Feeling grumpy and out of sorts:

1) The zip on my much loved parka has totally jammed and looks to be beyond repair

2) Currently staying in the middle of Wales with no mobile phone signal and thus missed a call asking whether or not I could appear on Woman’s Hour tomorrow

3) My period is 5 days late, we have been abstaining for most of the month and yet there is a nagging doubt. I have so far done 3 pregnancy tests. 2 seemed negative but the last one had a very faint line. I’ve tried to upload a photo but WordPress hates me.

Make no mistake, although I was messing about re having another baby, I really do NOT need to be pregnant right now. We went to Mass this morning, Robin was quite shaken after all we have been beyond careful, we really can’t work out how this might have happened (beyond the obvious), my cycle is usually spot on, textbook 28 days, but he is reconciled, if terrified and is convinced it is a definite gift.

I am still almost exclusively breastfeeding a 7 month old who is not fussed about solids, managing a 2 year old and 7 year old whilst juggling a degree. Robin is working 12 hour shifts with periods on call 24/7, the diocese will not house us unless he is ordained. 5 of us are stuffed into a tiny chalet bungalow and seminary was delayed for a year by the diocese because of Felicity’s unexpected arrival.

I had 2 cesarians in 17 months, the last one was gruelling beyond measure and though we planned number 4, we were hoping for at least a 2 year gap to let things stabilise a little. I am phobic about birth, seriously terrified, just thought of lying on that table has me bursting into tears. 4 children, 3 under 3 with no family within 300 miles and no close friends nearby.

I can never ever talk with any credibility about NFP again and expect to be taken seriously.

Apparently Clearblue are apparently notorious for false positives so we will try a digital one if no period arrives in the next few days.

Offer one up folks. And for now, mums the word. This post is password protected. If you are reading this it is because you are trusted. My mother does not know and the last thing I need is the daily “you need to have an abortion and/or be sterilised” phone call. Nor do I need any online abuse right now.

If it is not a false alarm, life is going to be very challenging.

Update – 14 Dec

I did 2 more tests. All negative including 1 last night. Nagging doubt earlier, so I tried a digital test.

It took an age which made me think that there was obviously no hormone to detect. I was wrong. It’s come up pregnant – 1-2 weeks post conception.

I’ve taken the password off, I don’t think my mum reads the blog anyway, but there we are.

Despite exclusively breastfeeding a baby who won’t take much solids & refuses formula milk, despite abstaining until day 22 of a regular 28 day cycle (we all had the sick bug), and making sure that not only were there no fertile signs but leaving a good 4 days after the last fertile marker, I have ended up the duff again and in August sometime face my 3rd cesarian since Nov 09 and 3 children under 3.

Oh and there’s a history of multiples. I joke not.

Kids. Don’t try Creighton. It clearly does not work.

I may be liable to swear and if any commenter says I behaved like an irresponsible 16 year old for having sex with my husband during a believed period of natural infertility, there will, almost certainly be violence.

I love babies and children, I wasn’t averse to another, but not yet. I needed a break.

Still it’s a beautiful gift. Talk about dying to self.

I hold Mac Maclernon, Fr Tim Finnegan and Laurence England personally responsible. That was the day we conceived.

15 thoughts on “Ooops

  1. Be assured of our prayers too: especially the kids’ (anonymously). I am convinced kids’ prayers are particularly powerful.

    Alma redemptoris mater, quae pervia caeli
    Porta manes, et stella maris, succurre cadenti,
    Surgere qui curat, populo: tu quae genuisti,
    Natura mirante, tuum sanctum Genitorem
    Virgo prius ac posterius, Gabrielis ab ore
    Sumens illud Ave, peccatorum miserere.

    Mother of the Redeemer, who art ever of heaven

    The open gate, and the star of the sea, aid a fallen people,

    Which is trying to rise again; thou who didst give birth,

    While Nature marveled how, to thy Holy Creator,

    Virgin both before and after, from Gabriel’s mouth

    Accepting the All hail, be merciful towards sinners.

