That time I was on my fave Podcast.

Earlier this year, I was listening to one of my favorite Podcasts “The Longest, Shortest Time.” The presenter Andrea Silenzi (who I had listened to on her previous Podcast “Why oh Why”) was clearly wrestling with whether to have a child on her own, whether to preserve her fertility by freezing her eggs, or whether to invest more time in trying to find Mr Right.  She just so happened to be at the same age I was when I started seriously having those thoughts.

artistic-blossom-bright-207962Now I think egg freezing is the biggest scam of the decade so I’d never recommend anyone do that unless they had no other choice (for example, cancer – and even then I’d say make some embryos too.)  Having gone through the rocky path I did to conceive my son, I felt duty bound to reach out to her.  Maybe if I can help just one person make their decision I’ll feel like my mistakes weren’t in vain.

So I wrote an email to the Podcast.

To my surprise I was contacted and asked to talk to Andrea about my experiences.  You can listen to that podcast here.

I had been toying with the idea of starting a blog again for a few months before this.  I had been trying to teach myself some copywriting skills and thought that it would be good practice if nothing else.  Being on the Podcast made me get my backside into gear and buy the domain name I had been kicking around in my mind for a while.

“The Uhoh Diaries”

4k-wallpaper-adorable-blur-1148998I love this name because UhOh is one of the first, most recognizable words out of toddlers mouths and it sticks around through toddlerhood.  As parents we instinctually say it to convey something that isn’t going quite right.  Toddler spills food on the floor “UhOh”, , toddler drops toy off of deck “UhOh”!  (That one used to happen a lot!) Messy hands – “UhOh!”

My life has felt like a series of UhOh’s with a very happy ending.  It certainly hasn’t gone according to the plan I had in my mind when I was in my teens, my twenties or even my thirties.  Now, in my 40’s I finally feel as though I have passed the UhOh torch onto my son.  I hope he only needs it for spilled drinks and wardrobe malfunctions.

Being on a Podcast is nerve wrecking.  I had a lot of trust in the presenters as I have listened to almost every episode.  Its a parenting podcast and always comes at parenting from an interesting perspective.  You don’t have to be a parent to enjoy it.

1That said I was still scared that I would come across badly.  As a Single Mother by Choice, it was really important to me to represent us in a good light.  I also want people to know that fertility can’t be assumed.  That it isn’t always there when we need it.  It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the moment and say to yourself that you’ll have children one day in the distant future.  The harsh reality is that once you hit 30 you need to start thinking about it in a more serious way.  Maybe get your fertility checked by your Obgyn.  It is so so hard to do.  I speak from experience.  I kept thinking that my dream man was right around the corner, kept trying to fit a square peg in a round hole just so that I wouldn’t have to face doing it all alone.

Safely on the other side, having wrestled with becoming a Single Parent by Choice and then infertility I can say that it’s far less scary than I ever imagined.  In fact in so many ways I think it’s been easier for me.  I have a huge Choice Mother community in my area and the Donor Family as well as the original friends who have stuck around!

The Podcast aired right as I launched my website/blog.  I got so many calls from friends and acquaintances who had listened as well as a lot of good feedback from the SMC community!  I am so glad that they feel well represented.  Our voices aren’t heard enough.  Whilst there are so many people who choose this path (and the numbers are growing,) there still isn’t enough positive press about us.

This is why I am trying to play my small part in giving a little exposure and understanding of this beautiful path I have chosen to make a family and live a happy, fulfilled life.

I have never been happier than I am now.

I feel so fortunate for my little corner of happiness.  Happiness is everything.  Do whatever you can to chase it and to find it.  If you jump, trust in the net to catch you.

C Section – a birth story.

I am sorry to say that I was one of those people who thought that a C Section birth was not a ‘real’ birth or a ‘natural’ birth.  I remember rolling my eyes at women who were ‘too posh to push’.

Not to say that I didn’t have respect for the existence of C Section as a practice.  Of course I realized that it was a necessary and life saving procedure.  I just didn’t feel like it should be the ‘go to’ for so many people.

There are so many things that I have sat in judgement of merely because I hadn’t experienced them and therefore didn’t truly understand.  Infertility is an equalizer and an educator.  It really does make you think about things in ways that you didn’t realize you were capable of thinking.  It has also made me a better, less judgmental person in all aspects of life.

