Hello my name is Donna and I am 44 years old. I am a full time working mama and I am married to a wonderful shift working hubby Linc. We have two beautiful girls Gemma (10 and a half) and Jasmine (who has just turned 9) and we have a pretty busy life with the girls dancing commitments so on our weekends we cherish family time.
Linc and I met when we were both 29 (on a blind date set up by friends!) and we pretty much knew we wanted to settle down and start a family relatively quickly. We bought a house within 2 and a half years and our dreams were starting.
The day we moved in our house, in March 2004, I was really tired. I put it down to moving house and winding down for a few weeks. A few days later an accidental opening of a draw revealed an engagement ring I wasn’t meant to see for a few weeks and bang we were engaged. Excitement all round!
Later that week I realised my period was late… I thought it was due the following week but checked my calculations and went and bought a test which came up positive. I was so shocked… Linc and I were so excited I went out and bought every pregnancy book! I went to my GP who confirmed it and then booked an appointment with my gyno/obstetrician, a wonderful doctor I had seen for a few years. I was ordered blood tests to check my HCG levels and had an estimated due date of Nov 27th 2004.
Being only 5 or so weeks pregnant I felt symptoms such as swollen boobs but nothing too obvious. Unfortunately not long after the excitement I started to bleed. I called my doctor who ordered another lot of bloods and this is where I learnt all about the rise and falls of HCG levels. My obstetrician called late one afternoon, between delivering babies, to tell me my levels weren’t rising and that a miscarriage was ‘imminent’. I remember asking if I could have hcg or progesterone injections to bump up the levels, practically pleading, to which I was told in a sympathetic but matter of fact way – no there is no hope. And within a few days I lost our first baby at 7 weeks.
So I threw myself into planning a wedding but didn’t actively try not to fall pregnant if you know what I mean. Our motto was, if it happened it happened. Our wedding date was set for November 2005.
Later that year (2004) I suffered another miscarriage, and then starting thinking something was wrong, but kept getting told it’s normal to suffer miscarriages.
The following May 2005 I had the same symptoms again, found out I was pregnant and did the same old same old, had a blood test and this time levels were rising rapidly so I felt somewhat excited. My obstetrician said ‘we will see how the levels go’ and we booked in for an ultrasound around 12 weeks. Then one afternoon at work, a horrible pain in my stomach hit (which felt like severe period pain) as did a gush of blood. I remember calling a colleague for help and I couldn’t leave work due to covering for a staff member who went home sick (I was a manager of a childcare centre at the time) I tried calling hubby and couldn’t get through. So at 6pm with a jacket around my waist and in terrible pain, I drove myself to hospital.
I called my mum who lived close by to meet me there. I remember going to emergency crying and bleeding only to be told by the triage nurse to calm down. It was only when my obstetrician, who was in emergency saw me in the waiting room and told the staff I was one of his patients, that I was taken in straight away. It felt like labour pain looking back now. The pain didn’t stop nor did the bleeding and I was given a clear plastic cup with the yellow lid to retrieve any ‘matter’… the matter they were referring to were my babies – I had lost twins.
An ultrasound was done and they were gone. I stayed in overnight and was placed in a private room where I sobbed all night to a nurse who was amazing. I was booked in for surgery the following morning for a D&C. My hubby arrived at hospital after frantic messages during it all and was a rock through all of it. But I felt so alone, and felt I couldn’t talk about it with anyone as all I got was ‘not again… wasn’t meant to be… so common’. It was my best friend Alicia who came over not long after with a box of nurofen plus and chocolate who saved the day and I can’t thank her enough.
My obstetrician told me that they would test the babies and see if there were some chromosomal abnormality and I now had a clinical title ‘a recurrent miscarrier’ and we were to have blood tests which all came back fine. There was nothing wrong… I could fall pregnant easily, I just couldn’t keep them and my doctor put it down to lupus anticoagulant where my blood would thicken. So the plan was to take half an aspirin daily whilst pregnant.
