Wednesday, December 11, 2013

22w4d - The Family Grows

Holy emotional shit storm. Yesterday, December 10th at 10:10 AM, I became an aunt to a beautiful baby girl. 8 lbs 1 oz, 21 long, long inches.  7 months and 9 days after the announcement that sent me reeling for so long. 2 days after my first due date. I wish I could say that in the moment, none of it mattered. I am not proud. My mom and I paced the hall outside of the delivery room until we heard her first cries. Immediately, we both bawled. We cried, while she cried, for the total miracle of your own daughter/sister having her own healthy baby. I cried too for the distance this pregnancy put between us, even while I was in the midst of my own. I flipped back and forth between elation and this difficult feeling of longing, a childish response of "this should have been me." I hate to admit those feelings. It was not my time. It was a miracle, my family had grown by a whole perfect human being.

Those feelings dissipated entirely once I got to meet her. Really, she is possibly the most beautiful little girl in the world. She has a shocking amount of thick, dark brown hair and rosebud lips. I couldn't stop touching her impossibly soft cheeks and belly and holding on to her feet. She will know me as "that giant that won't stop poking me." I spent the day my newly larger family. Mostly we stared and commented on how much she looked like a member of our immediate family. Halfway across the country, my brother-in-law's family commented on how much she looked like their family. They are wrong. She is totally one of us. Smushy, rosy lips are our trademark. It's hilarious how narcissistic newborns make us. We are so quick to claim their every feature as our own. I really do think she looks like a hybrid between me and my sister as newborns because me-me-me-me-me. That's what babies do to us. We become so vainly introspective as we gaze into their every-baby-could-have-been-switched-at-birth faces.

My sister was a total trouper. Her water broke on Monday afternoon with nary another sign of impending labor. Once at the hospital, they started her on Pitocin which led to a completely sleepless night. At 6:15 am she was 3 cm dilated. Only 2.5 hours later she was fully dilated and evicting that kid. No sleep, no pain meds, 1.5 hours of pushing. She's like a Navy Seal of childbirth.

I stayed until early evening and then drove back home to the city. I gushed on the phone to friends (hands free, safety first) and then sat in traffic and allowed anxiety set in. Seriously, I hate that I did this and that I continue to let myself go to these dark places. It seems so selfish. I am sometimes incapable of reason and seeing the big picture. My heart started aching. Surely, it would not go so perfectly for me. Bad things happen to me - this is my default, stupid, dark place mantra. I will never get my boy. I will go into early labor. I will lose him. April will never come (unlikely). Maybe he will be born but not healthy, not beautiful like his cousin. Will my family gush over him as much since he's a boy and not a rosebud-lipped girl? Send in the men in white coats. I'm sure there's a perfectly lovely asylum where I can convalesce for the rest of my pregnancy, preferably in a medically-induced coma. These are the fucking thoughts that circled my mind last night and this morning. I hate them. I hate those thoughts. They represent the worst of me and the worst of two years of infertility. I am ashamed that I can't just revel in the love and awe I feel for my niece and enjoy this wonderful, healthy pregnancy that I've been blessed with. To clarify, I do get those moments of peace, wonder and happiness. I experienced that nearly all day yesterday with my niece and sister and didn't fall apart until I was alone in the car. On weekend mornings, when I sit around reading, sipping a cup of tea, and feel and see my boy bopping around inside, I am there: totally in love and in the moment. He and I feel natural and meant to be. I just can't always cling on to that. I bought a Christmas ornament for him and hung it on our tree. I visit it as my reminder of how good I have it and how real he is. Fake babies do not have Christmas ornaments, right? We call our boy "Pindakaas," the Dutch word for peanut butter, because...because why not? Pin for short. We remain miles apart on names and I am a bit concerned that he will forever be known as Pindakaas. I suppose there are worse names. Pin's ornament is a piece of toast with peanut butter and two banana slices on it (J and I are clearly the bananas - one of us more than the other). Impossibly cute, like my fetus. Handcrafted affirmations in felt.

TGIE - Thank God for Etsy

I am going over to my sister's house after work to welcome them home and eat my mom's home cooking. As soon as I'm there, I'll be madly in love again. I will feel like that the whole time I'm there. I will possibly/probably melt down in the car. And then I'll pull myself together, feel my baby boy squirming, and will be fine. And then not. And then fine again. Possibly until April.

I'll leave you with a photo of my family's new perfect love.

Look at those sweet lips and that head of hair. Could you die?

Friday, December 6, 2013

A Belated Bloggy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, my day was book ended by incredibly fabulous news. With my morning decaf, I read this by Stupid Stork. Rejoice.Then, I went about my day, doing boring work things, generally rolling my eyes, practicing mediocre posture and pondering the merits of baby play yards-bassinette combos. Riveting. At the end of the day, I checked my blogroll once again and found yet another holiday miracle BPF story from Cork & Stork. This mixed in with Amanda from Beloved Burnt Toast tepidly celebrating the end of her first trimester. Honestly, I felt like my computer screen was set to the infertile Hallmark channel. My heart simply sung. If pregnancies were earned through wit, sarcasm and enviable writing skills, these girls would be octomoms several times over. Alas, they are not. And so through lots of science, patience and determination, they finally have what they deserved. This year, may we all be thankful for petri dishes. I know I am.

Blogging as a part of the online infertility community has been such an affirming, therapeutic experience. I don't know but I can't imagine the same level of camaraderie among knitting or home improvement bloggers. Some of my readers are my pre-blog, real life friends (IRL, as the kids say). They check my blog to see what's going on - IVF treatment status, the sitch in my underpants, etc - so that I don't have to write countless emails or go over the more painful details over and over again. In part, that's why I started blogging. Mostly, I began blogging to purge all of the stuff rattling around in my head, built up over this bizarre experience of having major lady organ failure. While the purging has been a blessing, the community has been the real boon. Call me creepy, but I think of many of my fellow IF bloggers as real friends. I think I can sympathize with Nev's sad-eyed participants on MTV's Catfish. You make me feel loved. It really doesn't matter whether that's crazy or not. I haven't invited any of you to move into my parents' house despite never having skyped with you. Your video chat has been down for 3 years, I understand. You only have 3 photos of yourself on Facebook and 10 friends with suspiciously unusual names. That's because you're an army brat from Guam. I get you. You get me. Our uteri are shaped like popcorn, our eggs are poached, and our husbands' nuts are filled with pop rocks. You are my (IRL and interweb) peeps. Thanks for being here. I'm not signing off, just having a little belated Thanksgiving gratitude fest.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

20w3d - Relief-a-palooza!

This post includes an ultrasound pic. Feel free to skip if you're not in the mood.

First, I have reached the Bon Jovi portion of this pregnancy. I'm not going to bother with typing out the lyrics.

Breathing. Sighs. of. Relief. Kid just ACED his 20 week anatomy scan.

Four chamber heart? Check.
Kidneys? 2
Fingers and toes? Five per appendage, totalling 20.
Eyes? 2 gaping black holes (apparently how they're supposed to look)
Legs, arms, bladder, all that good stuff. He's a properly forming baby. Amazing.

J and I opted out of any early risk assessments - nuchal translucency, MaterniT21, and the like - at 12 weeks. I was on the fence and welcomed reassurance (though terrified of bad news) while J felt very strongly about not doing testing. His reasoning? We get what we get and we'll love who we get. Let's not spend the next 6-7 months worried about something we can not change. We will deal with whatever it is when the baby is born. We knew that we didn't want to terminate unless we found out without a shadow of a doubt that the baby's condition was incompatible with life. How do you find out without a shadow of a doubt? Through CVS or amnio, both of which carry very small risks of miscarriage. We just weren't game for all of it. J's strong stance on the issue made me gradually feel more comfortable. Lingering in the back of my mind were those "incompatible with life" syndromes. A hell of a euphemism. As this pregnancy has progressed seemingly normally and Kid is now big and strong enough to make me feel him moving around (despite a stubborn anterior placenta), I've been in a pretty good place. I really have trusted that he's healthy and normal. All that said, whispers of horror stories danced in my head leading up to today's scan. What if, what if, what if... And then, nothing. All good. A happy (I project), squirmy boy nestled right where he should be. My cervix is nice and long and my OB announced my risk of preterm labor "as low as anybody else's."* 

I feel a little weirdly relaxed. Very happy. Like I just had a glass or two of wine. It's the warming juju of relief.

Without further ado, here's my boy...

Looks like he's smiling, doesn't he?

*I admittedly had a freakout of a cervical nature that I shan't go into on these pages. Long story short, I had images of babies, keys and cell phones falling willy nilly out of my short gaping cervix. I don't know why I do these things to myself.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

19w3d - Of Milestones and Stupidity

The pregnancy milestone that I've been waiting and waiting and waiting for has finally happened. About a year later than everyone else, I've started to feel lil' guy moving around. It's been very subtle - a few thumps here and there. My friend likened those early sensations to that of a balloon hitting a ceiling. Yup, sounds about right. Something small, blind and slippery keeps on bumping around. Occasionally, I'll feel a distinct and sudden movement. That's pretty rare so far. I've spent the last week or so wondering whether or not my sensations were due to gas (honestly they still frequently are) or to the kid. On Friday evening, I lied down on my bed with my doppler (best friend for life!) and placed it on my lower right abdomen where I kept thinking I felt something. Like magic, kid kicked hard and moved the doppler! I felt it inside and saw it outside. Confirmation. Since then, I've been trusting myself more and paying more attention. There's movement in there and it's weird and completely awesome. J is completely obsessed. He places his hand on my belly and swears he can feel something. I don't really think he can since the sensations are so subtle for me but it makes him happy. Why mess with it, you know?

