How it all ends

13 weeks in, I woke up in the middle of the night. Something was wrong. I was lying in a puddle of water. I was sure I was leaking amniotic fluid.

This was the big risk with the kind of pregnancy I was having: the amniotic sack could burst at any moment because it didn’t have the protection of the cervix.

I stood up and ran for the bathroom. From what hit the bedroom carpet it was clear I wasn’t leaking amniotic fluid at all. It was blood. And plenty of it.

By the time BB had woken up and stumbled into the hallway there was blood from one end of the bathroom to the other. I was lying on the floor with a towel scrunched up around me kind of trying to stuff it all back in. I told BB to call the doctor. He did. The doctor told us to go to ER/Casualty. We did.

I didn’t shed a tear. But when we got in the car I said to BB: ‘This does not look good.’ He said: ‘I know.’

I didn’t shed a tear till about two hours later when a tech hooked me up to an ultrasound to see what was going on and we saw a little alien being in there.

The being was opening its mouth and closing it again. That’s when I shed a tear. Plenty of them. Our baby was still alive.

The doctors never did figure out what caused all that blood. Someone half mumbled something about scar tissue at some point. Either way, after that scare exactly all of the fun was sucked out of being pregnant. Every day was the day I was terrified it was going to be over. As the weeks went on the stakes kept getting raised. The risk of giving birth to a dangerously premature baby became super real. But somehow as the weeks went on, that little creature kept defying the odds and kept on being alive, kept growing.

As I crept into the third trimester I stopped leaving the house, I stopped walking. I only went outside in a wheelchair. Everything to keep that little growing chunk of baby safely wedged inside my body.

And then, after 38 weeks of non-eventful pregnancy, our little darling daughter was born. Completely perfect in every way possible. A year and a bit later she continues to delight us in every way there is to be delighted (especially if you delight in getting no sleep at all). I can’t imagine or remember what life was like without her.

It all worked out. And BB and I learned a valuable lesson along the way: Don’t worry about something till you actually have to worry about it. Because you will drive yourself nuts potentially for no reason at all.

So that’s the story – you are all caught up on the last 3 years!

Now, let’s get back to those rants and raves and foams at the mouth…

The preg train

So, getting pregnant… When BB and I first got together, we very quickly knew it was on. We just knew it. I don’t think we even had a conversation about it. We were just together. We did however have a couple of actual conversations about having a baby. Was I up for it he wanted to know? I was, I said.

I’d gone through a brief patch where I was positive I didn’t want to have any more children but after I met BB that slowly changed. I knew he’d be an amazing dad. And I also strongly suspected he wouldn’t go running off with a 24 year-old-blonde when our baby was 6 weeks old. (Mind you I really didn’t think Finn’s Dad would have done that either). I wanted another chance to do it the ‘right’ way. Or should I say I wanted a shot at doing it the traditional way. Finn’s situation was never ‘wrong’. It was just difficult/different.

(Tradition: Ha ha. Blow me lady. You turned your back on me a long time ago. This is where I get my revenge…)

So following the rules of ‘tradition’ BB and I would have got engaged and then married and then at some suitable and convenient point embarked upon an attempt to get pregnant.

After the surgery, the doc basically told us we had to get on the preg train pretty pronto because there was no knowing when it was going to be leaving town.

The train (ie my uterus) was good for now but in the months to come the whole area was likely to get furred up with scar tissue meaning BB’s sperm would need to get a pick axe to get through it all. Also the big C could return any moment meaning a hysterectomy, chemo etc. and so forth.

It was act now or possibly live to regret it.

We decided to act now. The first month I did not get pregnant. The second month I did. No one could believe it. Not my boss: How did your body let you do that after all you’d put it through? Not my doctor: Hmm. That was quick. Not BB who had next to no reaction when I showed him the two pink lines.

I didn’t tell Finn initially – just because there was such a high chance of miscarriage. But he knew. Shopping in GAP he ran over to the baby section and started picking out stuff for ‘the baby in the tummy.’

The first trimester was crazily normal. Morning sickness galore. Hungry. So hungry BB almost installed a fridge by the side of the bed. And then…we’d made it to the 12-week mark. I’d told everyone at work (my quickly-growing girth made it very hard to miss). Everything was going wonderfully well…

Until all of a sudden it wasn’t.


And then???

Had it spread? Yup. Too much? Nope – they’d caught it just before it started on its round-the world- tour of my lymph system. Was I going to be able to have another child – maybe… They’d removed the entire cervix and left me with a ‘cervical stump’. The whole area was tied together with a piece of thread that was hopefully going to be strong enough hold my v-lady together to my uterus if I ever managed to get pregnant again.

