopped feeling the pain of my hair being pulled from the roots, as my mind had already left “the place where it is sane” and had started shopping in the crazy aisle.

I was standing there and realized that:-

1. The dust blowing in from our destroyed garden is doing my head in. No matter how many times I wiped a surface, it is black with dust 10 minutes later.  And I really am not a neat freak, but this black grit on the toilet and every other surface was really doing me in.

2. The dog is scratching because she needs Frontline and I have not had a chance to get to the vet to buy it. Every time she scratches a little bit more of my sanity vacates, as I picture the fleas jumping off her and on to my children.

3. Georgia is deciding now is a good time to empty her toy boxes all over her room (see earlier note regarding no maid)

4 Connor is arguing with me about everything and right now, I really need a large glass of wine, a long lie down time and to be left alone.

5  To really crown it all Kennith is on a business trip to China, so I am not going to be getting any help for a good seven days at the least. That might have been the deal breaker right there.

6  I feel like  am this awful mother as I am not coping with my kids with my house, and my inability to have a chance to shower or put my contact lenses in are doing nothing for my sense of morale.

When all of those pieces started to come together and make a Rorschach pattern of my life, what was left of my little brain just went “pop!”

I lost it  ……  totally off the rails stuff.  Its the one where one minute you are fine and then **poof** it’s over.

I grabbed Connor and Georgia and banished them to their rooms and told them that today is “throwing away toys day” and clean up room day. And no one comes out of their rooms until toys are sorted and rooms cleaned.  I might have been shrieking like a fish wife at this point – actually guaranteed.

Of course I am doing this with crazy hair, eyes a little too wide open behind smudged glasses, and no doubt spittle being emitted from the corners of my mouth.  It really could not have gone much worse.

Isabelle was crying as she was no longer on my hip. Georgia started to cry because I forced her to start throwing away her toys and I was screaming.  Connor started to cry because he could not watch the television programme he wanted to, and he realised mom was going suicidal on him …… and really I wanted to cry, but I screamed instead.

I decided to keep this up for about three hours. Then I was exhausted, my nerves were raw, and I was sure that I was going to kill someone.  It really was just a case of where to bury the bodies.

Once the toys had been sorted – which as you guessed it, I ended up doing in my now rather manic episode.  Once everyone stopped crying and sniffling, I threw them in the car and we went down to McBadFood for a nutritious meal and a crappy toy!

I do not know why I get myself in to this state. If Kennith is left with the kids, you would find him lying on the couch watching his favourite show, and occasionally scratching his scrotum for some light relief.

Isabelle would be in her cot, having the longest afternoon sleep of her life. Georgia and Connor would be in the television room, high on too much Oros, and happily watching Cartoon Network, while their brain cells died one cell at a time.

Sure the house would look like a scene from CSI. The one where you really hope that this is the episode where someone murders Horatio Caine for his annoying mannerisms, and quirks. The thing about him is that he has to pause, remove his glasses and say something completely redundant to anyone with half a brain. For example, standing over a drowned person – takes off sunglasses and looks at nothing in particular and says : ” This person wasn’t just drowned… they were killed.” However I digress …

Kennith somehow is able to manage our children and our house without getting himself in a total state. Part of his tactic is to totally ignore the state of the house, and do make the kids what ever is the easiest for him.

Me, I am afraid of being left alone with my house and my kids without some sort of domestic help to intervene. I do worry that one day Kennith is going to come home to find that I have run away, or there are dead bodies strewn over the just washed white tiles.

But for now I take deep breathes, and try to find my happy place …. and pray that December stays far far away from me right now.

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Woman worry, Men play Poker ….

I am really not sure if it is a design flaw or just a fantastic trick of nature that makes women worry and fret about everything —– e v e r y t h i n g!!

During pregnancy I was worried from the get go. I was worried that I would not fall pregnant, worried that I could not fall pregnant, worried when I fell pregnant, worried that there would be something wrong at the 8 week scan, worried that I was doing something wrong and I had caused it, worried that I should do more, worried that I should do less, worried that work would not want me, worried that work was giving me too much, worried that I would not be able to work, oh, I can go on and on and on …..

I asked Kennith often if he was worried – I think we like to have people who share our ideals of worrying ourselves into an early grave.

