Monday, June 22, 2020

Journey to Motherhood - Our Story

Motherhood, the most beautiful, amazing, rewarding, challenging and exhausting things I have ever done.

4 years ago Jez proposed to me on the side of the Ottawa river in Canada (you might have seen it online) and our life as a true family began. Ever since we got together we have spoke very fondly of our love for children and how much we wanted to start a family of our own. So shortly after we started trying we quickly found out that sometimes it’s not quite as easy as they teach you in school.

So it turns out I’m way better at winning World Championships than I am at bringing little ones into the world.

So August 2015 to March 2018 was a whirlwind of emotional high and lows. No women in this world would plan finding out the amazingly exciting and disappointing news of yes / no, I’m pregnant / I’m not pregnant at by far the most meantally / emotionally weakest point of each month. But that’s life and that the way it works. So for over a year we would wait exited and then No!

Now being slightly older and having friends and family who have had difficulties conceiving we were well aware that in some situations you might need a little extra help. So after about a year we visited a specialist and got some tests done and sure enough we would need a bit of magic and science help.

So late 2016, our IVF journey started and we had the support of an amazing team. We went through the first cycle and I was very excited to wake up and find out how many magic embryos we had made, I heard heard stories of 10,12, 20+.... we had 2!

Ok it was a start but neither of us had much confidence that these two little ones would work. Sure enough we were just getting going so about 6 months later and we were at it again. This time the magic number was 6 and everyone was excited as they were good ones ready to go. A few transfers later and nothing had worked. It was August 2017 and we were waiting for our fourth transfer news.

If you are familiar with IVF you will know that it’s a very fragile sensitive game and each transfer involves a window of a good few weeks where u have to take it super easy. You can still exercise but you have to take it easy! Now if you know me then you know how active I normally am and my definition of taking it easy isn’t always what other people think. So I would (each time) ask the questions ... ‘how easy is easy’ and each time the answer wouldn’t be quite what I wanted to hear. ‘You can do gentle exercise’ ‘like kayaking? .... yes ... whitewater freestyle?... what’s that? (explanation followed) ... erm no!’ ‘’mountain biking? ... no’ ‘wakeboarding?... no.’ ‘Gym? ... maybe what type of gym do you do? ... HIiT and boxing based boot camp... no.’ ‘Running?... no!’

‘Ok what can I do?’ ... ‘Gentle swimming and walking!!!’ .... Cough, cough , cough in my head ‘that’s not exercise that’s just life.’

‘And no heavy lifting’ ... ‘no 80kg trap bar deadlifts?’ ‘NO! 10kg max about the weight of a carry on bag on a plane!’... Oh boy!!!

But, when you’ve been trying for a family for a while even if the thought of no exercise would normally send you up the wall priorities change. So each cycle I would take 3-4 weeks off as we waited in the hope it would work.

So end of August and it was the usual waiting game. The difference this time it was also the British Championships weekend and I was home in the UK. But of course my ‘gentle exercise plan’ meant I wasn’t able to paddle as I wouldn’t know if it had worked until Sunday / Monday when the magic time of the month came. It was strange sitting out the weekend not knowing and watching “injured!!” from the side and then boom it was that fun girl time again, boo, it hasn’t worked. No luck. The competition weekend was over and so was another IVF cycle with no success again. Would it ever work? Maybe we would be one of the unlucky ones!

We now had three eggs left and I was IVF weight (the beautiful hormone weight boost you also gain) and pretty unfit from the last few cycles. Plus worlds was only 2 months away. It was decision time. Normally I would be intensely training for at least 6 months if not 2 years before a worlds and at this stage, be at the peak of my fitness and preparations but not this time. Plus there were even bigger decisions to make. Argentina was the host city for the World Championships and in the current climate was also a high risk Zika virus zone. To most other athletes not an issue at all but to anyone planning on starting a family soon it was a serious consideration. Did I stay home and watch the worlds and try another cycle or did I put everything into the next two months and train and go for it knowing that this would mean an extended break of almost 5-6 months before trying again as we would have to wait out the 2 month Zika incubation period after leaving South America and then a few more weeks to get blood tests done. Which then only if cleared could we then restart the family process again.

After a lot of thought we decide to go for Worlds.

That’s a whole other blog story ( but all I can say is despite the unusual preparations and being over 6kg heavier than normal it went amazingly well. Better than I ever could have imagined and not only did I win the double again!!! I smashed out my best ever international competition run and set a new freestyle world record as well. It was obviously meant to be and was an amazing experience in a beautiful country.

ICF World Titles 8 : Babys 0

During the course of the 5 weeks in Argentina I must have used more Deet than the rest of the world and luckily 3 months later I got my Zika tests results back - all clear - and we were back on track with project family!

