"Edited to Add"....

This started as a pregnancy blog when I fell pregnant in May 2009 after four years of finding a donor, doing all the counselling / paperwork / tests and trying.

And now, thanks to a 4WD which skidded onto our side of the road, killing our baby daughter at 34w and injuring me, my partner and two of my stepdaughters on 27 December 2009, it has turned into something else. We didn't want this something else, but apparently it is all we've got to go on with.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Stretch marks, Packing Tape and Deadlines!

Suddenly we've got less than 3 weeks until we move interstate, and I've suddenly been struck by The Fear - that we won't get things organised in time or that we've forgotten something essential. We've now got a big list blu-tacked to the wall and are ticking things off (and writing on new things we'd neglected) at a rate of knots.

The removalists are booked, the pet-boarding is booked, things are (mostly) sorted for the girls' new school, we've just booked a stall at the Marrickville Sunday Markets to sell lots of our old stuff... and yesterday we packed pretty much all the books in the living room / our bedroom / my study. Mum is back, and has been fabulous - helping clear out cupboards, sort stuff, go to the shops while we're packing.

But in the mean time, I've still got lots of work deadlines to deal with - a book review, exam marking, an abstract and amendments to an article... And somehow the more deadlines, the better I seem to get at distracting myself...

For example, by looking for pictures of galaxies which resemble the stretchmark patterns I'm developing around my poor distended belly-button:

At the moment, our daily mantra seems to be "We'll get there!"

And I'm sure we will.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Best feeling ever

Hiccoughs happening in my belly - and not mine!

That is all!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Story of the Ever-Expanding Haloumi-Home

17 weeks

Once upon a time, there was a relatively modest-sized haloumi home. I'd definitely gotten to the stage where people knew I was pregnant, and could comment without running the risk of offending me. My belly button was doing this very weird thing - going from being a 100% innie to having a sort of "eyelid"... And the boobies!

23 weeks: See those jeans - ah, that was the good ol' days when I could still *just* do them up. Mind you, I mostly had to unbutton them when I sat down, so it wasn't a very elegant look, but still. Soon after this, I got a package in the mail from my ever-thoughtful Mama, who had sent me one of those little elasticky button-expander things to put in my pants. Yay for being able to wear normal pants! But these jeans are still just a bit too squeezy even then...

26 weeks: Nonchalantly trying to take a photo of myself. Pregnant - moi?

28 weeks: Boing! Total basketball effect. 9 out of ten belly-speculators tell me that this is typical "boy belly" - all out in front, with not so much around the sides. But then my mum says she looked exactly the same with me and my sister around the same time. She said, "Oh, don't worry, you'll get bigger! I used to be able to rest a cup of tea on the bump!" I love that I am starting to get some bulge on the sides to make my poor scar (kidney operation, 1983) look like it is straining at the seams a little.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


I'm sitting in my "office" (ie one end of our outside laundry, which has my desk & books in it) in my bra and pants and eating fruit icy-poles to deal with the heat today. I did have the option of going into the real (ie air conditioned!) office today, but the thought of finding something presentable/ comfortable to wear and dealing with public transport to get in there and home was a bit too much.

I feel like I'm finally catching up with myself after a few weeks struggling through day by day to get to the end of semester. Partly, the end of semester itself has made everything a bit more manageable, but I also got a blood test result from my doctor on Friday telling me I'm slightly anemic, which probably contributed to the "struggling" feeling. Since Friday I've been taking generous spoonfuls of an iron liquid supplement with each meal, and trying (more than I was before) to make sure I'm upping my intake of iron-rich foods. I haven't gone the red meat yet - though after 16 years of being vegetarian / fish-etarian, I'm feeling like I might try and do this a little bit just to sort out my iron / haem levels. But it is a very weird feeling when all my habits are quite well established in a non-meaty direction. If I am going to eat any red meat again, I kind of want to pick something really good too - but don't think I could handle the texture of most of it (and when I did venture in this direction a few months ago, this was mainly what grossed me out), so I'll probably end up chewing on a barbequed sausage.