This would usually be as I was working myself through yet another book on babies and pregnancy. Kennith would pause while watching what ever show he was engrossed in, glance over and go: “Not really, you have done it twice before, you know what you are doing…” and then go back to his show without so much as a concern in the world.

I decided to worry a bit more as he was not worrying enough.

I left a booklet lying around that dealt with pending fatherhood. It really was a very short booklet – clearly the writer knew better than to invest too much time into this endevour.  I would not require much in the way of time or effort for Kennith to read it – even just glance through it and note the key points.

I left it near the toilet, as I felt he could page through it there as I had left it next to his bed for ages and it went untouched. That did not work either.

In the end I read the book and read him the salient points. Kennith has done his MBA (My favourite joke: How do you know if someone has done an MBA? Don’t worry they will tell you.) and likes me to read stuff and then give him the executive summary.

I was astounded that we were about to embark on this our third child and he just was not reading or looking up anything. I had joined three sites that gave me weekly updates on my baby’s development.

I had purchased six books dealing with all aspects of pregnancy and birth (bearing in mind I was going to have a c-section did sort of make this a moot point, but I could be trapped in the wilds, and may have needed to deliver this baby with the help of a potato peeler and a glass of wine, so I wanted to be prepared.)

Every night I would pore over yet another pregnancy book – either about development or what I should be doing or not doing. I would then compare them and so it would go on.

I must confess the one book I really enjoyed, and would only allow myself to read a chapter each Friday was The Rough Guide to Pregnancy and Birth by Kaz Cooke. It is basically a chapter for each week of development and really tracks the author’s pregnancy – more or less with a bit of ad-libbing to cheer it up. It really was my little reward each week – loved it.

Pregnancy, birth and new born babies are just so scarey. Now if I was going to be travelling somewhere or even get a dog of a particular breed, I would take the time to read up a bit and familiarize myself with what is going to be happening. This does not seem to affect Kennith’s world.

I must say in his defense, that when he started playing Poker he read quite a few book, spent hours on the Internet playing low-level sort of games, and organized his mates to come over and eat pizza and play a bit so he could get the hang of it.

I am not trying to draw comparisons between Kennith’s commitment to his pursuit of Poker and his research into children- from-his-loins arriving in the world, but there you have it.

I think as woman if you are going to have an alien take over your body, it might be a good thing to read a little about the subject so you do not look so shocked and stunned when you get to the OBGYN and he starts putting KY jelly on an internal scanning device!!

It’s a Revolution ….or a mental breakdown.

I am feeling quite invigorated at the moment – I feel like my mind has had a little shift. I apologise upfront that this post is going to sound a bit manic, however I really feel like a light has gone on in my head and I have all sorts of endorphins surging through me today!

We are part of a culture that discourages mothers from discussing their doubts, insecurities, fears, and failures as mothers. It’s like a dirty little secret. If you show that you are really not coping and maybe not loving it every moment, then there is a real fear that you will be shown to love your kids less – you will be outed for the bad mother you already think you are.

We want motherhood to seem ordinary, not extraordinary. We go through pregnancy and birth < no matter how that baby comes out of you it is birth > it is traumatic on our bodies and take a real toll on your mind and how you interact with the world.

Because it occurs every day to so many women, it is trivialized and we need to act as if it is all so pedestrian. You are thrown – literally – into this sea of confusion and expected to just bob to the top and start swimming like a pro. Any non-compliance or thinking outside what main stream society tells you is unacceptable.

You must just love being a mom all day every day.

The more women I am interacting with through this blog and other forums, the more I am realising that it is not just me. There are so many women who really struggle and almost drown each day. But somehow they wipe their tears, put on some mascara and lipstick and smile sweetly at the world. (Usually they have not had a chance to brush their teeth or are suffering from violent constipation because they have not had a chance to go the bathroom, but we can cover that in a separate post.)

Not one person has ever spoken to me while I was pregnant and up until this day and said “You know I really don’t like being a mommy all the time!” Not one person – however I am getting so many responses from people that tell me clearly this feeling exists out there. I know lots of women who have had kids so they would know this stuff, but not one person has stepped forward and honestly told the truth about their lot and what awaited me.

