I remember very clearly Anzac Day in 2012. MM and I always go to the dawn service in the city and this year one of two things were going to occur. Either we’d be going to the service or we would be going to an embryo transfer. The service it was. After a very early breakfast we arrived back home around 7.30am and as you do, went back to bed. I (we) were woken an hour or so later by my phone ringing. It was Dr M. I had only seen him a few days earlier when he broke the news that none of my eggs had fertilised this time round which is why there was to be no transfer. In IVF territory, getting to transfer is akin to having a 50% chance of winning the lottery. It is one very crucial step to getting pregnant. Transfers mean hope. I’m digressing. Dr M wanted to talk to me personally to check to see if I was okay given that I was very clearly not okay when he last saw me. He rang to say that we’d try again and that I wasn’t yet to give up hope. I suspect in the last visit he thought I was on the edge of the cliff and he called to talk me down from the ledge.
When people say “what a difference a year makes” they could not be speaking any further from the truth because on Anzac Day 2013 we went to the service, had a very early breakfast, went back to bed and it was upon waking that I (and MM) first felt our baby kick. If you have been honoured this experience you will know that it is a rather unique feeling. I like the analogy that when you feel the baby move it feels as though you have fish swimming in your belly. On this very special day, our baby was having a workout with the kickboard and it was a moment I will never forget.
In light of my anxiety levels I found myself to be a frequent flyer at my obstetrician’s office. Dr K was referred to my by a girlfriend who was aware of my history and she thought he would be the kind of specialist who I could feel most at ease with. Of course prior to making my first appointment with him I did what any intelligent, level headed person would do. I googled him. This man has an exceptional reputation and is delivering the babies of babies he delivered 30 years prior. I was assured by my girlfriend that he would be especially good at putting my mind at ease. At the conclusion of our first appointment he said to me “Don’t take heroin, don’t go bunging jumping and just relax, it’s all natural.” I did of course laugh at his reference to natural – let’s face it nothing about this pregnancy was natural but his warmth, humour and obvious expertise was hugely reassuring. Over the following few months I continued to see him weekly. I think his very competent receptionist was always a bit confused when I would come out and make the next appointment for the following week. She did say to me that it wasn’t “normal practice” to attend weekly, she was incredibly pleasant about it but I simply responded that I didn’t do normal and I would see her in a week’s time.
Towards the end of the pregnancy, it became pretty evident that I was going to be having this baby. Despite having friends who had personally experience the horrific tragedy of a still birth and of course this worried me, the closer I got the more real it seemed that I would be delivering a healthy baby. Which brings me to the next big decision and that was – how was I going to have this baby. Here’s the thing, I can’t say I put a lot of thought to this and looking back I certainly have no regrets and I have absolutely no shame in saying that I booked in for an elective caesarean. At 42 years of age I honestly believed I had put my body through enough and whilst the pregnancy complications really did settle well down by the time the third trimester rolled around, the thought of going through a labour and having the slightest problem absolutely terrified me so I booked the birth of my child in my diary. As you do.
On the morning of our baby’s birthday, I pottered around the house, did my nails (yes I know – ridiculous) and finished packing my bag. Here’s where my lack of planning of actually BECOMING A MOTHER comes into play. Additional to the usuals (nappies, breast pads, maternity bras and so on) this is what else I packed – makeup and not just a bit of tinted moisturiser but I’m talking primer and highlighter – what??? I also packed a book *shakes head* and, get this, I packed my hair straightener. Yes, you did read that right, I thought I would have not only have the time but also the inclination to STRAIGHTEN MY HAIR. On Monday 5 August at 1.35pm we welcomed Charlie Robert Leslie Montgomery into our life. They placed him in my arms and everything made sense. He was sent to me and I knew then he had chosen us as parents and by God he was worth the wait. * Edited in November 2014 – Charlie is now nearly 16 months old and I still haven’t straightened my hair.