Thursday, August 16, 2012


There's a story I feel the need to tell.  I just have to get it out of my head.  Some might relate, some I might offend, and if I do I apologise. But this is an experience I want to share.  I just do.

For months I've been planning 'the announcement' post.  One filled with cheer and happiness and blissful joy. This is all of those things, with a touch of reality thrown in.

We are having a baby.  Yes, it is joyful beyond words! We are super excited about it and feeling completely in awe of such a blessing.

This is the story so far.  Please bare in mind that as far as we know all is perfectly fine, but I write this based on my state of mind throughout...

The day I found out, admittedly I was in shock.  Worried about the impact this new little being was going to have on our family, our life.  But it's a baby! How could I be anything but thrilled!

My husband hugged me so tight.  He was happy.  Shocked, a little anxious but happy, and so excited he was already picturing those squidgy cheeks and that new born baby smell, oh that smell..

Our boys embraced the news, almost expecting it.  Asking questions, preparing their little minds, setting aside toys to keep special and making sleeping arrangements.

Then came the Doctors visit, to make everything official.  In my mind, to make necessary appointments and discuss the pregnancy generally. I was still a little shocked, but joyful and excited.  What I didn't expect, and perhaps I should have, perhaps I was being naive, but what came next, to me, was a barrage of statistics and doom based on my age alone!  Things did not look good.

I was shown graphs and figures and given pamphlets to read because "we just have to make you aware of the risks.."  I was referred to speak with a midwife in pregnancy care who might be able to discuss this with me further and cover general concerns or questions I might have.  So I went along, hoping to be put at some kind of ease, for things to be made clearer, put into perspective.  But no, it seems the facts were clear, more doom and gloom and statistics.

When I got to my car I cried so hard.  I cried for this baby, who in my mind, we had little hope of having without abnormalities.  I cried for my breaking heart and for how sad this was going to be for our family.  I called my husband who tried to make sense of what these statistics were, where do they come from and upon what facts are they based?  The logical questions you ask, which I didn't.  It was really all very straight forward.  These are just the facts.

After that, it didn't really matter what he said to console me, to help me see reason and focus on the possibility that there may in fact be nothing wrong, that we may have a perfectly healthy baby.  There was nothing I could do but hope and pray.  I booked in for the 1st trimester screening.  I just have to be strong and positive until I knew more.  But emotionally, I'd already detached.  I couldn't think about the future, imagine our life with this new baby, because what if it didn't happen.  I couldn't bare to think of the pain.  I would go through the motions of day to day.  My little people talking about the baby, thinking of names.  My husband touching my tummy so lovingly.

Being my 4th pregnancy, my body was already changing.  My belly was growing and at 10 weeks I looked close to 5 months.  So hiding it and keeping it to ourselves until we were certain was difficult.  We had to tell people, physically it was so obvious.  For those of my dear friends I haven't told, I'm sorry, I just haven't been able to make those calls.  I have been a bit numb to peoples congratulations, putting on  the happy   face I should have, the one I longed was real.  I'd agree it was wonderful and, yes, we are very excited.  But all the while my head was thinking about how to tell everyone when it all goes wrong.

I suppose what I'm trying to get across here is that the delivery of and emphasis placed on those statistics needs to be very clearly thought out.  You can't just share these facts and not expect some emotional turmoil.  Maybe I re-acted differently to most.  I don't usually see the dark side of anything.  This has been torturous.  Irrational maybe, that this has been my reaction to such information.  Maybe its because I'm older (40 by the way) and wiser and realise just how miraculous it is that I've been given 3 perfectly healthy babies already.  Who was I to expect this could happen a 4th time.  Who did I think I was to be so deserving.

After a couple of weeks waiting, and regular phone calls chasing the results to the 1st trimester screen, they still weren't in.  I had my first appointment at the pregnancy care unit (I've had all my babies in the public system, I've like it, it's always worked for me considering I'd never had any complications).  The midwife I was seeing was lovely.  She asked about the results and went to track them down when I told her I was still waiting.  She left me in the hands of her trainee to go through general paperwork.  My husband wasn't with me at this appointment.  I didn't even think of planning for him come.  From memory it was just a 'welcome', check blood pressure, urine and give you some information on what to expect when you're expecting kind of visit.

