Friday, November 26, 2010

Verbal Diarrhoea

I’m 22 weeks pregnant. I’m within a normal BMI and I haven’t put on any weight during this pregnancy. I’m showing a little more these last few weeks, but generally I don’t appear overtly pregnant. If you met me for the first time today you would probably not realise I was pregnant, or you might think I’m in the first trimester. I guess I say this just to put my experience into some kind of context.

I’ve known a few women who’ve been pregnant, although to be honest, not that many. While several of my friends have children, only one was pregnant during our friendship, the others had children when I met them. Likewise a couple of women I’ve worked with have been pregnant; however I wasn’t particularly close to any of them. So honestly I didn’t put a lot of stock in the stories I heard about inappropriate comments, intrusive behaviour, and unwarranted touching. Surely they’re exaggerated. People aren’t that insensitive.

Boy was I wrong. It seems ‘baby brain’, a phenomenon where a pregnant person becomes forgetful or absent minded can also occur by proxy. Just merely being in the presence of somebody who’s pregnant can induce verbal diarrhoea. Here are a few gems I’ve experienced so far:

Are you fat or do you have an announcement to make?
I would like to ‘announce’ that you are a tactless idiot. It’s never ok to comment on a person’s appearance, never, ever. If that someone is a woman who appears to have gained weight or lost weight, it’s even more important to shut the fuck up. It’s none of your business. You’d have to live under a rock, on another planet, not to be aware of this.

I’m coming to your first ultrasound.
Um no, you’re not. This was said to me by a colleague at work who is little more than an acquaintance. I really had to be firm with her too. She’d rearranged her schedule and had her car keys in her hand. Talk about intrusive, not even my mother or my best friend would have requested an invite to that event.

I know you’re not telling people the sex, so just tell me while no-one’s around.
I hear this constantly, by friends, colleagues and strangers alike. Four people know: me, my partner, the ultrasound technician and my doctor. I don’t have an issue with people asking what the sex is, it’s when they continue to ask despite being told that we’re not saying the sex or when they go on to say things like “yeah my cousin didn’t tell anyone either. She’s such a bitch like that.” Um, did you just call me a bitch?

Do you think having a baby is really such a good idea?
I’m starting to think it wasn’t for your parents. Seriously, what am I supposed to do with this? If having a baby isn’t such a good idea, it’s too fucking late now. What would you have me do about it? Wait, don't answer that. I don't want to know.

I don’t mean to scare you but (insert horror story)…
This one really gets my back up. For fucks sake, STOP and think about what you’re saying. It’s a scary period. Shit goes wrong all the time. I’m aware. I don’t need you painting me a picture. I don’t need you planting seeds of worry in my head about rare and unlikely devastations. I have enough to worry about. Just smile, say congratulations and if you really feel the need to add something, talk about how cute your 2 year old nephew is when he tries to pat the family Axolotl.

You’re boobs are huge. Are they hard? (Proceed to feel me up)
No, they’re boobs. Why would they be hard? And why would you think it’s appropriate to grab me on the boob? This has happened to me more often than the unwanted belly touching. The belly thing I expected, but people wanting to grab me on the boob never entered my mind.

Oops. Don’t fret; my first child was a mistake too.
I’m not ‘fretting’ and please don’t refer to my unborn child as a mistake. The only mistake here is your foot in mouth disease.

How long were you trying for?
None of your business. Next question.

How often did you have to do the deed before you conceived?
I think I preferred your last question. Are you seriously asking me how often my partner and I have sex???

So due in April, then you must have conceived in…?
Seriously, stop thinking about my partner and I in bed.

Was your partner upset when you told him?
Yes, he was furious because he realised I’m a conniving whore trying to trap him into making a commitment by purposely getting pregnant. It’s probably not even his! This question really pisses me off. The assumption that my partner would be anything but thrilled and the implication that I purposely did this really makes my blood boil.

Don’t you think you should stop wearing jeans now that you’re pregnant?
This one just amuses me. Likewise I got told that I should rethink my choice of nail polish colour (Purple at the time) now that I’m pregnant. I really don’t understand what one has to do with the other. I highly doubt that the baby gives a shit what I'm wearing.