We went straight back into the cycle of hormones, tablets, drugs, transfer, light exercise, wait, wait, wait and then ... No!!! Honestly I’m way better at winning worlds!!!

Left with 2 eggs and only a few months before our summer adventures began and less and less hope each time we did some research worked out the odds and went for a double transfer. Boom!!! this time it worked!!! We were so excited. We were pregnant ..... wahooooo!!! With twins!!!

So the excitement and shock of twins didn’t last long as one of the little ones was tiny and wasn’t going to make it but (potentially) had been hugely important in making our little miracle baby work. In most pregnancies you wouldn’t even know if it was a twin or not as it was all done at 6 weeks (early testing for IVF families). We were off course very sad to loose baby 2 but also so happy we were pregnant!!! Our dream had come true. It was possible. Our dream of being a family was happening.

So once again I was put on a light activity (10kg max) schedule. Luckily I had the all clear to swim as much and as hard as I wanted which was a huge help. To celebrate we jumped on a flight to the Gold Coast joined by my mum for a week on the beaches and enjoying the sun.

Little did I know not only did I suck at getting pregnant I also sucked at being pregnant!!!

Yes here began Claire O beatering at being pregnant 101!

If you write a list of pregnancy complications / sicknesses I didn’t get them all but I did get a fair few. It all started on the Gold Coast and saw me only make it to the beach once for about 20 mins total in the 7 days we were there as I spent the entire rest of the week with my head in the toilet bowl!!

* morning sickness - ok all day sickness from 8 weeks on. Started the second day on the Gold Coast and went all the way through to about week 28! I was averaging 4-6 spews a day (whilst taking Zofran - very strong anti nausea tablets). So much fun!

* Threatened miscarriage - week 9 and a massive scare. A fast drive to A&E a scary night and then another hospital follow up the next day and we were lucky, all was ok and our little ones heartbeat was still going strong. One of the most stressful and terrifying times of our lives for both us. That first night we thought the worst and it was one of the scariest moments.

* Sub Chronic Haematoma (L/ XL)- discovered during the hospital visits and confirmed again at our 12 week scan this led to a full activity ban including no swimming. I wasn’t even allowed to empty the bins! I was pretty much put on bed rest. Plus a total flight and travel ban for a number of weeks.

Worst thing was I found out 3 days before the first flight of my 3 month round the world trip was supposed to take off! That and Jez had to leave on his flight to the USA a few days later so I was home alone in Australia for a few weeks and had to completely change my entire summer plans - no Go Pro Games, Kelly’s White Water Park, Falling Creek Camp, West Virginia, Explore Magpie, Ottawa and Keeners... the list goes on. Worst of all I couldn’t really tell anyone as we were still in the late stages of the first trimester and we didn’t want to publicise that we were pregnant. Riding the amazing high of telling everyone you are pregnant and then having to explain the low of explaining the heart break if it didn’t make it would have been too much. Especially as we were still now categorized as a very high risk pregnancy.

Then amazingly all this began to clear up. We we got the all clear on the SCH and news the baby was doing really well and I finally started to get my appetite back. The baby was no longer very high risk but the fun kept going as I got...

* Carpal Tunnel in both wrists - splints of both hands every night and on my right hand almost 24/7 for 3 months

* Gestational Diabetes - stacks of insulin day and night as well as a really not fun diet - I was now eating the healthiest of my life ever but still on a super low activity only / activity ban.

* C Section - so after all of this to help the little one arrive as quickly and safely as possible and a couple of weeks earlier than planned we lined up a scheduled elective C Section. Which it turns out was an absolute blessing in disguise as amidst all of this we hadn’t realised I also had...

* Vasa Previa - which was only noticed during the birth, a very rare complication that meant Sky truely was a miracle baby. 

What did / do all these things mean...

(if your really interested google them and if you ever find yourself dealing with any of them and need any advice please do reach out I will be very happy to share my experiences and offer help and advice)

... in short it meant I didn’t get to kayak and stay active for a good chunk of my pregnancy as planned and instead I spent an awful lot of time exhausted, on the sofa and on a variety of drugs. It was a tough and long 10 months and you know what I really didn’t mind at all. Our dream of becoming a family was coming true and if it meant 10 months that sucked it was totally and utterly worth it in every way possible.
So on the 3rd December at 8.33am, exactly as planned, our gorgeous little absolute miracle baby ‘’Sky’ arrived into the World. Thanks to our incredible OB and delivery team Sky arrived safely and quickly into the world and mine and Jez arms.

And she was perfect. Full of energy, strong, fit and healthy. Our determined driven and beautiful little girl had made it. We literally couldn’t have been happier. Our biggest dream and life goals had come true. We were a family.

Little did we know our real adventure ‘parenthood’ had only just begun ...