  2. Hey beautiful lady – as we had three in three years – with Nicky having two severe bouts of post-natal depression after the second & third so we can sympathise & empathise but whatever happens it is most definitely not the end of the world [it never is] and you just ‘get by’ – there’s no choice – when the time comes there’s no alternative than to just get on with it and where the strength comes from, where the money comes from, where the time comes from – you don’t ask – you don’t think about it – you just do it and you just don’t have time to think about the sacrifices and burdens – suddenly so many things become unimportant and nigh-on irrelevant – and what happens is what I can only call a ‘grace’ – a parental grace which I doubt would have been available or so fulfilling if things hadn’t been so tough and so critical – it becomes well? a thrusting to the fore of priorities and an immense strengthening of parental/child bonds and sibling bonds – the situation forces a collaboration and an emotional sympathy and responsibility – you need another pair of hands to help with the bathing or the laundry or the housework – well? the toddler becomes the ‘executive officer’and assistant nurse and mummy’s/ daddy’s little helper. And exigents really lose all their glamour – when it comes to social interaction it’s not the nature/luxury of the event – it’s the ability to interrelate – the tiny things become important, the meaningful gestures, the little kindnesses you’d normally not think about. I’d say the whole ‘nightmare scenario’ made me a better person – and created a relationship [virtually unspoken] with my kids which is utterly unbreakable. And it may sound really daft but the kids benefit from it too because allocating attention time becomes totally unfeasible – they’re just around – and therefore due to time restrictions and downright necessity discipline becomes a critical imperative issue for expediency’s sake – you haven’t got time to pander, but nor have you time to ignore not not be involved in their lives because they’re by necessity part of yours – what develops is a lifelong conversation and a rapid ‘intensive training’ in understanding and empathy within the child; and if finances are tight they learn quite rapidly to really appreciate what they’re given and the little things no longer have a superficial nonchalant dismissal – they’re cherished! And this may sound ridiculous as well but it’s also a wonderful intellectual adventure – it changes the way you think – it makes you more cognisant of the priorities, of the relevant issues, and your imagination and dreams soar around it…

    So yes – if you are pregnant – it’s going to be a bloody rough rollercoaster – but I mean this in all sincerity – Chesterton was right when he said adversity was merely an adventure seen from the wrong end – whatever physical, emotional and financial mountains to climb await you – it is NOTHING in comparison to the ways that gift of new life and the way it will so revolutionise all your lives for the better…I can promise you it – because I’ve been there….

    Yeah sure you’ve so many worries rushing round your head about the very pregnancy and delivery itself – you may be terrified now but I’m promising will simply be swept away with the whole priority of a baby coming and the weirdest phenomena I’ve never not seen in a pregnant woman – a ridiculous hyper altruism and concern for everyone around them – even when they’ve got an aching back, swollen ankles, heartburn that doubles them up they’ll still ask questions like ‘I wonder if Mr Wilson at no.42 has anyone to help him with the garden now his wife’s died?’ Or having a hundred things to do and still stopping in the street to inquire how everyone is and getting them to lay all their burdens on them. I won’t deny it IS going to be a major concern for you but your mind will go into priority mode; worry more about Robin nervously smiling at you and trying to cheer you up while he’s going to the toolshed or the car to have a panicky cry to himself and then returning to you with a smiling face. I’ve a big family and have been a pastoral assistant so I’ve seen it happen scores of times and heard hundreds of the same gorgeously tear-inducing worry-filled stories – it’s LOVE ma’am – and it takes all manner of different guises….

    Now you don’t even know if you’re pregnant yet so I’m going to provide you with maybe a few things which might help distract you until you know for sure….

    Primarily you need to know that being ‘regular’ and late is not very relevant ; you’re somewhat stressed over the possibility so that can delay menstruation – plus you’re in Wales with a different water supply which can screw up the trace minerals in your endocrine system and brain triggers and delay the menstruation process. The most regular trigger is a specific copper/zinc ratio therefore even a dietary change or a tummy bug or a change in meal hours or social activity/sleeping patterns/missing meals /alcohol intake/lack of protein intake to regulate blood sugar can shift the process – plus you’ve said you’re still breastfeeding which means you’re prone to a few things – sorry to be personal but do you get cystitis – that can screw up menstruation cycles by up to 10 days! Similarly yeast infections around the time of ovulation alter the pH so significantly it can cause delays too. There’s also annother factor which can delay menstruation and it’s a ok ..has your husband engaged in any strenuous activity or left any sweaty workclothes/gymclothes around or have you spent any time in the presence of a pregnant women or young teenage girls? Or have you started re-wearing clothing you last wore while in early pregnancy? This may all sound ridiculous but Pheremones and cortisol receptors can also screw up menstruation.