Because getting pregnant was not going to be easy. We were warned about that. It would probably be IVF for us and even if I did manage to get pregnant, there was a good chance I’d miscarry in the second trimester.

After the surgery I was a cosmic mess. I kept feeling like I was going to die, I couldn’t walk or go to the bathroom, I had weird (temporary) metal poles in me keeping my ureters open and every time I moved they stabbed me from the inside. A couple of days after I was discharged I was readmitted with a fever. Good times. They called the urologist in and I had another procedure to remove the stents (the things that were stabbing me to death from the inside).

But let’s not forget the pending house sale…

BB got the call and it turned out by some miracle not only had my fertility been spared but the house sale had gone through. The only catch… I had to sign the documents that day or the whole thing would fall apart. In hospital? Barely conscious? Doesn’t matter. After the stent procedure the nurse heaved me into a chair and BB wheeled me into the front lobby of the USC cancer unit. There to greet me was our loan officer and a paralegal. And I sat in that chair and signed two hundred pages of documents for about an hour and a half. And then we owned our house.

And then we drove the fuck home. It was over. We’d kept our house and my uterus. And no one was dead.

Success. Now there was just the small matter of getting pregnant…

Well what happened next?

So where was I, oh yes, the two phone calls that were threatening to pull our life entirely apart. The first was from the estate agent. The landlord had foreclosed on our home. This could – of course – all go a million ways but basically there wasn’t any guarantee that we’d be able to stay in our new home for any length of time. We got the news about a day after BB had just finished converting the garage to his new music studio. We were bummed. BUMMED. And also a little panicked. 3-bedroomed houses with garages in Monrovia don’t come up that often.

The next call was from my gynecologist. My last set of pap results had not been good and I was like ‘yeah yeah this happens every year and they do a biopsy and I’m always fine.’ Well this year when they’d done the biopsy it turned out I was not fine. In fact it turned out I had cancer. ‘Aggressive cancer’ my gyno said as she stuttered it all down the phone. Honestly I know it’s not an easy day’s work to tell someone they’ve got the big C but you’d think doctors would get some kind of training on delivering the info. “You’ll probably have to have a hysterectomy pretty much immediately” she said and referred me to City of Hope.

I finished my day at work without a tear shed or telling a soul (for real) and then I drove to Sunset Sound where BB was working that day and broke the news to him. He took it pretty well considering his biggest dream he’d ever pretty much had was to have a child. I then came out of that warming interaction to find I’d just been given a parking ticket. That actually happened.

So what next?

A whole bunch of waiting is what. Infertility and homelessness was eminent but in the weeks leading up that conclusion there was nothing to do but wait and see.

We decided to put an offer in on the house to see if we could buy it in a short sale. And City of Hope referred me to USC who had one of the 12 surgeons in the US who might be able to perform a trachelectomy on me instead of a hysterectomy. In a trachelectomy they remove the cervix but keep the uterus – preserving fertility (all be it by a thin string – literally).

We waited for doctor’s appointments and results of scans to see if I was a ‘candidate for a trachelectomy’, we waited for loan approval documents and filled out endless forms to see if we were candidates for buying our home… Every day we woke up knowing at the end of this we’d either be homeowners with a chance or being able to have a baby someday. Or we’d be moving out of our perfect home and leaving our dreams of having a baby behind too. Or even worse than that I might die… or something… : (

So I won’t drag you through the long drawn out version that I actually experienced. About two days before my surgery, we found our offer on the house had been accepted. Only problem was, there’s no delaying a house sale in the USA for any reason and I had reams of paperwork to sign even as I was prepping to go into surgery. And what was being prepped? My bowels. Locked on the toilet, trying to quickly race through paperwork before I was going to be under. It was not good timing. The loan officer suggested we try and reschedule the surgery. I told her I’d rather be homeless and alive than a dead homeowner so that wasn’t going to happen.

Going into the surgery I didn’t know whether I’d be coming out with a hysterectomy or the trach. It all depended on what they found when they got in there.

Twelve hours after I went under, the doctor came out of surgery to tell Todd the results. Had the cancer spread? Was it contained? Was I ever going to be able to have another child…

Blog-a-log relaunch!

Good golly! I’m back! It only took three-and-a-half years but lo I have returned!

So goodness me, a lot has happened over the past three years. A. LOT. Some of it amazing and some of it terrible. And every single element of it utterly unpredictable. Oh, life. As I’m on the doorstep of 40 I presume this is when stuff will start to calm down in general…

(Life: Sorry Lady. Can’t promise anything.)

So I think we left off with me about to fall straight into the arms of Mistress Poverty as single motherhood, my ever-raising rent and my lack of childcare support threatened to close the whole production down.

