Heavy Metal Uterus Firebomb

(or why pregnancy is truly brutal)

In information that no one wanted to know, but I am going to insist on sharing with you anyway, I recently immolated my uterus.

Well, some of it anyway. I paid many-many-many dollars to a now-very-wealthy surgeon to surgically destroy my endometrial lining with radiofrequency. Ablation is both the correct term AND a respectably gory name for a grindcore metal band.

I had good reasons, other than the sheer brutality of it. I have had 2 kids in the last few years, and it turns out they came with a bonus bunch of post-pregnancy medical issues. Pregnancy has destroyed my thyroid, cut my abdomen open (twice), and I now have at least 2 auto-immune conditions so that’s fun. But that’s not all, folks. I also got frequent heavy uterine bleeding (blood is very metal) to the point where I had severe fatigue and anaemia (not so metal, more pale and goth) and was in danger of fainting every time I tried to stand up (possibly emo?) and in permanent low-grade pain (yep, emo).

torysangryuterus
UTERUS OF FURY

We tried to fix it the easy way, but it turns out my stupid body doesn’t absorb iron in food because of course it doesn’t. I don’t know why. Perhaps I needed to chow down on a lump of iron, rather than eating copious serves of red meat. Perhaps I should have got it direct from the blood of my enemies. Perhaps iron is not heavy enough a metal and I should have gone for plutonium. Why should anything be easy? You’re never going to write an anthem called “Took my iron tablet once a day (got some constipation now I’m fine)” unless you are Fall Out Boy, who are very good but not metal as such. (I have very strong opinions on calling bands that are clearly rock “heavy metal” and WILL FIGHT YOU. Or anyone.)

After we tried the supplement/diet approach, I had a couple of iron infusions over a couple of years. This is where they literally inject the metal INTO YOUR VEINS. It both worked well and sounded hardcore. I felt way better, and my plan was to wait until my uterine lining died messily at menopause.

But then we decided to move to Ireland where apparently injecting yourself with metal is not a thing so my gynaecologist recommended just setting the whole bloody thing on fire and cackling madly. (Note: she did not use this phrasing, but I could tell behind the words “simple day surgery” and “controlled radiofrequencies” and “easy recovery”, she was dying to get her Stratocaster on and the old flamethrower out.)

They used radio signals to do the deed (fire-y nets are another option) and I like to imagine Dethklok screaming black metal murder in the depths of my uterus. This is the clinical description of what happened, and I think sounds pretty hardcore. “A flexible ablation transmits radiofrequency energy that vaporizes the endometrial tissue in under two minutes.” Under two minutes, people. If that’s not speed metal, what is?

metal

Generally it was a complete success; no more periods, no complications, and my iron level is inching back up slowly. There are some big consequences. Given we have firebombed my uterus – like that opening scene in Tropic Thunder – I can no longer have children. As I already have 2 – and am currently charging into my mid-40’s with nothing to show for my 30’s except for a host of medical issues, an expensive concert habit and some very nice boots – this is all good.

Having 2 kids already also makes it WAAAAAAY easier to get sterilised. As many medical professional inform you (often without you even asking!) women should really have some kids to persuade people they don’t want any. When you have none, it’s all “you may want them someday and how bad is chronic pain for 20 years, really”. As soon as you pop a couple they are all, “yeah, pregnancy is completely shit and will break your body and organs, and caring for toddlers is the worst, LETS TORCH THE BASTARD”. You are required to indicate your disinterest by sacrificing several years, most of your money and sleep, and – in my case – a functional thyroid and pancreas, before they will listen to your argument.

People do tell you – repeatedly, usually while spruiking various products – after having babies you won’t get your body back. You don’t, but not how you expected. It’s generally assumed this means putting on weight because society tells us that body fat on women is the WORST THING EVER. And it’s lies. I am the same size, but now have auto-immune issues I will be blood-testing for and medicating for until the day I die. And I got lucky. I avoided hemorrhages and infection, incontinence (fecal and/or urinary), depression and psychosis, pelvic trauma and prolapse, and also divorce and redundancy, which are very common and super-fun when you are already dealing with the bullshit above.

