NBR: Comrades Marathon 2018

When Fletcher was born I didn’t have any major aspirations from a running perspective – I’d been a runner before, having completed a Two Oceans Marathon in 2015, but I didn’t have any particular lofty aspirations once Fletch was born. Until the first time I stood on a scale postpartum. After that, I definitely had some running-related aspirations.

When Fletch was about 6 weeks old, I joined the gym and started running on the treadmill three or four times a week, alternating with swimming and strength training. When I went back to work, when Fletch was four months old, I started running with our club again two mornings a week and once on weekends. I was slowly getting back into it. We’d roped a few unsuspecting friends into doing the Two Oceans again with us (which happened in March of this year, when Fletcher was 15 months old) and we were all training together. Becs was going to do the 21km and I was going to the 56km ultramarathon.

Our year of training passed by in the blink of an eye, mixed in with milestones, teething, learning to sit, crawl and walk, and before we knew it the big day had arrived. On 31 March 2018, we left Fletcher with his aunt and Becs and I completed our Two Oceans journeys. But it wasn’t over… About 6 months before that, I’d (somewhat sneakily, although in consultation with Becs) entered the Comrades Marathon. For those of you who (a) aren’t South African or (b) aren’t runners, the Comrades is grueling (and many will – rightly – say downright stupid) road running race that takes place every year on the ±90kms stretch of road between Durban and Pietermaritzburg, each year alternating in directions. This year, was a down run, with the start in Pietermaritzburg and the finish in the Moses Mabida stadium in Durban.

So, after our Two Oceans journeys were complete, the real work started. The two months between Oceans and Comrades were a whirlwind of super early mornings, double-header weekends (which basically means running on both Saturday and Sunday morning), hills, hills and more hills. Becs was essentially a single parent in April and May, giving me the nights off when I was running the next morning (which was almost every morning). As winter got into its stride and temperatures dropped (I know some of you still consider 3ºC balmy, but for us “tropical people” that is flipping cold), running became harder to get up for, but there was a promise that it would all be over soon and our lives could return to normal.

I’m sure Becs has a different perspective on the last two and half months, but for me, it was both very difficult and very conflicting. It didn’t help that my Comrades training was coming to a head at the same time as two big projects at work, meaning I was working late and leaving home early. During May, I felt like Becs and I were ships in the night and Fletcher was a veritable stranger. I’d notice him doing something for the first time and comment on it and Becs would respond, “oh ja, he’s been doing that for a while,” and I’d feel like the worst mother. I didn’t even know my kid anymore. I didn’t know that he could blow bubbles in the bath because I always missed bath time. I didn’t know how many times he woke up during the night or whether he still had two bottles or only one now (I know he doesn’t need a bottle at night anymore, but trust me, it’s easier to give it to him than fight with him – but that is a post for another day). I felt like I was missing out on my son’s life. I felt like I was abandoning my wife, leaving her to do it all on her own. I felt like I was failing them in my pursuit of some achievement, some accolade for myself, but one I desperately wanted.

A week before Comrades, two kids in Becs’s class were booked off with Swine Flu (*face palm* right). Now, ask any Comrades runner and they’ll tell you, there are two things they dread in the final weeks leading up to the race – getting injured and getting sick. Ask any supporter of a Comrades runner and there is only one thing they dread – being the reason their runner gets sick because they’re unlikely to ever hear the end of it. With that in mind, the Tuesday before Comrades, Becs moved into the lounge. So now, not only was she a single parent, she was also sleeping on the couch – wife of the year, right? In my defense, I did offer to take the couch, her response (as always) was, “I’m not the one running 90kms on the weekend.”

On the Friday before the race, Fletch, Chet (Fletcher’s “bestie” and one of our running friends) and I set off in the car to drive down to Durbs. Becs had to work so she’d be flying that evening. When she arrived in Durban, I could see she was in a bad way. She had a fever of 39ºC – ask yourself, as an adult, when have you ever had a fever? – she looked like she was about to pass out. She was pale, pallid and really not herself. Despite how crappy she was feeling, she slept in the room with Fletcher and was on duty – insisting that I needed to get a good night’s sleep. On race night, Fletch went to stay with my folks and Becs (who was feeling moderately better and had at least managed to shake her fever) moved back into the room with me as Chet had moved into what had been Fletcher’s room the night before.