And speaking of milestones, we're running into another. J and I have started looking into daycare. It would be lovely if one of us could stay home full time to take care of kid. Unfortunately, our finances simply won't allow this. The cost of a nanny is prohibitive so we've been checking out daycare centers. This may seem way too early however we'll simply be placing our name on the waiting list for July. Chicago parents are a rabid bunch of planners. I'm convinced some of them are putting their names on the lists before they even get pregnant. How can you get a leg up on these folks?

The child care search is terrifying on several levels. First, cost. It is cray-cray expensive to send your kid to daycare full time. Think private college tuition expensive. The places we're looking at - not fancy in the slightest, mind you - cost as much or more per month than our mortgage. Second, you are leaving your super tiny infant with a stranger. I don't even know this kid yet. I worked so hard to get him. I have to hand him off to strangers before he's even able to sit on his own? I know that everyone does this and it will be fine, it just gives me a bit of a sad. Third... I don't think there is a third. I'm sure there is, I just can't think of it yet. Contagious disease or something. So perhaps there aren't several things to be worried about, just two big ones. If you think of more, please keep them to yourself. I'm sure I'll come up with them soon on my very own.

Back in the first trimester, my sister asked me if I was "stupid yet." She, apparently, was dealing with classic pregnancy brain. (A scary note: she's a nurse in an impressive sounding department at a large hospital. I won't tell you which one.) I was all, "Why no! I'm sharp as a tack!" Fast forward to now. I am, on many days, dumb as a bag of hair. It hurts. My brain gets covered in this thick layer of green mold and I forget things and bumble around like I'm blind-folded. There's nothing I seem to be able to do about it. I fake myself out with a decaf coffee (living on the edge). I take the occasional walk. Helps slightly. It comes and goes. Yesterday was a really moldy day. Today is not. My job, while often intense and stressful, does not involve life or death decisions or the fate of nations. For this I am grateful. I apologize for any doubt I have cast upon other pregnant women who may or may not be battling the gradual molding of their brains. I'm sure they're all fine. It's just me. Or not.

Final note: anatomy scan on Tuesday. I'm a leetle bit nervous. Please be ok. Please be ok. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

17w6d - The Mother of Invention

Necessity is the mother of invention. Some genius said that. Ah yes, wikipedia says it was Plato.

I have an invention that is not really an invention that could revolutionize maternity pants. You see, those vaguely elastic panels don’t actually hold anything up, they just cover and smooth the belly. I’d say they do about 3-5% of the pants-holding-up responsibilities necessary. Your own hips and ass are responsible for the rest. Also problematic is the fact that the waist of the pants must be large enough to fit over your ass and thighs therefor, on most women, being slightly larger than that small but crucial stretch between bump and the spread of your hips.
Fact: this not-actually-pregnant model hiked her designer maternity jeans up between every frame.
Depending on the stretch of the material and your girth, the panel + gravity combo is often not enough. Leggings are a rare exception. I find myself scotching up my pants 7 times a day. And that’s just because I don’t care about the other 28 times when I need to. At first I thought under-the-shirt suspenders were an option but then considered my lopping mammaries. Then I remembered those adjustable tabs that were on hideous carpenter pants. You can adjust them to be tighter and cinch in your pants at the waist. In my perfect world, three maternity pant tabs would be placed on the pants - one at each hip and one at the back (located your tramp stamp). These tabs could be adjusted throughout the day as necessary to accommodate meals, gas, etc. What do you think? Genius! Now someone should manufacture them for me. I can't really sew and do not own a sewing machine. Also not in the market for one. Thanks for the offer.


I figure my options to solve the problem of ever sagging pants are as follows:
  1. I actually figure out where to get real pants tabs and sew them on by hand. I'm exhausted just thinking about this but it might be the only way. 
    Don't solve the problem. There's nothing wrong with low-riding the crotch of your pants at mid-thigh. (To answer your question, yes, I am wearing the correct size pants.)
  3. Use giant diaper pins to cinch the small amount of fabric that needs cinching. Do they even sell these now? Will I get stabbed twice a day? (This was my supervisor's suggestion. He has been dragged into the issue against his will. I feel he has an inherent interest in my pants staying on at the office.)
  4. Suspenders. See boob issue and general fashion concerns.
  5. Dapper Snappers. These are super awkward, bulky and of questionable value. I would squeal with delight if any of you have actually used these. Clips are available for pants without belt loops (98% of maternity pants).

What is the solution to this? Why is this a problem that we as a society have not addressed? Can I just wear maternity overalls and is that a thing?


Monday, October 28, 2013

16w2d - How I Became a Member of the Pen15 Club

Um, you guys? There is totally a penis growing inside of me. A mini penis with mini testicles attached to possibly the cutest little boy fetus that you have ever seen. I kvell, swoon, melt when I look at the ultrasound pictures from this weekend. A little boy. He is real and not a figment of my imagination.

Am I glad I went to a creepy Sneak-A-Boo elective ultrasound shack? You bet your tiny balls I am! I need to break down the experience for those of you considering a trip to the local strip mall and/or currently tssking and eye-rolling. First off, as I said before, mine was not in the mall. It was located in a very nice brick office building in a lovely, leafy neighborhood in Chicago. We signed in, presented our last ultrasound pictures (wisely, they make you prove that you are getting actual prenatal care and not using them as a filler for actual medical expertise), and were quickly called into the ultrasound room. It was giant, dimly lit, and had a big flat screen television on the wall. The examination bed looked like it had been custom made to accommodate a 600-pound man. Cooooozy. I laid down, scooched my pants down to the pubic bone and accepted an unnecessarily large blob of ultrasound gel. J sat next to me and held my hand. The sonographer found our guy - at that time an "it" - right away and swiveled the probe around to get the infamous "toilet shot." Clear as day were two legs, a tiny butt, and something dangling in between. The sonographer said, "There it is," and J was like, "What? Do you know? What is it?" Someone obviously hasn't been studying google images of gender ultrasounds apparently.  Good thing the sonographer and I were all over it. Then she typed it out "It's a boy!" on the screen. This is the point at which I started crying. It just all of a sudden became so so real. We got to see more views of him including in 3-D which is a total freak show affair and not overly adorable. They don't begin building fat until 26 weeks so the 3-D images make your cute 2-D black and white baby look like an animated skeleton. Appropriate for Halloween. My unsolicited advice is to stick to 2-D early on or at least not despair that your child is a monster based on a single ultrasound image.

J and I left the ultrasound palace grinning and kind of skipping. We were giddy motherfuckers. When I walked in, I felt like I had a "condition" with a questionable prognosis. When I left, we were the parents of a growing little boy. I would have paid a million dollars for that feeling (or a similarly feasible sum) but I only had to pay $45. At my insistence, we drove directly to Buy Buy Baby (which, as the name suggests, is a total commercial horror show) and each picked out a vaguely boyish onesie. J detested the big box store experience but I loved buying something for a real person.

I feel I should briefly address the gender question. Like, feeeeeeeeelings. So, I have written before and would have told you candidly at any point in my life that I wanted a girl. And I still do. One day, I would love a daughter. That said, it was really difficult to get one kid of either gender on board and honestly, I don't know that it will happen again. Having a daughter very well may be something that doesn't happen for me. It makes me a little sad but I have so much more happiness over my little boy that it's completely overshadowed. I am truly not disappointed at all that we're having a boy. I'm overjoyed. I love this little being inside of me and that's who he is, a boy. It was pure magic to find out another piece of the puzzle. He's his own person and gender is a small but important sliver.  The goal of unprotected sex (hilarious) was to have a child. Any kind of child. Just not a serial-killery child. As it became blaringly obvious that the whole sex thing was not going to pan out, the urgency to have a baby, any baby, like potentially a stranger's baby on the street, just kept getting stronger. I'm thrilled that it's a baby. I'm thrilled that it's my baby and that we successfully made a baby with genitalia. Go us! I'm a little afraid of baby penises and getting peed on. J came to me fully potty trained. I'm a little afraid that he'll be drawn to guns and general warfare. I don't know from boys. I'm from a family of girls. This is going to be an adventure. I'm married to a boy so we'll figure it out. Now, I just can't wait to meet our little guy. I insist that he keep cooking for 22-24 more weeks. In the meantime, I know a little bit more about who I'm talking to and talking about. My boy. I'm super in love. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

15w2d - Meaningless Updates and General Nonsense

I have been a delinquent blogger as of late. My apologies. Frankly, not a whole lot is happening these days. As was the case before getting knocked up, I think about my uterus 70% of the time (gross understatement). So that hasn't changed. Certainly the contents of my uterus have changed and magically continue to grow on a daily basis. I am now 15 weeks pregnant which feels pretty close to a miracle though I have yet to receive an email from the Vatican. I think I need two more miracles for them to reach out. I hope my next act will be to give birth to a healthy baby. M-I-R-A-C-L-E of science. My third miracle, in hopes of attaining sainthood, will have nothing to do with babies as I'd like to diversify. Amy, patron saint of in vitro fertilization and _____. If you have recommendations, I'm all ears. It needs to be amazing.

