Wednesday, June 29, 2011

One More Week To Go

At this time next week, I will be having my 12 week ultrasound and (hopefully) watching my baby bounce around in my belly.  The Prince wasn’t at the last ultrasound, so he didn’t get to see our baby do its little dance last week.  I can’t wait to watch his face when he sees it.  Everything is so new and exciting to us.  I love sharing that with him.

I broke down and bought a home fetal Doppler to listen to the baby’s heartbeat.  Who am I kidding…there was no breaking down.  I never really had any intention of not buying one.  But I promised myself when I ordered it that I would not freak out if I didn’t hear the heartbeat early on.  I made a deal with myself that I would just use it for reassurance between ultrasounds. 

Well, the Doppler arrived on Monday.  I tried for half an hour a night, on Monday and Tuesday, to find the baby’s heartbeat.  I found mine with ease, so I know the Doppler works.  But I couldn’t find the baby’s.  I even filled my bladder as full as I could and tilted my pelvis in the air with four pillows, trying to get the uterus as far up into the abdomen as possible, in hopes that I could find the baby more easily that way.  No such luck.

I’m not exactly freaking out about the situation, but I am frustrated.  I still feel pregnant (whatever that means), so I am holding onto that.  Plus, the directions that came with the Doppler said that it can detect the heartbeat at 8 weeks, but will definitely find it by 12 to 14 weeks.  I am only at 11 weeks…so I’ve got a little ways to go before I can really be too concerned.  Still, I would be lying if I said that not hearing the heartbeat didn’t make me more impatient for next week’s ultrasound.

On a side note, my friend from Bring on the Babies could use a little extra support this week.  She has been so supportive to me and my fertility friends during our journeys.  It would be great if she got some extra bloggy love during her tough time.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Unwanted Accessory

Yesterday, I wore throw-up to an office training.  Yeah.  Classy.

The attorneys at my state agency were called in for an impromptu 2 ½ hour training at yesterday.  That’s not a great time of day for my stomach.  I tried to sit close to the door, but people kept asking me to move over (further away from the door), so that more people could fit into the room.  When they turned off the air conditioning so that the people in the back of the room could hear the speaker better, I knew I was in trouble.  Sure enough, about one hour into the training, I had to step on people’s feet as I ran for the bathroom (which, luckily, was across the hall from the training room).  There were two other women in the bathroom at the time, but I couldn’t concern myself with them.  After about 15 minutes of praying to the porcelain god, I sheepishly left the bathroom stall to find the two women waiting for me.  They offered to take me to the hospital or to drive me home and, although I’ve been trying to tame my tendency to tell relative strangers about my pregnancy, I didn’t want them to worry, so I had to tell them that I was okay…I was just pregnant.  They offered to get me crackers and ginger ale, or to run over to the adjacent building with a cafeteria and see if they could find me soup or juice.  They were so sweet, but I was so humiliated, I just wanted to get away from them.

I took the elevator the four floors down to my office, ate a few saltines and bought a bottle of ginger ale from a vending machine.  Then, realizing that my supervisor would likely be unhappy about my extended absence from the mandatory training, I went back to the hot, stuffy, crowded training room.  I got seated and looked up to find that everyone across the table from me was staring at me.  I assumed it was because I had left so abruptly, so I lowered my eyes to avoid their stares.  That’s when I saw it…two large yellow wet spots on my light pink blouse (which becomes see-through when wet).  Apparently, the two women in the bathroom were too concerned for my well-being to notice that I had thrown-up on myself, or perhaps they were just too embarrassed to mention it.  Either way, I don’t think there was much question in my coworkers’ minds about what was on my shirt.  Humiliated, I again stepped over everyone and went back to the bathroom to try to wash my blouse (which then became even more see-through).  I don’t know why I didn’t look in the mirror earlier…probably because I was trying to escape from the two kind women from the bathroom.

I returned to the training room just as the presenter was finishing up.  I was afraid that I was going to get in trouble for missing so much of the training.  I couldn’t stand the idea of having to explain to my supervisor what had happened.  So, I was really pleasantly surprised when she came over to me and asked, in a whisper, whether I was alright.  She didn’t mention my shirt (which I was very grateful for) and she said that I didn’t need to worry about the training.  Later, I overheard some buzz around the office about whether I had a stomach bug or was pregnant, but no one actually confronted me about what happened and no one has really treated me any differently since the incident. 