As I have mentioned before, I was diagnosed with having a Unicornuate Uterus and therefore I spent a lot of my pregnancy concerned that I was going to run out of space and go into labor prematurely.  I joined a wonderful Facebook group and soon saw that the success rate of carrying to term was very good.  It made me feel a lot better but didn’t change the fact that once my LO reached a certain size the chance of his being able to go head down went to virtually zero.

Sure enough my son lounged in my uterus with his feet in his face and his bottom on my bladder for almost all of my pregnancy.  A very stubborn  breach baby!

Scheduled C Section it was.  And I did feel cheated out of the birth experience I had dreamed of.  I wanted the water birth, the doula and the self hypnosis, not the blue cloth, surgeons knife and spinal block.  Knowing that birth doesn’t often go according to plan, I resigned myself to my fate, learned a lesson about my prior judgey self and set about making an alternate birth plan.

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Day before C section with my first baby.

There is nothing more surreal than going to bed knowing that the next day you will be a Mother.  After all the pain, the procedures, the heartbreak and the longing, I was going to be a Mum!!  Of course I barely got a wink of sleep.

 

I remember the car journey to the hospital at 5.30am vividly.  It was a hot summer day and the sun was rising.  I was terrified of the surgery but so joyful that I would meet my son in a few short hours.

Prep for a C Section is intense.  Showers with disinfecting soap, IV line (which they couldn’t get in due to my tiny veins – ouch!), ultrasound to check baby was still breach then off to the OR where they did the Spinal.  Nobody is allowed in the room with you until after the spinal so that was scary for me.  The anesthesiologist was amazing and talked me through everything.  My surgeon (whom I had hand selected based on his reputation for being a perfectionist) was also wonderful and talked me through what was about to happen.  He even sang me a song!

Once the spinal was done my Mother was brought in.  The sensation of losing your legs is horrible.  I’m not gonna lie… I found the whole thing terrifying.  The tugging and pulling, each second felt like 5 minutes.  I had no idea how much sensation there would be.  There was no pain but I felt like a corpse.  My Mother talked me down and my anesthesiologist talked me through it.  Finally after what felt like 3 hours my son emerged and his high pitched screams filled the room!  He had what is known as a ‘gentle c section’ which means that he had pushed himself out of the incision rather than being tugged.  The cord clamping was slightly delayed too and my placenta was saved for me and encapsulated later that day.

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My Newborn Son, a few minutes old. Cutest Squish!

Unfortunately both of our temperatures had dropped significantly during the birth and he had to be placed under the heat lamp for a few minutes whilst we were both warmed up.  They held him up for a moment so I could see him under the heat lamp but I didn’t see his face again for an hour.  Once they put him on me, under blankets, I wasn’t allowed to look at him as we had to be kept warm.  I didn’t mind.  My son was on my chest and I could feel his little movements from the outside.  He was so familiar to me.  I was filled with endorphins and overwhelming, completing love.

It took a while to stitch me up, I went through the shakes (before my son was brought to me) but it was finally over and I left the OR one blissfully happy Mother!

 

Experiencing Infertility PTSD (part 1 – pregnancy)

You would think that the joy of being pregnant would erase the traumatic ordeal that had been infertility.

It didn’t.

Don’t get me wrong.  I was overwhelmed with happiness that I was finally pregnant, but I was also consumed by fear.  I’m aware that most women experience fear of loss. Pregnancy is scary.   However, I truly believe fear is compounded when you’ve had a loss or gone through infertility (or worse, both).

The desire to be a Mother was so encompassing that I couldn’t imagine living without realizing this dream.  Every ounce of my future happiness was dependent upon the growing life inside of me.  It was hard to shake the thought of something happening to my baby.  I feared what I might become if I experienced another loss.  I was out of funds, energy and hope.  If I lost this pregnancy I knew that I’d become bitter, hopeless and depressed.

There is a weird limbo to being pregnant after you’ve fought an infertility diagnosis.  You have a foot tentatively in both worlds.  Until there’s a baby in arms, it’s hard to get your mind out of the world you’ve just left.  You’re so used to being entrenched in it.

In spite of this, I LOVED being pregnant.  I embraced my changing shape.  I documented each month by going to a local photographer.  I wore the most figure hugging clothes.  I embraced the light whilst silencing the black fear that lurked beneath the surface.  I was conscious of being as positive as possible to infuse my future son with as much bright energy as I could.  And I was genuinely happy.

