The Little Story of Sprout

Several people have asked me to share my story, and although I always agreed to at the time, I have deliberated over writing this post for ages now (18 weeks to be exact) for fear of undermining, insulting or upsetting anyone going through fertility issues. This is my story, a happy and positive one, and I wrote it from my heart. I hope that it in some small way will help whoever may read it.

You see, babies – despite what they say in the movies – seldom come from a drunken one night stand or even a stork. Babies (often) come from heartbreak, tears and a whole lot of planning.

In June this year I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) – a fairly common condition that affects every 1 in 20 woman. I went to get checked out because a good friend had recently been diagnosed, and as she told me I just knew, in my heart, that I had it too. Turns out, I did, and seeing my ovaries on the ultrasound resemble a bunch of grapes, was devastating. Ladies, I’m sure we can all agree that grapes, unless being fed to you by an Adonis or crushed in a wine bottle, have no place in a woman’s reproductive system.

My gynae, a crazy Croatian with a fondness for the word Fuck (to be referred to as ‘Dr D’ going forward) was brilliantly blasé and calm when he told me – and the only advise he handed out was to “Not Dr Google it, drink lots and have plenty of sex”.

Copious blood tests, medicine and a small fortune later, my diagnosis had been confirmed and we knew what the exact problem was, for me it was my Prolactin levels. (PCOS symptoms vary from woman to woman, and no case is ever the same). PCOS, like anything to do with making a human, is a messy revolting affair – some days I wished for a baby delivery by stork, much more charming than the weekly crotch invasions I was experiencing.

Dr D also advised that if we were serious about having children (we were) then we shouldn’t delay and get trying right away. In the back of my mind I was anticipating 2 to 3 years of trying (based on research and people who had the same condition) and was quite happy to go with his advice, thinking I would be pregnant in 2016 if I was lucky.

10 weeks into the new medication, and obsessively recording my cycles, basal body temperature and more I went back to the doctor for another batch of tests. I remember sitting in his office complaining that Aunt Flow hadn’t arrived in 2 months and that the meds weren’t working – he told me that based on the blood test results he would put me on fertility drugs to try help my system reboot and resume.

New blood work done I went out that week and drank my body weight in wine – as I had been doing for the weeks before then, You see, some people react to a PCOS diagnosis by cutting out sugar, wheat and alcohol. I embraced all the bad stuff and decided to try and not let my diagnosis bother me as much as I could. I found comfort at the bottom of a Boschendal bottle.

Around the same time, to try and distract myself even more from the barren womb, I took up an intense 12 week bikini body gym program. I was only 3 or 4 weeks into it, but battling – I couldn’t finish each 28 minute set without almost passing out, wanting to vomit or feeling dizzy – on top of that my heart rate was a staggeringly high at about 210 BPM during every session. Part of the program entailed taking daily pics to track ones progress – I still remember the frustration I felt at feeling so weak and looking at my pics wondering why my tummy wasn’t getting flatter, only more and more bloated.

All of this, combined with emotional outbursts at work (I cried when I was told an email was too nice for gods sake) should really have been a sign that there was something going on, but you believe a professional when they tell you that IT.WILL.TAKE.TIME so you blame the tears on the meds and you blame the bloat on the wine.

Little did I know that I had been merrily with child for 5 weeks already.

My darling husband, eventually convinced me to take a pregnancy test. I was beautifully hung-over on the day I did, and decided to stock up on all the necessities at Clicks when I bought my pee stick that would forever change my life. Necessities included a bulk purchase of tampons, ovulation kits and energy drinks (for the hangover, you see). Ha! How the fertility gods must have been LOL’ing.

So, kids, I won’t go into the shock I felt at seeing that big bold double line, or the silent treatment I gave Barry for 2 days afterwards, or event the heart-stopping bubbling over joy when I think about this little boy growing inside of me. I also won’t go into the OhMyGodWhatTheActualFuck moments I had for several weeks after finding out.

What I will tell you, is that when a Doctor tells you something is impossible, even they can be wrong. I will also tell you, that to keep a positive outlook is sometimes the best medicine, and that things happen when you least expect it.

Also, wine solves pretty much everything.

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Parenting: A joyful chore

Several weeks ago we went away on a weekend with friends, to watch a few of our mates (my husband included) take part in a triathlon. Amy, her hubby Chett and their 10 month old baby Ben, came along. Amy and I have been friends for more than 17 years and weekends away with the 4 of us are nothing new. Until they became weekends away with the 5 of us. That’s when everything changed. 

This particular weekend was hard. Ben had started teething, and crawling, and being a bit of a homebody felt horribly antsy at being in a strange environment, in a strange cot and with a strange new routine. Over and above that, traipsing a 10 month old around a triathlon course in 30 degree heat, would bring even the strongest of people to tears. 

To make matters worse, Ben wasn’t sleeping, which meant that neither mom nor dad were sleeping, and to say the least, tempers were frayed and nerves were shot. I remember, post race, and after about 23 minutes sleep between the 3 of them, Chett, while trying to rock Ben to sleep, looked up at me with vacant eyes and muttered ‘Don’t EVER have kids”.*

Like a moth in a windstorm, I was frazzled. Hubby and I had been taking about starting a family and now here we were, getting told by some of our closest friends that it was the biggest mistake we could make. I was ready to quit any idea of motherhood right there and then, and resign myself to being childless forever.

But – guess what – a few weeks later Ben had stopped teething and had turned back into the adorable kid he was. Amy on the other hand, fearing she had scarred me (and closed my uterus for life) kindly offered to write a guest post on motherhood, explaining why it was the hardest yet most rewarding thing one human can ever do.

Take a read – let us know your thoughts – and then congratulate every parent you speak to from here on out. Because they deserve it. 