People sort of indicate that it might be hard or smile knowingly and nod when you mention that you are crying uncontrollably.

But why do moms not take you into their confidence and tell you how it really is? Why must you find it out for yourself?

I know you will go through it – but when you start experiencing it without any kind of forewarning, you start feeling that you are somehow getting it all wrong, because other moms seem to be coping.

Other moms surely are not crying in the bathroom at 2am because surely they would have said something. Other moms are not hiding from their children, just so they get a moment to themselves, because someone would have said something. Other moms are not taking anti-depressant and trying to drink their problems away, because surely someone would have said s o m e t h i n g !

No, for some reason no one says anything. You are left to find this stuff out for yourself. Doubt yourself, hate yourself and wonder if you are even worthy of being a mom. How did this happen – why is there a conspiracy of silence?

For me I really felt isolated, confused, and afraid. I was convinced for the most part that I was a terrible, evil, awful mother who just did not know who to raise a child, let alone children.

What I have slowly begun to realize in the last few months is that what I have experienced is normal. I am not sure whether to be frightened that there are more people like me or comforted that I am not alone.

We need to start exploding the myth that it is easy and ordinary to be a mother. We need to acknowledge the dark elements that are part of the whole experience of motherhood.

The more we are able to recognize that motherhood is not soft lighting and photo-shopping the sooner we can counteract what we see in mainstream magazines and what is being pushed down our throats every day.

Next time you sit down with other moms wouldn’t it be great to have a real conversation about what you actually feel and how much you really struggle? Instead of the inane conversation about the colour of Johnny’s poop or how thrilled you are because Jane got her first tooth.

Start a revolution in thinking at your next mommy and baby group!

I hate Mommy and Baby Groups – Part 1

I realize this rant is totally out of context, but I belong to a few women-with-baby forums and when I read through some of the threads I start to get a dull ache in my bum area.  For some reason this morning I recalled how much I loathed mommy and baby groups.

There is so much pressure to join one with your new little mushroom.  As soon as you get out of hospital and are able to take more than five steps, you start figuring out which group you are going to join.  You call the group leader and it all sounds so wonderful .  They are generally really really happy bubbly people.  Usually at this point I start to get uneasy – I am deeply suspicious of happy shiny people – I like my people a little bruised, a little dirty, a lot pessimistic.

You get your little bundle ready – dressed in their best clothes – you have already starting to buy into this under current of competition that exists at these things.  You don’t even realize you are doing it, but there you go.  You are so proud of your little Joshua/Sarah and can’t wait to get to the group, because your little one is going to be the best kid there – you know this.

In the car with your safety seat, getting the pram, the nappy bag and your bag in, buckled up, sort of figuring out where to go – because usually it is in a suburb off a side street that you really don’t know.  In your area, but you are not so sure, so odds are you take a few wrong turns, drive at 20km/hour to try to figure out street signs and basically get yourself lost.

You finally get there and it is usually a house in suburbia that has been revamped by a mommy with one or more likely two kids, who is using her love of kids to work from home, so there is a garage converted and lots of TreeHouse themed cushions and curtains.

You get all your kit unloaded. By now you are a little flustered as you are late, and you have had to park about 500 metres away as all the more eager moms got there before you.  So you drag all your stuff all the way there.

By the time you get there and go through the alternate entrance, which usually is a narrow gate that your huge gi-normous pram does not quite fit in through the door, so there you are fighting the good fight, and starting to sweat a little, because odds you have over dressed, because you have not been out of the house by yourself for 6 weeks.  The weather has changed since you were last outdoors, and the only clothes that fit you are from the wrong season.

You sort of fall inside the sliding door.  To be greeted by a sea of usually attractive moms wearing their Sunday best and all their Joshuas and Sarahs are on little mats or cushions and everyone is so damn happy.  You, of course, have worked up a bit of a sweat, your Joshua or Sarah is a little cranky as you have transferred baby from safety seat, to pram, and now have to get baby out of pram as pram does not fit into room, so you are trying to juggle baby, your bag, the nappy bag, snug and safe and what is left of your composure.