Interestingly, looking back on the situation today, I am not really as upset by what happened as I normally would be.  Don’t get me wrong, the ordeal was REALLY embarrassing at the time.  But in a weird way, I am kind of grateful that it happened because it made me realize what a great position I am in right now.  Even though I wore throw-up to an office meeting, no one has been rude to me about it.  The two women in the bathroom, whom I had never met before that experience, were willing to leave work to take me to the hospital or home.  I’m a complete stranger to them…but they are so kind that they didn’t hesitate to offer their assistance.  If I heard someone retching in the bathroom, I have to admit that I would have just run to another bathroom before I suffered the same fate as the retcher.  Not these women…they were better than I am.  Then there’s my supervisor.  If this happened at the firm I used to work for, I would have been chastised by the partners.  They had little tolerance for any sickness or the need for special accommodations.  In contrast, in my current job, when my supervisor found out I was pregnant, she offered to allow me to park in a handicap parking spot, right next to the building, whenever I find that I am no longer able to make the walk from the parking garage to our building.  She offered to get a laptop for me so that I could work from home, giving me the peace of mind that, even if I am put on bed rest, I won’t lose my income leading up to the baby’s birth.  I know that this reaction by an employer is not the norm.  I know that I am blessed to work with, and for, such amazing people.  It is unfortunate that it took wearing throw-up to a meeting to really make me fully appreciate what a gift I’ve been given, but I think that sometimes that is how life works.  Although I hope I never have to wear throw-up again (at work or otherwise), this one time…I’ll take it.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Morning Madness

It’s another one of those “wake-up at 4:00 a.m. in full-on worry mode” mornings.  That means it is likely going to be a “fall asleep at your desk if you aren’t careful” afternoons.  I am literally rationalizing why it is okay for me to just get up for the day right now, by reminding myself that I can be back in bed, napping, 12 hours from now.  Not a great way to start the day.

I had hoped my early morning panics would subside throughout the pregnancy.  I used to have them all the time when I was dealing with infertility.  Sometimes due to fear over how a cycle was progressing (or failing to progress), sometimes due to fear over the possibility of never getting pregnant, and sometimes due to the emotional upheaval that took place in my marriage during the dark years.  Once I got pregnant, I woke-up with fear over losing the pregnancy...or with those strange hormone-related nightmares.   I’m starting to sneak past the miscarriage fear, but there is always a replacement, isn’t there?  If you are the type of person that I am (a habitual worrier), even when you conquer one fear, there is always another waiting to replace it. 

This morning’s fears are ridiculous and premature.  I know that.   But the knowledge doesn’t stop my heart from pounding and my stomach from feeling sick with anxiety.  At my appointment with Dr. B, last week, she told me that if I hadn’t gotten my sick stomach under control by the end of the week, I would have to start drinking Ensure.  For those of you not familiar with Ensure, it is a very dense, nutrient-rich, canned creamy shake of sorts.  It is frequently taken by people who have just undergone stomach bypass surgery or by the elderly.  I’ve had to take it on two occasions, when illnesses landed me in the hospital for malnutrition.  It is not a pleasant-tasting drink.  In fact, I had difficulty forcing myself to drink it when I wasn’t experiencing severe food aversions and nausea.  Dr. B acknowledged as much and told me that I didn’t have to drink a whole can at a time, just a little bit on ice throughout the day.  But she was adamant that the pregnancy was reaching a point where the baby is actually needing nutrients from me…nutrients that I just can’t give it right now if I’m not able to take in more food.  I’m still down 15 pounds from when I got pregnant, which is better than the 20 pounds I was down a week ago when I needed IV fluids, but not great for the end for the third month of pregnancy.

I thought I was feeling better, as Friday and Saturday I was keeping most of what I ate down with the help of Zofran.   But apparently it was just one of those temporary “teaser” reprieves that early pregnancy occasionally sends my way because yesterday things were back to the status quo.  So, I have to come to grips with the fact that I need to drink Ensure, for the sake of the baby, even though I really hate that stuff.  Why is this keeping me awake at night?  I have no idea.  It isn’t like I have to eat live scorpions or lay in a snake pit…it’s a drink.  But still, I think my Negative Nelly tendencies have my mind off to the races, jumping from “you aren’t meeting your babies nutritional needs” to “your body is already failing the baby, just like it has failed you in the past” to “what if you can’t do this?”  That last question goes beyond my ability to stomach the Ensure, I think.

My second fear deals with my baby registry, which I started last night.  I thought it would be so much fun for my plan-loving self.   But it hasn’t been fun so far.  I am afraid that I am choosing the wrong stores to register at.  I’m afraid that I am choosing things I won’t need or forgetting about things that I really will need.  I’m frustrated that about half of my registry is on hold because I don’t know the baby’s gender now, and won’t know the baby’s gender for another two months, so I can’t yet choose gender appropriate items or my nursery theme.  I’m concerned about how quickly the “big ticket” items are adding up and about how long my registry is going to end up being.  I’m not even at 11 weeks.  Most people haven’t started thinking about their registries yet.   But I can’t stop thinking about mine…and it’s not fun!

Looking back at the beginning of this blog, I know I need to get my butt to a prenatal yoga class (a daunting prospect when napping and throwing up are your two most common activities).  I need to get a good pregnancy meditation CD and use it.  I need to grab those moments, which are now an everyday occurrence (thank God), when I feel nothing but love and joy and gratitude for my pregnancy.  I need to hold onto those moments and find a way to use them as a light to chase away the darker emotions that always want to snuggle in beside me.  I know what I need to do, but like drinking the Ensure, I just can’t seem to bring myself to do it.    