Why am I sharing all this with you?

Maybe it’s because I like to overshare. Lordi knows I love a good rant. More likely it’s because I’m angry about how womens’ pain is routinely minimised and ignored. I know a lot of women in a lot of pain who have been told – for fucking years – it’s just period pain, deal with it and don’t talk about it. Be ready to have kids even if you don’t want them. Can’t you just suffer in silence? You know, you’d be prettier if you smiled more.

Well, screw being silent – shout. Howl it into the mic. Smash that guitar and go full scale metal on it. I’m listening and I’m ready to scream along with you.

Yeah, I’m pretty cantankerous. Must be all that fire in my uterus.

So you’re pregnant! Wow. Crap. Wow.

A guide for the panicking-Mum-to-be who has just remembered after 6 months of trying that she doesn’t like kids that much.

Hey,  congratulations! You planned to be pregnant and now you are! And now you are hyperventilating with terror, because having a baby seemed like a good idea at the time but you have remembered you have no idea how to deal with children and you don’t know anything about them and newborns all look wrinkled and weird to you.

My first reaction to my positive pregnancy test was a full-on panic attack so it’s safe to say I was a bit worried. Would I love my baby? Would I even like it? What do you actually do with one once you have it? Wait, am I not allowed have any cheese now? (Yes, yes, still working this one out, and sadly yes.)

Anyway, turns out I was hyperventilating over all the wrong things. In the hope that I can put your over-anxious mind and thumping-heart at rest, here are the things that I was terrified of that actually turned out not to be a thing at all.

You’re not a “baby” person.

You don’t really like babies and kids that much, certainly not to the extent of squealing about how cute newborns are and how much you want to eat them. (Note: don’t do this, this is fucking creepy. When someone tells me they want to eat my kids, I am all “give them back and have a sandwich instead they took ages to make YOU FUCKING WEIRDO”.)

You will probably still not like all babies, but you will like your baby. Trite but true. There’s a host of biological stuff going  on and babies are basically terrible at everything except persuading you to take care of them and watch over their flailings with interest and buy their tiny impractical shit (kind of like the Kardashians, I guess) so, much like a weakened pelvic floor, loving your baby is kind of inevitable.*

Your baby will look like a tiny shaved and boiled animatronic monkey but you will still love it. Some mums get the overwhelming bond of love, others are seized by a protective instinct similar to that of a coked-up grizzly but love takes a bit longer to grow. In time, you will even start liking other babies because they remind you of your baby and before you know it you will actually want to have a cuddle of other people’s newborns.

It may take a while to kick in but by the time they are toddling, you will love them enough to spend approximately eleventy million hours a day needed to stopping them from injuring themselves. (Toddlers are basically tiny suicidal drunks.) Then it’s a few years of more straight-forward love until they are teenagers and you debate freezing them in carbonite or tossing them in Hannibal-Lector-restraints until they hit 25 or so.

You don’t know anything about babies

HandsThe good news is YOUR BABY KNOWS EVEN LESS THAN YOU and doesn’t have a developed brain to boot. They can’t even make their hands grasp things, for feck’s sake. So, not only are you competing against someone who knows the same amount as you at the start, they have NO HOPE of learning as fast as you and keeping up.

Basically, you have just challenged a sea cucumber to an arse-kicking contest. GO KICK ARSE.

And if you decide to have more than one, by the time you have them you will have racked up serious parenting mileage (if it’s 10,000 hours to make an expert, which is about three years of 9 hours a day or just over one year in your case because you are getting NO FUCKING SLEEP) and you will look like a shit hot expert at this stuff.

But I’ll have to do all this Mum’s-group socialising stuff and baby-talk doesn’t interest me

You will end up spending a lot of other time with parents, as they are the only people who will put up with your sleep-deprived over-caffeinated haven’t-showered flaky-ass shit now you literally can’t arrange more than one social thing in a day without a complete meltdown.

So, you will talk about kids a lot, but it’s actually helpful. You will develop a professional interest in comparing and contrasting their baby to yours. Other people’s children will remind you a little of your own and your newfound parent-narcissism will make them interesting to you, not as individuals but as reflections of your own child.