When the midwife came in with the doctor and the doctor's trainee (it's a training hospital, I'd forgotten that) there were 4 people in the room, and me alone without my husband.  After doing loads of my own research during the last couple of months I was bracing myself.  I understood that being 40 I may be at some risk, so I was prepared to hear this..I thought.  As soon as the doctor sat down, she went through the basic facts I already knew inside out based on statistics and told me that the chances of me having a baby with abnormality is 1:147....

I don't really know what she said in detail after that except that low risk was anything above 1:250 so I was thinking I was quite high.  When I burst into tears and uncontrollable sobs, she did say that I should keep in mind that I could be one of the 146 people who have a healthy baby.

As the results had taken so long, I had missed the opportunity to have a CVS to investigate in more detail early on, and if I wanted to go ahead with further testing I would need to wait until 16weeks to have the Amniocentesis. I then have to wait a further 2 weeks for those results, making the baby around 18 weeks and if anything serious is found and our decision was to terminate, if in fact we had that choice, I would need to go through a normal birth at this stage.

The doctor tried to be sympathetic and handed me back to the midwife.  She was kind, and doing her best to offer comfort.  She made appointments for my next visits and talked a little about their birthing suite, and how lovely it'll be to have my three little helpers and on and on. But all I could think was what does any of this matter? Why are we making these appointments and talking about the birth when it might not happen that way at all?!

I could hardly breathe.  I couldn't wait to get out of there.  I felt so hot and sweaty and I just wanted to cry out loud!  When finally I got back to my car, the crying was hard and loud and the ache in my heart was almost too much.  And all I could think was that I would never, ever have considered or allowed this baby to be conceived knowing that this could happen.  My husband had been trying to contact me all this time but I hadn't heard the phone.  I had to pull myself together.  I had to call him and tell him.  I had to be brave and change my mindset. Either way, healthy or not healthy, I have to enjoy this pregnancy.  It is the last.  I want to love this baby and give it every hope.  I need to be happy and positive and not stressed.

When I got home my own doctor called with the test results.  I said thank you but I already received them in my pregnancy care appointment that morning.  Fortunately, she wanted to go through them with me anyway and went on about this and that and 'so it all looks pretty good'.  I was so confused. She said my risk sat at 1:256.  This was above the cut off point, although she said the cut off was 1:300.  Still, better than before.  It turns out that the figure I was given earlier was only half of the test, it hadn't factored in the combined blood tests.

While I feel enormous relief and legitimate hope, I have serious concerns about how women are given this list of 'facts and stats'.  I know they have to make you aware, but shouldn't this be approached with a certain amount of care and council.  And perhaps before blurting out all these figures, they should also have some background information on the mother to be too.  Her health status, history, something??

I do not take for granted that this baby will be perfect, we still don't know for sure, who ever does!  But what I do know, and have to take some comfort from, is that I come from pretty good stock.  I'm not kidding myself, I know this doesn't count for everything and things can still go wrong, unexplained, whatever will be will be.  But, yes, I come from a good line of breeders (my family is huge!), we were born to do this.  Mothering and having babies is in our DNA, we're good at it.  We love pregnancy, we don't get sick during pregnancy, how lucky! Several women in my family have had perfectly healthy babies after 40, my beautiful mum included.

I'm fit, I'm healthy, I rarely get sick, I've never abused my body, I've never suffered illness and I've only ever been in hospital to give birth.  What about those odds?  Surely it's got to count for something..

I have to believe that it does.


  1. I read your post right through and felt for you every step of the way, I could understand your feeling of not wanting to tell and share your news. I have 4 children and my last pregancy, could not have happened at a worse time in my life. We had made an urgent trip across the world with 3 small children to see my dying husband's mother only to miss being there when she passed away by hours. I found out I was pregnant a week later, i cried for days, i was upset and needed to greive not be pregnant. I hate to think of it now but I didn't know what to do, I did not automatically want this baby. I felt terrible selfish. My thoughts made me feel really terrible, I only told a handful of people that I was expecting our entire 5 week stay overseas.
    I know what you mean by not feeling like you ought to when you get news of being pregnant. looking back now I wish I had been positive been happier and enjoyed those first 3 months. I now have the most beautiful almost 3 year old from that and I love her to bits and I put behind me those feelings I'd had and I have never regretted her being here.
    I can imagine how you felt and i understand your thoughts and your choices should you have needed to make them.
    I wish you well.