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Bargains For Baby

The universe works in mysterious ways. Apparently, that saying is equally true in relation to shopping.

Yesterday, for the first time in many years, I decided to go “yard sale'ing.” I did my online research ahead of time to determine who was having “baby items” yard sales in the more upscale neighborhoods in the area. I tried to rank the yard sales as most likely to be fruitful for my shopping, and I assembled a list of which sales I would visit and in what order. At 8:00 a.m., I plugged the first address into my GPS and away I went.

I pulled up to that house and felt some bizarre nervous excitement inside of me. I had caught a glimpse of baby things as I drove by the house and, for a second, I considered not stopping. I felt like buying baby items right out in public might be tempting fate too much. But, as I have committed to my “shop for it and the baby will come” mantra, I parked the car and walked up to the sale. I saw a young woman, about my age, setting up the sale with the help of an older woman. Both looked vaguely familiar. When the older woman turned around, I saw that it was my secretary from the firm that I had worked at for five years.

She and I had become friends at work, but we fell out of touch after I left the firm a year ago. It was to wonderful to see her again. She had been very aware of my struggle with infertility, as she had to know what my IVF cycle schedules were so she could keep my calendar clear on the appropriate days. She was always very discreet and very supportive, crying with me when things didn't go well, which was every time. During my battle, she had told me about her daughter-in-law who had struggled with recurrent miscarriages, but was 8 months pregnant and on bed rest by the time I left the firm. As it turned out...I was at the daughter-in-law's yard sale!

Both women were so excited for me when I told them that I was actually looking through baby items for myself...not to find a gift for someone else. We hugged (and I am NOT a hugger), danced around and squealed like little school girls. Then, I went bargain hunting.

I got a diaper pail (and a box of bags for it). The diaper pail retails for $25.00. I bought it for $2.50. It is used but, let’s be real, it's going to hold dirty diapers. If I bought it new, it would still be a dirty diaper holder. I also bought a swing that vibrates, swings and bounces the baby, and plays soothing sounds (not all at the same time, in case you were worried). The swing sells for $150.00 in stores. I paid $20.00 for it. And the best deal of the day was a Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Jumperoo, which retails for $120.00. I got it for free!!! My secretary and her daughter-in-law gave me the Jumperoo as a baby gift from their family.

What were the odds that, out of dozens of yard sales in the area to choose from, I would decide to start my adventures in yard sale'ing at the home of someone that I know and care for? The Prince is a big believer in randomness and coincidences, but I have a tendency to see some bigger design in things. I feel like I needed to have that very positive experience yesterday morning, so that I would feel okay about my decision to shop for baby things so early in the pregnancy and so that I would feel okay about buying second-hand items for my baby. Could it be a coincidence that I was given exactly what I needed in such an unlikely way?

I also have to add that I was able to buy, at another location, a $300.00 crib for $75.00, and a $250.00 co-sleeper for $100.00. Both were still in their original boxes because a grandmother had bought them to have at her house for her grandson, but her daughter and grandson moved out of state right after the grandson was born. The woman selling to items was just thrilled that someone would finally get to use them...and I was thrilled that I was getting brand new items for less than half of what they were worth. Interestingly, that woman (who was even more chatty than I am) revealed to me that she had to use Clomid to get pregnant with her daughter, and her daughter had to use IVF to get pregnant with the grandson. Again, what are the odds?

I know it is tacky for me to talk about the prices of things and what I spent on them. I apologize if this post seems to be in bad taste. I am just so excited about how things unfolded this weekend, and the bargains are a part of that excitement. The Prince's family are die-hard bargain shoppers and, when I shared the details of my purchases with The Prince's mother, she said “You have truly become a part of the family. Congratulations.” It sounds silly...but that is how I feel. Like there was a perfect path set out for me this weekend, that I managed to follow it, and that I can be proud of what was accomplished...financially and emotionally. Congratulations to me.

Friday, June 24, 2011

When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Go Shopping.

I know that it is normal for women who are pregnant after going through infertility to experience significant fear and anxiety about their pregnancies.  When you are used to being part of the lucky 11% of couples who will have their lives disrupted by infertility, or part of the 1% of women who will be diagnosed with premature ovarian failure or diminished ovarian reserve, it is difficult to tell yourself that you won’t fall into the other groups that you never want to join.  For example 1-3% of American births involve some type of serious birth defect.  I think that, had I had a different background, I would say “Phew.  My baby has a 97-99% chance of being born with no significant problems.  Great odds!”  Instead, that statistic haunts me every day.  And I won’t even talk about the miscarriage statistics.    

I’ve read other women’s blogs…women in the midst of post-IF pregnancies, and I see a lot of the same concerns expressed.  However, it is amazing to me how differently women in very similar situations, experiencing the same fears, react to those fears.  Many women choose to keep their pregnancies quiet and not to tell many people about it.  Many women choose to refuse to allow themselves to acknowledge their fears… existing in a very deliberate and positive state of denial.  And then there is me. 