Will you be getting married before the baby comes?
No, it's not 1950 anymore.

I imagine that as I get further along in the pregnancy, the stupidity will increase in regularity. Something to look forward to!

Stay tuned.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ongoing treatment through Pregnancy

When I had my last Infliximab transfusion, I was told by the nurse, rather casually, that my next one in December would be my last until one month after the baby is born, making it sometime in May. Naturally, I panicked. I can’t go FIVE months without medication. Hell, history has clearly demonstrated I can’t even go five weeks without medication.

The nurse was not at all concerned. She brushed me off with a “You’ll be fine” and “it’s best not to take unnecessary chances when you’re pregnant.” I wondered how she catergorised the very real risks of my becoming so unwell that I can’t eat, become malnourished, have intestinal blockages and require hospitalisation and surgery on the growing baby. Would she tell a person with diabetes to stop taking insulin? Or someone with epilepsy to cease anti-convulsants?

I considered asking her this, but decided to go straight to the source: My specialist. After all he is the one who has the ability to override this seemingly arbitrary rule, not the nurse. As much as I respect the work that nurses do, they are essentially powerless against the organisational red tape.

I made the appointment but my baby brain kicked in and I completely forgot all about it until a week afterwards. Way to maintain credibility. I called, apologised and begged for another appointment. His receptionist was unimpressed but after an agonising few moments where it seamed she would not get me in until January she relented and said “Well I have had a cancellation for Wednesday.” I took it, along with her comments about ensuring that I do actually turn up this time with gracious appreciation and wrote down the appointment everywhere, diary, calendar, even a bright yellow post it stuck to the side of my computer.

On the drive over to my specialist I replayed arguments I anticipated I would have with him over in my head. After my last surgery in 2008 I was without medication for 6 weeks. During the surgery they removed all the active Crohn’s. 6 weeks later my guts were absolutely riddled with it again. I told them. They dismissed me. A colonoscopy preformed at the 6 week marked showed exactly what I had been telling them: Complete relapse, worse than it had been pre-surgery. It took two years and multiple admissions, procedures, minor surgeries, blockages and medication trials to get me to the point I am at now, which is relatively healthy and able to function. I planned to remind him of all this.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not dismissing the risks this medication may pose to my unborn child. I’ve done the research. Infliximab is a category B1 drug, this is defined as:

“Drugs which have been taken by only a limited number of pregnant women and women of childbearing age, without an increase in the frequency of malformation or other direct or indirect harmful effects on the human fetus having been observed. Studies in animals have not shown evidence of an increased occurrence of fetal damage.”

Essentially all of the research that has been done has shown no adverse effects, however to move the drug into the Category A slot, more research needs to be done. Compare that with the risks to an unborn child where the mother is malnourished treated with prednisolone, etc. Not to mention the very real chance of death to both mother and baby in the event of an intestinal blockage. In my mind the risks associated with relapse are far worse than the risks of taking this medication.

I arrived at my appointment and sitting impatiently before my specialist as we exchanged pleasantries I found it impossible to contain myself. “Look, can we just cut to the chase?” Yes, I actually said that. He looked at me a little taken aback and slightly amused. “Is there a problem?” Um, yes. There’s a pretty big problem. I calmly explained. He considered me for a moment and then said “That won’t work. You can’t be without medication for that long”.

I was stunned. I’m so used to fighting and arguing with medical people around my treatment that in all the scenarios I played in my head on the drive over, it never even occurred to me that he might actually agree with me.

He said that the whole waiting one month after birth thing is nonsense. Once I give birth I can have the infusion as soon as I am able to physically get there. He said, if you give birth on Monday, you can have the transfusion on Tuesday if you like. He then said that he is prepared for me to have the transfusion anywhere up to 35 weeks pregnant. He then emailed the IBD nurse, the medi-hotel unit manager and the pharmacy as we spoke to inform them of the same. He is a man of action. I should never have doubted him.

So I will have my next regularly scheduled transfusion in December. Then I’ll have another in February, slightly earlier at 6 weeks, then the next will occur in April after I’ve had the baby, as worst it may be two weeks late.

Crisis averted. I feel unbelievably relieved.