  2. I had a high risk pregnancy and he turned out perfect except for two webbed toes. He graduated college in 2010. Enjoy your pregnancy and remember doctors do not know everything and tests can be wrong. Let that child below your heart feel the love in your heart. In God's eyes we are all perfect.

  3. my sister in law was 43 when she got married and her children were born when she was 44 and 46 - she ignored any advice and has two wonderful, now graduated grown up children. In the past, women just had babies until they couldn't have them any more - right up until their early 50's!


    it's not unusual! and I'm thrilled for you xxxxxxxxxxx love froogs

  5. Oh Mel, Ive been waiting for this post.
    Biggest, hugest love to you precious mama.
    Congratulations. xx

  6. Oh Mel! What a journey you have been on! I cant beleive the way they give you all this information - it is soooo overloaded with dread and fear. I had a similar experience when I had my second when the doctor encouraged me to have some new fancy testing that showed up things like cystic fibrosis. Of course the results are so confusing and open to such interpretation, and for a hormonal pregnant woman it is almost too much to bear.
    I wish you and your lovely family all the best with this beautiful fourth baby. I am hoping (along with everyone else!) that everything will be just fine. Sending a BIG hug your way. xxx

  7. You are amazing Mel. To have gone through this time, being told things in this way.
    I don't think you are 'old' to be having a baby, not these days.
    So to have all that thrust upon you is not good.
    Hugest of hugs to you, and thank you for sharing your worries
    and letting it all out. It sure does help sometimes.XXXXOOOOJ

  8. Mel its the doctors job to let you know the risk, you already know the joys. Take the joy and make your pregnancy one of expectation and happiness shared with your loved ones. Ultimately we as human deal with pain and loss when we need to. CONGRATULATIONs on your fabulous news and enjoy your special time...

  9. My fourth pregnancy was 34 weeks of being told to prepare for all the things that could be wrong with my baby when he is born. I decided not so much to ignore all these statistics and facts but to deal with things when they happened rather than worry myself sick over possibilities. He is now 19, over 6 feet tall and a diesel mechanic apprentice. None of the bad things happened and I would have spent all that time worrying for nothing. Everything we do in life has a statistic somewhere and everything we do will have a positive or negative outcome. We embrace the good and deal with the bad when and if we have to. I hope that you can get to a place where you can be happy and excited that you are adding to your family and can decide that you will deal with things when or if they happen. x

  10. Hi Mel, I am angered and saddened that your doctor was not wiser in how she told you about the risks of pregnancy over 40. I think she has put you through needless worry because of that. Her manner doesn't change the outcome but has changed your attitude to the pregnancy and could have been a whole lot better. Words are very powerful and how they are said makes a huge difference too.
    All the best with your gorgeous baby.

  11. Oh Mel I am beyond estatic at your delightful news! Though a little angry and saddened at how insensitive professionals can be in relating statistics. I was 37 when we did IVF with Kaizer and though our Dr tried to force us to have all the screening tests we wouldn't budge. He had been wanted and dreamt about for so long that we were having him regardless.

    Often results can come back as a negative positive. It happened to my cousin when she was only a teen but it wasn't till the Pathologist's findings came back that we found out just how wrong the Specialists were.

    Enjoy your pregnancy and glow in the joy of the new life that is growing within :)

    Much love to you xx

  12. your baby will be just will. xoxo

  13. Mel, it makes me so sad that your first few months have been steeped in fear. While it is the midwife's and doctor's responsibility to inform you of the risks it seems they haven't gone about it in the best of ways. Do you find comfort in knowing that I have taught at least 30 women over the age of forty who have grown perfectly healthy babies? Some women were 42, others 44! Some had a a risk as high as 1 in 5! They all journeyed through the same path you are on...and I reminded them to inhale 'faith' and exhale 'fear'. Create a sankalpa (positive affirmation) for you and your baby and whenever you feel doubtful mentally repeat it to yourself. Blessings lovely one...may the rest of the journey be safe and utterly joyous x

  14. Dear Mel
    Firstly, congratulations. It is wonderful news.
    I, too, am sorry that you have had a few months of fear and uncertainty. A close friend of ours has had both of her children in her early 40's. Both of our friend's daughters are perfectly healthy and happy.
    This dear baby has chosen you so I hope you can enjoy this special time.
    It is truly wonderful.