I am unable to keep my mouth shut about anything.  I am slowly realizing that more and more people know about my pregnancy, even though The Prince and I aren’t supposed to be telling anyone beyond immediate family for another two weeks.  It seems as though every time I get nervous about the pregnancy, I end up blurting our pregnancy news out to people (usually people I have very little contact with…which is humiliating).  I had been blaming pregnancy hormones, but other women have the same hormones coursing through their veins and they seem to be able to maintain a sense of self-control.  So…after thinking hard about the situation, I’ve come to the realization that “sharing” is one of my coping mechanisms.  I think that a part of me, buried very deep inside, believes that, if enough people know about the pregnancy, the pregnancy won’t go away.  I know how irrational that is, but I think it is what is at the heart of my “blurting” tendencies.

The other coping mechanism I’ve realized I’m using is the ever-popular retail therapy.  Or, maybe I should say retail-planning therapy.  I am starting the research for my baby registry and plan on starting the registry in the next couple of weeks.  I have picked out the nursery furniture I like.  I have decided on my baby shower theme.  I have started online shopping for the baby shower decorations, invitations and favors.  It feels like, if I plan enough for the baby’s arrival and for my baby shower (a celebration of the pregnancy nearing a successful conclusion), I’ll make it that far.  Nothing bad will happen.  If I stop planning and live in the moment, I will have to address the reality that this moment is fleeting and I can’t control what tomorrow will bring.  I prefer to continue with the comforting (and fun) distractions.

While doing my self-evaluation, I realized that I’m not the only one adopting this coping mechanism.  The Prince is doing the same thing I am.  This weekend, when I was having cramping and spotting, and we were worried about the health of the baby, The Prince started construction on the nursery…in earnest.  At the time I was too overwhelmed with concern for the baby to realize what was happening.  But now I see that he was focusing his nervous energy on a physical activity (his M.O.) and that he too (although likely subconsciously) believes in the “If you build it, [the baby] will come” philosophy/superstition.

Are we embracing the pregnancy or are we relying on a practical form of superstition to get us through this very scary time?  Are either one of those possibilities really that bad?  We are both functioning instead of spending our time stressing out about the “what if’s.”  Isn’t our way better?  Not better than the way others are dealing with these same issues, but better then the alternative for us (making ourselves sick with worry).  I think it is, and even if it is not…I’m still going to keep shopping.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Not Gone

There was something significant about Monday’s OBGYN appointment that I forgot to talk about. Actually, I didn’t truly forget. It was more like I ran out of room because the post was already becoming a short novel. I initially thought it would be better for me not to talk about “the other thing”…sort of a “stick your head in the sand and it will go away” strategy. But it hasn’t gone away and so, maybe talking about it is exactly what I need to do.

When I had the ultrasound on Monday, there was initially a scare. The technician tried to do an over-the-belly ultrasound but couldn’t see anything inside of the sac that was showing up. So, she moved to an internal ultrasound. Immediately, a large empty sac showed up. The technician and the nurse turned and looked at me and looked very relieved when I said “There was a twin that was lost early on, but I thought the sac had gone away.” It took the technician awhile to get around the empty sac, so that she could get a good look at the sac with the baby in it. I held my breath the whole time, terrified that there wasn’t an “other” sac…that the baby was just gone. I was so relieved to see our baby and its little heart flickering. But, after the ultrasound was over, I was also really sad that the empty sac was still there.

Apparently, at the fertility center, they did a good job at avoiding the empty sac, so it looked small on the ultrasound screen. But the ultrasound technician in Dr. B’s office didn’t know to avoid that sac, and so I got to see that it has continued growing. It is not “going away” like I was told. I’m not upset that I didn’t know or that I was potentially misled by omission. I’m only upset that there is still a reminder of what was lost inside of me. I’m upset that, at the next ultrasound I get, I will more than likely see that empty sac again…a visual representation of the void in my heart that I try so hard to forget about.

I asked the nurse that was in the room during my ultrasound why the empty sac was so big. She said that, in all likelihood, my body hasn’t recognized that the sac is empty yet. It will likely continue to grow until the baby that is alive needs the space, at which time the empty sac should go away. Even if it doesn’t, it won’t harm the baby. Am I an awful person for wanting the empty sac to just go away right now? It is physically painful to think that my body is refusing to recognize the loss that my heart is still struggling with. Every time I see the empty sac, there is a little part of me that struggles to see whether there is actually a tiny baby in there. Every time we listen to the baby’s heartbeat, a little part of me is listening for any trace of a second heartbeat. I guess maybe my body is just following where my mind is at…still in a bit of denial that one of our babies is gone. But maybe if my body took the lead and made that visual reminder of the loss go away, my mind could let it go too, so I could just be peaceful and happy with the amazing blessing I’ve been given.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

My First (Ever) OB Appointment

You can’t always get what you want.  But if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need…

After the first half hour of my appointment with my OBGYN, I couldn’t get that song out of my head.  I didn’t stop to think about why until I was lying in bed last night, trying to sleep.  At that point, the events of the day sunk in and I could see why my mind chose that song to fixate on.