The far-too-friendly leader of this little ensemble, comes over to greet you and refers to you usually as Mommy <well, it is tricky referring to everyone by name, so Mommy sort of makes it easy, and because you are a new Mommy, it kind of makes you smile that you have a new important title>.  You find a space and try to settle down.

At some point you are trying to assess the mood of the room, and then you start realizing that these moms are generally over achievers – like really over achievers.  When you are trying to find 10 minutes to read or sleep, while you are forcing junior to take a nap, more for your benefit than for theirs, these moms are busy reading Baby’s First Words or doing some sort of Baby Gym with their babies.  Damn, you are clearly behind with your baby’s development as you look down and your little imp is quietly gurgling and dribbling on his chin.

The leader takes her seat in the front centre, with her “baby doll” and everyone smiles and the excitement is tangible.  Everyone beings introducing them selves.  You start practicing a bit in your mind how you are going to introduce yourself and show off your offspring as you really only have about 4 seconds for introductions and really want to get bang for your buck here.

At the same time you are trying to remember names and baby names and ages …. and the reality is that you can barely remember your own.  So your turn comes around and all you can muster up is “Hi I’m Celeste, and this is er…. Connor….. and he is ……hmmm….. his 4 months old.”  And the spot light moves away from you.

Then the real show begins  …….

Can’t hear a heart beat —- panic

My way of dealing with a problem is to google it to death, and then to throw money at it.  After the several thousand rand I have spent on psychiatrists and psychologists trying to get them to understand me and explain me to me – I have realized that at the end of the day, when the lights are off and everyone is asleep, I know me best.  Just to clarify, I know me best, but I still don’t know why I do half the cr&p I do, and think the thoughts I do.

I started to get stressed during my third pregnancy and realized there really was no logical way to reason with me.  Kennith had tried several times, and had now chosen to lie there and continue flicking through channels and he ignored me. He realized that logical arguments supported by pie charts may not be the thing that was going to break through to me when I was this far gone down the river of illogical.

I had read the baby books to the point where I could quote them, and I am not sure if they were helping or adding to my general apprehension. I am not sure exactly what I was stressed about other than everything.  I was just worried that somehow my walking, breathing, eating and existing was somehow going to damage this child.

I decided that I was going to get a heart rate monitor and listen to my baby’s heart beat.  Sure the fact that he/she had a heart beat may not tell me she had 10 fingers and 10 toes, and whether the bean would qualify for MENSA, but a regular heart beat was a good place to start.

I also realized that if I popped in to my OBGYN every time I had a panic – my medical aid and I would soon part company under very strained circumstances.  I gave it some thought and gave it a google – as you do – and realized one can obtain hand-held dopplers through which you can hear your baby’s heart beat in the comfort of your own home.

Now I did not really need to be sold up on this one.  I did a bit of reading to see what the general consensus was in terms of the possibility that they would cause damage to the fetus, and it all seemed to be rather non-consequential.

Further looking brought me right back to the lovely ladies at www.fertilitree.com and heavens-still-my-anxiety but they had a Doppler one could rent. I ordered it via the web and tah-dah it arrived.  Of course I tried to use it as soon as I picked it up at the post office.  I pulled up my shirt and stuck it on my tummy.  There was nothing – you should have seen me panic then!!

But it seems, like many things, it works best with a generous slap of KY jelly – to act as a conductor or what ever.  So there I was at home, on my bed, with about a litre of KY spread across my belly and trying to find a heart beat.

The relief when you hear the duff-duff-duff-duff is indescribable.  I decided to do it every second day for a no more than a minute – and it made me feel so much better.  Kennith just grumbled that it was really noisy, did not seem to work and there was only so long that he could sit on the bed next to me and coo about how great it was.

I spoke to the OBGYN as I did not want my baby over-exposed to anything, and he assured me that it was fine, I could listen for as long as I liked when ever I liked.  If it made me feel better, then great.

That’s the kind of advise I was looking for.   Pregnancy is really stressful, there is so much to worry about both real and more imaginary. I realize there is very little you can do to change anything.  So what is going to happen is going to happen irrelevant to what you do or don’t do – but for me, if I felt I was doing something – at least it would ease some of the stress.

Hearing my baby’s heart beat each day when I got home from work, was definitely a stress ease for me, if only for a little.

