Sunday, March 23, 2008

Tadpole Diary

Hello All -
Hooray - the word is finally and officially out about the baby in the works. There is relief that comes with being able to talk about this. When I was freaking out, sick all of the time, and in the closet about the baby, I started to keep a diary. This is that diary....

17th of Jan
I am just now returned from one of most annoying doctors office experiences. Worthless waste of money and time that was!

I'm joyously happy to find myself unexpectedly pregnant but I also am weeding through the messy and frustrating Australian Health care system. I found out less than one week ago that I was expecting and it turns out I am too late to book into most private hospitals. What the? Did people book because they were anticipating being pregnant? How can every maternity ward be full for end of September already? And how about the notion of booking a bed in a maternity ward anyway? It's beyond strange to me. How do they know when my "expected date of confinement", as they call it, is going to be? What if I go early...will they then say..."oops, sorry, can you hold it in for another couple weeks dear?"

Trying to find an OB and navigate the private vs. public system is a nightmare. I have been on hold approximately 2 hours within the public system and I have never gotten to speak to a live person. What if there is an emergency? It doesn't bode well. I also found out that you don't get an ob with the public system...just a midwife for the delivery and prenatal care is with some random nurse. If I book an OB, then I'm going private and the bills are impossible to figure out. They can charge whatever they want and my health fund either will or won't reimburse me. There is a code for delivery, labor, anesthesia, ob, the room, the FOOD, and extra care, etc. etc. How can I figure all this out? I tried to book into an OB but he won't see me for 9 weeks. What does this mean for prenatal care? I've been relying on the Internet and have found out that bad things are too much coffee (so I stopped it completely - what's nine months?), alcohol, sushi, soft cheeses like brie and feta (travesty!), and too much chocolate. OK, got it. Good old Internet. I'm taking a prenatal vitamin and there are all these warnings about too much folic acid, too little. ugh.

I rang up the OB's office again and chatted with the receptionist and she suggested that I go to a General Practitioner in the meantime. After searching for a GP in my area, I made an appt and went. This is what the 90 year old GP who couldn't understand my accent told me: wine is fine, 2 or more cups of coffee a day won't hurt me, he has never heard that pregnant woman can't eat cheeses and that I was loony for thinking it because cheese has good calcium. However, I should avoid bouncing up and down, no running, and be careful of exercise and sex. These two things (sex and exercise) were bigger problems than coffee and alcohol. He reconfirmed the pregnancy test and then told me to come back in the morning after fasting for a blood test. When I asked what the blood test was for, he said to test for pregnancy. I don't know about you all, but I think that two confirmed pregnancy tests and a late cycle pretty much mean that I'm pregnant. And I can pretty much expect that in about two months my belly will begin to expand and that will provide yet another confirmation in the whole pregnancy debate. I'm not going back to this man. I will just wait the nine weeks to see an ob. I can take care of my own prenatal by reading the Internet and perhaps buying a book from the bookstore.

26th of Jan (Australia Day)
I'm exhausted. How can I be this tired all the time? I wake from a nap and feel just as unrested as I did before I fell asleep. Eric and I went on a walk this evening and it felt like uphill both ways for me. Our conversation went something like this...

Me: I'm sick
Eric: You're not sick

Me: I think I have mono
Eric: You don't have mono

Me: What is wrong with me then?
Eric: Nothing, your just using your energy somewhere else

Me: Maybe I'm diabetic
Eric: You're not diabetic

Me: Maybe I'm dying
Eric: You definitely aren't dying

Me: If I was dying and you just blew it off, you'd feel really bad
Eric: You are not dying

Me: Honestly, wouldn't you feel the least bit bad if I was really dying
Eric: you are not dying.

Me: You'll be sorry.

3 Feb
Found a wonderful new GP who called her favorite OB and he made room for me in his practice even though I am ALREADY 7 weeks along. (still doesn't sound long to me, but the booking into a hospital thing is difficult). I have felt like I have the flu for about the last two weeks and I am exhausted. I bawled my eyes out in her office and she cooed and was sympathetic to me. Love her.

11 Feb
Today I was actually feeling OK by about 2 Eric and I went out for a very late breakfast. I had scrambled eggs and toast and a bit of bacon and it all stayed down. Amazing. That's a first. I've been eating crackers and soup broth for a week, being nauseous Evey morning noon and night, and generally looking and feeling like hell all day long. People at work think I'm homesick and crying. The puffiness in my face is from the nausea. I have an on call shift all of next weekend and am gearing up for a 12 day stretch of work without a break. I used to hate those at home but I'm not sure how I'm going to bear it feeling as I do.

If I felt like this at home, I would surely call in sick. Can I call in sick for the next several weeks?

This morning I was extremely weepy and Eric was very comforting. I'm tired of being sick all the time and I'm tired of this constant fever. I have been hovering at around 100 degrees for the past few weeks - I'm hot to the touch and Eric is accusing me of cooking our child.