When I arrived at the OBGYN’s office, at yesterday, but didn’t get to see the doctor (let’s call her Dr. B) until after   When I finally saw the doctor I was extremely anxious.  I had too much time to sit and think about the spotting and cramping over the weekend, and how The Prince wasn’t with me at the appointment, to get me home if the news was bad. 

When Dr. B entered the exam room, she brought this great, calming presence with her.  I blurted out what happened over the weekend and she told me she wasn’t overly concerned because the high level of progsterone I am taking can cause those symptoms.  I expected her to stop my appointment and say that she would talk with me more after doing an ultrasound to make sure the baby was okay, but she didn’t.  Instead, she forced me to sit and answer questions about my medical history, The Prince’s medical history, our families’ medical histories and the egg donor’s medical history.  She forced me to listen to all of the instructions about what to eat and not to eat, what activities to avoid and what activities to increase.  We talked about my hospital choice and how it is a great choice, but can be changed if I ever become uncomfortable with it (she has privileges at all three of the area’s hospitals).  We talked about how she performs all of her deliveries personally, unless there is an emergency, in which case there is only one other doctor that she allows to handle her clients.  She explained that she schedules her vacations around her clients’ due dates.  She only missed two births last year, and worked 351 days out of the year.  The whole time she was talking to me, I could feel my tension easing…but I still kept bringing up that I was worried about the baby and the pregnancy.  She just kept on making me talk about other issues.

I about died when she said there will be no ultrasounds between week 12 and week 20.  Dr. B explained that you don’t really learn anything by viewing an ultrasound between those weeks.  I blurted out “You learn if everything is okay with the baby…that it still has a heartbeat,” and I started crying.  Without getting angry with me or looking at me like I am a basket case (which I clearly am), she said that she understood my worry, although she didn’t share my increased concern.  She said that we will listen to the baby’s heart beat at 16 weeks and more often if I really need to.  She calmly but firmly explained that she sees no medical indication that I am going to be at a higher risk for losing the baby.  She did say that she won’t allow me to go to 40 weeks of pregnancy because, in her opinion, babies conceived through IVF shouldn’t go past their due date because the placenta becomes more compromised the further along the pregnancy progresses.  So, if I haven’t gone into labor by January 12, 2012 (the week 39 date), we will either induce or do a C-section.  Dr. B also said that I will likely be able to try natural childbirth.  I had previously been told that, because of my multiple uterine surgeries, I would have to have a scheduled C-section, because no doctor would take a chance of me going through labor.  Dr. B said that the three uterine suspensions (a procedure that she made it very clear that she is appalled that anyone would do anymore, as it is archaic in her opinion), will be pulled out during pregnancy and that my pregnancy and childbirth will likely be much more painful because my round ligament is currently tied off and stitched to other structures.  Dr. B strongly recommended that I begin considering what pain management methods I am comfortable with for labor and delivery, as I will likely need some assistance.  However, Dr. B likes to take the most natural route possible for bringing a baby into the world, within reason, and so she isn’t just jumping to a scheduled C-section.  

Dr. B also said that she feels the least invasive prenatal screening is appropriate right now, as we have worked too hard to have a baby to risk a miscarriage because of CV testing.  Dr. B only uses 3D ultrasounds and the ultrasounds at week 12 and week 20 will each last 45 minutes to an hour, so that every possible measurement can be taken.  Dr. B feels confident that the ultrasound testing, in combination with blood work screening, will provide a reliable assessment of the same things that a CV test would test for.  If anything comes up suspicious, Dr. B recommends an amniocentesis, rather than CV testing. 

When Dr. B essentially laid out what we were “going to do” instead of asking me what I wanted to do, I thought “this isn’t going to work…I need someone who will let me run the show.”  But then I realized that I actually trust Dr. B’s opinion and experience, so her confident approach may actually be the best thing for me.  Will I get frustrated when she tells me “no”?  Of course.  I am apparently still a petulant three year-old at heart.  But, will it be a relief to have the pressure of making all of the “right” decisions off my shoulders?  Oh yeah!

At the end of my appointment, as I was packing up to leave, Dr. B smiled and asked if I would like them to do a quick ultrasound for me…just to reassure me that the baby is okay.  If I was still had any doubt about whether Dr. B was the best fit for me, that moment eradicated the doubt.  I am amused that Dr. B appears to have used the “Dog Whisperer” technique on me (display a calm assertive nature until the agitated dog/patient becomes calm and then, after you are done interacting, reward the dog/patient with something it really wants). 