I'm officially out at work which is nice and sort of a relief on all fronts.
A) I didn't realize what a huge secret it was to hide. While you're simultaneously sleeping and gagging at your desk, you have to pretend to be a normal functioning part of the office ecosystem. I took on Dolly Parton 9-to-5 hours as of August and have acted as though it's normal to saunter in at that hour which, for me, it's not. 
B) Depending on what I wear, I look awkwardly lumpy. I hoped that my coworkers would just assume I was letting myself go. Which, in many ways, I have been. Exercising is like the most difficult.
C) Do you people realize how freaking hard this has been for so long? (you do, they don't) I'm ready to play the part of a normally functioning female body regardless of whether it's true or not.

In fascinating fashion related news, I bought maternity jeans which make me look like I've shit my pants but feel like a warm, cotton candy hug for my mid-section. I adore. My big girl pants, from winters of extra padding, are still fitting and seem like they'll work for the next few weeks. I was in California last week for work and came across a sportwear store called Lumpy's. It appears they sell golf and tennis gear for the septagenarian set. I have appropriated "Lumpy's" as the name for all maternity clothing shops. Overpriced industry, you're welcome.

Upcoming enticements... Tomorrow I have my second OB appointment. I get a cervix check but no ultrasound. Boo, but yay for another appointment to tick off the list. Second, J and I have decided to peek under the skort and find out the gender this weekend. We could wait until the anatomy scan in mid-November but we're impatient people. 2 years of trying to make this kid will do that to you. We're going to one of those elective ultrasound places that I always used to judge. Still do, actually. They typically have horrible names like Peek-A-Baby and things like that. The one we're going to has a non-embarrassing name which makes it marginally better. And it's not in a strip mall. However that's all just good marketing and location, location, location. It's no better than any of the others. J kinda wants a boy and I kinda want a girl (because we live for stereotypes) so one of us will win. Really we just want a kid so we're going to be thrilled either way. I just want to be able to imagine this monkey. It's another huge piece of the puzzle.

Everyone who has felt the need to render a guess has told me it's a boy and that's gotten into my head. I don't really have a sense either way but if everyone tells you something, you start to believe it. I will say, because it warms my heart and makes me laugh, that a coworker did waiver for a moment. I am quite close to one of the custodians at the office. He was overjoyed when I told him the news. He looked me over and said, "It's a woman." A woman. Not a girl, a woman. Which makes me think that I could be carrying a 50-year-old librarian with a bad perm. He then corrected himself and said, "No, it's a boy." So there goes my middle-aged female uterine companion. I'll let you all know.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Once an IF, Always an IF

On the me front (me me me) - I am good. From what the doppler and I can tell, the kid is cooking, my uterus is rising and enlarging, and my immune system has essentially shut down. There's a lot of snot, congestion, whining and couch surfing going on in my house but I'm told it's to be expected. This cold of mine would typically be something I could shrug off but apparently my body is busy doing other things. Fair enough and thank the lord for neti pots.

It has been 2 weeks since my last ultrasound (that felt like a confession) and I am holding up pretty well thanks to ye olde fetal doppler. Used it twice yesterday as I'm a spazz. Since the last post, I came out to my boss and coworkers. All were completely supportive and charmingly gleeful. It was nice. Naturally it gave me the jinx-willies hence the increased doppler useage. Again, no apparent correlation between pregnancy announcements and fetal cardiac activity. None the less, the experiment continues.

This weekend is my 6th wedding anniversary. Eleven years together and six legally bound to each other. Pretty cray cray. J and I are totally the couple that plans a romantic celebration and then ends up ordering pizza and watching a movie instead. Hey, it's worked for us. This year I've taken an entire half day off work (I know, slow down crazy!) and we're driving up to my parents cabin in Wisconsin. I'm thinking fall colors, picking apples off our very own very tiny apple trees, a hike with the dogs and general coziness. I'm psyched and willing tomorrow afternoon to come immediately.

So that's it for me. Uneventful and nice. And then my loves still in the trenches. This morning I got a text from my sister-in-law SD. I've mentioned her before. She ventured into the world of infertility before I did. We navigated treatments, fielded each other's hysterical phone calls, and glared at pregnant women together. And now I'm knocked up and she's not. The text this morning was telling me that her period had started after her third round of IVF. She didn't want to talk - and certainly not to me - and said she'd call some time next week. I want to remain a support system for her and I'm afraid that's just not possible. My heart breaks for her. It breaks for all of us. Once you're pregnant after infertility, the infertility doesn't go away. It lingers and haunts. It's why I have to check if my baby's heart is still beating after I tell another person I'm pregnant. Why I can't really imagine my baby and what he or she might look like and feel like in my arms. For so long we protect ourselves from those painful yearnings. When they start to look like a reality, the dream doesn't flood back. It creeps back slowly and we keep on protecting ourselves.

How do we support each other? The way this process works, all of us in the infertility boat will achieve our families at different times and in different ways. The timing of it all can make you feel so left behind. I felt so left behind for two years until suddenly I wasn't. I know that many, probably most of you reading this are in the midst of fertility treatments and adoption applications. Is there any place for comfort from someone teetering on the other side of the IF divide? Is that even possible?

If this all goes well and my baby comes in April, I will be back in the stirrups a year or two later. More hormone shots, retrievals, transfers and tears. My heart is still in it. I hate this natural, probably necessary, and temporary divide between SD and me.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

12 Week Update

Kids, I am 12 weeks 3 days pregnant today. Boom. That is huge. I wasn't sure how 12 weeks would feel - if it would feel like a relief or if I would hold on for 13, or 14 weeks - but Saturday it hit and I woke up feeling like a million bucks. I realize you're never totally out of the woods but I have to say, there are definitely some glimmers of sunshine at the 12 week mark. Some well placed remarks by my new OB definitely helped. According to her, my chances of miscarriage are below 1% at this point. While it would be very me to say, oooohhhhh I could totally be in the 0.8%, it's statistically quite unlikely. I'm not not worried, it's just foolish to walk around wearing a black tulle veil and lamenting something that will probably not happen.

An aside to my fellow IF bloggers and readers, do you ever feel like reading new IF blogs can have the affect of making you more anxious? I always select the TTC history tab and have a mini nervous breakdown over recurrent pregnancy loss and, particularly now, second trimester loss. This isn't the beautiful-online-community thing to say, but I'm thinking I should just stick to my tried and true bloggers (you know who you are, mostly because you're listed on the right hand column of this blog). I'm familiar with your stories, none of you freak me out, and I am very comfortable being on your cheering squad no matter what happens. Yes. I made a decision. My IF blog list is temporarily closed for the sake of my mental health.

Anywho, on to brighter unicorns. Last Wednesday was our first OB appointment. I had my very first external ultrasound - jelly on the belly, just like on tv. Right away, there was the kid. Kid was feeling particularly jazzy. It (let me use "it" instead of some pretentious fake pronoun. If my child is transgendered, I will use whatever pronoun s/he prefers.) was lounging in utero, one hand behind the head, the other waving above. It arched its back at one point and kicked off the side of my uterus. I can't believe I can't feel all of this action. My new OB pronounced it "awesome" and a "great looking fetus." I concur. This was the first time it looked like an human/alien baby and not an amorphous blob. Really exciting. As nutty as it sounds, I'm also really heartened by the kid's body language. It seemed so at home lounging and flipping around like that, like there was an invisible margarita in its hand. I dare say my uterus seemed like a tropical resort. No frills, per se, but adequate food and a steady 98.6 degrees. (My, I am feeling ballsy writing like this. Eek!)

This weekend I unleashed the news on my extended family. My parents and sister knew, as did J's entire family (because secrets don't keep on that side). On Saturday, I drove over to my grandma's house under the auspices of being in the neighborhood to return a few things to the local suburban mall. Never mind that I work steps away from Chicago's main shopping district. Fertility treatments can really rob you of the opportunity to be adorable. Nobody got a surprise onesie after I peed on a stick. J saw the pee stick while he was peeing. That's how un-adorable this all was. 12 weeks into it, I decided that both my grandma and I deserved to be disgustingly adorable together. Grandma suffered through miscarriages herself, knew of our fertility woes, and being the fervent Catholic that she is, probably made the priest at St. John's order a few extra cases of candles for us. Sooo, I took the most human looking of the ultrasound photos, bought the only correctly sized frame at Target (not cute), assembled and gift wrapped. Because she is a woman of a certain age, I was able to hold my iphone up and film my grandma's response when she saw the photo. Her response was completely priceless. First she frowned and said she needed her glasses. Once glasses were on, the following conversation ensued.