Race morning dawned – OK, no, I’m lying. We got up loooong before dawn. 01:30 actually. We had to be on a bus to the start by 02:30 and our supporters had to get ahead of the road closures to meet us in Cato Ridge – some 30kms into the race. We dressed, we liberally applied bum cream to areas that were likely to experience chaff, and many others that you wouldn’t think of, and we headed to the bus stop.

Arriving in Pietermaritzburg at 04:00, an hour an a half before the start, we began making our way through the streets, following the ±20,000 other runners heading towards the start pens. The atmosphere was electric – abuzz with nervous energy and excitement. We found our start pen and settled in for the long wait, snacking on our sandwiches and bananas while we waited.

Around 05:00, we discarded our Pick ‘n Pay packets of goodies outside the start pens (so as not to become a tripping hazard for other runners) and started shuffling forward with the crowd. Bunched together like that, the 3ºC weather didn’t feel all that cold. As the South African national anthem, Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika, boomed through the sound system, I took off my cap, closed my eyes and sang along. We continued to shuffle forward as Shosholoza pumped through the speakers, followed closely by Chariots of Fire. With tears streaming down our cheeks, we waited for the cock crow and the sound of the gun that marked the official start of the 2018 Comrades Marathon.

BOOM! The gun sounded like a cannon – I nearly peed myself, but fortunately my instinctive jump was all I needed to start my watch and we were off. Shuffling towards the start line, shoulder to shoulder with our ‘comrades’. The first 30kms passed in a haze, I remember snippets – chatting to one or two people as they passed us, seeing a few familiar faces and almost watching from outside my body as we moved from ‘Martizburg to Cato Ridge. When we saw the black and white balloons that signaled our people, our hearts swelled with happiness! Seeing Becs’s face, everything I’d been thinking and meaning to tell her up to this point went flying out my head. It was now sometime around 09:00, we’d been running for about three and a half hours and if I tell you I remember about 20 minutes of it, it’s a lot.

We set off again, not knowing exactly when we’d see our people again, but knowing that there would be a table set up by our running club close to the halfway mark in Drummond. We chatted happily as we clipped along through the sugar cane plantations, past the chicken farms and dairy farms, and past the porta-loos that smelt like dairy farms. Approaching Drummond, one runs through what is called the Valley of a Thousand Hills – it’s beautiful, with sweeping green hills as far as the eye can see, but it’s tough as nails to run through. We reached Drummond largely without incident, found the Jeppe table and gratefully accepted the goodies they had to offer us (including the advice). Somewhere between Drummond and the infamous Inchanga, we lost my brother, who dropped back to walk off a cramp and I didn’t hear him call out to me. Before I knew it, he was gone. Lost in the sea of pained faces around us. 50kms and almost six hours into the race, our party of three was now a party of two.

Not long after that, I lost Chet. I was now a party of one and I was a party of one who was nauseous and battling a running tummy. Not ideal at all. I popped a Valoid and an Immodium and had some watered-down Coke at the next water table – hoping that would settle the nausea. It didn’t. The 10kms from that point to the next Jeppe table where the longest 10kms of my life. When I reached that table, I was pale and deep in the hurt locker. Jo – one of the volunteers – told me Chet was just ahead and that she would wait for me at 67kms where we were expecting to see Becs and the rest of our supporters again.

In the seven kays that followed, I tried to keep myself moving forward, reminding myself every time I wanted to walk, that the more I walked now, the less time I could spend with Becs when I saw her. I fell into an uncomfortable rhythm. My uterus felt like it was trying to climb out through my Caesar scar. My ovaries felt like they were burrowing backwards into my kidneys. My nausea was horrific and the pain in my legs was searing. I began chanting a mantra to myself of things to get from Becs when I saw her – anti-nausea tablet, pain killer, deep heat spray for my legs, anti-nausea tab, pain killer, deep heat spray… on and on for 8kms. When I eventually spotted Becs and her balloons towards the bottom of Fields Hill, I have never been so happy to see anyone. I instinctively sped up, racing towards her before my legs remembered that it actually hurt to go faster.

I was so happy to see her, I almost forgot my mantra – anti-nausea, pain killer, spray. I’d had pain killers with me the whole time, but was too scared to take it in case I vomited again. I needed the anti-nausea pill first. While I was there, I changed my socks, which made the world of difference. While retying my shoelaces, my stomach muscle cramped – that is a feeling I won’t soon forget! I also got some reassuring news about my brother – he was ticking on nicely, not too far behind us. Grateful that he was OK and knowing he’d see our support bus soon, Chet and I set off again.