Dr. B’s ultrasound technician is one of the nicest people I have ever met.  A nurse came in “for moral support,” as she had heard that my husband wasn’t able to make it to the appointment.  And as I watched the giant ultrasound TV screen that is hung in front of the table…there was our baby…with a nice strong heartbeat…waving.  I know how crazy that sounds, but the nurse pointed to the waving hand and we actually have a couple of really great ultrasound pictures where you can make out the baby’s little fingers pointing up and then curled over.  I kept laughing an crying at the same time, as the baby would hold still for a few seconds and then wiggle like mad, kicking out its tiny, stubby little legs like a crazy person (apparently, the baby got The Prince’s dancing ability…or should I say…inability). 

Dr. B was right…about the baby being alright and, I want to believe, about our good chances of having a successful pregnancy.  She wasn’t the compliant “whatever you want” doctor I had wanted, but she just might be exactly what I need.  

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Bigger Fish To Fry

Yesterday, I was fretting about the various prenatal testing options and the decisions that come along with each of them.  As usually happens when I am getting ahead of myself on an issue, God (or the Universe…or whatever higher power you may believe in) put me in my place with a painful reminder that things are not as set in stone as I imagine them to be. 

Yesterday afternoon, I attended my work picnic.  I was uncomfortable sitting on the picnic table bench for two hours, but there was no pain or anything to indicate a problem.  But when I got home and went to the bathroom, there it was…spotting!  (TMI WARNING!!!!!!)  The spotting continued for a few hours and was mainly a light pink color…not like real blood.  But there was also a reddish-brownish CM-type substance that was of more concern to me…because I don’t remember ever having anything like that.  I cried on and off most of the evening, certain that I had somehow taken my pregnancy for granted and that we were now being punished for it…on The Prince’s birthday no less.  The Prince didn’t cry, but he was really upset and said “You can’t lose the baby.  We need a baby.”  He also said “I’m sure it’s fine,” about 50 times, but it was obvious from his tone that he was attempting to convince himself as much as he was attempting to comfort me. 

Pregnancy is difficult in that it is nearly impossible to know what is signaling a problem.  With infertility, the first couple of cycles were full of new scary symptoms, but I quickly made fertility friends and had friends or nurses to ask about issues as they arose.  While different medications have different side effects for different people, there is a lot of information on forums, fertility clinic websites, and even FDA inserts to explain what is normal and what is abnormal.  There is nothing similar to that for pregnancy.  If you type in any symptom and pregnancy together in Dr. Google (even something like tongue bumpy and pregnancy), you will get a slew of web hits that say the symptom is normal and a slew saying it is not.  I have the books Mayo Clinic Guide To A Healthy Pregnancy and What To Expect When You Are Expecting, and those books do not always agree about what is normal and what requires immediate medical attention.  Every pregnancy is so unique that talking to other women about what happened during their pregnancy isn’t really helpful either.  My sister-in-law had no morning sickness and my mother-in-law only had morning sickness a couple of times during two pregnancies.  If I compared my pregnancy, thus far, to their pregnancies, I would be convinced that something was wrong and I was dying. 

With that said, you have to take reliable information where you can get it.  I’ve followed along with the journeys of fellow IF’ers who have gotten pregnant over the last few months, and I have seen others who have had significant spotting that ended up being no cause for concern.  So, I am trying to tell myself that what I experienced last night was normal and is no indication that anything is wrong with the pregnancy or the baby.  Regardless of whether I am right (and at least I only have to wait until Monday to find out), the experience has been a wake-up call.  I allowed myself to get too comfortable in the pregnancy.  I thought that I was supposed to be confident that things would be fine and not worry the pregnancy away.  But must be there must be a happy medium that I’ve missed somewhere along the way.  There must be a way to stay vigilant enough that you don’t get ahead of yourself (with obsessive thoughts about CV testing, for example), but comfortable enough that you aren’t missing the beauty of the pregnancy.  I guess my next quest will be in search of that happy medium.

Friday, June 17, 2011

My Newest Obsession - Chorionic Villus Testing

Today is Friday.  Friday is ultrasound day.  And yet, I have no ultrasound today.  I was discharged from the fertility center last week and so now I have to wait for my first OBGYN appointment, next Monday, to get confirmation that everything is still going well inside my belly.  This was the first thing I thought about when I woke up this morning.  The second thing I thought was “Don’t forget to say happy birthday to your husband.”  But then my brain turned back to the ultrasound issue.  I’m not really freaking out the way I thought I would be, the thought is just there…in my mind…distracting me a little from the things I have to get done today.

Also distracting me is my obsession with whether I should get chorionic villus testing done.  I know it is going to come up at Monday’s appointment, as I will be almost 10 weeks along, and CV testing is performed between week 10 and week 12.  I’ve done my research.  The risk of CV testing causing a miscarriage is, at worst, 1 in 100.  But after what we have gone through to get pregnant, those odds worry me.  If it was Vegas, I would take that action in a heartbeat.  But this isn’t Vegas…this is my baby’s life.  The risk of miscarriage for an amniocentesis is the same, and that is done later in the pregnancy.  So my thought is, as we would definitely have the amnio if we didn’t do the CV test, it would be better to take the risk now…earlier in the pregnancy.  Plus, I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t psyched about the possibility of finding out the baby’s gender in a couple of weeks instead of a couple of months.

