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.