The next 34kms were very difficult, my nausea had not fully abated and I hadn’t managed to eat anything since halfway, meaning I was running dangerously low on fuel. At 75kms I had a quarter of a Marmite sarmie, which was like swallowing a clump of sand, my mouth was so dry. I was drinking watered-down Energade or watered-down Coke and vomiting every ±10kms. The last 2kms were killer and I was very grateful to Chet for keeping me going (and for stopping so many times, despite how difficult it was for her to start up again).

After 11 hours and 13 minutes on the road, we ran into the stadium, with our backs straight and our heads held high. We powered across the finish line, hand in hand with our arms raised above our heads in triumph. We had completed the “Ultimate Human Race” in a time of 11:13:37, a race run well above my pay-grade. Gareth came in at 11:40:56, having run almost half of the race on his own. He battled his demons and emerged victorious!

Next year we return to do it all again, this time in reverse (although Gareth is still, at this point, undecided).

On the way home, Fletcher spiked a 40º temperature, we had to stop on the side of the highway to give him an Emperped suppository. His temperature has normalised, but he’s still not a happy camper – coughing and generally miserable. To compound matters, he’s cutting his eye teeth. So with my 2018 Comrades journey behind me, Becs and I continue our parenting journey. Raising a boy obsessed with typical “boy” things – cars, wheels, bikes – the noisier, the better. He’s a climber and a character, strong-willed and headstrong (wonder where he gets that from) with a sense of humour and a loving personality. He’s destined for great things, for big things, bigger and better than anything I’ve achieved. Next year, through my training, I hope to miss less. I hope to be more present, to be a more supportive partner to Becs and a more patient parent to Fletcher. It’s tough when you’re tired and stressed to remember to be present, but next year, I hope to do it better. We can always do it better.

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Actually, I can wait

Amateur Mommies: Actually, I can wait

Over the years, I’ve heard so many moms and dads throw out the phrase, “I can’t wait for…” or “I can’t wait until he/she can…” I’ve done it, too. I remember saying how I couldn’t wait until he could smile, or until he could go down for a nap without having to be winded. And of course, those milestones are so special when you reach them. I can clearly remember the first time Fletch smiled at us, and how glad I was that we were together for it. He was on his changing mat and at first we both thought it was gas, but we smiled and cooed at him nonetheless, and were pleasantly surprised when he returned our smiles with another dashing, gummy smile of his own. Instant. Melted. Hearts. Everywhere. Needless to say, we were over the moon about him reaching the milestone, but I wouldn’t trade the five or six smile-free weeks leading up to it for anything in the world.

Since then, I’ve been purposeful about not wishing his precious little life away with “can’t waits” because actually, I can wait! He’s only little for such a short time and that time is so precious. Every day when I get home from work, I swear he’s changed. Every morning when I peer over the edge of his cot at him and his little face bursts into a gummy smile with arms and legs flailing frantically to be picked up, I swear he’s grown. I look back at photos and videos on my phone and think, “ah remember that outfit” and “look how big it was on him.” Then I remember that we’ve already handed that outfit down to friends, or packed it away incase baby number 2 is a boy, and I marvel at how time has flown.

I know, I know, it’s such a cliché, but time really does fly! We get so caught up in the day-to-day. We focus on getting through the week and cramming the weekends with as many activities as possible, seeing as many people as we can, that we forget to stop and enjoy the moment we’re in – right now. When I get home from work, the afternoons and evenings are a whirlwind of cuddles, suppertime, tummy time (which Fletcher hates more than anything), bath time and the bedtime routine. I’m often so focused on what the clock says that I miss the moments happening all around me. I miss the fact that Fletcher has started recognizing our cat, and has completely fallen in love with him (much to Toothless’s disgust). I miss that he is suddenly interested in everything and anything – from your teacup, to the spice rack and curtains blowing in the wind. I miss the fact that he’s pretty much sitting unsupported (albeit a bit unsteadily sometimes). I miss the fact that he has now mastered rolling from his tummy to his back in both directions. I miss things – we all do – every single day because we’re so focused on the next thing we have to do, that we overlook the beauty of the thing we’re doing right now. 