But I think the real question that people have to ask themselves when considering any of the prenatal tests is…will you do something differently if the test comes back positive?  If not, then why risk having the test done at all…as it will just cause worry and stress.  And here is where things get really scary for me.  The Prince and I talked about this issue before we got pregnant.  He made it very clear to me that he did not feel that he could raise a special needs child and that, if we found out through testing that our child had a severe birth defect or debilitating congenital condition, he would want to terminate the pregnancy.  I told him that I did not feel the same way, but I would respect his decision in that regard, as we have always approached pregnancy as a partnership.  Secretly, I have always hoped that when the time came, and he loved the baby growing in my belly, he wouldn’t be able to decide to terminate the pregnancy.  I don’t know where he stands now.  I know that he loves this baby already.  Some nights I think he talks to the baby more than he talks to me.  But I also know how strongly he felt about this issue before our infertility journey.  I’m afraid to bring the issue up because I think I know what his answer will be, especially because he has already expressed his opinion that we should get the earliest screening test available to us…within reason (he feels that the level of information should outweigh the miscarriage risk).  Would I be able to go through with a termination if the test came back with an unfavorable result?  I doubt it.  But I know this for sure, if I wait until I am half way through the pregnancy to find out with an amniocentesis that there is something wrong, there is no way that I would be able to terminate the pregnancy…even if it meant losing my marriage.

Hopefully, I will never have to make these tough decisions.  I’m only 32.  My husband and the donor are most likely both genetically squeaky clean, so there is no reason to think that something will go wrong.  But I think I would like to know sooner rather than later, so I am guessing that I will request the CV testing.  I still have three days (of obsessing) and a discussion with the OBGYN before I have to choose.  I just hope that, whatever I choose, it is the right choice for me, The Prince, and our baby.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Rare Sweaty Leopard-Wolf...In Her Own Words

I’ve tried to avoid any super pregnancy-related posts to date.  I don’t know that I’ve done a great job at that.  But, the fact is, I am pregnant and many of you reading this post are pregnant, have been pregnant or are going to be pregnant very soon.  I can’t avoid the topic forever.  So, I am venturing into the land of a purely-about-pregnancy post today, and hoping that I don’t lose my valued bloggy friends along the way.

I like to pride myself on knowing a lot about a lot of things.  I research things to death, long before I need to in most cases.  But, when it came to pregnancy, I think I was a little afraid to delve into the research too much.  My fear and sadness, when I was struggling through infertility, prevented me from really immersing myself into a pursuit of knowledge about what happens to your body during pregnancy.  What if I didn’t get pregnant?  Wouldn’t that knowledge hurt more? 

But now my pregnancy is a reality and I thought it might be helpful (or at least amusing) to share some of my weirder symptoms…the ones you don’t hear a lot about in passing.  My intent is not to complain, but to let others who might have these symptoms now or in the future know that you aren’t abnormal if you get hit with these things. 

  • Brown spots on my face – I now look like I had two little brown circles/leopard spots tattooed on my right cheek.  My doctor promised that they are because of hormone levels being funky and that the spots will fade after pregnancy (although they may never completely go away).  I wish they were in the shape of stars or hearts, so I could pretend that they are a cool throwback to glam-rock or something, but alas…I just look like I need a mother to come over and scrub two dirty spots off my face.

  • While on the topic of my face…I am beginning to look a bit like the Wolf Man.  First I noticed a few random hairs on my chin (that actually started during my IVF cycles).  I called them Billy Goat Hairs…trying to maintain a sense of humor about them.  I was not pleased when I went to have my eyebrows waxed and the person doing the waxing asked me if I would like my chin done, too.  I was horrified.  But that was not to be the worst of my humiliation.  On Saturday, as we were walking to the car, The Prince offered that perhaps I should start shaving my sideburns, as they were growing down the sides of my face.  It is not like my spreading hairline had escaped my attention, but I was hoping that I was just overly sensitive about it and no one else had noticed.  Apparently not!  The Prince tried the old “I was just kidding” routine, but that doesn’t really work after a 15 minute conversation about how I could potentially combat my morph into Cousin It.  Then, when I was having my eyebrows waxed yesterday, I told the person doing the waxing (who is also my good friend) about what my husband had said.  Instead of saying “What?!?  He doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” she said “Oh yeah!  You really need to have those waxed off.  I can’t believe how dark they are!  You are so pale…that doesn’t help.”  Gee thanks!!!  I didn’t break down and have them waxed.  I have read that my fuzzy-wuzziness is a hormone response and that the hair will fall out after I stop breastfeeding.  Here’s hoping.