I think we can safely say that was something of a low point…

BB and I decided it was time to move in together. We’d had enough of driving half way across LA to see each other every day, we knew we were in it for the long haul, we didn’t want to delay. Even though BB was about to sell his Hollywood house we decided to move in there for a few months till he found a buyer.

BB’s house was very old, had about a million bedrooms (ok four) and was right in the middle of the ‘bicycle district’ of Hollywood. It was pretty cool. But also pretty loud. And East LA is no place to raise a kid if you have any kind of choice about it. We didn’t have to wait too long for our exit. A few days after Finn and I moved in, the place sold. We had to find somewhere else and quick.

Unsettling – yes. End of the world – no. We’d kind of prepped for this. BB and I had visions of moving out to the LA suburbs right away from the cement, billboards and general urban griminess of LA. We’d started doing research which generally meant lots of driving around the peripheries of town looking at places like Glendale and Burbank and seeing how we felt about it.

No disrespect to Glendale or Burbank but we always walked away with a feeling of ‘Yeah. It’s ok.’ And we were completely prepared to go with ‘ok’. Until we stumbled across Awesome…

Someone had mentioned it to me once as a cool kind of town and we decided to get brunch out their one weekend and check it out.

We fell in love. Monrovia’s only about two miles wide and it’s picture perfect. Its got a modest main street full old brick buildings from when the town was built back in bla. The only chain store on mainstreet is Pinkberry. The whole town is lush with trees and framed in a back drop of stunning mountains. It’s beautiful. It’s a hop and a skip from Pasadena. The schools have all won awards. Everywhere you looked people smile and it isn’t hard to see why. We couldn’t believe that no one really knew about this amazing town.

After not too much looking we found our little dream rental perched on a corner shaded by oaks and willows. As we walked up to it from the curb for the first time, we literally couldn’t believe there might be a possibility that we might be allowed to live in this adorable house. TB hounded the estate agent… and within a couple of weeks we were in.

Finn and I had ended up living in Hollywood only six weeks in total. A stressful flip-flop but well worth all the trouble for where we’d ended up.

Everything was going wonderfully well. We were living together in a beautiful town, in our dream house. All the crazy of the last few years was melting away. Life was beginning to become ‘normal.’ Every day when we woke up, we literally couldn’t believe how much our lives had turned around.

And then we got a couple of phone calls (within a few days of each other and just before Christmas) that kind of threatened to pull our new entirely life apart…

The 4th of July

I’m over it! Really! I’m doing just fine. Thanks for your sympathies and concerns but let me make it plain right here, right now: I really don’t bear a grudge over the whole Tea Party incident thing or the whole you-guys-not-wanting-to-pay-tax-without-being-represented thing.  You are very sweet to consider my feelings but truly – I’m good.  

Every 4th of July I get cautious teasing from friends and colleagues and with an undertone of caring concern…

REALLY! I’M NOT BOTHERED! If Brits got upset every time a country celebrated their day of becoming independent from the British Empire they’d spend the majority of the year miserable.

Another misconception that Americans have about English folk is that back in Merry Old – come that final Thursday of November – we’re all whipping out the turkey, sweet potatoes and green beans and having a big ole Thanksgiving dinner.  NO! We don’t celebrate that one!  The fact that you were all starving to death and then some Native Americans – who you later pooped on – helped you out isn’t really relevant to the English nation.  And guess what – they probably don’t celebrate it in Japan either.  Though interestingly enough, they kind of celebrate it in Grenada…

The end… for now

So – the blog that I hope you’ve all been enjoying is going to take a mini vacation for a bit…

Because the lovely Jude has been less than enthusiastic about paying child support and has also left me paying a bunch of his bills that are in my name (honestly, what a pig – his new floozy is more than welcome to him) Finn and I are on the super duper leanest of lean budgets for the moment.  Amongst other things, this involves the cutting off of the phone line/internet connection.

As my mother tells me ‘Nothing is forever’ and I’m sure I’ll be out of this sticky patch and be back entertaining you all with Finn’s debacles in no time.

I forecast several wonderful things happening in 2011:

1. The ICM agent who asked to see my latest novel about a month ago will call me up all in a flutter telling me how she loves it and how she has several publishers lined up all competing with each other to give me a huge fat advance.

2. As I got not one but two promotions in 2010 I’ll be presented with another big ole pay raise in 2011.

3. Jude will take on his own bills so I don’t have to pay them.

4. BB and I will move in together at which time I will get internet access again. I can’t imagine BB going one minute without full internet access at his place of residence!

So there you have it – one way or another it shan’t be long till I’m back entertaining you all again.

However in the meantime be happy, keep well and I’ll see you all in the marvelous 2011!