When you become a parent, you are totally inundated with (mostly unsolicited) advice, but if you only take one piece of advice from me, please let it be this: stop wishing away your journey with “can’t waits” and “I wishes”. Enjoy the moments you’re in when you’re in them, because I promise you one thing, you will never be in those moments again – they are so fleeting. Take all the midnight wakings and chalk them up to a few extra precious moments with your tiny human. Force yourself to actively participate in every activity. Put your phone down, that text can wait, and put yourself in that moment! And enjoy it.

The rewards are great!

Amateur Mommies: the rewards of parenthood

So I don’t want you all to think that there is no sunshine and there no roses when it comes to this whole Mommyhood thing, there are. Really. Ya ok so at the moment our theme song is one from the legend Billy Joel and the words are “in the middle of the night… I go walking in my sleep”, because some nights we are up every other hour with our tiny human but the joy he brings to our lives and the little things that he does daily are so rewarding.

The first few months are terrifying that’s for sure. And as cute as they are when they can fit all snuggled up onto your chest, you get very little in the way of interaction from your tiny being in the first few months of their lives. You’re up all night with them, washing and sterilising bottles and breast pump apparatus all day, doing loads of laundry (how something so tiny can produce so much washing is extraordinary), changing nappies, giving bottles, burping, rocking to sleep and repeating every 4 hours, and somewhere in all that you are trying to remember that you are married to that other ship passing by you in the night, and fitting in visits from all the aunties and actually your tiny bundle does nothing more that lie there and be a tiny bundle. A tiny, pooping, crying bundle.

6 months down the line we have a strapping baby boy who smiles and giggles when we do the silliest things. He thinks his mamas are the most amazing people in the world! It’s the grandest feeling when you are rewarded after a long sleepless night with a big gummy smile from inside the cot and out stretched little arms, and the little face almost saying “pick me up mama, I love you and I want to give you a sloppy kiss.” Everyday his little eyes see more and he learns and grows more. He tries new foods and reacts to his favourite toys, giggles when he splashes water on himself from his wild kicking in the bathtub, discovers new noises that he can make and is very happy to show them off to us. We have a little wonder being growing up in our home, and it is a privilege to be able to grow with him on this journey. You feel much more like a mother when your little person starts reacting to you and giving you soul food.

For those who are in the early stages with your bubs, enjoy them being so tiny, don’t wish away a single moment, they really do fly by! But hang in there when you feel a little down, your tiny human will start feeding your soul in the most  nourishing and heart-warming way so soon, and all hard times will be forgotten. Otherwise parents would never move on to baby number 2.

Sleep? Ja, we still don’t know what that is

Amateur Mommies on lack of sleep

About two months ago I started seeing all these posts online from friends with kids around Fletcher’s age about a “four month sleep regression”. I joked that Fletcher had never progressed to sleeping in stretches longer than 4 hours, so how much could he realistically regress? The answer was a lot. After two weeks of him waking every one to two hours, we introduced solids, hoping that would help. It didn’t.

When we felt we couldn’t take it anymore, I reached out to friends who had successfully parented their little ones into (and in some cases, beyond) toddler-hood for advice. The advice was varied. One mom suggested sleep training. Another suggested bringing him back into our room, or even our bed, until he was more settled. Yet another said she didn’t have a clue, her four year old still wasn’t sleeping through. She did however suggest shifts – one night on, one night off – so at least you’re getting a less disturbed sleep every second night, meaning (in most cases) you can continue to function and (in some cases) make a valued contribution to society.

The friend who suggested sleep training shared the book she’d used to sleep train her little boy and I immediately immersed myself in it. Having read the pertinent sections, one Sunday evening after an exhausting weekend of very little sleep we decided to bite the bullet. We’d always been pretty good with Fletcher’s bath time / bed time routine, so that was fairly well established, but the biggest thing we were doing wrong was rocking him to sleep, meaning he was reliant on being rocked to fall asleep. This was a two-fold problem: 1) it meant we had to get up and settle him every time he woke during the night and 2) he was now so big that it was uncomfortable for him (and bloody difficult for us) to rock him.

That night we gave him his bath, his massage and his nighttime bottle as normal, but this time instead of rocking him to sleep, we put him into his cot, swaddled him (yes, we were still doing that), switched off the light and left. He was not happy. He cried with varying degrees of fervor for what seem like an age. We regularly went back into his room, as the book said to do, to reassure him that everything was fine, to soothe him a bit and repeat the catch-phrase, “it’s night-night time.” Eventually he did fall asleep and we rejoiced! It was, however, short-lived. When he woke a few hours later, we made sure he was comfortable, swaddled with his dummy in and duly repeated the process of letting him “learn to settle himself”.