  • Back pain – I know that back pain is a common pregnancy symptom, but I’ve only heard about it being an issue in the second and third trimester.  Mine started this week – Week 9.  I thought maybe it was because I am fat, or because I am holding my core differently to adjust to the strange feelings in my belly.  But an endocrinologist that I saw today told me that it is actually from the hormone imbalance that pregnancy causes.  My back pain isn’t back pain at all…it is posterior pelvic pain.  I guess the hormones make the bones in the pelvis soft so they can have more flexibility as the baby grows...and it hurts.  When the pain is around your's most likely pelvic pain.  Usually the bone-softening starts in the second trimester, but if you are getting lots of progesterone and estrogen supplements (like I am) it can happen sooner.  Yeah!  The pains will come and go throughout pregnancy, but should stop after the baby’s birth…only to be replaced by back pain from carrying around a baby, diaper bag, car seat, etc.  The doctor recommended that I start doing pelvic tilts to strengthen my core muslces and, potentially, to lessen the discomfort.

  • Sweating – I have become part leopard, part Wolf Man, and…apparently…part pig (or at least I sweat like one).  My internal thermostat is definitely broken.  I have air conditioning on me constantly and I also keep a fan blowing on me at my desk at work all day.  I drink iced drinks.  I put ice on my neck and back at night, when I am trying to sleep.  And still I sweat…so much that my bed feels like I peed it each morning, and my shirt has wet spots if I walk for more than a couple of minutes outside.  I’m not a petite girl, so I am not new to the idea of sweating more than my more dainty counterparts.  But this is an incredible amount of sweat.  I now sympathize with those poor guys who always have wet circles on the underarms of their dress shirts in court.  And…the added bonus is…with the more sensitive sense of smell I’m sporting…I am acutely aware of any body odor that I emit.  (Luckily this pregnancy sweat doesn’t seem to be too stinky, but if I could shower my whole body in clinical strength deodorant each day, I would).
These are but a sampling of my new, charming qualities.  Each of these symptoms were an unpleasant surprise for me, but they are also a daily reminder of the blessing I have in my belly.  Little Hamish (I’m trying to get back on board with “Hamish,” as The Prince refuses to let the joke go) is giving Mommy a run for her money, but I know that…even if I end up being a sweaty leopard-wolf for the rest of my life…Little Hamish will be worth it (probably will also be embarrassed to be seen in public with me, but still worth it).

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Old Demons

Today was the first day, since my pregnancy began, that I thought about the fact that my baby was conceived via use of an egg donor.  I was preparing for next Monday’s OBGYN appointment (my first), writing out questions and important things I don’t want to forget to tell the doctor, and I filling out the “new patient paperwork.”  I was filling out the section of the paperwork that involves my genetic history when it occurred to me…my genetic history doesn’t matter.  We have certain information about the donor’s genetic history, and I think that is what the doctor will want me to put down on our paperwork…not my history.  That got me thinking about Rh compatibility…and how we won’t know the baby’s Rh type without having an amniocentesis, as we don’t know whether the egg donor was Rh positive.  We don’t even know her blood type, just that she has no reported genetic problems in her family history.

Suddenly, my mind was barreling into that negative place it likes to go.  I pictured myself as a house for the baby to develop in…instead of “the mommy.”  I remembered that at our last ultrasound, when the nurse said “Your baby is cute as a button…Look how cute it is,” I had joked that “Of course it is.  It has such an attractive mother.”  I meant me.  It hadn’t even occurred to me at the time that, oh yeah, the baby isn’t going to look like me. 

So then, in addition to feeling marginalized in my role (which is OBVIOUSLY a very active role…but I couldn’t see that today), I started thinking about our donor and feeling guilty again.  I hadn’t mentioned this earlier, because I’ve tried not to think about it.  But, as soon as the donor finished our cycle, she withdrew from the program.  I cried when I found out…even though there is no way for me to know why she withdrew.  All I could think was that our cycle was so hard on her that she couldn’t take anymore punishment.  I mean…she produced 32 eggs!!!  That can’t be comfortable.   Or, if not that, I thought maybe she stopped donating because I said something wrong in our letter to her…or made her uncomfortable with the gift we got her.  (I know…it’s not all about me and it is self-centered for me to project this stuff on the situation.  But I’m being honest about how I felt/feel…no matter how ugly it makes me look).   I try to think of the possible positive explanations for her choice.  Maybe the donor is ready to start a family of her own.  Maybe she wants to limit the number of genetic offspring she has.  Maybe she started dating someone who would rather that she no longer donate.  There are a million possible reasons why she may have withdrawn as a donor, but I can’t help but feel guilty about it... guilty that she blessed us with so many fabulous eggs to start our family with.

I know these feelings will pass.  I’ll stop thinking about our donor and will start feeling like “the mommy” again… probably around the same time as my next ultrasound…hopefully sooner.   It is impossible for me to see the baby growing inside of me and not feel like I am 100% its mother.  It is just frustrating that I am having these feelings at all.  I thought that I had left them behind and that my biggest worry from here on out would be how other people would feel about us having used an egg donor.  I fear that, like everything else infertility-related, my feelings and concerns about having used an egg donor will never really go away completely…even when I think I’ve processed them and rid myself of them.  I hope that I am wrong about that.