Labour story, part one

When I sat down to write my labour story, I realised that I needed to share more than just the labour itself because to me, journey to becoming a mother has been embedded deep in where I've come from and a lot of the choices, I feel, can only be understood in context.

Which is why I've decided to write it like this, long-winded and detailed. It's typed one-handed during deep nights when I've been holding my breastfeeding daughter with one hand and typing on the iPad with the other. (It's hard work, writing in a way that's meaningful whilst there is a toddler and a baby to look after.)

There will be three parts to this story, I feel, and I have only finished the first for now, but one day it'll come. One day I'll get around to describing the events that followed in Christchurch Women's, late on June 3rd and in the wee hours of June 4th, in what has been a healing ending to a story that started so, so long ago.

Thanks, guys, for reading and coming along.

Maria

***

The story of me wanting to get pregnant starts way back before I actually wanted to get pregnant.

I am not very... maternal, you see. Partially it is probably due to my personality - my genes - but partially (probably) simply the fact that I haven't got any younger siblings or cousins I would've taken care of whilst growing up. Babies have always been very... alien to me.

By the time I was 20, I'd held a baby maybe twice in my entire life. One of those times - I was a teenager then - a relative's friend who'd just had a baby was visiting and collectively they stuck that baby girl in my arms - "Go on, hold her!" - and as I was sitting there, awkwardly cradling this... thing in my arms, all the while I was thinking, "Geesh, can somebody please take her away now?" It's not that I didn't like her - I just didn't know what to do with her. Babies seemed so... fragile, awkward to me.

So taking that into account, it was no wonder that through high school and early years of university I developed this image of myself as a woman who was going to do the "important" stuff first - the travelling, the career, the dreams - and then maybe by the time I was 30 I was going to do the "family thing", too, providing there was a man I was wanting to have a family with. I didn't feel any maternal urge to have babies of my own sooner, and besides, people were having babies when they were 30 - 40 even! - so I didn't see any problem with my plan.

Except... by the time I was 21, I became aware of such a thing as infertility - and also the fact that there was a good chance I'd be facing it.

And that changed everything.

***

By the time I was 21, I'd been on contraceptives for years already, from when I was sixteen, seventeen maybe. It wasn't for the contraceptive effect though - not initially, anyway.

Initially, it was to get rid of acne - a welcome side effect those pills have, and I had LOADS of acne - and to make my irregular periods more regular. A while later, when boyfriends started appearing, the contraceptive part of those contraceptives became helpful, also.

But, anyway, that's not really important; what is important is the fact that when I decided to come off those pills at 21 - to see what my body would do without them and, besides, it's recommended to have a break anyway every few years or so - it suddenly occurred to me that... without the pill, nothing the heck happens. No periods. At all.

I gave it a little time before heading to see a doctor, six months in fact; he then ran a few blood tests and turned out, I had an underactive thyroid.

(Do you even know what a thyroid is? No? That's okay, I didn't, either.)

Thyroid is little gland at the base of the neck, and it secretes hormones that regulate speed with which lots of things inside a body move: digestion, heart rate... periods. Mine was underactive, so my lack of periods was probably stemming from a lack of those hormones. I needed to start popping a few pills each day, to make up for those hormones, and soon, I was assured, everything would return back to normal again.

Sounded pretty easy, and straightforward.

But here's where I ran into trouble. I wanted to learn more about it: what a thyroid is, what it does. To do that, I googled the word, and...

Oh. My. God.

My search took me into pregnancy forums. Lots and lots of pregnancy forums!

Turns out, thyroid is so inherently connected to periods, and hormones - and as a result, to uteruses and ovaries and pregnancies and babies - that people who discuss thyroids the most, on the internet anyway, are people who either want to get pregnant, are pregnant, have been pregnant, or have an opinion about it.

And... Oh. My. God.

As I was reading through pages and pages of these forums, I became painfully aware of the fact that women who experience problems with their thyroids often also experience problems with getting pregnant. Or staying pregnant.

Some of the women who had posted on these forums had been wanting to be mothers all their lives. They had wonderful husbands, delightful jobs, they'd designed entire nurseries in their heads, ready to make those dreams into a reality on a single hint of a positive pregnancy test - and they had no children.

They cried often, or so it seemed. They posted a lot. They... doubted their lives/choices a lot.

And it made me wonder: would I, one day, become one of these women?

For a while, I didn't know how to answer that.

On one hand, I knew for sure that I didn't want children NOW!, but on the other hand - if I waited, say, ten years, fifteen years, and then found out (like many of the women on those forums) that I had missed my prime time, that I had effectively become infertile by the time I had started wanting children - age tends to do that, and so do thyroid issues - would I be okay with that?

Would I?

I had always assumed that children and pregnancies came planned when wanted, but stories on those forums convinced me otherwise, and so I started debating it in my head over and over again. If I could have a wonderful life, but no children, would I be happy? If I could have a child, but not that wonderful life ahead, would I be happy? What would make me happier? 

Was that even a valid question to ask?

The thing was, I just didn't know. Chances were, I had carried an underactive thyroid around for years, right through teenhood when all that "womanly stuff downstairs" was developing, and whether it had done any damage - or not - I wouldn't know until I actually tried - tried to get pregnant - and if I tried too late, it wouldn't make any difference because it would be too late anyway.

Whichever way I looked at it, it was becoming more and more evident that I was quickly approaching some sort of a watershed moment, because, the simple truth was - I wanted children.

I parted with my partner, amicably, and we carried on on our separate paths, and mine led to New Zealand.

***

Within days of meeting him, a fellow backpacker with bright eyes, my husband-to-be - not that either of us knew it at a time of course - I laid it out to him, plain and clear, that I was attracted to him, yes, but I was only interested in dating him if there was a potential for children at some point. 

He looked at me with a sort of a... oh, expression.

He'd never met a girl so straightforward before, but I didn't see much point in beating around the bush with it: he was going to find out eventually and, when he did, I'd rather if it were sooner than later. I was not willing to waste time on simple travel romances when what my heart really desired was children - a child - and so I figured: he was either going to stay, or he was going to run, and his decision wasn't going to change much with time, so I might as well go with it.

And luckily, he took it in his stride. If anything, he was kind of... impressed by it. He was expecting a prolonged romance, gradual deepening of a relationship, trust earned in time, but instead, he encountered this... Bam!-thing. This, D'you want children? Yes? Good, because I do, too.-thing.

And I guess he liked me strong enough to just go with it.

4 comments:

  1. Anonymous30.6.14

    Sa kirjutad lummavalt.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Bright eyed back packer says: I smile from ear to ear every time I read your blog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My dear husband - STOP COMMENTING WHILST LOGGED ON AS ME!

      :D

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    2. :-) :-) hahahaha brilliant!

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