Trying to plan
I have sat in front of 3 GPs and had to explain what cerebral palsy is. So I didn’t hold out much hope when Kev & I went for our (pre) prenatal appointment. But the doctor didn’t seem fazed and asked if we had any questions. Of course, my mind went blank even though the questions have haunted me ever since Kev and I had talked about wanting a family.
How much pain would I be in? Would my balance be even more compromised by pregnancy? Would I be able to work? Walk?
Of course, a general practitioner wasn’t going to know the answers. But that’s perhaps the most frustrating part. I’ll have to be expecting before anyone can even take a guess. I was hoping a light bulb would go off over his head as soon as I said “cerebral palsy” and he’d say “Oh, you want to talk to Dr. Jenkins at the Heath, he’s an expert in these things.” No such luck. At least, not in South Wales.
But, as Kev pointed out when we discussed it later, how cerebral palsy manifests is such a spectrum – no two people with the condition are going to respond in the same way. But even that doesn’t feel helpful.
But the good news: cerebral palsy is not hereditary. My traumatic birth does not put me at any greater risk of a repeat with my child. Every chance of a happy, perfectly healthy little one.
That appointment was January 2016. We just went plodding on in our own merry little way. I spent every month analysing pretty much every second my period was late, even though it probably wasn’t and I’d just done a lousy job of learning to track my cycles. Been having periods since I was 14 and stupidly, can still be surprised by their arrival.
But it seemed as though, every second I started hoping for a baby, my uterus would hear me and quite literally open the floodgates just to taunt me. And if it didn’t, I’d gotten used to the one line appearing on pregnancy tests. It was just a cycle I went through to ensure there would be no baby this month. Kev would roll his eyes each time I said I needed to buy a pregnancy test. And he was always right and my period would normally arrive within the hour of my one line letdown.
April’s period was four days late. I just wanted the damn thing out the way so took a detour from my morning bus into work to the Tesco Express and made a beeline for the pregnancy tests. No hope this time. Just a “This’ll make you hurry up, won’t it?”
I ridiculously have never managed to pee on a pregnancy test. I’ve always had to pee in a cup and dip the test to be sure of a result. So I had to steal a cup from the staff cupboard, lock myself in the disabled loo before someone realised I wasn’t at my desk yet and do the deed.
Really paid no attention to the whole charade other than trying not to pee on my hand because, you know – gross! The dye started going through the windows and I was thinking; I don’t know why you’re doing this, Jo. You do this every time, and it’s never anything. The dye will leave an empty window, you’ll get a negative and be bleeding by lunchtime.
Except…. where I’d imagined a line in the dye soaked test window so many times before – there actually was one! And a line in there meant pregnant! I knew that, but once there were actually two lines in front of me, I made myself check the box, just to be sure!
Positive! This was actually test number 5… it took 7 in total to convince me!
I never wanted to go into a pregnancy with no idea of how the cerebral palsy would affect it, or me. This is why Kev & I tried to pre-empt it by asking for help from the doctor. That help never came and now it was too late. I wanted to get excited about being pregnant. As it turned out, I was already over four weeks along.
The first couple of weeks, besides feeling nauseous pretty much all the time were okay. But by the time I was eight weeks along, still not having told anyone other than our immediate family, pain was building in my hips, radiating to the small of my back.
I’ve always been used to aches and pains, but being newly pregnant and scared of everything in my system having an effect on my brand new tenant, I didn’t want to take pain killers.
My probation period at work had been extended to nine months instead of six. By the time my end of probation meeting came around, I’d be twelve weeks gone with no idea of the outcome, or whether we had any security. As it turned out, my first scan was scheduled for the day after the meeting. Which in itself was the day before we were flying off on honeymoon.
Our first ever look at our little Fox cub – when we were told to expect a Christmas Day arrival!
That was meant to be an all-inclusive surprise. I’d taken charge of our wedding nine months before and Kev wanted to be able to plan the honeymoon. It all went to Hell with our baby surprise though. What was meant to be ten days in Cuba – Fifties Cadillacs and rum on tap – had to be scrapped with next to no notice due to the Zika virus. So I got to scratch one off the bucket list and we went to Disney World instead. Couldn’t drink and was constantly knackered, so it wasn’t the romantic, relaxing time we’d been after, but Cuba’s gone back on the list for a later date.
So at least I knew there was a holiday coming if it turned out I was jobless. I wasn’t, and good job too because I’d been working solid twelve-hour days to try and get a handle on my new position and had had a mini-breakdown of sorts around the time of my original probation – also the first anniversary of my dad’s death.
I didn’t mention the pregnancy until we got back and I was fifteen weeks along. I wanted to be sure that my job was secure. As it was, I blurted it out when my boss came and sat opposite me in our little quad of desks.
“Do we need to go talk somewhere else?”
Other members of our team were sat at the other two desks, but I just didn’t care at this point enough to get up from my desk.
“No, they’ll need to know too. Kev and I are expecting a baby!”
Second trimester coming soon….