On Parental Holidays

So, I just experienced my first Mother’s Day.

Well, not my first, of course.  I’ve been experiencing them as long as I’ve been a daughter, celebrating my own mother, grandmother, and the other mothers in my life.  One a year, every May, until I was married…

Then I spent four Mother’s Days preferring to eat (and drink) my feelings about not being a mother myself rather than celebrating anyone else’s functional reproductive systems.

Mother’s Day 2013 was spent feeling like I was caught in some limbo between motherhood, grief, and infertility.  That was a dark day spent thinking about how I should be cuddling my newborn Gummy Bear.

Last year, I found myself harboring the secret of our little Jelly Bean.  Unable to voice my fears and elation to anyone but the husband at the time, I ultimately chose Mother’s Day 2014 as the day we would tell our families about the little beating-heart life growing in my newly functioning uterus.  I wanted to give Mother’s Day a new sheen, a positive spin meant to dust off the past bitterness and negativity I’d felt toward the holiday in general.

It worked, and last year was probably the best Mother’s Day I could have imagined, even though the terror of a new pregnancy was nearly palpable.

After the success of last year, I fully expected this year’s Mother’s Day to be a freaking glitter parade with backup dancers and rainbow-tailed unicorns and fluffy kittens singing songs of celebratory joy.

I was mistaken.

It turns out that no matter how many blessings you find yourself in possession of, no matter how things start to go your way for once, sometimes the shackles of the past are really hard to shake.

I thought I would be ecstatic to be celebrating Mother’s Day, but it turned out to be a hard day.  I just felt like an outsider.  I am a mother now, to a living, healthy, beautiful little girl, and yet I still felt despair and anxiety the whole day.

I think TTC PTSD is a real thing.  I am absolutely terrified of Aunt Flo’s return.  I don’t want to think about ovulation ever again.  I hate the thought of a Two Week Wait so much more than I used to.  I don’t want to think about a pregnancy test, like AT ALL.  Mother’s Day just felt like a day I had earned the right to enjoy, but just couldn’t bring myself to embrace.

I’m just not over it.  Any of it.  I still feel pangs of jealousy and old stirrings of bitterness when I see pregnancy announcements.  It’s irrational.  I have no reason to feel that jealousy… And yet, maybe it’s the ease with which some people have their children, and the blind, ignorant bliss with which they conceive and raise their babes.  An ignorance I’ll never have the pleasure of experiencing.

I lament the fact that I may never have that easy-going, anxiety-free experience of conceiving and enjoying a pregnancy.  My pregnancy with Jelly Bean was quiet and easy at the beginning, but tumultuous and fraught with terror for the entire second half.  Even now, we can’t let our guard down because her cCMV infection could bring about a multitude of issues as our kiddo grows and develops.

I keep thinking that one day I’ll breathe easy.

I also think, immediately after, that I probably lie to myself just to get through those moments of heart-stopping fear.

Yep.  Lies.  Lies are good.  They keep the nightmares at bay.

I want to tell you all that Yes! You will get your baby one day! And that baby will solve all of the problems infertility has rained upon your life because finally!  You’ll be a mom, and that’s the answer to all of life’s problems, isn’t it?!

I want to tell you to Be positive, and Remain hopeful because one day all the issues you face now will seem so small and insignificant!  Because you’ll be a MOM!  And moms don’t let old fears bring them down!  Moms don’t let the past ruin their present!  You’ll be a mom and everything will be PERFECT!  You’ll cook and clean and wear makeup and lose all that baby weight and have a perfect marriage and a perfect baby and EVERYTHING WILL BE PERFECT BECAUSE YOU’RE A MOM NOW!!!

But I’d be lying to you, too. 

Infertility changes us.  Permanently.  The damage it does can’t ever be completely undone, though daily life with a cluster-feeding, diaper-exploding, cooing, smiling, social life-destroying infant can certainly make you forget that you ever experienced those things.  For a while, anyway.

