This morning as I was about to enter our midwife’s office I saw her again. The blonde woman I had seen hanging around our street a number of times aimlessly. As I walked past her I said a friendly hello and asked if I could help her with anything. She was a little startled and as she quickly walked on she said something along the lines of “if only it were so”. That intrigued me and the phrase kept running through my head all day.
The next time I saw her I asked her what she had meant by that answer. She told me that she had been trying to get pregnant for three years and that unfortunately it still hadn’t worked out. That she thought it was such a nice and happy little street with all those babies and beautiful pregnant bellies. Midwives suddenly sprinting out of the practice building with full bags to run to a delivery. She even knew that when the flag hung out at the Birth Hotel, another new baby had been born in the Birth Alley. Being around here made her feel a little part of it.
I asked her what all she had tried to get pregnant, to which she replied “do you have a minute?”. I didn’t because my consultation hour was about to begin. I asked her if she might like to come and have a quiet talk about her attempts to get pregnant. We could then make an appointment at our “child-bearing consultation hour. She agreed and a week later she could come for an appointment.
Gea, her name, appeared to have decided, together with her husband Peter, not to do any “tomfoolery” as she called it in order to get pregnant. If it didn’t work out spontaneously, they agreed to accept it. Still, Gea looked very unhappy and was almost in tears as she told her story. It turned out that she had read up on the subject. She had been charting her menstrual cycle for the past two years and had figured out what her fertile days were. I asked her during the consultation to get a good idea of what might be going on.
It turned out that Gea had a very irregular cycle and that Peter also flew all over the world because of his work as a pilot and was regularly away from home for long periods of time. Gea was often able to go with him because of her work as a freelance journalist, but she hadn’t really done that in the last year. She told me that she took the 14th day of her cycle as the fertile day. She told me that she had also read that you could have other symptoms that could tell you were fertile but that she had never been able to detect that properly in herself.
I told her that her 14th day was not completely reliable due to her irregular cycle. You have ovulation and then 2 weeks later, if no fertilization took place, you get your period. So if your cycle is, say, 5 weeks then you were fertile 3 weeks after your first day of that last period. I also told her that just before ovulation the vaginal discharge becomes very clear and sticky. Furthermore, around your fertile days you often feel more like sex. Nature is thus helping reproduction a hand!
HELP OF AN OVULATION TEST
Since Gea’s cycle was really very irregular, I suggested she use an ovulation test. I told her that that really wasn’t a “frat” and that it could help her determine when she was fertile. At least it would show whether she had ovulation at all. I gave her some more tips and after an hour and a half she walked out the door with quite a bit of homework. We agreed that she would call me if she needed follow-up appointments.
I first heard from her again four months later. Jolanda, our assistant, said I received greetings from a certain Gea, who was looking for a midwife. I called her right away and got an overjoyed Gea on the phone who told me she had taken a pregnancy test yesterday and it was positive. She hadn’t expected it at all because Peter had been away a lot again, but when she still hadn’t gotten her period after 8 weeks and had sore breasts, she took a test anyway. She said she had been feeling sick promptly and had also been uncomfortable for two weeks, but that no light had come on before because she was used to such an irregular cycle.
She was over the moon and couldn’t believe her luck. She told me that Jolanda had already scheduled a first check-up appointment with me in just over a week. I can’t wait!
Mary-Elliz Sheridan werkt sinds 1990 als verloskundige. Zij is mede oprichter van het Geboortecentrum en eigenaar van het Geboorte- en Kraamhotel. Zij heeft zo’n 3000 bevallingen begeleid en is zelf moeder van 3 volwassen kinderen.
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