Pregnancy – all it’s aches and groans

I really love being pregnant, there is something so magical and euphoric about the process that is going on inside your body, and I really enjoy it.

Each of my three pregnancies was so different that I would really be unable to say that “pregnancy is…” So I would imagine if all three pregnancies in the same body differed so, how much pregnancy from woman to woman must differ.

With Connor I sailed through the pregnancy, and probably had two bouts of heartburn that lasted about 10 minutes each – that was pretty much the level of my discomfort through the entire 9 months.

Because this was my first pregnancy and I did not know any better, I assumed all pregnancies were the same, and could not understand what other women found so hard.  You know how one gets on one’s soap box and thinks with a little knowledge you know everything, that might well have been me.  I would roll my eyes when I heard other women complaining about how the tough time they were having.  (Just wait, I got my just desserts ten fold…..)

I also think that the “mind space” you are in has a huge effect on how the pregnancy is going to go for you.  First time around I was really in a good place, and my relationship with Kennith was solid and we were on the same page.  I felt supported, loved and cherished.  If I looked vaguely unwell he would let me have a lie down and bring me the odd ice cream – bless his cotton socks!

Second pregnancy a whole new cereal box.  First trimester found me with IBS and overwhelming nausea.  I was ill from the get go and really just wanted to curl up into a little ball somewhere with a blankie over my head.  I was working a stressful job, with killer deadlines, and trying to juggle my 3-year-old son and work was a bit of a strain. My relationship with Kennith was all but in the toilet – not a clean toilet, but rather the one that has not been flushed for some time and you find in public-cubicles-servicing –homeless-people.

By the second trimester, I think my immune system was so beaten that it just left me susceptible to pretty much any infection that was going.  I had become a petri dish for pink-eye, bronchitis, sinusitis, and what ever else I could catch.

I also found that during the second trimester I developed back pain that came out of nowhere.  I could not roll over at night. I would need to sit up – more shuffle up, than sit – and then move my body to the other side, and slowly lower myself into the lying position to fall sleep.  This would go on several times during the night.

It was exhausting and very sore.  I read up and found out all about that lovely hormone Relaxin that loosens your pelvis and gets it ready to shove a head the size of a watermelon through!  Thanks for that.  Now even though we all knew no head was going to be jammed through anywhere, my body had a little checklist and continued to supply my body with Relaxin which made my back ache.

I recall having some stressful moments during my first pregnancy, but I can honestly say that second time around I had pushed past stress into high level paranoia.  There were several times where I thought the baby had died and rushed myself off to the OBGYN for a scan and reassurance.  It was really awful, and the terror really grips you.  I am convinced that between your hormone soaked brain, your over-active imagination and your constant worry about the future, it becomes the breeding ground for paranoia to reign supreme.  My paranoia monster not only reigned supreme, she invaded other countries.  It really was very scary.

As  Kennith and I were barely talking let alone basking in the happiness, I felt very alone and had no support during this period.  I was desperate, lonely and afraid, and as I felt more abandoned that I ever had.  My retaliation was to push Kennith as far away as possible – actually all the way up Kilimanjaro and beyond if the truth be told.  It is very similar to when police fire bullets into a crowd to calm them – similar effect.

During my third pregnancy, I started with a good dose of IBS – but managed to kick that in it’s ar*e around the third month.  Second trimester my body again did not get the memo that I really did not need any Relaxin.  It decided that it was now going to step up production and give me loads – I could bottle it and sell it if I wanted.  From about month 4 I was sure that my pelvis was busy crowning a baby – damn it was uncomfortable.   I was convinced that I would go for my monthly visits to the OBGYN and he was going to tell me I was 10cm dilated at that point.  That’s sort of how it felt.

I would fall into a simulated coma at about 8pm.  My inability to sleep on any side would wake me up around 2 – 3am and then I would just stay awake.  Clearly this would do wonders for my rather death-induced look that proceeded to wash over me from about 11am each day.

Everything ached. As long as I was not moving it was great, but walking, sitting, standing and so on were decidedly uncomfortable.   I think Relaxin decided to loosen up my what-keeps-your-wee-in-sphincter – , some things are best not remembered.