But you can’t forget for good.

The scary stuff comes back in the quiet moments.  It comes back when you should be celebrating a new life.  It comes back when the news reports that a celebrity has spawned yet AGAIN.  It comes back when you pass the pee-stick aisle at the grocery store.

It comes back on your hard-earned first Mother’s Day, wrecking what you thought would be your triumphant admittance into typical, normal, everyday family life – FINALLY.

Listen.  Infertility is a bitch from which there is no permanent escape.  She gets her claws in ya, and she hangs on for dear life.  All you can do is live your life, succeed, achieve, march forward, celebrate, experience, love, and feel, and by doing so, you will lessen her hold on your life.  This rings true both for those of you still in the trenches, and those of us who have dragged ourselves out with some divine – or scientific – intervention.

Infertility ain’t no picnic, folks.  Coming out on the other side isn’t always all you thought it would be, either.  As much as I absolutely am in love with my little one, I’ll always carry the scars of my infertility battles.

You will too, and that’s normal. 

That shouldn’t ever stop you from living your life, succeeding, achieving, marching forward, celebrating, experiencing, loving, and feeling.

No matter what hold your past has on you, don’t ever let it stop you from getting every last ounce of living out of the present.  Mother’s Day is just a day, after all, and really isn’t it the small, everyday celebrations that mean so much more than a Hallmark holiday ever could?

Celebrate those days instead.

Celebrate the day you finally made the call to the RE to start getting help.

Celebrate the day you survived your first hot date with the dildocam.

Celebrate the day of your first IUI or IVF transfer.

Celebrate the day you gave yourself your first shot without fainting.

Celebrate the day you stood up to your doctor and advocated for your own health.

Celebrate the day you dumped your doctor and went the Chinese voodoo direction.

Celebrate the day you decided to pursue an egg or sperm donor, donor embryos, or adoption.

Celebrate the day you helped someone else with your knowledge and experience.

Celebrate the day you allowed yourself to feel the grief and weight of what infertility has done to your life.

Celebrate the day you understood just how strong you really are.   

Celebrate the day you finally saw two lines.

Celebrate the day you heard that first heartbeat.

Celebrate the day your child’s birth mother gave you the greatest gift of all.

Celebrate the day you realized you were a mom after all, maybe not because you have a child in your arms, but because you have one in your heart.

Celebrate the day you realized you are a mom on your own terms, not because a calendar and societal norms told you to, but because you truly felt that you had earned it.

Celebrate those days – the days you realize just how much you are capable of – for those are the only ones that really matter.

I won’t wish you a happy Mother’s Day, because I know that those words are triggers themselves, no matter where you are in your life.

Instead, I’m instituting a new greeting for these parental holidays; one that hopefully won’t come with so much pretense or pressure.

Happy “You’ve Got This” Day, my friends.

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On Anniversaries

Today is the five year anniversary of this blog. 

FIVE YEARS.

Can you believe that??

I know it’s been a while since I last posted, but I’m hoping that with the itty bitty baby newborn stuff starting to phase itself out (and with me being back to work and having use of both hands part of the day, lol), maybe I’ll have a little more time on my hands to post here more than every three months.

HAHA, SPARE TIME.  I know.  Don’t laugh.  I’m trying, and that’s what counts.  ;)

So anyway, today is the five year anniversary of this blog. 

Oddly enough, today is also the one year anniversary of the day I peed on the very last (expired) pregnancy test in my house hoping it would induce my cycle to JUST START AND GET IT OVER WITH ALREADY, GAH.  That test had a faaaaaaaiiiiinnnnt second line, and I subsequently threw it into the trash, dug it out a few minutes later, buried it in a drawer, said a bunch of really bad words, and set out to call and yell at the test maker’s customer service line for allowing expired tests to produce false positive results.

We all know that the second line turned into my sweet gal Clara, but I wanted to share how she started out:

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Early morning.  An expired test.  A faint line.  Swear words.  Disbelief.

