Archives: health issues


I like my obstetrician. He’s got four of his own kids: that’s a good sign. One was bass guitarist in a cool Brisbane band for a while, until they broke up prematurely. Some blame Megan Washington, but that’s another story.

Atticus, my obstetrician

Atticus, my obstetrician

He looks a little like Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird. This is exactly what you want your obstetrician to look like, I reckon. Atticus saved my life, last baby, 100 years ago (ok, 8), when he dealt with a delayed hemorrhage. It’s pretty cool to be visiting him again. In a rather life-changing manner of doing so.


Testing, testing…

I speak to my obstetrician. I haven’t seen him yet; apparently there’s not much point so early. Especially since I’ve done this all before ten years ago.

He tells me about screening options. There’s something new: non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT). With ridiculous brand names like Harmony and Panorama. I tell him Harmony is now off my list of potential boy names.

They can take a blood test around 10 weeks, send it to the US, give you an early chromosomal heads-up. Earlier detection, reduced risk of miscarriage. 10 weeks sounds much better than 13 to this 43-and-a-half year old.

It costs, he tells me, around $800 – $1000.

The Chinese, he tells me, are working on a cheaper option.


If you’re interested in Queensland Health’s brief on NIPT from May 2013, click here. It’s a solid read.


I return to my pilates studio, and try to get the attention of my physiotherapist. Rudely, I interrupt her private session next to one of the reformers. She frowns. “I’m sorry, I’ll be quick, but this is important,” I whisper. “I am a little bit pregnant. Is it still ok to do my full program?” If anyone else in the room heard, they did a good job of pretending they didn’t. It was an obviously whispered confession. Ascertaining that I have no past history of miscarriage, she assures me that I am right during this first trimester. “Come and see me at 12 weeks,” she says, “And we’ll have a look at your program.” I tell her I’ll make an appointment when I’m “out”.

Just in case, I go easy on some of the tummy stuff.

It gets serious

We decide to tell nobody. Not even my parents. I know my mum will be disappointed with me later, when she finds out I’ve kept this from her for a month and a half.

Or she won’t know.

The foremost health risk for an old egg is for the foetus to have chromosomal abnormalities such as Down’s Syndrome. Various statistics tell me my chance of this happening is one in 25 to about one in 100. If my amniocentesis comes back with a positive result for Down’s, or if we have any other test results to be concerned about, my partner and I will have to face a ghastly decision. One I prefer to make without anyone else knowing. I hope that family and friends come to understand this.

Miscarriage, of course, is a much greater risk over 40, even if it’s never happened to me before. It’s up to a 50% risk. Some may argue that having support from close friends or family if I miscarry early might be desirable. Not for me. I choose to suffer in silence.

This means I have another six weeks to keep this secret. I’m not good at secrets. I pour my dad a gin and tonic, and fake one for me: mineral water with a slice of lemon. My sister is visiting from the other side of the country. I will have to find a way to avoid drinking. We are invited to a friend’s beach house for the long weekend. I contemplate faking illness the morning we are scheduled to leave. That’s not very honourable. In the end, I throw my back out pushing my broken down car off the road and am bedridden, unable to go. Karma. Bedridden  backache is much less fun without Prince Valium for company.

Think I’ll just tell my friends I’ve stopped drinking because I’m mentally unstable. That’ll stop the questions.

My breasts hurt.

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