It’s now about a month-to-six-weeks later and things are (mostly) going better. We’ve finally managed to ditch the swaddle, and that happened entirely organically and literally over night. One night he was fine being swaddled, the next night when we tried to swaddle him, he resisted, vehemently. So we left him unswaddled and he slept. Some nights are better than others. On Monday night he slept from 6pm until 3am and only really niggled once, early in the evening. Last night he woke at 10pm, 11pm, 1am, 4am and 5am, and at 5:45 he was awake for real.

Every night is different and I suppose that’s the challenge. As soon as you think you’ve got it waxed, life throws you a curve ball and you have to reset your entire process. I can however tell you that the addition of solids did sweet FA for his sleeping, so anyone who tells you that giving them solids will help them sleep better is filling you with false hope. Fletcher eats his body weight every day in vegetables, fruits, yoghurt, Kiri Cheese and lentils and still does whatever he feels like at night. The only thing solids has done is increased our nappy requirements because he’s gone from being a one-a-day poo’er to three, and sometimes even four times a day.

Honestly, the best advice I can you is this: when you’re bouncing through parenthood’s uncertainties, rely on your support network – whether it’s your partner, your parents or siblings, your friends or a bunch of strangers on a Facebook group. Use those people for advice, tap into their knowledge, vent your frustrations to them and lean on them when you need it, because – trust me – you’ll need it.

Like a good old cross-your-heart bra.

Amateur Mommies: like a good old fashioned cross your heart bra

Something you need to give your partner when it’s the middle of the night and you have a crying baby and no-one else is there to relieve you is support. Even if you have no idea what you’re doing, no idea why the baby is crying and no idea if you will make it to the end of the night to see the glorious sunrise, believe in one another. Support one another and the decisions you make in those wee hours. Like mad support – like a good old beige, three clip, cross-your-heart bra. That teeny, tiny, gorgeous bundle of screaming baby will break you otherwise.

When you first have your baby and you’re safe in the hospital, it all seems totally doable. There’s a nurse checking on you every now and then, a doctor to come say some encouraging words and loads of people wanting to visit and bring flowers and tell you all kinds of wonderful things about your life ahead with your beautiful baby. What a wonderful time! Then a few days later you pack everything up and go home, wow. What an exciting thought! Taking your baby across the threshold of your home for the first time, to lay him in his cot, in his nursery you carefully made into a nurturing and comforting environment. Having washed all his little clothes and lovingly folded them, chosen a coming home outfit, and which onesie will be his first pair of pyjamas, which teddy will sleep next to him, and which lullaby you will gently sing to him tonight to send him off to the land of nod. But then he starts to cry. And you think it must be time to feed, so you either sit down comfortably to breastfeed or go to warm up a bottle. All the while your baby getting more and more hungry. Ok quickly now get the bottle in. Nope that’s not working, now the milk is just running all over his chin, all over the cute little onesie you chose and he’s still screaming. Ok let’s try a dummy?! Flip where did we put that gripe water? Your mild panic starts to worsen and the screaming continues and neither you nor your partner can remember when you packed the gripe water, the baby won’t take the dummy or the bottle and the breast milk is not coming our fast enough so it’s not even worth trying when he’s this mad. Ok let’s do some swaddling, rocking and singing. Hmmm, my singing is not loud enough – come sing with me! And so it goes… sometimes all night.

And that’s when the night becomes dark and full of terrors… Barbs and I would actually want to cry when we saw the sun going down because we knew what was coming…

In those hours when you can’t settle your little one, or he has tummy cramps, or has weed all over the changing mat and his pyjamas and the teddy and you, and you can’t remember what time you last ate or if you have managed to drift off into some kind of fitful sleep whilst propped up in the nursery chair with you baby on your chest and drool running down into your cleavage, use your partner. Ask for help. It took two people to make this baby and it will take those two people, and all the effort and patience in the world to raise it. Take turns if you’re bottle feeding. If you’re breastfeeding, Dad’s take some tea and a rusk through to the nursery or do the nappy change and rocking back to sleep after the feed so that Mom can get a head start on getting herself back to sleep. Everyone will be tired. Whether one of you is back at work and the other is home with baby all day or not. The degrees of tired might differ slightly but you will both take strain in those first few weeks when baby feeds every two hours and poos every other. But hang in there. It’s short-lived. Soon you will have a smiley gorgeous little thing who only feeds every four or six hours and lets you sleep in between. Eventually he will be in his own room and you will have your bed back. And when you stop breastfeeding you will get your body back slowly. And you will look at your fat little giggling baby and reminisce about when he was so small that he could curl up on your chest to sleep. You will miss him being so tiny, even if that was only 3 months ago.