I am also actually somewhat fascinated by the status of my belly. It doesn't feel like me and I have no control over it. What was normally a somewhat flat stomach in which I took much pride, is now an uncontrollable gas bubble that churns and puffs at its own will. It is sometimes so enormous, I can barely zip my pants, let alone fuss with the top button. The discomfort is unbelievable.

I get up about 4 or 5 times in the night to go to the bathroom - how can that be?

I dream and dream...I'm skiing...I'm getting a pacemaker...I'm in the hospital for my appendectomy and no one believes me that I already had it out...I'm starting a new job...I've lost my keys and cant get out of the apartment...I dream that Eric sends naked pictures of me out on the internet....eee gads. I wake up sad and overwhelmed that I am in a foreign country. I wake up mad at Eric about the naked pictures.

I am confused by how much of this due to pregnancy and how much is actual real loneliness or real sadness. Some of the books say that all of this is linked to the 1st trimester and the discomfort and flood of emotions will turn off like a faucet after 12 weeks. However, they also warn that some people feel like this all 40 weeks. I'm hoping I'm in the first group. Seeing as I'm approx 8 weeks at this point, I don't even know how I can take another 4, let alone 32 weeks.

I'm now booked in to a hospital, I have a general practitioner that I adore, and an OB that seems fine. He did an ultrasound when I visited last Friday and it was really bizarre. For years I've looked at other peoples ultrasounds and they have been relatively meaningless. Now here I am. There is this huge pregnancy sack that looks like a giant empty black space and there on the side is a tiny little thing with a beating heart. There is all this space and there is this kid hanging on to the wall. Eric looked at it and said, "Hey, you can spread out in there."

I also have my first incident with the not-so-private Australian health care system. A packet arrived in the mail with my blood work. You should see this thing. It's the most comprehensive analysis I have ever had. No wonder they took 5 vials of blood. It's 11 pages long. Well, it's supposed to be 11 pages long. Mine is 12 pages. I was reading the 12th page and was very confused by it until I realized it wasn't for me. I read enough to know I shouldn't be reading it and will be taking it back to the pathology lab on Monday so they can mail it to the correct person. It was an analysis directed for someone else including such details as method of collection (masturbation) and volume (3 ml). It included a name and address. Now I'm wondering who else has MY lab results.

Feb 19
Just got the bill for the lab tests. $275. Was that really necessary? The pee on the stick test cost me just $12. $275 seems to be the going rate for everything these days - it was the cost of the car tune up as well (shocking!) and it was also the cost of the side view mirror that I bashed by driving too close to our garage door.

Still sick every morning. My diet is that of a 5 year old. I only like cheese, bread, pop sickles, soup, crackers, blueberry muffins, and cheerios. Tomatoes are the enemy, and spicy things are yucky. I'm grossed out by meat and the smell of what other people are eating. Oh, French fries are OK too. Yes, I have taken on the diet of a 5 year old. Eric is telling me this is happening so that when our kid refuses to eat certain foods I will be sympathetic to his or her wishes.

Feb 27
I got radiated yesterday and I'm freaked out. My job in a cardiac cath lab exposes me to radiation on a regular basis and I'm not happy about it. I have 6 cumulative years of radiation in my body and now that I am pregnant, I am extremely careful. I put on the best and heaviest lead suit that I can find, I stand behind people whenever possible and I step as far away from the tube as possible to minimize my exposure. I don't like being around the stuff, but it's unavoidable if I continue my job. However, yesterday I was in a long long day of procedures and I we were finally finished for the day. All of us, except the doctor had taken off our lead and were cleaning up the room. I was standing right next to the flouro tube and was trying to organize my gear. About a minute later, the doctor yelled, "Jeff! You are standing on the pedal!" This fool was radiating all of us for about a minute and no one knew! I was right next to the tube. I would be angry with this kind of exposure, but now that I'm carrying a child, I'm absolutely panicked. I got home last night and we called the OB and then looked up what radiation can do to a 10 week old baby. It's not pretty and I had to stop reading because I became so upset.

Eric is hounding me to report this and tell everyone at work. What good will that do now? An "incident report" hardly seems like enough. My OB was very kind and gentle and told me he didn't know much about cath lab radiation exposure but would talk to his radiologist friend and get back to me. I'll be waiting for his call today. ugh.

Feb 27 continued
OB called. He was reassuring and told me his radiologist friend didn't say there was much cause for concern. I'm still concerned, but trying not to be.

Feb 28
All the Aussie magazines at the checkout counter show all the celebrities and their baby bumps. Is everyone in Hollywood pregnant? When our little Lampert-Tjossem goes to make his or her big break in California she/he will need to compete with all the Jolie-Pitt and Urban-Kidman children of this world. Even if she or he is a singer, there will be competition from the two J-Lo just released to the world.