I think by the time we were married in Nov 2005 I suffered 5 miscarriages. I remember telling Linc it was no use marrying me if I couldn’t have children.
However Linc and I got married in November 2005, and it was the best day of our lives. We honeymooned in Port Douglas and life was great. I didn’t worry about trying to fall pregnant, I was done. My mum had told me about a ‘baby maker’ she had seen on A Current Affair and I remember feeling totally uninterested. But I made a call quietly and spoke to a lady called Sue who sent a package which included a chart and a bunch of information. I bought an ovulation kit and was sent a potion to try. I started this in December 2005 and I learnt so much. Christmas came and went; it was a wonderful Christmas celebrating with family and friends.
In mid Jan my usual pregnancy symptom started – my boobs would swell. I bought a digital test, which was all new, and did the test and walked away. The sign said it all ‘pregnant’ and I felt this baby was going to stick. I did the usual, call my gyno/obs, get some blood tests, and waited. This time I was having blood tests every 48 – 72 hrs and my levels kept rising and rising. We booked in for an early scan – apparently early scans weren’t popular hence why I didn’t have one with my previous pregnancies.
Every moment I went to the toilet I was always anxious. My hubby met me there and I remember driving down the Monash freeway praying (and I’m not religious). We were met by a beautiful sonographer… the probe went in and I stated crying waiting for bad news. She said ‘look closely there is your baby’ it looked like Mr Hanky from SouthPark! Linc and I cried. The sonographer did tests and you could see a tiny flutter of a heartbeat. So the plan was to keep having blood tests to make sure we were on the right track. A week later I bled, my heart sank and I emailed my baby maker who explained it was because the uterus had tilted so it may be old blood. It went away and I had another scan at 12 weeks and our little tic tac was growing beautifully… I remember I would wake up everyday, feel my boobs and check the toilet paper. This ritual I did daily until 33 weeks for fear of miscarriage.
So we told immediate family and I couldn’t help feel a little hesitant thinking our bubble would burst soon, but it didn’t.
I never had morning sickness, the only thing I really felt was the urgency to eat as soon as I got up, but that was about it. My tummy was swelling and life was getting exciting.
My father in law was sadly diagnosed with cancer in March 2006 and 9 weeks later lost his battle – the day we had our 20 week scan we went in to show him and he passed away later that night. The 20 week scan was amazing and I kept the picture in my purse for months as I couldn’t believe it. I had joined an online mothers group called ‘Due in Sept 06’ when I was around 12 weeks and remember the excitement of uploading the pic to some othe mum’s I had met in a recurrent miscarriage group. Life kept ticking along, I didn’t require any more scans and could really enjoy motherhood.
Sadly, not long after my father in law passed away, my nephew who was 10 at the time (who had been battling cancer and had been doing so well) had his cancer return and the signs were not hopeful. I remember feeling so desperately sad. Life at times is so bloody cruel.
I began Materntity leave in early August which was an amazing feeling and a routine check up showed me that the baby was lying transverse… and my back went. The baby had hit a nerve and I ended up having to use a walking stick.
In late August, my nephew suffered a cardiac arrest and was placed on life support. I remember hearing Linc’s voice break when my dad called one Sunday night to prepare us and my knees buckled. We went straight to hospital to see him. So each day my parents would pick me up and we would spend the day at the Children’s hospital praying for hope. My family had rung the hospital to tell them as they were worried about me and the baby and got advice on what to do. In all this trauma they were still so worried about me.
On Sunday 3rd September, Linc and I went in and saw Tom… it’s a visit I find too hard to talk about to this day, but I knew it would be the last time I would see him.
On Monday September 4th 2006 at 37 weeks and 4 days I was organised to go to the hospital in the afternoon with mum and dad. Mum and my sister had gone in to be with my other sister and dad was working, it was also the first time I felt no pain in my back. Around 11am, I was on the phone to work (I had won footy tips!) and Linc was on the computer in the back room. I stood up and an instant gush of water came out. I got off the phone and began laughing saying to Linc I think my waters broke. Linc rang the hospital and we were so frazzled… we said my water was green and orange. They told us to come in. I called my mum – message bank. I called my sisters – message bank… and eventually called my dad to let him know as I was due to be picked up by him around 1pm.