Also, who doesn’t love that moment in the supermarket where you hear a child go on a full-scale kicking-and-screaming-and-shitting-themselves-tantrum. You tense up, and then you realise it’s not your child and therefore not your problem. It’s great. Like taking off a too-tight bra or slipping off heels at the end of a day.

But newborns look weird

They really, really fucking do. But it passes. You’ll probably be on drugs for most of it anyway. Wheeeee!

 

* Postnatal depression is a thing and a very common thing (and can hit Mums or Dads), and this blog is written by someone who was calling her vulva a vagina well into her late 20’s so please, if you are struggling, have a frank and honest chat with a medical professional you trust instead of reading random stranger’s sweary bullshit. Good luck.

4 types of WTF – buying for a new baby (the sweary-weary edition)

With under 4 weeks until my due date, we have spent the last few weekends running around the shops trying to buy everything we need when – and this is the fun bit – we have no idea what we need.

Many of the shops and baby websites supply check-lists of essential items for newborns. This would be helpful if they didn’t appear to be written by the sort of people who recommend you take 12 changes of outfit, 3 weeks’ worth of food and a full thermal sleeping system on an overnight camping trip in summer. I can see that a decent supply of nappies and wet-wipes, for example, are a pretty essential buy. I am just less than convinced that we will also need a “Baby-On-Board” car-sticker, a white-noise generator and a wipe-warmer.

We’ve managed through trial, error and copious levels of swearing at idiocy to cull the lists and come up with a few basic rules along the way. Whether you are buying for yourself or someone else, here’s a few tips on sorting the necessary wheat from the organic-biodegradeable-nonallergenic-biodynamic-chaff for when you are buying for a new baby.

1. It’s HOW fucking much?

If you thought a new home was a big purchase, you have not seen the list of stuff you are expected to have for a baby. If you go for new options and want to buy the items that get the best reviews, expect it to be expensive. Like, bed-wettingly so. Prams – I’m sorry, “baby travel-systems” – routinely come in at over a grand, and that wet bed may come with nearly a two thousand dollar price tag before you have  even put a new mattress and sheets on it. You can easily lay out $200 on a swing to soothe your child but many babies won’t have a bar of them and you could end up with another expensive pile of junk in a room already filled with crud you barely use.

The solution? Embrace any offers of second-hand items you get and use them to evaluate what you actually want and need. Even if you do end up deciding you want something with different features you won’t have splashed a few week’s wages on something you – or the child – turn out to hate.

2. What the fuck is that?

Prepare to learn a new language. Nothing on baby-related lists gets a simple and honest description and you will end up googling the fuck out of everything to work out what the hell they were going on about.

It took me a few searches to work out that a burp cloth is just a small piece of cloth that could, more accurately, be referred to as a spew rag as you use it for mopping up vomit. Or that a cellular blanket is not to keep baby’s first phone warm but a simple breathable woven blankets for their crib and for swaddling on colder days.

Apparently I also need a receiving blanket (does it issue receipts?) and some bunny rugs.  I still don’t know what a bunny rug is, and why a cellular blanket can’t do whatever it is it does, but according to several lists I need three of them. Is it an image thing? Am I expected to go out and kill rabbits so my child can lounge naked, 70’s porn star style, on their skins in front of the fire? I have no fucking clue.

3. Are you sure that’s a good fucking idea?

It can be tempting to just go mad and chuck stuff in the basket when you have a list a mile long, but it pays to have a think before you grab that item and tick it off the list. Baby shops will cheerfully sell you stuff without informing you that the products have massive drawbacks or are downright dangerous.

Some examples? Walk into any baby shop and you’ll find cute cot bumpers, baby pillows and fluffy bassinet blankets galore. What they don’t mention is most hospitals and most medical research recommend avoiding all these in early infancy due to the SIDS risk of the baby getting stuck under them.

Less deadly but with definite potential to be unpleasant is your choice of thermometer. Before purchasing, check how you are expected to operate it. You can’t use an oral thermometer on a very young child, and underarm readings take an age in addition to being unreliable, so you may be stuck with the remaining option – rectal.  And – here’s a fun fact I discovered – rectal insertion of thermometers can apparently have the fun side effect of instantly causing epic-in-your-face-insta-poos which sounds like NO FUN AT ALL.