Grandma: Is this a baby?
Me: Yes.
Grandma: Is it Juice's baby?
Me: No
Grandma: Well then who's baby is it?
Me: It's my baby.
Grandma: What do you mean it's your baby?
Me: I mean, it's my baby!
Grandma: Are you pregnant?
Me: Yes!
Grandma screams and stomps her foot and then abruptly stops.
Grandma: (very sternly) Amy, are you lying to me?!?!

Once I assured her that no, I would not lie about the content of my uterus, we celebrated. It was lovely. I got roped into telling Other Aunt in person, which was fine and actually easier than over the phone. Phones are so awkward.

So there, I'm partially out. Family knows. Close friends. I just have to let my boss know. I've decided I can wait until week 14 for that one unless I'm forced at some point. I feel like they've probably noticed that I've switched over to stretchy pants and jersey dresses but perhaps not.* It's fall, 'tis the season for complete pant abandonment.

*This fashion choice has been made out of comfort, not quite necessity. I'm packing a solid fupa now, definitely not a bump.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Feelings, You are Difficult.

I am just a mishmosh of elated positivity and nerves / general resentment. Feelings, as I state in my post title, are difficult. Would you agree? Perhaps "complicated" is a better word. I am 11 weeks 3 days which, if you do the math, is startlingly close to 12 weeks. Closing in on the first trimester. I hate the trimester bullies who say that 13 weeks is the trimester end mark or worse, the end of week 13 really meaning 14 interminable weeks. Do they haphazardly lengthen the swimming portion of the Ironman just for good measure? No, they do not. It's long enough and you still have to ride a bike and run a marathon. Peeps need to keep my trimester an even 12 weeks.

So in the feelings news, I am mostly really happy. My nearest and dearest know for the most part and I've been able to quietly celebrate with them, if only by acknowledging that this pregnancy is happening and progressing nicely thus far. My in-laws came into town last weekend. On Friday, they took us to a fancy shmancy dinner.  When ordering, I asked the waiter if a salad dressing was made with raw egg. He said it was. I replied, "Oh, I can't eat that. I'm pregnant." I could have just said "no thank you" but I wanted to see how telling a stranger would feel. Good, uneventful. As though pregnancy were normal. After our entrees, our waiter presented me with a brownie sundae with a candle as "congratulations from the restaurant." What?!?! Who does that? Seriously, have you heard of such a thing? Because I'm me, I nearly cried. Before we left, I wrote a quick note to the waiter telling him how much it meant to me and slipped it in with the bill. Clearly I wildly over-shared and probably frightened him. So we can never go back to that restaurant. Not a big deal since we can't afford it ourselves anyways. I told friends about this incident and they likened it to the happy birthday clapping dance they do at TGI Friday's, Bennigan's and other such establishments on birthdays. Clapping dance for pregnancy! Nothing says first trimester down low like a blazing candle.
That's the good. I'm getting more excited, slowly a little less scared. I do, however, have to use my doppler as soon as I get home after telling someone I'm pregnant to see if I've jinxed my fetus. Lunacy. Straight jacket level insanity. A pattern is developing where I tell someone and then the heart continues to beat. I'm working on several graphs and colorful charts to depict the correlation as it emerges.

Now the difficult. I'm getting near the point where a normal prego would start telling those not immediately in her inner circle. Like, for example, boss and coworkers. Honestly, I'm not really concerned about that. My boss is a mother of 3. She gets it. My HR person was very rah-rah when I had to take time off for transfers and such. I figure I'll tell them somewhere around 13-15 weeks. Seems reasonable. What I am positively dreading is telling the rest of my family. My mom, dad, sister and brother-in-law know. That's it. My grandma will be elated. That, I can handle. My benevolent aunt will be too and while I am dreading the actual phone call for no real reason, she'll be wonderful and excited. I am dreading calling my other aunt, who is also benevolent but has been just a bumbling ball of awkward and wrong throughout this ordeal. I realize some people revel in the glorious experience of spilling the beans. Not it. Miscarriage and IF has made me feel very protective of this pregnancy like, if you weren't my biggest fan throughout this ordeal, you don't get to celebrate. I give a pass to people who weren't aware. You, dear readers, get to celebrate with me. You've read some seriously depressing posts and probably need something uplifting after all that doom and gloom.

So, the Other Aunt. Other Aunt's daughter is pregnant and due in November. Whenever Other Aunt would ask my mom how I was doing (she was aware of our rounds of IVF and the m/c), she would wave away whatever my mom would say and reply, "Oh, it'll happen when she least expects it." Madam, we're beyond that. We're now in the realm of what is and is not medically possible. The fact that I was injecting myself in order to ovulate at the optimal time kinda takes out the "when she least expects it" aspect. That's normal, people just don't know what to say. But then the kicker. I wasn't excited to call and tell her and now, I'm really not feeling like sharing MY news. (cray cray) My sister revealed this story to me this past weekend. Thank God she didn't tell me shortly after the fact because I would have gone completely homicidal. When my sister called Other Aunt to tell her that she was pregnant, she was congratulatory and then asked how I had taken the news. My sister responded, "She's ok. It was hard but she's doing fine." (Wildly untrue but acceptable for the sake of the conversation.) Other Aunt's response I-SHIT-YOU-NOT: "Oh well. Amy will have a baby... someday ... somehow ... with someone." With someone? Due to the difficulties, should I have selected another partner? This is neither here nor there and certainly doesn't matter but were it not for me, and were he a different type of guy, J would be knocking random ladies up left and right and our city's most dubious bars. Ugh. So that's where these uncomfortable, difficult feelings rise up. It's my happy news. It's my kid and you didn't help make it with your absurd platitudes and offensive remarks. I want to announce only to "my team" and complete strangers like that kind waiter at the fancy restaurant. I am aware that my conclusion is not the product of a coherent thought process.

And, scene. Enough. I'll deal with that soon enough. My annoyance with her poisons the joy that I am and should be feeling right now. I will close with this: This whole experience has made me so appreciative of my team - J, my parents, my best friends, my blog friends - those who cheered me on no matter how unpleasant the situation. Whether dealing with IF or not, I hope you have a wonderful team like I have. Thanks, Team.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Katie Holmes, Reporting for Duty.

I have so much more in common with Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise than I ever thought possible. Similarity #1, while not a Scientologist, I am pregnant with the aid of men in white coats and without procreative intercourse. Similarity #2, I now own specialized medical equipment meant for use in a hospital setting by trained professionals. Purpose of said equipment is to spy on the Newbie during the only time in his/her life that he/she gets to be alone and chill. Not so alone anymore, kid! Enter stage right, FETAL DOPPLER. Boom.

Listen, I was feeling all smug and secure on Saturday, marveling at the awkward fit of my clothing and the gigundity of my boobs in my new orthopedic brazier. "Doppler, who needs it?" I thought. Then I went to this event attended by my friend and his wife, who last year tragically miscarried at 13 weeks. Smugness out the fucking door. Sunday I felt so sad and shaky. "If it happened to her..." echoed in my head. I reached out to Mel, who's general job it is to back me off the ledge, and she offered up her fetal doppler. Yes please with a side of Quaaludes. While I waited zillions of hours for her to get home for the doppler hand off, I ate copious amounts of pho, watched Downton Abbey and repeated, "I am not her. I am not her. I am not her." It mostly worked. I came this close to getting in an accident on the way to her house. That would have been really counterproductive. Calm. Down.

Once home with the magic wand <insert filthy jokes here>, I watched possibly the longest youtube video known to mankind on how exactly to find your fetus' heartbeat. Upon completion, I ran into the bedroom, lied down and squirted aloe vera gel on my lower abdomen. Within a minute, I heard a nice fast whomp whomp whomp whomp whomp. Then I would lose it and, after more probing around, I'd find it again. Naturally I recorded it for posterity.

The doppler has provided some much needed reassurance in the past 18 hours. I'm going to try not to use it every day (good luck, nutbag). I'd like to reserve its use for the bad days like yesterday where I'm filled with doom and gloom. I know that there may be times where I can't find the heartbeat (this morning I found it quickly and then it totally disappeared) and I'll probably freak out. I'll deal with that then in smearing, frantic language all over this blog. I am, by the way, a huge hypocrite because I responded to another blogger's post about dopplers somewhat negatively. Not that I have ever been anti-doppler, I just wrote that I wouldn't buy one because I wouldn't want to risk not hearing the HB and having that inevitable nervous breakdown. Well, I am a liar. Most people know that already. It's just been reconfirmed.

Stay tuned for the post where my doppler batteries die and I flip my shit! 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Chicago Energy Crisis (and Graduation)

I've had a hard time getting this post out due to the current Chicago Energy Crisis. What? You haven't heard of this? Surely it's made national news! The energy crisis, while severe in scope, has actually only affected one individual Chicagoan: me. Holy shitballs, you guys, I am so freaking tired. Just as my nausea has begun to taper (it has not left town entirely, I assure you), I have been struck by this brand of fatigue that makes me feel like I've been kept in an American prison in Iraq for the past two weeks. Someone has been playing that horrible thrashy music at top volume preventing me from ever sleeping. I imagine this is what it's like. I did watch Zero Dark 30. Except the thing is, I am sleeping really soundly and have even trained myself to continue R.E.M. through the occasional bathroom breaks. It just doesn't matter. I'm still tired. Although I did an experiment on Tuesday night where I deprived myself of sleep unnecessarily (blame: a DVR full of Project Runway episodes) and felt much, much worse the next day.

