Back in January, I enjoyed a night out with my colleagues, several of whom have firmly crossed the line from “work friends” to just “friends”. It was a fabulous night with good company, good food and more than just a little bit of alcohol. Quite a lot of alcohol, in fact. It was one of those nights where time, and drinks, passed without my really noticing. Adding it up the next day, I realised that I’d consumed the best part of two whole bottles of wine. And boy did I suffer for it, in a way I’ve not experienced for longer than I care to remember. Since well before Thomas. Well before our wedding. In fact, our engagement party was possibly the last time I had drunk anywhere near approaching this amount, and suffered a hangover of similar magnitude. I enjoy alcohol but I’ve never been a heavy drinker, or binge drinker, preferring little and often, accompanied by food and or friends. I’ve never understood the rationale behind going out to deliberately get drunk and make yourself feel that awful. That weekend in January was a shock to my system.
We were already trying for a baby back then. And I’d already made a number of lifestyle changes – not least the move back towards the obsessive glycaemic control demanded by pregnancy, which is something that needs to be done day-in, day-out. It doesn’t work if you only pay attention to diabetes during the two-week-wait between ovulation and a
positive pregnancy test your period arriving. Alcohol – well, not so much. I was avoiding alcohol for the latter half of the two week wait on the basis that even if I were pregnant, prior to implantation, alcohol is very unlikely to affect a developing foetus. And it’s not like I was ever drinking more than a couple of glasses of wine at a time, at the very most.
But after my January hangover cleared, I began to wonder if it could be something that was affecting our ability to conceive. After all, feeding alcohol in to our bloodstream is not something which can be deemed “necessary” or an essential contribution to general well being (no matter how much we claim it “relaxes us”) and therefore its absence could definitely do no harm, but its presence forms a rather large question mark.
So beginning in February of this year, I started to cut alcohol out almost completely. There have been a handful of special occasions – weddings, anniversaries, reunions and the like – that have called for the odd glass of wine. And there have, especially more recently, been the “Let’s share a bottle of wine because my period has arrived. Again” moments. But for the most part I’ve avoided it. To begin with, people automatically assumed that I was pregnant. And as the months passed and they realised I was telling the truth that I’d simply cut it out because I wanted to, I realised that
when if I do get pregnant, I’ve created the perfect cover. (Not drinking tipped more thank few people off to my first pregnancy!)
But enough time for a full term pregnancy has passed since then, and I’m still firmly un-pregnant. And in the last few weeks I’ve begun a gentle slide from the high driving seat of the road-to-pregnancy wagon. Our glass recycling pile has grown threefold. A wine box has taken up residence in our fridge once more making it easy to accompany dinner with a small glass every night, if I so choose.
And honestly, I usually do.
It’s not the only thing to slide either. The folic acid And vitamin D that I once took religiously has become a little hit and miss. And perhaps most importantly of all, that super tight glycaemic control is no longer as super tight as it once was. The relentlessness of keeping blood glucose levels within such narrow margins, testing, checking, correcting, monitoring is wearing thin. There are never any true breaks in diabetes, but as I’ve said before, the stakes are higher when you are pregnant or trying to conceive and it makes it that much harder when you’re not doing it only for yourself and your own long term health. Right now, I’m running out of rope and although my control is technically “good enough” for pregnancy, it’s nowhere near as good as it was a year ago. Or when I conceived Thomas.
When I dwell on that, the guilt creeps in. I worry that if this is finally the month, that I won’t have been fair to my unborn child and that I won’t have created the best environment or given them the best opportunity that I can to be safe and healthy. That this is another price to pay for waiting so long to get pregnant, but a price that will ultimately be paid not by me, but by the child I long to conceive.
Somehow, though, even this isn’t enough motivation to get me back on the straight and narrow. I feel guilty that no matter how much I long for this baby, it still doesn’t seem to be enough to help me continue to do what I’ve been doing for all these months. Selfish it may be, but I feel a bitter twinge of regret at all the wasted hours of effort. I recognise that I’m burned out, by diabetes in particular. Burnout is nothing new for this thirty year veteran of chronic illness. But I can’t help but wonder if it means that another baby isn’t as important to me as I’ve been thinking, feeling and saying.
Or perhaps this is simply a sign that I’m losing hope.
I’m just not sure where to go from here.