    Secondly there is no such thing as clockwork – the whole process might take an average amount of time but each woman is different at different times of the year and ovulation can waver around the median accordingly – hence if you’re going to use NFP you need to do an intensive study regarding how you work – to be honest any woman who really wishes to space out her pregnancies with NFP should have a TMA [trace metal analysis] which can actually help pinpoint how your system works and how you’re built [whether there is an assymmetry in pre & post ovulation etc – so any delay can be attributed to external factors as mentioned above.

    Thirdly for God’s sake do not trust the NFP advice you get in church halls or pamphlets or in little talks or ‘theology of the body’ workshops and ‘helpful’ well-intended but unscientific websites. They get the facts wrong. For instance many of these will tell you sperm lives up to 72 hours – not true – if the man has a good diet and genes the sperm can live well into the fifth day. Their advice ‘calendars’ and temp regulating advice etc don’t work for everyone so it’s much better to spend a little bit of money on the luteinising hormone/oestradiol testers for a few months.

    Hey – your family above all should be fully aware that you’re in God’s hands and you’re soooooo bloody precious to Him that he’s going to make life so bloody graced for you lot – not necessarily in the restful peaceful way you might appreciate once in a while – but in ways which will make you feel blessed and cherished and give you the resilience and family connections that will be so overwhelming and it will be impossible to sever – trust me – so many of your contemporaries are going to be soooo jealous of the relationships you have with your teenage kids. Just remember that there is absolutely NOTHING on God’s earth which is stronger than gentleness; and nothing more gentle than real strength – and your family are going to possess it in bucket-loads…

    Will be praying long and hard for all of you – but I’m not going to worry about you – despite all the towering obstacles ahead of you you are going to be fine! Because God wants it that way – you’re all too precious. Stay adorable x P.

  3. It’ll be ok, it’ll be ok, it’ll be ok, it’ll be ok, it’ll be ok. It will. Kind to lovely to see smart woman breaking the omertà and acknowledging hell of pregnancy and early motherhood. It’s rough, no two ways about it. But it’ll be ok it’ll be ok it’ll be ok. And stating the obvious but don’t forget all your children will be a little older and easier than they are now when next one comes. Sending you love and doves and happy balloons in celebration of new baby news. It’ll be ok xxxxx

  4. Ummmmmm… I refuse to accept any responsibility for what you and hubby got up to…


    But seriously, I’ll be praying for you all. It could still be a false positive. If not, you will cope with the challenge. Hang on in there!

    1. Thanks Mac. Due date is the 15th August!!! Which seems providential as that was the date I discovered I was expecting Felicity.

      I don’t think those digital ones give a false positive…

  5. Can’t think of the right way of expressing joy at a new life while recognizing your struggles…

    So I’ll just pray for you and your family: prayers of thanksgiving and prayers for support.

  6. I reckon the baby is God’s. Robin has clearly been cuckolded and you will give birth to the new messiah. And to think you’ve been abstaining too; and attending Mass. Praying for you at this difficult time.

  7. I was moved by this tale. What causes us the most stress in life is not necessarily the multitude of responsibilities and activities that make claims upon our time and energies. Indeed I often find I am my most productive when I am under pressure. Even a sense of being burdened by the weight of competing responsibilities and tasks is not always stressful if we feel we are in control. It is the sense of lack of control or of being subject to the whims of others (or nature!) that can be very stressful indeed. I have found in my own work in palliative care that when a person decides to end further chemotherapy and refuse attempts at ‘cure’ or extension of life, they are often far, far more at peace with their situation, because, for once (after months or years of having their lives dictated by doctors, nurses, drug regimes and tumours) they are in control. At present I should imagine that your ‘stress’ is considerable simply because huge and life changing events have occurred beyond your control.