Tuesday, at the poking and prodding of my friend Mel, I attended the local "Pregnancy and Parenting after Infertility" RESOLVE support group. This group is more commonly known as "Pregnant & Nervous." Sounds about right. I was very reluctant to attend and told Mel that I felt like I'd be going as an impostor. She gently suggested that perhaps that was exactly why I should go. In the end, peer pressure prevailed. There were 3 women there who met in the infertility support group and now all have babies. Then there were 3 of us who were varying stages (9, 13 and 18 weeks) of pregnant after bullshit infertility. The meeting was about 10% support group and 90% pregnants asking the moms deep questions like, "omigod, like, what happened to your vagina?" The answer, "horrible things. but you kinda forget." It was nice to be in a space where we could talk openly about constant (ir)rational pregnancy fears, OBs, crap fertility clinics, etc. Also, the general tone of the meeting was optimism. Here, three women who had gone through the IF-wringer had gone on to grow and birth healthy babies. Totally normal (whaaaaa?). Henceforth, they treated the three pregos like we were going through the same experience which, shockingly, I think we are. Lovely.

I did get an extra boost yesterday that allowed me to get my ass to Pregnant & Nervous. I unexpectedly graduated from my RE. They kicked me out. Told me to stop the progesterone supplements (I am both super excited and totally freaked about this) and to get thee to the OB. It was really unceremonious. My usual doc, Dr. M, left to do volunteer medical work in Kenya so I was left with Dr. B. Dr. B is the not-so-fab doc that told me everything was fine (when it so wasn't) last time and then, one week later, that everything was doomed. How is everything ok when there's blood everywhere and your beta numbers are equivalent to those found in sterile kangaroo blood? The man lacks credibility with me. This fact didn't add to the day's "special" column but did intensify the whole experience. When Dr. B came into the room with his 2 trusty 25-year-old medical students I once again had the experience of the student not being able to find my uterus (I think I got a decent tour of my abdominal wall and bowels). Then, there it was. Heartbeat going strong (hurray for transparent skin!) and actual movements! It was moving it's arms and legs and squirming. J grabbed my hand at this point. That was it. Dr. B told me to stop the progesterone despite my half-hearted protestations (it's hard to argue against not having pudding underwear) and told me I was all done at their clinic. He handed me a "delivery results" release form, - deliver what? - I paid my massive balance and we were on our way. Completely surreal and, for them, a non-event. I wish Dr. M had been there. I could have at least given him a hug.

You know what was not a non-event? Seeing the baby move. It was one thing to see it looking like a deranged caterpillar hanging from the yolk sac. The heartbeat is always pretty amazing. But to see it move its arms and legs like a mini person? Unbelievable. Now, when I'm feeling nervous, I imagine that squirmy being and smile. I tell him/her when we're taking a shower and announce that I'm washing his/her toes. It's just a little bit more real and magical. I'm still a first trimester ball of nerves for sure but less so. I have a soothing image to fall back on.

As a closer, my apologies for the rawther dramatic post last weekend. I was crazy sad. I know that I will be crazy sad again in the near future and that my hormones will punch it up into high gear. I briefly considered taking it down and S told me that I absolutely could not because people need to know that pregnant ladies freak the fuck out sometimes. So there. Let it be a testimony to my fears (that was brutal honesty, folks) and hormones. I will leave you with this: blogging while emotional is like drunk texting.  Discuss.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

I Couldn't Stop

As a foreword, my apologies for the woe-is-me tearful nature of this post. It's been a rough morning. 

I cried today. I started crying and I physically could not stop. It felt like every bit if sadness and anger I had been pushing aside for the past few days? weeks? months? came spilling out. The dam broke and there was no stopping it.

It started with a scolding from my dad. Yes, I'm 31 and I still get scolded by my dad. It's a old school European parent thing - menial actions of your adult children can still hold great disappointment. He felt I did something careless, I apologized, and then he wouldn't drop it. Poor guy, he had no clue what was coming. I felt the tears welling up, slowly walked upstairs while my toast was burning, and then sobbed and sobbed. I cried over my frustration with my dad, for feeling like a kid. When I thought that issue had been sufficiently cried out, I waited for the tears and snotty gasps to stop but they didn't. They kept on coming. I blame it on the hormones and the intense emotional weight I've been dragging around for the past 5 and a half weeks. I keep saying I'm happy. Does happy feel like this? Like constant trepidation? I've certainly had some really happy moments related to this pregnancy but most have been tempered by suffocating fear. We don't call this kid anything. I am so horribly afraid of having another baby die inside of me that I can't bear to attach too much. I can't think about gender or names. I am so scared there won't be a heartbeat each time I go in for an ultrasound. All I can focus on with some relief and optimism is April. My due date is in mid April. I might get a baby then. Honestly, I think I will. For whatever reason - a mix of good ultrasounds, juju, and the positivity of those in the blogging world and IRL - I feel like this one will stick. But I can't shake the weight of two years of infertility and an early miscarriage. It's not fair. Every time I get comfortable it's like a whining mosquito says, "Bad things happen to you, Amy." With the exception of my fertility issues, it really isn't true. I've been lucky, blessed. 

I'm just so tired, physically and mentally. I'm ready for the fear and self doubt to melt away. And I can't handle another tear-snot episode like this one. So please, world, tread very carefully. I am apparently quite fragile. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Ballsy, Frigid Days

I could very well just post a link to Lentil's musings about the joy/terror/mindfuckery of early pregnancy after infertility and miscarriage. You should read it right here. It pretty well sums up the experience though, thus far, I have been spared the freaky dreams.

I was very lucky to have another completely lovely ultrasound at 8w3d. The kid is growing as it should and while still blobby, now has an enormous head and the heartbeat of a hummingbird. (I don't actually know how quickly hummingbirds' hearts beat so don't go googling and getting all alarmed for chrissake.) Everything is normal, as it should be, and as it has not ever been before. My normal protocol following an ultrasound is to text photos to my parents, wait for their glowing approval, and then immediately jump on the computer to google the measurement and heartbeat. I am always sickly certain that I will learn what my Reproductive Endocrinologist failed to glean during his obstetrics residency and many years of practice: whatever was on my ultrasound screen was all wrong, not okay. For once, I am loving that google is failing me. I find nothing. I find that the kid is normal. Amazing.

By the way, I know "the kid" is not a particularly endearing name. J and I just haven't come up with anything more personal. My best girlfriends call it "Ocho" after the number of cells in the embryo on day 3. J hates it because of the association with Ocho Cinco. At home, we call it "it" or, in abstract futuristic moments when we're feeling ballsy, "the baby." I think we've just been so afraid to attach to "it" like we did last time. Last time we called the embryo "Lucky" and it was just so, so real. I think it would be healthy for J and I to start referring to our fetus with some nickname but for now, nothing has stuck. Hopefully soon.

I did one rather brazen thing last weekend. Of course I did it in a meek infertile sort of way.  I now have baby books. I am the proud second-hand owner of What to Expect When You're Expecting, Let's Panic About Babies (a gem of insanity), and Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood (for J - a hilarious choice as their is nothing less accidental that pregnancy as a result of IVF unless, of course, you have a habit of masturbating in sterile andrology labs). I am the decidedly-not-proud second hand hand owner of Belly Laughs by Jenny McCarthy. The manner in which I insisted on receiving said books is comical. S came home to Chicago to visit and brought them with her on the plane. First, she set them on her mom's coffee table. I perused quietly and then visited with her family. When it came time for me to leave, we had a big production of me saying loudly and to no one in particular, "But I don't want these books and I have no need for them." And then I made her say, "But I insist you take them and I'm forcing you to do so." I sighed, rolled my eyes, stomped my feet and then took them home. Baby book procurement is a necessarily dramatic event. Anything other than the exact method S and I employed for the handover would be a for sure jinx.

As much as pregnancy is this natural, intuitive experience (?), it's a good thing I have the books, particularly What to Expect. I had been slathering some sort of green tea aloe salicylic acid treatment on my chest and face (because guess what, I have broken out like a teenager with a butter addiction). What to Expect let me know that that was not a safe choice. Instead, I'm supposed to drink more water, wash my face, get enough sleep, and live with my new found acne problem. Other things that are apparently not safe: everything. Well, everything with the exception of sex and exercise, the two things I feel very strongly about avoiding these days. They just feel dangerous and exhausting. I know these thoughts are not backed up by science. I'm just a tired-achy-boobed ball of nerves. Again, see Lentil's post. Exercise will come. I'm not worried about that. I walk all over the place anyways. Sex is more complicated. We've done it a whopping once since I found out I was pregnant. It was hands down the least magical sexual experience in the history of mankind. J is being alternately very sweet and patient with me and then threatening to jump from our first story apartment window (just for effect). Sigh. I know this stupid fear isn't rational. It's just there. I'm having trouble shaking it. Perhaps I should have put a TMI warning at the beginning of this paragraph. Oh well, since we're in way too deep at this point, I'll let you all know that white Endometrin suppository goo dripped visibly down my leg yesterday at work. I was wearing a dress. It was super gross. I don't think anyone noticed...