  15. Congratulations Mel, how normal to feel these emotions - particularly as they are already heightened by crazy hormones. You will have a beautiful healthy happy baby, and your positivity and joy will shine through soon I'm sure. Take care and enjoy it - you're very lucky to not get the sickness. It's absolutely the most awful thing.

  16. There's really nothing more I could add to the comments already up Mel. I've never had a child so can't even go there with what you're feeling and I'm so sorry for what you've gone through already, but being the mother I'm sure you are, you'll cope so very well with whatever is thrown at you. I truly wish you so much of the best for the birth and the bright future to come, for you all. ♥

  17. OH Mel, this is the most wonderful news!! ( but I'm totally with you on how medical peeps deliver these news to us whether it's about a baby or not- i recently had to get tested for DVT and the whole way the people acted when I was having the test made me feel similar to you , that I was about to drop dead from a clot. Luckily it was all clear and I'm fine- but i really think there needs to be some work done in human relations in medicine these days.

  18. Mel I am so very happy for you. I'm so sorry to hear that you haven't been surrounded by people who have been more positive about your pregnancy. I know that when I was pregnant with my first and reading lots I was terrified by what I read so I just stopped. Maybe for some it's not good because I may not have been as informed but I think it was positive because I was happier and just felt that everything would be ok. You know that your baby is just going to be beautiful and so loved and what a lucky baby it will be to have you as their Mum. Enjoy your fourth pregnancy may it be a wonderful one. xx

  19. I had my last three babies at 38, 40 and 43 my risk with my last little man was 1:5. He is lying next to me now fast asleep and perfect in every way. Your baby be perfect for you and his/her family .
    Wishing you love, peace and clarity on your pregnancy journey.

  20. Your baby is safe and warm in your womb, you are safe and warm in God's hands. Just enjoy your pregnancy, stressing is not good for you or the baby.

    I didn't want any ultrasounds, amnios or CVS because we had no intention of terminating our pregnancy, and if there was something wrong, I would just grieve for the entire pregnancy. I knew that if there were symptoms of something wrong, the doctor would recommend testing. My son is 20 years old and other than chronic eczema, he is perfect, brilliant and beautiful. I had him when I was 36.

    I will be praying for you!

  21. Congrats on your pregnancy. I too share anger at the medical practitioners at the number crunching being more important than the feelings of the mum and dad. Enjoy this last bub in the womb and embrace the positives from everyone. When i was pregnant i would interrupt people who wanted to tell me their horror birth stories and say no thanks. Screening the information/opinions that comes to you is not ignorance but a way of keeping rubbish and scare tactics out of a beautiful, normal life experience. Maybe this could help. regards rochelle.

  22. My last baby I had at 39 ... we also were given all the doom and gloom stats. Our 4th baby girl was born so strong, healthy & a little person I didn't think would make it. Your little baby will grow daily to also be stong & healthy. Enjoy this special incredible journey of pregancy with your family. Wishing you all the best:)

  23. Oh Mel. Just catching up here. I'm delighted for you. Will email you. J x

  24. I just realised i was reading this post when my internet failed, so back again to leave a heart felt comment. So you're 40, surely the fact you're already a mother of 3 from your 20's & 30's presents you as a person with a clue, the hard cold statistics & the way they approached you in pretty harsh, i mean, pregnant, hello, hyper emotional!! People all of a sudden have started asking me if will have any more babies (i had my 4 in my 20's) & apart from the fact my youngest is staring down turning 9 & my husband had a vasectomy 9 years ago . . . well no!! So weird, do i looked bored or something?? Blessings to you & your beautiful family, maybe you'll have the opposite of me & pop out a girl at the end. You would be a stunningly gorgeous mummy of a girl, love Posie


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