4. Do babies have fucking hooves?

 ...do babies have hooves?
These are for hooves, right?

A final note on buying when you have no idea what half the crap you are getting is or why you need it.

If, like us, you have been lucky enough to get lots of pre-used items from helpful friends desperate to reclaim some space in their home, have a good look through them before you do any shopping. Case in point; we were recently looking through the second-hand newborn clothes we have been gifted and found loads of what looked like oversized floppy socks. We looked at them, bemused.

“What is this shit?”

“Socks? They’re not socks?”

“They don’t look like socks. They’re kind of… big. Lots of extra space. For really big feet. Club feet? Or hooves? Do babies have hooves?*”

“…I really fucking hope not.”

 

They don’t. We worked it out eventually. They were mittens.

Times flies when strangers are probing you with wands

If anyone is wondering where I have been for the last couple of weeks, the answer is “being poked relentlessly by strangers dressed in scrubs”.

Not that there was any emergency (or I was up to anything kinky), it’s all just standard mum-to-be care complicated by a child as contrary as its mother. At around the 20th week in Australia they do a fetal anomaly ultrasound scan examining the fetus in detail, checking the heart and internal organs and measuring all the various bones including the spine. Normally this should take 30 minutes or so, unless your child is uncooperative and in wrong position the whole time.

Transvaginal ultrasounds are pretty much like this.

I’ve spent about 10 hours over the last few weeks at the doctor’s or in the hospital and the child’s nickname is now officially “Little Fecker” so you can draw your own conclusions as to their cooperation levels. Little Fecker has clearly inherited both my hatred of posing for photos and the bloody-minded sense of humour from both sides of the family.

To get most of the pictures they need the child needs to be lying flat and relaxed face-up or down, but Little Fecker apparently felt in a V with hands by feet was the correct way to pose. And, lacking a bribe of a lollipop if they behave, all I could do was bump my uterus around a bit in the hope of changing their position.

So began the 2-day St. Vitus’ Dance Disco Epic that was last week. I jiggled and joggled, walked, danced and pranced, all the in hope of maneuvering the child. No change. I sprinted up and down stairs. No change. The technician jiggled my belly so violently my glasses fell off. No change. I danced to Baby’s Got Back in the hospital bathroom completed with Beyonce-style butt-jiggling. The child moved to an even less suitable angle and started kicking me in the cervix.

After 3 hours, they tried the joy that is a transvaginal ultrasound which would have worked if Little Fecker hadn’t moved to sit on it, giving a wonderful shot of their arse. After 4 hours, they sent me home to come back in the next day. After 6, they called in the most expert staff member they had, who basically turned me upside down on a hospital bed, and punched my belly and other bits with the various wands until the Little Fecker finally let us get the angle we needed.

It took nine attempts at scanning from various angles, spread over 7 hours in hospital, to finally get the pictures that fdoctor needed. And the result, finally given to me after another 2 hours waiting in a doctor’s surgery where I used the wait to come up with ever more pessimistic and far-fetched reasons (“The child is deformed. The child is a quadruped. Oh fuck, it’s actually triplets.”) for the hospital insisting on the thoroughness of the scans?

The child is in great shape. The little fecker.

I’m not fat, I’m… well, fat.

I’m 16 weeks in and I don’t look pregnant enough.

Don’t get me wrong; this isn’t a “I wish to bodypaint my tummy with spirals and run around rejoicing in the womyn-ly* curves of my mystyryos* lyfe-bestowing* belly” thing.  I’m just sick of being too big to look good but too small to be pregnant.

Rejoice in my belly, bitches!

This is mainly my own fault for knowing how best to hide my beer gut. As a natural apple shape (or as I see it, a beer barrel) who likes her food and drink (also a cheese barrel) my abs have been missing in action since my early 20’s. I’m an Australian size 14 (that’s about a UK14-16, or USA10-12) and most of my clothes are a little loose on the waist and designed to skim gently over my porkier areas.