I didn’t equate being pregnant with having a baby though.  I know this sounds insane.  It felt like it was happening to someone else, not me.  Ultrasounds were an out of body experience.  That baby was actually inside of me?  I couldn’t wrap my head around it.  And while I loved being pregnant and was beyond excited to be a Mother, I didn’t believe it was going to happen until I was on the operating table waiting for him to be born.  There is nothing like a surgeons knife to give me a reality check!

Before that flesh and blood boy was placed on my chest I had fully pictured him only as a cartoon character.  A Pinocchio of sorts.  Like I was the Geppetto wishing for my real boy and never computing he was there all along.

Once my son was in my sight I knew him.  It was him all along.  I knew who he was and I loved him beyond anything I felt possible.  The relief… now I could see him, touch him and hold him it felt like I finally had control.  Infertility was behind me.

It’s one of the hardest things to explain to anyone other than a person who has lived through it.   I named it infertility PTSD but have since discovered that its a recognized syndrome.  I was never diagnosed with having it but there’s no other way to describe how it felt than this.

I thought these feelings would disappear once my son was born but in a strange way they actually just changed shape.  I think they’ll always be with me in some form.

I’d love to hear from others who have had these feelings.  How long did they last for you and did you feel like they changed once the baby was born?

How to announce you’re pregnant via a sperm donor.

I spent three years deciding whether or not to become a Mother on my own.  During that time I worried a lot about how I would tell people that I had gotten knocked up by a sperm donor.  The words stalled in my brain.  I worried what people would think and what they might say.  Worse still, I worried what my child might think of me.

Anyone who knows me would be surprised to hear this.  I’m generally a person who doesn’t much care what other people think.  It was so alien to me to be spending time on these thoughts.  Normally I’d be a ‘do it now, worry later’ kind of gal.  This was too big for that kind of impulsivity.  I also work in a restaurant and as such have a lot of people that I’d have to explain a pregnancy to.  That’s a lot of reactions to worry about!

In the end I turned my thinking around.  How would I feel if I was never a Mother?  If I didn’t do this would it be my biggest regret?  Would I become a miserable spirit in the afterlife, hovering around babies cribs??!!

I wasn’t sure how I’d field the questions but I was sure that I needed to be a Mother.  Nobody wants to haunt babies!  I stopped worrying and started trying.

And as you know, it took a long time to get pregnant.  During that time I sincerely wished I hadn’t spent so long worrying about other people.  I was so mad at myself for doubting my path.  I was terrified that I had blown my chance at being a Mother by spending too long thinking about whether or not to do it.  Thankfully it finally worked out and by then I was so happy to be pregnant that my original fears no longer mattered.

At 16 weeks pregnant, my wardrobe options were running out.  I’d gone from wearing figure hugging clothes to baby doll dresses.  It was time to tell work (and the general public!)

I told my work colleagues first.  I was so nervous.  I’d gotten very fond of my giant secret.  I got my co workers in a room and told them together.  The response was amazing!  I received hugs, congratulations and so much love. I was very honest about having conceived on my own and the struggles I’d been through.

“I’m having a baby on my own.  I used a donor and conceived via IVF. I am so ecstatic, it took a long time to get here and I can’t wait to be a Mother!”

I put the tight clothes back on and started telling my customers.  Some people asked genuine questions and all said they thought it was great.  A lot of women said they wished they had done the same thing.

The one demographic that I sometimes got a defensive vibe from was older men.  They would ask questions about the donor (which I would decline to answer as they were often too personal.)  I wondered whether their egos were slightly bruised at the thought of a woman not needing a man in her life to get pregnant.

After 3 years of thinking and researching I felt that the sooner I became comfortable with my story, the better it would be for my child.  It felt super awkward the first few times I told people I don’t know so well that I’m a single mother by choice who used a sperm donor.  It quickly became easier and these days I quite enjoy telling people (when appropriate.)

That said, it’s amazing how infrequently I’m now asked about the other parent.  Once your child is born nobody really cares how they got here.  Our society is so used to broken homes and single Mothers that we just blend into the crowd.IMG_8170

I have however already started telling my son where he came from.  As soon as he was born I made him a book that explains his story to him.  It has a lot of pictures of us and our family.  We read it together about once a week.  Right now the words mean nothing to him but before too long they will begin to make sense to him and become a starting point for his questions.

These days I’m so proud of our story.  I can’t imagine it being any other way.