So, aside from the anemia / carnivore issue, what else has been happening chez Sesame Seed?

- No gestational diabetes! Woo hoo! And I thought the sweet drink I had to have an hour before the blood test wasn't too bad at all - sticky lemonade!

- Loooooow blood pressure - which explains why I've had some woozy / nauseous episodes. Generally low blood pressure is A Good Thing - but I just have to watch out for the wooziness and if I feel faint, sit down. Does this give me an excuse to eat salt & vinegar chips to up my salt intake? What am I talking about, do I *need* an excuse to eat s&v chips?

- Reading this book - by Susan Ross - the midwife we did our hypnobirthing classes with. I really like it - she seems to draw on a lot of experience of all kinds of births, and comes from a perspective which is very affirming of birth as a normal, healthy event which most women are very capable of doing with minimal intervention.

- STRETCH MARKS! Already! So far, just around my belly button - I swear Halloumi has been sticking his/ her foot in my belly button for a bit of extra leg room! You know when you are on a long-haul flight and trying to get comfortable to sleep, and you discover that if you poke your toe in the seat pocket of the seat next to you, you can get an extra 5 cms leg extension? It feels like Halloumi is doing that! Will post a photo shortly.

- El Prima is away at a conference half of this week. It is funny how different the dynamic is when it is just me parenting with Snacky & Snazzy. They've been lovely so far - Snazzy made a special request to do moisturiser duties for my halloumi-belly while El Prima is away, and has been doing a superb job. I love that the girls always give Haloumi a little good night hug or pat, and are always asking me "how's haloumi?" I think Haloumi will be so lucky to have such wonderful loving big sisters.

- Gave our landlords notice today that we're leaving - in just over a MONTH! Yikes!! So so so much stuff to do! I've been gathering quotes from removalists, but I really just need to pull my finger out and book one. And start packing!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Musical Education

Now that Haloumi apparently has quite well functioning ears (and a developing brain to listen to the sounds collected by those little ears), El Prima's been keen for me to expose Haloumi to lots of music. And tonight she found the classical music CD which she used to play via headphones on her belly to her daughters through each of her pregnancies with them. We put it on, and El Prima's middle daughter came out and said "what is this music - I love it!" So clearly all that in utero listening had some effect!

We also noticed that our big dog (as opposed to the chihuahua mini pincer cross) who was sleeping on the rug opposite the CD player, seemed to be making little taps of his toes in time with the music. Presumably he was dreaming of being a great classical pianist!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Maybe I see you

Long before Haloumi came to be known as Haloumi, in the week I found out that I was pregnant, there was a song playing on the radio which made me cry secret soggy tears of joy. The chorus was “Baby… Maybe I see you in my eye… Maybe I’ll see you in time”* and it perfectly summarized that hesitant, contingent excitement of a positive pregnancy test. Maybe this meant we were having a baby – maybe our hearts would be broken. All these possibilities held within a tiny sesame-seed-sized something deep inside me. One of the first arabic words El Prima taught me was “aaineh” – literally meaning “my eye” but also “my darling” or “apple of my eye”. So when I heard those words, “Maybe I see you in my eye”, it was as though I was just starting to picture the possibility of a Haloumi – in my mind’s eye and with it, in my heart.

I hunted the song down – it was “Summarize” by Little Birdy – and El Prima bought the album for me when it was my birthday the week after our positive test. And today, on the train, I played it – with one headphone in my ear, and the other pressed to my belly for Haloumi to hear. Who knows whether kicking means Haloumi likes it or doesn’t like it, but it definitely got a reaction.

I’m still in that process of trying to picture this new “you” forming within me – a separate little someone – and all the possibilities that come with that. I know now that Haloumi is not a figment of my mind’s eye – even if something terrible and unnameable happens this will have been real – I will have had these little responses – this chance to meet and love and know Haloumi. I don’t mean to be morbid – and I know that our chances of the terrible and unnameable things is very very low, but this is my way of enjoying exactly what I have and hold here and now – without pinning my present happiness on a future possibility. Of course I am full of excitement about what I hope lies ahead for us. But at the same time I know what a powerful and unpredictable creature the future is – it feels foolish to emotionally second-guess it, even if we still need to plan pragmatically for it.