March 1
Next weekend I have a work conference and the pressure will be on me to party with everyone else. When you don't have a drink, everyone notices. It is part of the Australian culture. I will need to tell my managers. I'm dreading it.

Part of the reason that I was hired over here is because three people on my staff are out on maternity leave at the present time. When they go on leave, they are gone for a year. How will my bosses take this news? I've consulted the internet for advice in this arena and was told not to apologize for it - just be businesslike.

March 2
My OB ordered me to have more blood tests. Apparently as comprehensive as the first round was, the GP didn't order the items you actually need during pregnancy. The OB questioned if I had told that doctor I was even pregnant, because apparently he ordered about 12 tests I didn't need.

March 3
Told Eric's parents today over skype. How fun! We video conferenced (it's free people!) and Eric just held the ultrasound photo up to the camera and told them to say hello to their newest grandchild. Eric's mom cried. It was great! I'm excited to tell more people.

March 4
Went to the gym today for the first time since December. I've been too sick to go until now. The elliptical trainer nearly killed me. I used to go at a high rate and resistance for 40 minutes on that thing. At a low rate and resistance, I could barely make 15 minutes today. How will I make it through labor?

The gym's personal trainer said hello and asked me where I had been. When I told him I was pregnant, he walked over to Eric and slapped him on the back and yelled "Good on ya, Mate!" You should have seen Eric. He puffed up and stuck his chest out. He's all proud and manly these day. I'm not sure he knows I had anything any part in this.

March 5
Told both my managers today. They both had the same reaction. It was a four letter word beginning with F. Sometimes it was stung together in a series. Then they wised up and said 'congratulations'. It's a really big deal when people get pregnant here because they can take leave from their jobs for a full year. It is an unpaid time off, but their employers must guarantee them their job back when they return. That is stressful for companies and most have to recruit someone to fill in for that year. In this job, the training takes a bit more than a year so they just rely on everyone else to pick up the slack.

Naturally,they wanted to know if I planned to stay in Australia. Since my package doesn't come with any US health insurance I informed them that yes, I would be staying here. I also won't be taking a full year, but I will take longer than what the US gives us. I think I'll take four months and then transition back to work with a part time month. The US policy was three months full pay and this is one year no pay. I'd like the salary, but at this point in my life, I'm more happy with the time off. It will be the longest break in my working career. I can't wait to spend that time loving a child.

March 10
Went out of town this weekend to lovely Byron Bay for a work conference. The country director was a bit drunk on Friday night and he announced to everyone at my table that I had "news". I couldn't just sit there in silence, so I told everyone that I was pregnant. I felt like a fool. Seated at my table were some of the physicians I work with, the president of Boston Scientific, and a rather well known electrophysiologist from the US. No one really knew what to say and I wished the earth would swallow me whole.

On the second night, I sat with two people whose wives had both delivered babies in foreign countries (Japan and the US). They shared their experiences and both were really kind. They talked about the challenges and we all laughed about various doctors visits. It redeemed the weekend a bit for me. I'm glad I'm not having the baby in Japan. Apparently the nurse hopped up on the patient and began to push on her belly to help her along.

March 11
Ultrasound today. Everything was great and we are officially at 12 weeks. It is amazing to see this little baby with two arms and two legs kicking about within me. We saw the heart again and counted the chambers.1...2..3..4.. all good.

Now, if you friends would just answer your phones, you would all know the news.

Laura O'Brien - I don't want you to have to read about this in a blog, but please answer your phone!

Matt and Amy Brenengen know and I think Matt could care less about me, but is really excited for Eric and the baby. He is disappointed that we are in Australia because he believes my expanding belly could fulfill his documentary video dreams.

Amy Sinykin was wonderfully supportive and glad that I am joining the club of sleepless parenting. Troy Sinykin called me a fertile little minx. I love that. It makes me feel sexy at a time where I just look bloated and tired.

Eric's sister Ann also cried and was really happy for us. I didn't talk with Eric's brother Scott but Eric said is was a great reaction. Eric's brother Kurt already suspected and wasn't really surprised.

My mother had a great reaction but knew back in January when she directly asked me because I was acting 'funny'. Also, there was no hiding it from Christine Chovan as we video conference with her on a regular basis and there wasn't any logical explanation for why I was always sick and laying on the couch when she called week after week.

There are still so many more people to tell. This is where the fun begins. I wish I could tell everyone in person.

March 15
This weekend I head off to Bali for a week with my friend KP. When I was sick and miserable in February, KP made her plans to come here and Eric told me to go to Bali with her and have some girl time. I feel a little bad for leaving him behind - like taking a baby moon without the father. I am, however, looking forward to a holiday escape where we can just relax, get massages, shop for normal priced items, and swim in the incredible looking pool at our hotel. Best of all is that I feel about 150% better and can't wait to have a vacation!

Saturday, March 22, 2008