You're welcome for the visual.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

7w3d - Perfectly Crazy.

Being crazy is a sad affair. It's exhausting being irrational ALL THE TIME. But I must. I have no choice.

Today has been a freaking wonderful day. Chicago finally decided it's summer and is spitting out some decently hot weather. It's the type of day where I'd crack a cold beer on the porch were I not knocked up via petri dish emulsion fluid. No complaints, just saying. I'm very happy with my flavored sparkling water. We had our 7w3d ultrasound this afternoon and for the first time ever, our Dr. M proclaimed our rapidly growing blob "perfect." I haven't heard the word perfect once in this whole infertility rigamaroll. It was pretty dreamy. J and I left the clinic grinning like idiots. We know we're not out of the woods yet but damn it feels good to be a gangsta. Mixed metaphors just feel right today. While waiting for the elevator at the hospital (OB-GYN and Reproductive Endocrinology are on the same floor because they're super sensitive and awesome like that), J complemented a woman on her choice in strollers. Now, that's a completely bizarre thing for a man to do. But it's very J - he's an oddly observant and aesthetically inclined individual - and it warmed my heart. Our ultrasound today allowed us to think beyond the next week or so.

Here's where the crazy comes in. (Cuz it always does.) I'm texting Maggie about random nonsense and she tells me that one of her friends is pregnant. I know this friend, though not well, and would typically wish her no ill will. But my immediate knee jerk reaction? Bitch. I haven't had much practice as a pregnant woman and certainly almost none as a calm-not-worried pregnant woman but I have had years of practice as an infertile woman. And she came raging out. Why am I still annoyed that people can get pregnant by having sex? I don't know, but I am. I'm still in the only-infertiles-and-my-bestest-friends-are-allowed-to-get-pregnant stage. How long does that stage last? Possibly forever? More so than nausea, lingering malice towards the fertile is my least favorite pregnancy symptom.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Glow - A Fertility Insurance App?

S just forwarded me this article on Mark Levchin's (PayPal cofounder) new fertility tracking app, Glow.* My first thought as a seasoned infertile was probably the same as yours: there are already 37 fertility apps out there. Maybe 1,037. Frankly, from a tracking standpoint, Glow seems to be the same - you enter the average length of your cycles, date of your period, your basal body temperature, and - everyone's favorite - the consistency of your cervical mucus. You can also add comments about your stress level. One of the things that sets Glow apart is that it has an app for men. Basically it will share this information with your sensitive man. Said husband can also enter data about you, specifically whether or not you seem stressed. am stressed, you say. My uterus is all janked up and my husband's sperm swim backwards. But let's say your uterus isn't janked up, or you don't know if it's janked up or not. The microscopic contents of your husband's semen is a big sticky question mark. All you know is that you want a baby and you've heard unprotected sex is an effective method of achieving your new goal. Your choices are to A) have sex when you feel like it and hope for the best, B) order Taking Charge of Your Fertility on Amazon, learn about ovulation signs, and properly time intercourse with the help of a free app like Fertility Friend, or C) Pay $50 a month and sign up for Glow where you'll track the same info you'd track had you chosen Option B.

So why do it? Why pay to take your temperature in the morning and study cervical seepage? That $50 you pay per month goes into a pool. If you are pregnant within 10 months of signing up for the app then good for you, you bought the most costly app ever. But you get a baby. So stop complaining, it's not like kids are expensive. If you don't get pregnant within 10 months, the idea is that you should check into a local fertility specialist's office. (Naturally, Glow will direct you to one in your neighborhood.) Levchin says that at least double what you've invested in your Glow app - and much more in the future - will go towards the cost of your treatment. Maybe now that means covering the cost of your Femara or an IUI, but in the future it could cover the cost of a cycle of IVF. Levchin has already invested one million of his own dollars into Glow and has raised $6 million more. Essentially this is an insurance scheme. Most of us don't get in car accidents but when we do, we sure are happy that we've paid our monthly insurance bill and that the repairs are covered. Most couples don't need help getting pregnant but many do. Is $500 a reasonable risk to put down on your fertility?

Honestly, I'm stuck on this one. On the one hand, Levchin has publicly recognized what most states and insurance companies haven't - infertility is a legitimate physical problem with serious emotional, mental and social repercussions worthy of care and coverage.  The idea of elective self-insurance is exciting and could very well be ground-breaking within healthcare. I am concerned, however, that this app takes advantage of women's anxiety over their own fertility. While I consider myself an educated consumer, I'm embarrassed to admit that I have personally have thrown money away on ridiculous ebooks and programs "guaranteed" to improve my chances of conception. (I say ridiculous not because they didn't work for me, but because they were junk science marketed to very desperate women, like myself.) Also, with a $50 per month price tag, isn't Glow potentially offering a service to those that are better equipped to pay for assisted reproductive technologies anyways? True, $500 is a drop in the IVF bucket. Levchin states that he wants to use the data he farms on his app to shed light on various factors that can affect fertility, like weight and stress. That data may say more about the type of women that use the app; let me go out on a limb here - Type A, compulsive temperature checkers with a hunch that pregnancy might not come so easy.

I live in one of the very few states with an infertility insurance coverage mandate. Infertiles in Illinois and Massachusetts are very, very lucky. From a financial standpoint, I probably shouldn't take a stance at all. From an ethical standpoint, I'm conflicted. Glow is potentially exciting, certainly innovative as a healthcare funding concept. Maybe putting the idea out there is enough. (Well, the idea plus $6 million.) What do you think? I'm so curious to know.

*Interested to learn more about Glow? THIS INTERVIEW with Mark Levchin provides much more information than the article.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Flanders Fetal Pole Day

I've been a bad blogger lately because I've been so ding-dang-dobbly nervous. Really, it's a miracle that I only write like Ned Flanders because I feel like talking like him too. Such is my nervous energy. In the past week you could find me A) pretending that everything's normal and I'm not pregnant and therefor not headed towards the temple of doom or B) happily focusing on my low-grade nausea and poking at my boobs. There's not much to share about those varied experiences. I've had an absurdly short fuse with J which I feel both bad about and occasionally justified for. Doesn't he understand that I need to be completely immobile on the couch watching the Kardashians and knitting* between weekly ultrasounds? Doctor's freaking orders.

So, today was a big day. The day where everything fell apart last time (though things were admittedly completely in pieces long before that), the 6w3d ultrasound. This time however was so wonderfully different. There was a fetal pole with a heartbeat that you could see and hear. It was amazing. Now, as I said before, two pink lines + an ultrasound do not a baby make. But a heartbeat is a huge leap from where we were before and I'm doing my best to simply revel in it.

I also was asked the most beautiful questions an infertile can be asked, "Do you have an OB selected?" Who, me? Why would I need one of those? I don't even have a vagina, I have a convenient charging port for the ultrasound wand! I was told to make an appointment in one month because I could (still) be pregnant in one month. Son of a diddly. There's Ned again.

Poignant questions: Why is human gestation a million years? Is hysteria good for fetuses?

*No, I have not lost my infertile mind. I'm still knitting that summer sweater for myself despite the fact that it's late August. I'm not going to do anything reckless like knit a baby item. Geez.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Small Victories, Not Ectopic

Ladies and gentlemen (like there are actually gentlemen who read this),
Breathe easy. It is not ectopic. Previously mentioned ectopic phase is over. Confirmed via ultrasound at 5w4d. Ocho Cellito is planted firmly within my uterus, just north of center. So, that's the good part. I don't know if there is a bad part but J and I left the clinic feeling like utter doomsday. It was a shitty appointment instead of the celebratory jig it should have been. It left me confused and completely freaked. Here's how it went.

This time, I specifically requested that I see my RE, Dr. M, instead of whoever was available at the clinic that day. After I checked in, a 15-year-old called me and introduced herself by her first name - Kristen, not Dr. Kristen - and said that she was Dr. M's student. Fine. University teaching hospital. Both my parents worked and taught at teaching hospitals. They incredibly important institutions, at the forefront of research, blah blah blah. All good until it involves my uterus. I'm asked to undress from the waist down, as per usual, and J pipes in "Me too?" to break the ice. I laugh. Less nervous. I casually remark to J that I'm feeling very que sera sera about the whole affair and I actually believe that it's true. Dr. M and Kristen come in and Dr. M says "I hope we get you off this roller coaster soon." I concur. I assume the position and Kristen takes the lead. She searches and searches with the dildocam and finds nothing. Not even something resembling a uterus. Dr. M remarks, "Having some problems finding your uterus," with a smile. "Pretty sure I haven't lost any major organs lately!" I'm fucking dying. Finally Dr. M takes over and quickly locates the large object attached to my cervix. In it, an obvious gestational sac and yolk sac. Excellent. It's much larger and more obvious than last time. Dr. M points to an invisible white dot that he says is most likely the beginning of a fetal pole. I couldn't see it. Ovaries clear. Sitting up sans violating wand, I asked Dr. M if everything looked ok. "Yeah," with a shrug. What about the size of the sac? He looks at the print out a while and after a while says, "On the small side of normal." Upon leaving, he said, "Well, we'll see what's going on next week."

