By JODI MCALARY
For me, being told that I could not have children was something I couldn’t believe. I remember driving away from the doctor’s surgery along Military Road barely able to see where I was going for the flood of tears. I always assumed that I would be a mother and the news that I would never be made me feel worthless and unwanted, a waste. What was the point of being a woman? I really felt as though I had let down my partner.
It wasn’t only motherhood that was eluding me, it was womanhood. The private and individual feelings of the loss of a child in any form cannot be described and I am sure is a certain pain that cannot be shared.
Talk of donor eggs came immediately and easily for my doctor who thought this was a simple solution as I had two younger sisters. This simply wasn’t an option I wanted to consider or impose on my sisters. How could I ask that of either of my sisters who were so much younger than me and had no children of their own? What if they never ended up having their own children later in life? Would my child be theirs or mine? What about the missing magic that occurs when you create a child with the person you love? What about that unexplainable feeling of pride you get when you watch your child grow and develop the same traits as their Mum and Dad – only in a mini version?
Despite my feelings regarding donor eggs, which I now recognise were borne from an inability to accept the reality of the situation, we booked in to see a specialist to get the ball rolling for IVF treatment. This was the same specialist that my GP had consulted with to diagnose me with premature ovarian failure (or premature menopause). We were told “it would be a miracle” if I fell pregnant and we should stop using contraception.
Fast-forward two months – I’m not sure what prompted me to use the home pregnancy test. I hadn’t even told my partner I was going to use it. When it showed a positive result I thought for certain it was faulty or that perhaps my imbalanced hormones were playing havoc with the result. I told my partner and myself a million times that it was a mistake and went to work that day as normal to wait for a chemist to open so I could get another test. Upon seeing another positive result I went and saw my GP that day who told me that yes, I was most likely pregnant but an ultrasound would be needed to confirm. A five week scan indicated that I was pregnant but nothing else. There was no heartbeat.
It was a very nervous three weeks waiting for the scan to check for a heartbeat. The paranoia was overwhelming. I could only half believe that I was actually pregnant and thought for certain that something horrible was going to happen. I didn’t allow myself to get excited as I was so nervous with feelings that my potential first and last chance at motherhood wouldn’t eventuate.
The routine scan at eight weeks to check for heartbeat and viability was quite a shock. There was not one heartbeat – there were three. Again, I thought this was a mistake, faulty equipment, faulty sonographer! My only response was to laugh and later when I told my partner, that was his response too. It truly felt like a miracle – there was simply no other way of explaining it. Not being a religious person, I was not sure who to thank or who was watching over me. My triplet pregnancy was such a gift and the bewilderment and gratefulness I felt still feels surreal.
Being pregnant with triplets is more like a medical condition than the beautiful pregnancy I had imagined. I was often asked if I was excited. I was certainly not excited. I was extremely nervous and had no perception of what lay ahead. A higher order multiple birth is immensely overwhelming and the sort of situation that requires you to just do whatever needs to be done. Listen to the doctors, do what you need to do and hope you all make it. It is one of those times in your life that can never adequately be prepared for or fully understood by those around you. The same can be said for when the babies actually arrive.
We were very fortunate to have three healthy girls delivered by c section at exactly 34 weeks gestation. When I say lucky, I really do mean it. There are so many variables with a multiple birth. They say the first twelve months are the hardest (not counting the pregnancy) and we are nearly there. We are starting to see glimpses of a more ‘normal’ life coming our way but really, what constitutes normal anyway?
My GP told me that Premature Ovarian Failure occurs in 1% of the population. We also found a statistic originating from a specialist in the USA who claims that the chances of naturally conceiving identical triplets is one in two hundred million. A clever statistician might be able to tell you how lucky we are to have our gorgeous girls with these odds combined.
The truth is, being a parents to triplets is the hardest thing myself or my partner have ever done but isn’t this the same as any new parent would say? My adventure of being a Mum can be the highest of highs and the lowest of lows but when I walk in to a room and the three faces of my beautiful girls light up, I am as high as I can be.
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Jodi McAlary is the Founder and Managing Director of emerging kid’s activities and entertainment guide, www.todokids.com.au. Mother of naturally conceived (accidental!) 4 year old identical triplet girls, Jodi experienced a period of post natal depression after the birth of her gorgeous babies and is now an advocate for open and wide discussion of the dark journey experienced by herself and others. Find Jodi on Facebook here.
Are you the parent of twins or triplets? What have you found to be the most challenging aspect?