My mother in law was at work conducting a training and said she normally doesn’t answer her phone but for some reason she answered. I remember my sisters calling back almost instantly with a mixture of squeals and crying and Leesa said she was going to run up and tell Tom I was in labour so he would hang on.
We arrived at hospital at around 12.30 and I had my first contraction whilst I was on the phone to my eldest sister who called for an update! I had to have a scan as the baby was transverse and if he or she hadn’t moved it was to be a Caesar, but the baby must have flung around when my waters broke… like socks in a washing machine!
Around 2pm, my obs came in with a smile I can’t forget. He said it would be a long labour being my first baby and he would see me in the morning. My contractions were consistent, I laboured the whole time on one side with my eyes closed and the tens machine on my back. I tried gas and couldn’t coordinate the breathing in! Midwives popped in and then sat on my bed watching the TV as Steve Irwin died that day. Linc sat beside me and he got fed and well looked after!
At 5.30pm I felt this unbelievable urge to push. Midwives came in from no where, getting a bed with lights, got Linc to organise the babies clothes and it was all happening. My obstetrician was called back and said ‘Kiddo! I wasn’t supposed to see you until tomorrow… it’s happening… you’ve done it!’ I was so worried about pooing on the midwives and I will never forget the look on her face when a big gush of fluid hit the floor during pushing.
I was told by a good friend… if your lady bits began to sting that’s the baby’s head crowning and I remember smiling. I was told the baby’s head was out but had the cord was wrapped around twice so to stop pushing… and them out she came!
A beautiful healthy baby girl we called Gemma, born at 6.56pm weighing 6pd 5 after a 6.5 hour labour. She was immediately placed on my chest, then whipped off for a bit of oxygen… but she was perfect. I called my mum who then passed on the message to my sisters. My Mother in Law was in the waiting room as she was getting keys to our house to feed our dog and heard the midwife say ‘lady in room 1 is crowning’ and stayed. My obstetrician kept saying ‘you did it kiddo… you did it… we did it finally!’
It was such happy time within the sadness we were experiencing. I lost a lot of blood so I felt like I was going to faint so we stayed in the room until 1am staring at this precious little girl.
Linc sat up all night watching our sleeping baby girl – I zonked out! That week we were inundated with visitors, and my family came in when they could as they were doing bedside vigils for my nephew Tom as well. My sister whose son was on life support made the trip in the day after Gem was born. Her world was in turmoil but she wanted to see our little ray of sunshine and it was so special. We cried tears of happiness and cried sad tears for my nephew. I would receive daily updates on how Tom was, hoping for a miracle.
Breastfeeding was a challenge but I pushed on through enjoying the precious time with my baby. And so began my journey into motherhood I desperately wanted. We came home on Friday 8th September, I remember Linc walking around with Gemma in his arms introducing her to the house and pets. We were home.
Saturday I had planned to go in and see my nephew. I was working out feeding times when I received the call that Tom hadn’t improved and sadly they were going to turn the machines off. I desperately wanted to go in but it was decided with a new baby it was best to stay home so I asked my family to say goodbye to him for me. I sat with Gemma in my arms and Linc and I watched tv waiting for any news. I was not taking anything in and couldn’t stop thinking of my family. Around 8pm, I saw lights pull in our driveway and sadly reality hit it was my parents coming to deliver the news that Tom passed away. That night Linc pulled the cot in the lounge room, fed Gemma when she needed to with expressed milk or formula, whilst I dozed and cried the whole night.