You would think that by the third time around I would not sweat the small stuff and actually just take things in my stride.  I would say that clearly you do not know me.  I again started to stress that the baby’s heartbeat was not happening and and and and ……. Well back to my new best friends at fertilitree.com as I could rent an electronic Doppler from them – how clever are those girls!!

IBS is a Bitch

I have suffered with IBS for some time and during 2008 it was in full swing with a vengeance.  I am not sure if it was coincidence or whether the hormones during pregnancy added to the problem, but I was really not in the best place with awful bloating and serious cramping.

I could not take Buscopan (there is a big warning on the pack related to pregnant and lactating woman, that scared the bejesus in to you, so you tend to rather just lie in the fetal position and weep)  or anything else and was feeling quite awful.  Kennith suggested I try our chiropractor guy.

I was somewhat apprehensive as I could not see the correlation between IBS and how re-aligning my spine was going to work out my problem for me.

Listen, I am so the skeptic, so trust me if I toddle along to something and it works, then you must realize that it is just short of a miracle, because there is no way it worked because I have good karma or believed in any way!!

I explained my situation to the long suffering Dr. Mark.  He did not actually say that he would be able to “cure” the IBS – which I appreciated – but he seemed confident that he may help with the symptoms.  Sometimes I need to have people who have an optimistic outlook to negate my very pessimistic frame of mind.

I can’t quite explain how sore I was.  If you have not suffered from IBS I realize it is difficult to gauge how uncomfortable it is.  You probably think it is a bad tummy ache.  But generally the symptoms – for me –  are severe bloating – I can add 2 – 3 sizes on my clothes for swelling. I have cramping, often a dull cramp, but combined with sharp persistent cramping.  I usually feel a bit sweaty, like I am in real distress. I start to feel very tired, as my body just want to lie down and rest.  Sitting is sore, standing is sore, everything is sore, and nothing seems to relieve it.  Having this constant pain starts putting me into a very bad mood and my temper gets shorter and shorter.

By the time I got to Dr Mark I was unable to sit in the chair in the waiting room – I had to stand, pace a bit, lean over a chair a bit – take shallow breathes, it really was all a bit sad and pathetic.

I lay on the narrow chiro bed and he applied some pressure to pressure points on my neck, my lower back and behind my knees – no spine popping or anything.  After a bit he said he was all done and I could go and I should come back.  Initially I felt a small bit disappointed that there was not a “halleluja” moment where the heavens opened up, but anyway, clearly I was expecting too much out of this.

I left feeling sore but realized that though I was sore, I was not in excruciating pain.  I was immediately suspicious that I had been duped, but went back for the second appointment about three days later.

Well, bugger believing!!  I am not sure what he did,  but my IBS went away – and it was brilliant. Once the results of the cramping had relaxed and I could start to stand straight and take a proper breath, I definitely felt better.

Bearing in mind that I had not had a symptom free day in more than 4 months, so damn it was like a modern day miracle.  (I am nearly 11 months down the line when I write this and I am still symptom free, so do not poo-poo a chiropractor as a possible solution.)

I think because I knew this would be my last pregnancy I tried to be much more aware and present the whole way through.  So it was wonderful to be able to sit back and start enjoying all the changes going on in my body, rather than being curled up in a ball in the corner sobbing!!

Getting pregnant – maybe not so easy.

I had been off birth control for about a year, and though we were not exactly trying hell-bent-for-leather, much to Kennith’s continual disappointment.  I figured if a sixteen year old girl could fall pregnant at her matric dance with one sexual encounter, then what the hell was wrong with me!?

Those who know me, and attest to love me, know that I have an inability to sit and watch something happen or not happen, especially if I have a vested interest in the results.  I tend to start running around trying to find a way to control the situation.  It just makes my Type-A personality feel a bit better when I can draft a list and have something to tick off.  Some people say a prayer and light a candle, me – I start throwing money at the problem.  The only exclusion to this personality trait is when I see anything from the SARS.  I get paralysed into a state of absolute immobility and tend to stare into space with a look of fear about me.

Back to this story.  I recalled years ago that I had seen an Ovulation kit in the back of a magazine.  I started to google to see where one would get an Ovulation kit – as I had no idea where or what it was.  To be honest, I was not sure I really understood what ovulation was either.