    Your situation reminded me of what I used to call ‘God ratcheting it up…’ a term I applied to events I noticed more when living within the cloister – but which I have noticed in life this side of the Enclosure Door also. i.e. I might find myself thinking or saying to a fellow brother that we should do ‘so and so’ or noting that ‘such a way of living’ is what we are called to live… And then, a few days later I would find that circumstances had contrived to ‘test’ my conviction – or at least let me walk a mile in another’s shoes to comprehend their viewpoint or what burdens other’s carry. I suppose here there are echoes of Lk 6: 37 &38 – or (outside of Christianity) the notion of Karma or reciprocation. In short, when you tie up and hand out burdens to others (either figuratively or in actuality) you often find that you get loaded with the same burden a few weeks or months down the line.

    I have found the best way forward is to accept the ‘lesson’ and move on. The grave mistake is to either become proud of one’s humility (a sort of religious oxymoron) or one’s achievement at carrying the new found burden. If, after carrying his Cross, Christ had said ‘I can do it, so why can’t you?’ the Christian religion would have stuttered to halt before it had even begun. The final words of the priest at the end of confession are: ‘Go in peace, the Lord has put away your sin; and pray for me a sinner…’ (from memory – please forgive me if I’ve not quite got it right). I think these words sum up what it is to be a Christian: we have our purpose, but we also have the reality that we are imperfect and are nothing except through the Grace and Forgiveness of God. We have to accept that the failings and limitations of others will be matched (and often outdone) by our own. This doesn’t mean that we should be passive, or silent, or not exhort others to lead ‘better’ lives; but we can only do this from a place of humility. Here lies the problem because we cannot know when we are humble – otherwise there is the temptation to take pride in that humility. True humility is hidden from its owner. It is often through the trials and situations of life that this humility is wrought – yet for it to bear fruit it cannot be possessed purely for the gratification of the self (there is nothing wrong with taking pride in one’s achievements, it is when we become ‘Little Jack Horners that the problems start!).

    What I am saying is that although your present situation is pretty dire, your own way forward is to accept it with grim determination and try not to either take pride in your achievements (because, you and I know, you will ‘master’ this situation – despite the incomprehensible (or perhaps all too comprehensible) and daunting challenge of what lies ahead). Nor burden yourself with a disabling self-pity that itself can turn into an energy sapping and destructive inverted pride.

    This may seem like cold comfort – and in truth it is! But something will emerge from it that at present you cannot see (and perhaps might never see – tho’ others will see it for you). You are in my thoughts and prayers, but my ‘gut’ feeling, is that you will turn this situation to your advantage – but moreover the advantage of others. So I will end with ‘congratulations’ – tho’ I know the sentiments will seem pretty hollow at present.

    @Paulpriest: ‘ For instance many [NFP leaflets] will tell you sperm lives up to 72 hours – not true – if the man has a good diet and genes the sperm can live well into the fifth day.’

    I thought both figures conservative and found this on the NHS website which states sperm can live up to seven days in a woman’s body. In fact (not mentioned in the link) the few sperm that make it to the fallopian tubes can be ‘cared for’ by a woman’s body and placed into a sort of suspended animation for a few days until ovulation occurs.

    Peter Denshaw

  8. Congratulations! Maybe God is giving you ‘time out’ from the priestly life for a reason, and perhaps you’ll only understand why with the benefit of hand-sight…who knows. Either way, prayers for a healthy pregnancy and don’t be afraid: I’m sure it’ll all be okay!!!

  9. Have been keeping your family in prayer & will continue to do so.
    You are an inspiration of humanity & faith. To bravely & publically face this, admit the struggle and hold firm to the faith is a real witness & is martyrdom.
    We have some positive tests lying around the house at the mo. also. We hadn’t been as careful as you but in the second half of our 40’s and with the youngest of our large brood now 5.5 yrs, we thought we were “past it”. With a less than 50/50 chance of a live birth at the end (age related miscarriage), we aren’t going public till a 12 viability (not neuchal fold) scan. Sharing a lot of your feelings re looking silly. Although we’d love another, not sure how we’ll cope day to day, but we will, whatever.

    I read somewhere once, a long time ago, that some experts believe up to 7% of women ovulate in response to intercause.

    Anyway, science aside, I’m sure that both our situations are blessings from God, in some form. May His will be done.

  10. My goodness. I wish you luck and will pray for you.

    Mother Teresa said “I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish he didn’t trust me so much.”

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