So, at 16 weeks in, I’ve just edged out of my normal clothing comfort-zone and pushed into the “maybe you should try the next size up”. Which is great in some ways, as I haven’t needed maternity gear yet, but crap in others as I just look like I have really let myself go**. I keep catching sight of my tubby tummy and thinking “you need to lose weight!” and then remembering that I only get to lose weight in 5 months after some of it has ripped its way out of my vagina.

And it turns out I was completely wrong about my expectations of weight gain during pregnancy. I figured, if I was looking at a 3kg(7lb) baby, plus a little extra for placenta and fluid, then my probable healthy weight gain should be about 5-6kgs. I was off by about 100%. The average recommended weight gain is 11kg to 16kg (25lb to 35lb) and, even for someone who is already over-weight like me, they recommend gaining between 7kg and 11kg (15lb to 25lb).

Where the hell does all that extra weight go? As it turns out, a lot of weight in infrastructure, and the child itself is about a quarter of the gain.

kgs pounds
The actual baby weight. Skinny damn baby in a huge fucking house, I tell you. 3.3 7.3
The placenta (do not eat, no matter what people say). 0.7 1.5
Amniotic fluid – like a bouncy castle for your kid! 0.8 1.8
Muscle layer of uterus (womb) growth as it Hulks up in preparation. 0.9 2
Blood volume increase (about 20%) making you fecking boiling hot at room temperature. 1.2 2.6
Retaining ALL the water – lots of extra fluid. 1.2 2.6
Boobs! Pass Go, go up a cup size. 0.4 0.9
Does my fat look fat in this? Some extra fat for breast-feeding stores. 4 8.8
Total extra weight 12.5kg 27.5lb

All in, that’s an expected gain of about 12.5kgs, of which only 4kgs are actual fat.

It’s one hell of lot of belly to get used to, mind.  I have read various admonitions that I should be fine with, or actively rejoice in, my change in shape.  If being curvy is so bloody womanly, how come no one ever told me to embrace my beer belly, hmm? Where the fuck were “the feminine is a curve” people when I went to the USA for 4 months and gained 5kgs in beer and grease weight? Well?

And truth be told, while I am a long way off doing a Demi Moore and posing naked (you can all breath a sigh of relief), I’m not that fussed about the gain. I’ve put on about 2-3kgs and there’s more to come. It’s for a good reason and I’ll cope fine with looking pregnant. Once I finally look pregnant and not just plain old fat.

* It’s more mystical if you misspell everything, apparently. I know this because of my Wimmin’s Intuition

** Please note: I’m a firm believer that you should work with your shape and your health, and know that size 12-14 is my fit-and-happy weight. Over that, I start to look and feel bad. I’m not saying it’s everyone’s ideal. Whatever size you are, provided you are happy with it and think you look good, more power to you.

“Fun” ways to announce your pregnancy

http://katersart.deviantart.com/art/Here-s-Johnny-188786758

We’re now hitting the point where we need to tell people there’s a child on the way. I am so not ready for this. I am a chronic over-planner and stage-manager so in an ideal world we wouldn’t tell anyone until a month after the whole thing was over and we had a child to show them in a, “And here’s one we made earlier!” style.

But, at 15 weeks in, I’m getting to the point where my usual fat pants are becoming slim-fit, my dietary restrictions ruin every dinner invite and I’m running out of excuses to avoid alcohol. (“I’m on antibiotics.” “I’m ill.” “Fuck it. I’m a recovering alcoholic who has converted to Islam.”) The families have been told, a few mates are in the loop (hi guys!) and my boss has the heads-up, so it’s time to started spreading the news.

But how to tell people? The flat-out “I’m pregnant”? Or the coy “we’re expecting” –  but expecting what? Mail? Santa? That Keith Richards will be made pope?  I could try  “there’s a bun in the oven”, but that risks disappointing friends who were hoping for baked goods.

