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.