Penny’s Story

Here is the narrative, which we call “Okay. Here’s a bottle. I’m going to sleep.”

Penny and Her Family

Penny and Her Family

Once I left for college I started my life anew. My grades improved drastically and I found value in building a career for myself. During this time having children never even crossed my mind. Looking back now I realize it was because I never had a maternal figure to look up to or learn from. Also, I surrounded myself with friends who were in relationships were the end goal was not marriage. 

Within my group of peers I was considered normal, throughout all my twenties, to not be married nor have children.

In my late twenties I began a serious relationship with an American who was getting his Ph.D at Melbourne University where I was in school. I moved to Chicago with him once he finished his degree and eventually the relationship dissolved. I stayed in America and in my early thirties met my future husband, Brian. The relationship I had with him was different from all the others. He came from a stable family and was well grounded. It wasn’t till I met him that I even thought of having children.  Before we got married I told him that I wanted to have children as soon as we were married due to my age and being a Type 1 diabetic. I needed to have this conversation because he was 6 years younger than me and I needed to know he was committed. He was more than happy to and after we got married we started growing our beautiful family. I gave birth to our first child, Chloe, at age 35. We were still living in Chicago and that was where I received my care.

My experience with my doctor could be best defined as clinical and non-attentive.

I noticed my AMA label and was just required to have weekly routine checkup appointments. My doctor did a poor job of communicating to me the developments of my pregnancy and my concerns with Type 1 diabetes. He didn’t feel the need to inform me because he felt I should just trust his decisions.

Audio File

 Penny Describes Her First Pre-Natal Experiences

As a result of this poor relationship, I experienced noticeable symptoms that were overlooked. During the third trimester, I was experiencing painful edema in my legs and while leaving my appointment a nurse pulled me aside and said I needed further testing. It turned out she saw that I had characteristic signs of preeclampsia and was the one to bring it to light. My experience after was mostly a blur.   I had gone from just going through the swing of things without explanation to being in a serious predicament. I received steroids to help develop my baby’s lungs so that I could give birth as soon as possible as to prevent me from having a stroke. I finally had the cesarean when Chloe was at 36 weeks gestation. She was kept in the NICU in order to monitor her lungs and her blood glucose level since I was a diabetic. I wasn’t able to see her until three days after giving birth and only saw instant photos (polaroids) from what Brian took.

Afterwards complications still arose. I ended up getting an infection from my cesarean and Chloe had an infection in her hand from the I.V. The damage to her hand was so severe that she almost needed plastic surgery. Thankfully both infections cleared without any permanent damage. This time was particularly tough for me though. I was only able to stay with her for 16 weeks and it was hard parting since we had both been through such an emotional ordeal. I really wasn’t ready to drop her off at daycare and start working again but I didn’t have a choice.

Later on at age 40 I gave birth to my son Elliot. This pregnancy was definitely a different experience than my first pregnancy. Before I became pregnant with my son I attended a yoga class where there were other moms that described their pregnancies in passing. They reflected on their pregnancies with positive memories and support. It was then I realized what I had been missing. Since I was new to Austin, a friend from the class recommended a doctor that she had a great experience with. After meeting with him I knew he was just what I needed. He communicated well and helped me create a medical team to support me throughout my pregnancy. He recommended me to a specialist who helped plan my diet and keep my A1C in check.  Once the time for delivery came I had a planned cesarean and everything went smoothly. The only hiccup after was my son wasn’t able to breastfeed. When he was in the NICU to monitor his blood glucose he got used to the taste of formula. I tried everything to get him to feed and had to resort to using formula. The upside was that I could say to Brian “Okay. Here’s a bottle. I’m going to sleep.” 

I learned to roll with the punches though and let go of my ideal expectations of motherhood.

 

Audio FilePenny Talks about the Challenge of Breastfeeding

I have definitely been through my share of ordeals. I still have to manage my diabetes and get chronic fatigue from time to time. Anytime I need a break to rest Brian is always there to step in with bath time or mowing the yard. It is also hard to work full time as a social worker in a medical setting and not see my kids as often as I would want. We are working on are savings so that I can work just four days a week to stay home with the kids more. With all of life’s challenges, though, I have been very resilient and retained a positive spirit. What ultimately gets me through is the love for my family and the love the have for me.

Chloe and Elliott

Chloe and Elliott

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