* And when I listened to the song after writing this, I realised that the words actually say “I see you in my mind” – not quite sure why I heard it as “eye” but there you go. In the fine tradition of “Cheap wine and a three legged goat”, “she’s got a chicken to ride” etc… (but not as funny)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Get your rosaries off my .... um... Birthing Centre?

This was going to be a nice little post about how during our hypnobirthing class on Saturday, my uterus decided to demonstrate Braxton-Hicks contractions* right at the very moment the facilitator started explaining about them. But then I read this article by Leslie Cannold.

And realised that the birthing centre where we are booked for Haloumi's birth is part of several "public hospitals", which, despite being publicly-funded, is subject to this edict from the Catholic Church:
"Catholic health-care institutions, whatever legal, financial or other pressure they are under, may not co-operate with abortion, sterilisation or euthanasia."
Cannold continues,
"Nor do Catholic-run health care institutions offer a full range of contraceptive services."

Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, the Catholic church's episcopal vicar for life and health. Should this man be deciding on your obstetric care or your baby's perinatal care?

I don't want to even think about the possible situations where we could encounter this policy. But if anything went wrong with Haloumi, or with my pregnancy, I think we'll have enough heart-breaking decisions on our hands without the Catholic Church telling us that some options are off the table because of THEIR religious views.

I've just rang our birthing centre and had a chat to one of the midwives, who was lovely and did her best to reassure me that these policies only come up very very rarely in the most awful of situations and that even then, the hospital aims to respect the patients' (ie parents) wishes while also respecting "the sanctity of life". Which wasn't terribly reassuring to me, because I can imagine few things could make such an awful heart-breaking situation worse, but one of them would be to have someone telling you about the "sanctity of life" at a time when you have to make such awful decisions. She did, however, tell me that their hospital policy puts the mother's health before the life of the baby, and that if a baby is not showing any signs of brain activity, they will let the parents decide whether to continue life support. But that these situations are always complicated and decided on a case-by-case basis, but that in the end "it is in God's control anyway". Well... yes - depending on whether you believe in God, and whether in your understanding God has control or not...

So where does that leave us? So far, all the midwives and the one doctor we've met the birthing centre have taken our same-sex family in their stride without blinking an eyelid, so I would not anticipate we'd have any issues with them on that front. But it scares me that, if the worst did happen and we had to face decisions about whether or not to continue with the pregnancy, or whether or not to continue treatment / life support for Haloumi or me, that these decisions would be constrained by the dictates of the Catholic Church.

Yes, other hospitals also have ethics committees etc which may also limit our choices - but at least those ethics are broad, secular ethics, and not those of a Church which a) we don't belong to and don't believe in, and b) which has a number of positions we disagree strongly with.

I asked if I could get a copy of the Mercy's Ethics policy - she wasn't sure if they had such a document, but gave me the number of the Pastoral Care department so I could ask them. I will follow up, but I have lots of work to do, and I hate the sick feeling I get in my tummy when I have to think about these "adverse scenarios" when we could come up against Catholic hospital policy. I just wish I had known when we were choosing our care that some public hospitals have such limitations. Or rather, I wish that "public hospital" meant that only public health department ethics limits applied. (I've written a very grumpy missive to the Health Minister about that).

Blech. I don't really want to end the post on that rather depressing note - so will leave you with this cute misunderstanding from one of the dads at the hypnobirthing class while we were watching a waterbirth DVD:

dad: How long can they stay under water for?
facilitator: Well, they have been in water for 40 weeks...
dad: Forty minutes! Really?

*sorry, "practice labour" - part of the whole hypnobirthing approach is to use less medicalised language. And actually, "contraction" doesn't really capture what they are like - I had some bizarre idea of some kind of mini-abdominal earthquake. Instead, it was much less dramatic than that - my tummy went rock-hard for about half a minute or so, and that was it. Just like a big ol' muscle is wont to do now and then.