My journey into motherhood was definitely challenging. I had such joy… but was experiencing sleep deprivation and grief and struggled with breastfeeding. But life was amazing! Gemma was such a beautiful baby (still is) I couldn’t take my eyes off her. I had my online mums group who I still keep in touch with to this day (as they could relate due to the ages of our babies) and then I met my real life mums group! They are an amazing bunch of girls and we are still friends to this day and they too got me through some tough times.
After Gemma I honestly didn’t think I would have another baby. I desperately wanted one but felt my body couldn’t take it. Then in July 2007 a surprise occurred when I was pregnant again! I was so excited and shocked as I had just gone back to work in the February 2007.
But as usual this pregnancy didn’t felt right… and I bled and not just a small bleed. My obstetrician said to me ‘looks like it’s all over kiddo, we will do a blood test but I think we both know where this may head’. I immediately called my baby maker who express posted down some jungle juice as I called it, in the hope it may help. The afternoon of my blood tests my obstetrician called to say the levels were quite healthy and we will do another lot and get in for an urgent scan.
The next day we saw a beautiful little heart beat fluttering. I was ordered immediate bed rest until 12 weeks where I would have another scan. By 14 weeks my bleeding had stopped. Our 20 week scan showed a beautiful growing baby, but an issue with her placenta. It was called a ‘succentuate lobe’ and provided complications which meant there was a high risk of haemmorraging so regular scans and monitoring was ordered. This pregnancy I was calmer… but still fearful we could lose her late term.
A death in the family meant at 38 weeks we had to go to a funeral in Geelong. I remember thinking ‘I’m close to a hospital IF I go into labour!’ We got home that night and I put Gemma to bed at 8.30 and went to bed.
At 11pm I rolled over in bed, felt a pop and bang my waters broke! My hubby had just climbed into bed half an hour prior. I called my parents to come over, as my mother in law was down in Geelong (it was her father who died) and contractions kicked in straight away.
My parents arrived around 11.30pm and we raced to Knox Private. My contractions didn’t stop, my hubby ran in and got help and I was wheeled in. The midwives were trying to get a hold of my obstetrician and I felt completely out of control as the contractions were back to back. The midwife did an internal to check how many cms I was and no sooner had she finished I began to push. At 12.59am on the 12.3.08 Jasmine Grace was born 7pd 11. My obstetrician missed it and 2 wonderful midwives delivered her.
The following year I miscarried again (twice) and my obs said no more; my body couldn’t take it any more. I grieved for a long time… not having a 3rd… but was forever grateful.
Having two babies 18 mths apart woah! I missed my sleep! My girls had bronchiolitis a lot so we had many hospital trips (now are both asthmatics) but I can honestly say my only struggle was lack of sleep. Jas would wake at 5am and when you had to work it was a blur!
One of my funniest moments was when Linc returned to work. It was witching hour and I was full of confidence I was going to make it through this infamous hour. I thought before I started dinner, I would give Jasmine a bath. She hated the bath and would scream at any chance. I put up the portable bath on the stand in the kitchen so I could watch Gemma. Gave her her bath and as I got her out, the plug fell off and water went all over the floor. I wrapped Jasmine in a towel, was trying to grab Gemma who was stomping in the water and the dog ripped the mince off the kitchen sink and took off with it. When the girls went to bed I opened a bourbon and coke can that was my husbands, sat on the floor and laughed!
I can’t imagine the life we had prior. Nights when the girls are at a sleepover, the house is SO quiet. I miss them terribly as they are my company at night, as Linc is at work until 11pm.
My hope is to have happy girls and raise beautiful confident women! On days when I am racing around in the morning like a screaming banchee, I need to take a step back and realise how lucky I am. I don’t do this enough. My life is perfect, we have movie nights games nights and Linc is the ultimate cook (Gems now a keen cook) and life is a happy one! I don’t think I could have done anything differently in my journey. If anything maybe spent more days in pajamas and relax!
My family make me the happiest, as the girls get older it gets easier and they are so funny! Both have different personalities and look completely different. Linc and I have a great laugh with them. Don’t get me wrong they bicker all the time but they are the best of mates… and I would be truly lost without them!