So I googled for ideas and, as always with everything pregnancy-related in the internetz, found endless amounts of totally-fucking-unhelpful crazy. Here are just some of the “fun” suggestions:

http://katersart.deviantart.com/art/Here-s-Johnny-188786758
Or you could carve your way in through the door and scream, “…I’m PREGNANT!”
  1. Install an infant’s car seat in the back seat of your partner’s car and see how long it takes for him to notice.  Or, you know, he could decide you have kidnapped and murdered a child and he’s next on the list. Or he has stolen a car identical to his. Or you have finally fucking snapped and require a refreshing break in a mental ward. The possibilities are endless, frankly.
  2. Video the result of your home pregnancy test, upload to YouTube and send the link to loved ones. If you really love them, would you send them a video of you dipping sticks in your pee? What if they are eating at the time? Does this really sound like a “fun” idea for anyone who doesn’t have some really specific fetishes?
  3. Invite people over for dinner and bring out a platter of baby foods jars and sippy cups of apple juice to wash it all down. Why wait until after the birth when you can alienate your friends with a complete inability to manage anything adult now? (This is also a great way to tell your boss.)
  4. Put a bun in the oven and when your guests arrive, open the oven to show them what’s inside and say , “Look what we’re cooking! What is that?” And they will say, “A bun. Moron.” and look at you oddly until you explain.
  5. Ask your partner to get the milk out of the fridge for you but instead of the regular milk jug, leave a breast pump or a can of baby formula in its place. Like suggestion 1, but with the added advantage of putting them off their morning beverage, and your cooking, near indefinitely.
  6. Have restaurant waitstaff bring out a special wine list where the only selection is a vintage from the year your baby is due with a description like “a unique blend of the very best of a special couple.” Are you just trying to turn everyone off food and drink? Because it’s fucking working. And the waitstaff is probably pretty nauseated too. And a vintage from the year the baby is due is either going to be a) impossible for most of the year or b) vinegar. That said, I do admire the passive-aggressiveness inherent in this one. “Want wine? Fuck you, if I can’t drink alcohol you’re not even allowed read the wine list in peace. Fuckers.”

In the absence of the urge to purchase car seats and breast pumps, or to send videos of my pee to those I love, I will probably just go with a simple, “I’m pregnant”. Although I may add “bitches” at the end. Just, you know, to make it “fun”.

As an aside on announcing things, a few people I know in real life are reading this (hi guys!), and have asked if will I go public and pop my name on this blog. The answer is no. While I have no shame and no issue tying my name to my words, given this blog is going to contain a lot of anecdotes about both Himself and The Child, I’d rather not tie their good names to what will doubtless be the giggling, ranting and swearing of a sick and sleep-deprived brain.

So, while if you know me it’s obvious who this is (and I don’t mind people referring people on) I’ll be keeping names firmly off this site. I’d rather not have any of The Child’s prospective friends/partners/employers google their name to discover naked bath-time photos and detailed descriptions of their bodily functions.

That, and threatening to go public will probably be a brilliant way to get them to tidy their room occasionally.

Baby’s first mosh pit

Last week I wrote about how I suspected I was brewing up a budding Keith Prodigy in my uterus.

And yesterday I spent about 8 hours at Soundwave watching ALL the rock and metal, including some light moshing to a 2 hour Metallica set.

Interestingly, while most of the pregnancy guides are careful to ban any form of fun on the grounds that no one knows if it’s dangerous but it *could* be so best not to (seriously, I have seen this argument applied to everything from riding a bike to jogging to dying your damned hair) not one mentioned metal concerts.

And, to be honest, I would have completely ignored them if they did. I stayed back from the crush, stayed hydrated and my worst injury of the evening was inflicted by my own steel-capped boots rubbing the hell out of my ankle. Some people stay at home knitting baby booties. Some like to attend pre-natal yoga classes. Others like to go to gigs while they still can and don’t have a small child they need to take care of. More power to all of them, as long as they are not judgemental arse-bags who try to ram their uninformed opinions down other’s throats in the guide of “medical advice”.

So yes, baby’s first concert was in utero at Metallica (sadly, not a Nirvana gig, appropriate and all as that would have been). At this rate, my kid is going to rebel by listening exclusively to manufactured kiddy-pop and joining a religion that bans dancing. But not until they are at least teens, oh no. I intend to inform them that no one knows for sure but it’s possible that crappy manufactured pop makes you deaf and religion gives you anal warts.