Then nights become less dark and the terror slowly disappears. If you support, encourage and love each other. Even when both Mom and baby come crying to you at 3:00am, Mom saying “please take him I can’t do this anymore!” Take the baby, kiss your partner and tell her to go to bed saying “don’t worry love, I’ve got it this time”. Even if you are terrified and overtired yourself.

So do I sit with the Dads or the Moms? Some antenatal hilariousness, by The Other Mommy

So being the “Other Mommy” of Little Spot has had some fun moments already. I am clearly not growing a baby in my belly but I am mentally preparing for becoming a Mom. It’s surreal to say the least but I am amazed at this little being already, and so damn grateful to Barbs for everything she has done to get us so close to becoming a family of three. EEEEKKKK! Ok just breathe.

They tell you that in antenatal classes… just breathe. Everything will be fine. We had some interesting moments getting the baby in, and now it seems we will have even more fun getting the baby out.

At our first every antenatal class, having arrived all bright-eyed and ready to learn about our darling bundle of joy, we took turns introducing ourselves as couples and parents-to-be. The very excited dad in the front row introduced himself and his wife, the nervous couple in the back did the same, followed by the couple sitting next to us – who had definitely not figured us out yet. When Barbs introduced me as her wife and the dad from the next door couple’s eyes just got bigger and bigger. I’m pretty sure he was thinking, “so how did they actually get the baby in there??? And they are both girls – how on earth did they possibly make a boy???” Mind absolutely blown.

The following antenatal class was a lesson on exercises for the moms-to-be to keep the muscles supple and strong. The midwife asked all the dads to go and wait outside while the moms did their exercises. So where should I go – outside with the dads (probably to talk about rugby and how glad they are that they don’t have to do exercises – sounds rad) or stay with the moms? The midwife said I should stay with the moms. OK cool, she knows way more than I do, so I better listen and stay with the moms. The pilates lady came in and did a little intro to all the moms-to-be and kinda looked at me suspiciously as if to say, “lady, I can see you’re not pregnant, what are you doing here?” And probably thinking, “shame maybe she’s a bit cuckoo and thinks she’s pregnant… let’s leave her alone and help her with her fake preggie exercises.” So there I was, in amongst all these preggie bellies learning to control my pelvic floor muscles, stretch my abdomen, hold the muscles around the baby and of course… breathe. And try not to look at Barbs too much because I’ll definitely laugh.

The lesson ended with the obligatory, awful natural birthing video, made in the 90’s, complete with a perm. The man next to us (who after two weeks still hadn’t quite figured out how we got this right) was turning more and more green as the video went on. When the placenta made its appearance he said loudly “WHAT is THAT?!?!” He and his wife didn’t arrive at last night’s class, I think the whole thing was just too much for him.

As we learn more about this little bundle we are going to look after ALL OUR LIVES (showee about that breathing thing) I can’t help feel that we are the luckiest people in the whole world! The wonders of the 21st century and modern medicine have helped us to become what all little girls dream of – a Mommy. Well not yet, 3 months to go and I’m sure more fun and games with antenatal class on the way soon!

The big reveal

Sometime before we did the embryo implantation my sister-in-law had taken a picture of her kids each holding up a sign. My nephew’s said “oldest”, my niece’s had the word “youngest” crossed out and the word “middle” added underneath. We thought this would be a nice fun way to tell the grandparents.

Having emerged from the stressful test day with a positive result, we decided we’d share the news with our immediate family, as part of my mom’s birthday present. I called my mom and offered to fetch them for dinner, so we’d be able to tell the family in private at home. But, when we arrived to fetch my folks, they quickly piled themselves into car, anxious to get going.

My parents have an alarm sensor on their gate, which means you have to wait until the gate closes before you can set the alarm. While we were waiting for the gate to close, we handed my mom her card and told her she had to open it before we left. While she read her card, which contained the picture of my niece and nephew holding their signs, my dad was patiently waiting for the gate to close, not really paying any attention to us, or the card my mom was holding.