That's it. That was our first ultrasound. Nothing terribly negative but no one passed out cigars, either. I don't think Dr. M smiled once. I left feeling horrible. Small side of normal echoed in my head. It sounded too much like my 6 week ultrasound with my first pregnancy - measuring behind. I should focus on the "normal" part. Everything that was supposed to be there was there. Why the doomsday approach? Why act like the search was for a malignant tumor instead of the hopeful beginnings of a baby? Was he underwhelmed by my betas? The petite gestational sac? Or was he just bashing me over the head with the fact that the 5.5 week ultrasound isn't a particularly telling signifier of pregnancy outcome? Two pink lines and an ultrasound does not a baby make.

I'm starting to get pretty fed up with my clinic. Yes, there are some stellar caregivers there but the overall attitude sucks. I feel like their motto is "Shit happens." Sure, but can we at least fake a tiny orgasm when things don't appear to be circling the drain?

Today I'm feeling better than yesterday. There's nothing I can do but wait it out and take care of myself both mentally and physically. My next ultrasound is scheduled for Tuesday, 6w3d. I've been holding out for that ultrasound as the one that leaves me feeling finally confident. I need to let go of that expectation. Every glimpse should be uplifting but its unreasonable to expect that a single event will make everything better.

Tomorrow my best girlfriends leave for our annual summer vacation. This year they're headed to Santa Fe, NM. Very sadly, I won't be joining them but for good reason. I know that flying is theoretically safe during the first trimester but I'd rather take a bubble wrap approach this time. Should I miscarry again, I don't want to have anything hanging over my head. I'm staying put for my sanity and my growing embryo. As I've told them, the only thing I'd rather do than be on vacation with them is get knocked up. Well, bitch be knocked up. On the other hand, my sister asked me to come up to our parents' cabin with her this weekend to celebrate her birthday. Just us and the hubbies. I don't think my nerves over my fledgling pregnancy will be soothed at all by three days spent around her jubilant, glowing belly. Also, I haven't told my family yet. I am waiting until things feel a little more settled. Maybe next week (see previous paragraph) if/when I see a heartbeat. I'm going to respectfully decline the invitation and tell some white lie about work. Or not. Maybe the truth. Undecided.

Physically - 5w4d, still pregnant. Waves of nausea that last for an hour or an afternoon with no rhyme or reason. Tender boobs.
Mentally - Juggling cautious optimism with unease. F-ing terrified to miscarry again. My brain and heart would explode.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Loving Jimmy Fallon

Here's a confession that is no surprise to anyone who actually knows me: I love celebrity gossip. I know it's dumb. I still love it. And I love stupid TV. So sue me. I can be an intellectual AND watch Princesses of Long Island at the same time. It's called mental multi-tasking.

As my fertility issues have dragged on, one thing that has seriously irked me is the glowing announcements of elderly celebrities just thrilled to be - surprise! - pregnant at the age of 85. Good for you! IVF donor egg confessions anyone? No, I didn't think so. You're naturally lean and muscled, love a good burger and got pregnant via sexual intercourse despite the fact that you're pre-menopausal. I one-hundred-percent believe everything you told People Magazine to print. So, when Jimmy Fallon announced that he and his 46-year-old wife had a baby named Winnie, my initial response was twofold: 1) Winnie is possibly the cutest name ever. Good work. 2) Forty six? What a flip-flapping miracle a la Virgin Mary Halle Berry. I decided to focus on the stellar name choice and moved on. Then, this morning, my beloved published a story where Jimmy states that Winnie was carried by a surrogate and says, unapologetically, that they had struggled with infertility before turning to surrogacy. Bravo! Thank you! Thanks for being honest and not pretending that your lovely wife is one of the three women in the world (Halle) who has primo eggs in her mid-forties. I am forever impressed by people's honesty about infertility and miscarriage. It makes it so much easier for those of us in the trenches. If this kid sticks, I feel like I'll want to tell the universe how hard won it was.

A quick update. I am doing pretty well. Still bouncing among scared-anxious-thrilled-beatific. Yesterday was my "ectopic" phase. S assured me that I would go through an "ectopic" and "molar" pregnancy freakout before I accepted that I had an intrauterine pregnancy. Molar seems like a bit of a stretch but she was on the money with ectopic. J assured me I was mildly nuts. I told him that I felt twinges on my right side and he said it was only because I was thinking about twinges on my right side. Maybe, maybe not. Ectopics happen! Then again, so do brain tumors and bank heists. Not worth worrying over at this juncture.

Mental issues aside, physically I am tired, feeling generally "meh" and my boobs have varying degrees of tenderness throughout the day. I'm also having the craziest night sweats ever which, Dr. Google tells me, are due to fluxuations in hormones. It's disgusting or charming depending on whether you're into wet sheets.

Signing off, with much love.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Beta Three. Metaphor Addiction.

This embryo is incredibly consistent. From 199.3 to 367, another doubling time of just under 55 hours. Again, it's not the 48 hours my clinic would like to see but I'm still within the 48-72 hour zone. Enough math. I am satisfied. Clearly I wanted them to call with a beta number somewhere in the ballpark of a billion but I am happy to be steadily increasing. I have decided - with no science to back me up - that the consistency of my rising HCG levels is a positive sign.

A different nurse called me this time. She was less gloomy and far more encouraging. She assured me I was still "in the game."  That said, given that I didn't perfectly double, she asked me to come for a freaking fourth beta. I asked if I had to and she said "no." So, I'm not.  I think three betas gives them plenty of data to play with. These repeated blood tests are making me so anxiety ridden that I'm failing to rock the serene maternal glow that I had this past weekend. I want to get back there. That was awesome.

So, next step is an ultrasound next week. It will put me at 5 weeks 4 days. Part of me would like to wait for 6.5 weeks so that I could get a better sense of what was going on - heartbeat, measurement, etc. I don't know. I'm gun shy. Last time things looked good at my 5.5 week ultrasound (well, except for the horribly low betas and the excessive bleeding) and then shit fell apart at the 6.5 week ultrasound. Perhaps I'm trying to spare myself the roller coaster. Perhaps I should just accept that I'm already clearly on the ride.

(I am addicted to metaphors. And parentheses. There are far too many of both those things throughout this blog. But I like them and find them useful.)

IVF ladies, did you have your first ultrasound at 5.5 or 6.5 weeks? Just curious.

Lastly, I saw my therapist today. Yes, I go to a therapist. And an acupuncturist. And a RESOLVE group. And I have a blog. I also text and email my friends 40 times a day. It takes a motherfucking village. She talked to me about "graduating" to a normal OB. This was such as happy thing to talk about and made me feel so joyful. Life as a normal uterus would be wondeful.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Beta Numero Dos

Beta #1 (8/2) :  80.2
Beta #2 (8/5): 199.3

More than double Friday's beta, slightly under the "ideal" 48-hour doubling period. Before you post comments lamenting my upcoming death from swine flu or sluggish HCG betas, please know what I've been trying to drill into my head for the last few hours: anything between a doubling time of 48 and 72 hours is normal and dandy. This is according to The American Pregnancy Association and a plethora of other reputable sources. What could be more American than this petri-dish derived pregnancy fueled by mega-doses of synthetic hormones? My uterus is practically setting off fireworks, grilling brats and making jello salad. Of course my cranky university hospital RE clinic subscribes to the 48-hour-textbook rule and has asked me to do another beta on Wednesday. The nurse who called wasn't particularly negative but wasn't planning my baby shower either. Sigh, involuntary beta hell. Whatevs. Ocho Cellito is hanging on and clearly growing.

S, of guest blogging fame, went to see her OB today. She is (possibly romantically) in love with her OB and promised to ask her for feed back on my digits. S says that her doc "squealed" and said they were great. She said that a 66% rise in 48 hours is typical and that my numbers were strong. Strong like bull. Is it ridiculous to want to choose her as my future OB (hoping that all goes well)? Now what if you found out that she practiced in Boston and I reminded you that I live in Chicago? Yeah, a little nuts. But I love her optimism. She wrote my name and numbers in S's chart and said she expected updates. Love it.

I'm off to acupuncture this evening where I know I'll get another dose of positivity and relaxation. Nothing to do breath deeply, get stuck with tiny needles, and relax. No more google for you.

Or, Try Happy.

I hemmed and hawed over whether to write this before my second beta results or after. I chose before because que sera sera.