Parenting: A Joyful Chore

This morning I woke up to my ten month old son crawling to the side of my bed, lifting himself up, and kissing me on my cheek. It was one of those moments that makes you wonder how you could have earned such love. Of course, it only takes a few seconds until you come to your senses and remind yourself that you’ve worked damn hard for this love. Damn. Hard.*

A few months back, we went through a particularly difficult patch. Ben had undiagnosed allergies and wasn’t sleeping much. He was also prone to bouts of tonsillitis and ear infections (because of the allergies) so nights with less than two hours of sleep were a regular occurrence. My husband and I couldn’t agree on anything. We walked around in a daze thinking ‘What have we done?’ and ‘Why do so many people choose to have kids?’. In an effort to feel that we weren’t alone and out of genuine curiosity, I started on a research journey to answer our ‘why?’ questions.

My initial findings weren’t encouraging. Research is pretty clear: Parents are less happy than non-parents. Children are more likely than money, sex, work, pretty much anything, to cause arguments in marital relationships.

For mothers, the news is even worse. The wage gap between working moms and equally qualified childless women is bigger than the gap between men and women.

So yes, parenting is hard. It makes our days less happy, our marriages harder, and our salaries lower. Why then, do we choose to have children?

One

Have you ever considered that holidays are less enjoyable while they’re happening than they are when you look at the photographs? Picture your last holiday and try to put yourself in the moment, say walking through a market in Thailand. It’s hot, you’re sweating, traders are haggling you to buy things, your partner is on his own mission. In the moment, you’re uncomfortable and irritable. But if you look at a photograph now of you standing in the midst of fake Polo shirts and incense holders, you’d feel very differently.

Parenthood is like that. The day-to-day business of feeding, clothing, and entertaining children is tedious and frustrating but when you look back, it’s the greatest adventure of all time. From an evolutionary perspective, this makes sense because it means you’re likely to have more than one child despite having first-hand experience of how tough it is.

Two

Did you know that we don’t care for our children because we love them? We love them because we care for them. At least, that’s what some studies say. The more we sacrifice for something, the more we love that thing. If you think about this in context of some of the projects you’ve taken on, your garden for example, it makes sense right?

Parenting isn’t rewarding in spite of some hard times. The tough stuff of parenting is exactly what leads to the good stuff.

Three

My Ben, as you know, had a traumatic arrival. I didn’t get that precious moment when mom holds baby for the first time and dad leans in lovingly. So many moms describe that moment as a lightning bolt realisation that *this* is everything and that your heart will never be whole again. I did get the lightning bolt a day or so after birth when I went up to the ICU to see my tube-covered, fighting-for-life baby and the nurse commented on how his heart rate calmed as soon as he heard my voice. I realised then that our connection was deeper than emotional or practical, it’s biological. That’s an amazing thing to know.

Psychiatrist and researcher George Valliant is an authority on adult development who followed the lives of 268 men for 75 years. His research was able to track many of the things that most sociology research can’t quantify and he’s quoted as saying that “Joy is connection,” and that connection is the strongest predictor of life satisfaction there is.

So if the ‘fathomless connection’ that parenting brings is mixed up in sleepless nights, arguments with your spouse, despairing over a baby that won’t eat textured foods, then I’ll take it.

* I don’t leave Ben to crawl around the house when I sleep. My husband had fetched him from his cot and was watching him play on our bedroom floor.

Amy and Ben
Amy and Ben
Ben - Proud Triathlon Supporter
Ben – Proud Triathlon Supporter

About Amy

One times 10km race runner (you may remember this post), perfectionist, empathetic and revoltingly fitted back into her size 8 jeans just minutes after Ben was born 

About Ben

Weeks away from his first birthday, Ben’s favourite activities include playing in the garden, crawling around the house, drooling… and occasionally keeping his mom and dad up at night. 

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A Blog A Day Challenge – Something For Your Kids To Know – Day 6

Husband and I have been talking about having kids (not now, calm down mom). It’s the next step, I’m helluva broody and I think we will make damn good parents.

I grew up right. More than right. My brother and I said please and thank you for everything. So much so, that when I moved to America in 2002 as an exchange student, I lived for a brief period of time with a lady from the local Rotary Club. On my 3rd morning there she took me grocery shopping. After about 5 minutes of cruising the aisles, seeking vegetarian food in a cluster of pop-tarts and Big Jim turkey dinners,  she turned to me and said ‘You really don’t need to say please after every thing I ask you – they’re just apples”. The thing is, I will still say please and thank you – and yes, for something as small as ‘dem apples’. 

I’m deliberately choosing to change the topic of today’s blog to ‘Something I want to teach my (future) children.’ After all, the more kids I see on television raping, pillaging, murdering and taking selfies, the more I feel the need to instill what my parents did in me. 

1. Be polite. 

2. Be kind.

3. Learn to love what you have and don’t rely on the superficial things. (We loved in the garden, my brother and I, except between 5 and 7 when MNET had ‘Open Time’ on for us po’ folk.)

4. Know the difference between right and wrong. I call ‘bullshit’ on anyone defending a child over the age of 5 for doing something morally wrong. Why? Because they are old enough to know better. 

5. Be kind to everyone you meet. That extends to animals.

6. Respect others and their property

7. Hidings will not kill you. I promise

8. Work for your money**. Appreciate anything that has been given to you free of charge.

9. Eat nutritious and healthy meals

10. Read a damn book. Learn. Knowledge is key. 

**So I was about 5 years old and my father asked me to clean the chicken coops and horse stables (I grew up on a plot). It took me several hours and was honestly back breaking work. Afterwards, he handed me a R2 coin (thanks, dad). I was absolutely gutted. So kids, work hard for your money but don’t let them old folk walk right over you.

 

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