By the time my mom had fully digested the implications of the picture, the gate had closed and my dad was trying to listen for the whoop of the alarm, signalling it was armed. But all he heard was the whoop of my mom. Because he hadn’t been paying any attention to us he didn’t know why my mom was suddenly making all this racket. “Shush man, I’m trying to listen to the alarm!” he exclaimed to my mom, who by now had tears streaming down her cheeks. But my mom continued her celebrations unperturbed by his outburst, whooping and crying like a crazy person.

By this stage, my dad was getting pretty agitated about not knowing if the alarm had set or not. Fortunately, I pointed out, there is a handy little indicator light on the alarm remote, which flashes a closed lock when it’s armed. Only then did he calm down and ask what was going on.

With the alarm armed, and my dad up to speed and sufficiently excited, we set off for the restaurant. “Now mom,” I said warningly, “you can’t tell anyone else. We’ll tell the rest of the family quietly at dinner, but you can’t tell anyone else until we’re passed 12-weeks.” She was – to say the least – horrified! How was she supposed to keep this a secret? How could she possibly be expected to contain her excitement? “Well you just have to.” I said, not willing to entertain a discussion about it.

We arrived at the restaurant and, as I hugged my brother I dropped the bomb, “Don’t say anything because we aren’t telling people yet, but I’m pregnant.” I could immediately feel his excitement. I looked around for my sister-in-law, who was away from the table in the kids’ play area. We made my way over to her, followed by my brother, to share the good news. We gave them the basic run-down – the test was positive, but we have to go for another test on Sunday to make sure the levels have doubled and then we’ll know for sure, but yay! They were both suitably excited and much easier to convince to keep it to themselves than my mom had been.

How many did you say?

After a series of scans to make sure everything was “just so”, we scheduled the embryo implantation day, which happened to be over a weekend (guess that’s why we pay these doctors the big bucks, hey!). On Sunday, April 10th, we arrived at the clinic ready to welcome, what we hoped would be, the newest addition to our family.

Our doctor was (as most doctors are) notoriously late for everything and, true to form, she arrived late for the implant appointment. But to be fair, we did drag her and her staff away from home on a Sunday, so we couldn’t really be upset with her, and it’s not like we had anything else planned for the day. When she arrived, we followed her into the procedure room, where she briefed us on the process.

Her assistant would hold the ultrasound wand on my tummy, allowing the doctor to see where the implanting needle and tube were, to make sure she implanted the embryo in the right place. Once everything was in place, she’d tap on the little window in the wall, and the umpa lumpa behind the one-way glass would open a hatch and pass our embryos through. She would then implant the little guys and we should look out for a “flash of light” on the ultrasound screen, which would signal they were in. Awesome sauce. We were ready.

“Just one other thing…” she began tentatively, “we froze the four embryos that successfully fertilized last month and, when we thawed them, one didn’t survive the process.” OK, I thought, not a train smash, we’ve still got three, right? Right. The embryos had been thawed two days previously to enable them to continue to develop into 5-day embryos, or blastocysts, which statistically have a better chance of implanting. She continued explaining, “One of the embryos has developed perfectly and is exactly on track, the second one is a bit sluggish, but not far behind. But the last one is a little further behind and won’t survive being refrozen. So, either we implant all three, or we lose the last one.” Becs and I looked at each other with worried faces. Ummmmm…

We asked for the room and started discussing the pros and cons of implanting three embryos.

Pros:

  • If we don’t implant the third one, what if that’s the one and we effectively chuck it down the drain?

Cons:

  • THREE BABIES!

“Let’s play rock, paper, scissors?” I said. Cool. “I’ll be three, you be two.” I said to Becs, assuming the position, with my clenched fist behind my head. We played, best of three rounds. I won. Almost simultaneously we said, “No ways, only two, three is just madness.”

We called the doctor back in, told her our decision and the rest of the implantation went off without a hitch. We watched our little flash of light on the screen as we cried like little girls, clutching each other’s hands. I lay there for about 20 minutes after the procedure before I dared to move. We spoke about our miracle as if it was a sure thing – we knew, this was going to work, no doubt in our minds.

We headed home and I spent the rest of the afternoon lounging in my hammock while Becs gardened around me. The next day was business as usual, we both went off to work and carried on our days as if nothing extraordinary had happened in the previous 24 hours. When people at work asked how our weekend had been, we nonchalantly responded, “chilled, thanks. Yours?” All that was left was the waiting game…