As you could undoubtedly tell from my post on Friday, I was completely terrified to be pregnant again. A friend of mine who has suffered from RPL (repeat pregnancy loss - due to male factor) and is now in her second trimester with a healthy baby, told me that between pregnancies one and five (this is five), she spent two through four miserable, "waiting for the other shoe to drop." For this pregnancy, she said she just let herself enjoy no matter if she miscarried or not. It sounded a whole lot more fun than my original plan - rocking in the fetal position in the dark, listening to R.E.M. "Everybody Hurts" for weeks/months on end - so, armed with the good news on the beta, I gave it a whirl. I practiced the fine art of happiness. It didn't come easy at first. The breakthrough came on Friday night up at the cabin when we told Vlad and Maggie the good news, tempered with the caveat that it was clearly insanely early to tell anyone and that they were only to pray and cross their fingers. Their response was completely joyous and had none of the fear and trepidation that I had been harboring. Vlad gave me my first ever pregnancy-high-five.

I woke up the next morning to the sun shining, birds singing, and cows mooing at the neighboring farm. My first lucid thought was, "I am so happy." And I let it ride. Still am, though I'm reasonably nervous for the results beta #2. No matter what the results of that beta, or whatever comes in the next few weeks, I've had a really incredible few days and enjoyed the shit out of this pregnancy however early and tenuous it may be.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Beta Day

And the beta is...
I'm pregnant. Again. And terrified. And happy. Mostly terrified.
I admit I've known since Tuesday night (7dp3dt) when I got a super faint squinter of a positive. I tested again Wednesday - slightly darker - and then J forbid me from taking any more tests.
I have already had some very light spotting which has me sick to my stomach. The IVF nurse says its most likely due to irritation from the Endometrin suppositories. God, I hope so.
F*$&#. Nervous. Holy shizzle.
I go back on Monday for a repeat beta. This weekend I'm off to to my parents cabin in the woods with friends for much needed mental and physical R&R.

And now, a prayer.

Dear Lord, please make this pregnancy successful.
Please give me a take-home baby from this here very pregnancy.
Please put me in a healthy, spiritually-induced coma for the next few months.
Please make wine completely safe for pregnant women to drink.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Supporting Your Very Own Infertile

Today I depart from the usual and bring you a guest blog entry by S, my best friend and "gold star" fertile. I wanted to let her speak to the other side if this difficult equation: what it's like to support your very own infertile. What makes this all the more interesting is that S is pregnant with her second kiddo. What's more, I'm thrilled about it. I certainly cannot say that for all the pregos in my life right now. I think the secret is how we went about navigating this emotional minefield. I'll let S speak to that.

The other good reason for a guest blogger is that I'm too damn nervous for my beta tomorrow to write anything coherent.

With that, please enjoy...

Sitting down to write this guest entry makes me feel a bit like I’m in Fertility Anonymous; Hello, my name is S, and I’m pregnant.

I’ve known Amy - real name, practically out of the closet - for almost our whole lives.  She and I (and a couple other close girlfriends that she has mentioned previously in the blog) go on vacation every August. Except not this year. Amy will either be pregnant or not from her second round of IVF and right now I have such bad morning sickness I’m unable to shower, brush my teeth, or sneeze without throwing up (lovely right?)  

When she asked me to write a post on "supporting your infertile" I wasn’t really sure what to say. I have been exceedingly fortunate in my own grand experiment with one beautiful 19 month old girl and now another on the way.  I can’t imagine being helpful or comforting to Amy and her readers.  I’ve been by her side during this whole adventure but I in no way know how hard it is for her (and many of you.) I’m an outsider in the infertile community, but I do consider myself a very strong supporter.

Here is one thing I know. You probably all have friends, family, people who love you who are starting or growing families themselves. I can promise you that you are a strong presence in their minds.  When my first test came back with the two dark lines indicating positive one of my first thoughts was, “How am I going to tell Amy?" When I told my husband, he said, “Holy shit, how are you going to tell Amy?”  If I can offer anything of value to this chronicle it’s how Amy and I together made a plan for sharing this news, and how (I hope) that plan made it just a bit easier for her to handle.

Amy and I both have siblings.  Our husbands have siblings.  When we were younger and daydreaming about family life, we always talked about our (multiple) children.  She, Amy, expected that as Peanut got to be around 15 months old we’d be trying for another.  Given her struggles we both knew this wouldn’t be easy for her.  I had my own anxieties about if and how I would talk with her.  I can’t compare this to the hardship she has had, but it would be silly to pretend it didn’t cause me grief.  I felt guilty, of course, for being so lucky when Amy and others were so, well, not.  I didn’t want to lie to my best friend but I definitely didn’t want to cause her more anguish, especially now with IVF round 2 coming up.  She needed all her mental strength focused on that.

Luckily, Amy was mature enough and open enough to be honest with me about what she needed.  As this spring came around she asked me to tell her when we ‘pulled the goalie.’  Some may see this as an invasion of privacy or selfish or having “chutzpah” (a little Yiddish for you).  Let me assure you, IT IS NOT.  By telling me exactly what she needed Amy was not only looking out for herself, but for our friendship.  Selfishly, it also took a load off of me.  I know how incredibly lucky I have been to be able to start my family and watch it grow with little difficulty (except for a little---okay a lot---of vomiting, things for us have been very easy).  Besides watching Amy go through all this, I grew up with stories of how my parents tried to start their family for 7 years and the sadness surrounding my mom’s 4 miscarriages.  Amy’s honesty has taken so much of that guilt away from me and allowed me to enjoy these past 9 weeks (as much as I can outside of the vomiting) and for that I am so grateful.

The key was (and again, this may sound weird, but trust me) making a plan. I want to encourage you, both infertiles and supporters, to be as honest as you can with each other.  I promise it will help you both.  Amy has been honest with me about what she wants and does not want to know including but not limited to:  
1) when we started trying to get pregnant (yes)
2) when we conceived (yes, and as soon as I got the double line)
3) how she wanted to find out (via phone—although it ended up being via text)
4) when she is ready to see ultrasound photos (not yet).

No one is a mind reader and these are sensitive issues.  It’s unfair to expect them to just know how to navigate this type of situation; it’s an emotional mine-field.  It’s not like you get a lot of practice telling your fertility-challenged best friend that you’re having (yet) another child.  It’s kind of a once or twice type of thing.
And now, a random segue.  A few years ago my baby sister was diagnosed with a very rare and aggressive form of cancer. I hate to compare a diagnosis of infertility to cancer, but in so many ways I see similarities.  The diagnosis itself is devastating and for the next (weeks/months/years) you are living day to day.  Even with the best distractions, it is always there in the background.  I could not have survived that time without Amy helping me through.  And I try my best to provide that same support to her now.  After telling my girlfriends about my second pregnancy I received an outpouring of love and support.  But, in the back of their minds, I know every one of them was thinking about Amy (and just as they should have they all called her to check in after hearing the news.)

3 years later my sister is in remission. She is a much stronger, more mature, more confident young woman because of her experience.  You can always tell the survivors of hardship; those that have come out on the other side of some trauma.  They have gotten up off the mat and it’s inspiring.  I see this in Amy. She has always been strong, but the grit and resilience she’s displayed in the past 2 years is nothing short of extraordinary.

Monday, July 29, 2013

6dp3dt - The Pity Party is Out.

As for the overwhelming negativity displayed in last week's posts, I feel like I really didn't have much of a choice. That damn PIO-allergic reaction left me crippled and in excruciating pain for a week. It was just too hard to be Suzie Sunshine after that. The failure of the embryos still living in the lab to progress was just another unnecessary kick in the crotch. The fate of "lil' ocho cellito," as my friend has christened the kick ass embryo hopefully dividing and burrowing as we speak, has been hard to focus on what with all the tearful navel/uterus-gazing I had to do. Enough with that. Not enough with being sad, I'm still definitely working on that that one, but enough with feeling so damn sorry for myself. I realized this after relaying my story via email to another newbie infertile. In her response, she - intentionally or otherwise - expressed her abject horror in my sob story, most likely terrified that she too would lose use of her legs to a dramatic progesterone accident.  Feeling sorry for yourself is one thing. Having other people pity you... that sucks. I realize that I created this monster. The more I bitch and moan about what is happening and what might  happen (mind you, I don't go in for my beta test until Friday), the more I invite people to tilt their heads and say, "you poooooooor thing!" Ugh, done with it.

Game plan through Friday (and beyond):
  1. I will wallow for no more than 15 minutes each evening. Then I have to go walk the dogs or do something other than sit on the couch and audibly sigh.
  2. I will vent on this blog in a productive manner. I so rely on this outlet and am strangely comforted by the fact that half of those reading have been through the same exact crap. Your love and comments speak volumes and help to get me through all this. If I were in it alone, there wouldn't be an entire corner of the blogosphere carved out for us whiny barrenesses.
  3. I will not rely on takeout for dinner (see #1 - grocery shopping and cooking is impossible if you are constantly wallowing).
  4. I will accomplish things related to my actual job which, surprisingly enough, is not getting pregnant.
  5. I will think about positive things happening in my life now and in the future. Hell, I might even make a list.
  6. I will make a valiant effort to finish the this sweater I've been knitting on and off for months now. Idle hands and whatnot.

The pity party is OUT. (Mike dropped, walking off stage.)