After a bit of searching, I stumbled on a site called www.fertilitree.comwhich is a run from offices in Johannesburg by two lovely women, Candice and Linda (I only know them by email and phone and they seem lovely through these mediums).  They have products and all sorts of aids and advice for people battling with infertility.  Much of their product range and advise comes from their own experiences with infertility, so these women know their stuff and are so lovely and empathetic.

Now I realized that I was not infertile and do not for a moment wish to say I know how it feels to battle with this particular demon.

I was frustrated that things were not happening, and I felt could hear a distant biological clock ticking – it was making that loud donging sound that grandfather clocks make on the hour which was becoming more and more alarming.  I did not feel I wanted to wait much longer.  I was already 35 and the 35-cut-off was always an issue for me, so this was really playing Russian roulette and I wanted to just do what I could do maybe stack the cards in my favour if only slightly.

They did have an ovulation kit – yippee for me.  But they had lots of other stuff and the thing that really caught my eye was an OvaCueR Fertility Monitor.  Basically it is an electronic “lick a stick” that you do every morning.

Without getting too technical – you start on day 1 of your cycle (first day of your period) and put it on your tongue first thing in the morning before you have eaten or drunk anything.  The unit takes a reading and saves the data.  You hold it against your tongue for probably a second or so, so it is not like you are sitting there for 45 minutes with a strange metallic object adhered to your tongue while you wait to have a wee in the morning.  The key is that you do it every morning.  The system is meant to calculate the “most fertile day” or in lay-persons terms the day you are most likely to fall pregnant if you have a boink/shtoink or what ever the funky chicken word is for this season.

The data meant nothing to me – probably because I am loathe to read the manual, and just want to get it, take it out the box and start using it.  I could understand “Most Fertile – Day 13.”

By day 3 the little OvaCue decided that Day 13 was my day.  I was a bit suspicious as I thought it was awfully specific, when it really only had 3 days of data and really did not know me, but who am I to argue.

I continue to “lick a stick” each day so that it can store the data, as the more days it has the more data it has and the more accurate the reading is. On Day 13 it told me “MOST FERTILE DAY.”  I am fairly sure they were in uppercase as well.  It did not exactly instruct me to go out and procreate, but the underlying message was clear.

I obeyed the little mechanical device, as one does.  And on Day 14 it showed that my fertility was dropping.  Listen, I had only had this little machine for about three weeks and you can only start using it on your first day of your period.  I really had nothing to go on in terms of believing the read out, but I felt I had been wrong for the last year or so, I was willing to give this little machine a chance.

I had calculated my “most fertile period” based on all those lovely charts you find all over the web.  I am a 28-day person, so have the benefit of stability.  I was told day 11 – 13 were my days by every chart on-line, and had followed the rule more or less correctly for  some time, but not getting the results.  So here was this machine giving me new information, I was happy to just follow along (for now).

Because I was tracking my days I knew when my period was due and on the morning it was due.  I knew I should leave it a few days because ……. well that’s what they tell you to do.  But I figured that all I was going to do was get myself stressed and stare at the ticking hands of the clock all day.  So I left work early – got home and I pee’d on a stick by midday and it showed it was positive.  I am sure I yelped!!

I popped down to Clicks and bought 3 more tests.  I am sure it made a lovely picture, me with the trolley, my two snotty kids on either side of me (neither of which look like each other), no wedding ring, purchasing a half dozen pregnancy tests.  I could all but hear the sales assistant tut-tutting under her breath.  When I got home later in the day pee’d on another one and “whoop” there it was.

I was so very very thrilled – both with the results and also with my little machine whose instructions were so on the money.

Initially I thought I was going to leave it and keep it a secret, but the next day Kennith and I were going with a group of friends to Sabi for a week, and I knew there was no way I could maintain any kind of silence.  My friends are awfully bright, and if I was not polishing off a bottle of lovely Chenin Blanc by 10am they would be on to me in no time.

There is a rare thrill that one experiences when one finds out one is pregnant after trying  I think there is a moment of fear and trepidation, where you think “what have I done!” following by a few moments of feeling faint.  But then one things “Hey, look what I have done – whoop whoop!!” and you get all warm and glowy in side.  It is such an awesome feeling – really a hallmark moment in my life.