Monday, 2 November 2009

Total Denial

It is one thing to miss a period and thus enjoy a long-awaited holiday in France with uninterrupted nookie with husband, but quite another when you realise that this missed menstruation almost certainly means that you are pregnant again, with child number four.

Oh lord, four? How can I possibly manage four? Three is bad enough at times. My life usually feels like I am on a hamster wheel, never quite getting over the top of the hill which is within my sights but somehow never getting any closer to the summit no matter how fast I peddle.

And then, from time to time, a window of light opens up. Perhaps the two eldest are at school, the toddler is asleep, and I am able to quietly get on the internet, do those jobs that have been hanging around for 10 days undone, wrap those presents, post those letters, do that admin, weed the garden, make supper for the family in advance, so that when the girls get home from school we play badminton in the garden, or do a puzzle while a luscious pasta bake bubbles in the oven, filling the house with a delightful homely smell. Then life is sweet, I feel in control, that I am doing a reasonable job as a mother and home maker, and not just winging it.

I waver between thinking everything is going fine, and feeling like I am drowning in a sea of toys and baby wipes.

I spend half my time feeling that I am so lucky, my husband has a great job, works incredibly hard and is utterly dedicated to his brood. He is Scottish, sensible with money which he understands (I don't really get it), and has spent decades putting his career together with reasonable success. I shouldn't really worry too much about money. We have more than enough to live. We enjoy a high standard of living.

The other half of the time, I may wake in the middle of the night, utterly fretting about cash. How will we ever be able to retire? Will we ever pay for a decent roof over our heads? If we continue to live where we do now (Kazakhstan), we may have to look at boarding school for the kids when they are older. I know they won't all go at the same time, but that is 25 grand a year just for fees, never mind flights home for holidays. Oh god! And with this news, it will all be times FOUR?

So I decide that I am probably just late this month. No problem. I will come on a bit later. Just a blip.

Two weeks pass. No sign. I am stocked up with tampons ready for the onslaught, but they are only getting used by toddler as she helpfully "unpacks" my entire suitcase for me one day.

A month passes. I am officially a month late.
"You know, you are pregnant, don't you?" says my husband.
"Oh well, no, I expect I am just late a bit, you know," I mutter, pulling up tent pegs at the end of the trip.
"Aren't you going to do a test?" he asked.
"Yes, I'll get one in England. You can get those ones now that tell you the date of conception," I say.

We make our way back to England and my husband flies back to Kazakhstan and goes back to work. We make our camp  at my mother's house for a few weeks of British Summer beach (this year mainly in the rain), ice creams and feeding the ducks.

Taking it easy on the coffee and beer, my mother disapprovingly says, "I hope you're not pregnant again. I think you have more than enough on your plate, don't you?"
"Oh, no chance of that," I scoff, realising that she has already more or less sussed that I am up the duff (I am 37 years old, why do I still behave like a teenager in her presense?).

I decide it is far to risky to buy pregnancy vitamins and a pregnancy test, in case my mother sees the packet and confronts me, so I do neither.

Three weeks later I come home to Kazakhstan and finally make an appointment to go to the doctor. We do a pregnancy test, and he confirms that I am, in fact, pregnant. I text husband. I AM UP THE DUFF. He calls me laughing, "We both know you are, I can't believe you have waited all this time to do a test."

I am still not sure. Having had a couple of miscarriages, I am very suspicious of my little bleeding spell. It is far too early to feel anything at all, so I won't believe that I am actually really properly pregnant until I see the ultra sound and the gynacologist tells me that I am. At the clinic they have an appointment for a scan later that afternoon. There is no putting off the moment of truth.

The russian gyny has an interesting and very soviet approach to human relationships. Her language is uncompromising.

I fill her in on my history of pregnancies, births etc (this is my sixth pregnancy, for heaven's sake).

"So you will monitor this pregnancy in Almaty or in Abroad?" she asks. Many foreigners go to their home countries to have their babies from here as the facilities are sometimes a bit basic, and certainly the bed side manner may be very different to what you may expect.
"Well, probably here," I say, "I have already got three kids, it will be a bit complicated to leave them all here," I say, glumly, the memory of my miscarriage operation in an Almaty clinic last October still fairly fresh in my mind.
"So you will have born [sic] or will be medical abortion?" she asks. My husband snorts with laughter.
I look at her, to make sure I have understood what she meant, and reply,"Born."

Then we do the ultrasound and see a perfectly healthy, normal-looking, 14-week-old (14 weeks!!!!) foetus wriggling around. My husband is delighted. I am still very ambivalent. It is a weird feeling. I am waiting for the joy to kick in, but full of so much apprehension about becoming such a large family, another four years of small people being the entire focus, another four years at least of not really being able to take advantage of most job opportunities. Having to buy six airline tickets every time want to go anywhere. Six tickets - oh my god. We won't fit in a normal car, we will barely squeeze into a family-sized tent. Panic.

What is the matter with me?


  1. wouahhhh congratulation Gail!!!
    You are a fantastic mum, you will be able to manage everything, don't worry!!!!

  2. Wow congratulations, 14 weeks of denial is 14 weeks less to wait.... xx

  3. Wouahhh! is the word, Razia! I am ok now, but it was quite a shock!
    VBH, like the attitude- you are quite right! Keeping it quiet for a while was good to reduce number of inane pregnancy conversations I have had to have as well!

  4. Oh congratulations! It'll be fun, there'll be ups and downs and you'll manage and it'll be all worth while and you'll not be able to imagine life with only 3. I love that you have similar conversations with your mother that I have with mine - and I also behave like a 14 year old instantly whenever she is near by! xxx

  5. I honestly cannot imagine saying "I can hardly imagine life with only 3"!! But I expect it will come...

  6. What a lovely beautiful post. Congratulations! There is nothing the matter with you. I think you have all normal emotion boxes ticked there.

  7. OMG I am SO excited for you.
    I went through the same fears wondering about the logistics of managing four finacially ( our fridge/car/house isn't big enough)and physically ( whose hand do I hold?)emotionally ( God help me NOW!). It all works out, life with 4 is sweet my friend, you'll love it. Sometimes I wish I was still young enough to have * just one more*.
    Best wishes for a wonderful pregnancy. I'll be back soon.

  8. What a lovely post. Congratulations!

    So happy you will have born and looking forward to reading about your pre-natal treatment!