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Late evening.  A second test.  Freshly-purchased.  More swear words.  Terror and further disbelief.

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Next morning.  Phone call made with shaking hands.  Blood work done.  Results received at my desk at work (which is where I came across this note last week, stuck to papers in one of my drawers).

This Post-it will forever live in infamy.

I love that you can see the extent of my mania on this little sticky note, and what you can’t see but is implied is soooooohohohoooooo much Googling and mental preparation.

A beta result of 29 at 12dpo.  Okay, so then if it doubles, it’s all good… right?  Right.  Well wait.  No.  My first positive beta doubled too, but just barely.  I need this one to do more than double.  What did the last one do?  Okay… so if after 48 hours my beta goes up to less than 63, I’ll ask for a repeat in another 48 hours.  The last time, I had reason to worry, and I want to know how much I should worry this time.  If the result is more than 72, I’ll feel comfortable, I think.  Then I can schedule an ultrasound and maybe not worry.  HAHA, of course I’ll worry, but maybe not as much?  OH MY GOD, I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS IS HAPPENING!!!!!!!!1111ASDFGAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!

And then you can see that the second beta was 87.  Almost triple in 48 hours.  And then the date for the ultrasound, given to me over the phone during that same call.

In the span of five minutes, I went from OMG PUT ME OUT OF MY MISERY ALREADY, to HOLY BALLS I’M ACTUALLY PREGNANT!!! 

In the span of 72 hours I went from COME ON PEESTICK VOODOO, MAKE MY PERIOD START SO I CAN GET THIS OVER WITH ALREADY! to I MIGHT ACTUALLY GET A BABY OUT OF THIS PAST FIVE YEARS OF CRAP!!!

It was quite a wild couple of days last year, I can tell you that…

And here’s where we are today:

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This little ham nugget is four months old.

She has my eyes and my heart.

I still can’t believe she’s mine…

Even now, a full year later, I sometimes have to pinch myself as a reminder that this is my LIFE.

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And how sweet a life it is.

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How We Got Here and Where We’re Going

I’ve been working on this post in my head for two weeks now, but time really does get away from you when your whole focus is on a tiny little being that depends on you for her every need.  I seriously don’t even know what day of the week it is sometimes, which is not a complaint, but a commentary on how completely my life revolves around hers…

Clara is six weeks old today.  In some ways, it seems like she’s always been here and there was never really a life before she arrived, which is of course far from the truth.  In other ways though, it feels like just yesterday that they were placing her in my arms for the first time.  I’ll share with you all how exactly that came to be in this post.  Just fair warning, I was in the hospital for a full five days, so this is a looooooooooong post detailing all that occurred.

Oh, and as a reward for sticking it out, there are also lots of pictures.  :)

*****

The husband and I checked into the hospital on the evening of Thursday, December 4th to begin the process of inducing labor at 37 weeks pregnant.  Our doctor with University of Michigan’s Maternal Fetal Medicine clinic suggested inducing between 37 and 38 weeks because of some intrauterine growth restriction, and because due to the CMV infection, it was deemed safer to see how baby was doing once she was on the outside than to risk any more time not knowing what she was up against on the inside.

Once we were in our hospital room – a really nice room where we were told we could labor, deliver, and recover all in one space – a nurse came to place my IV and hook me up to the baby monitor.  We were told that it was a very busy night in labor and delivery, and that as soon as a doctor was free, they would come and place the cervical softening agent that would start my induction.

It ended up being around 1am that a doctor was finally free, so once the Cervidil was in place, I was allowed to get some rest.

Rest is a very kind term for what happens when you close your eyes in a hospital, by the way.  There is some sleep that happens out of exhaustion and necessity, but it’s not ever really restful.  There are nurses and doctors and residents who come into your room every hour or so – sometimes more – to check your vitals, get you beverages, monitor the baby’s heart rate and your uterine contractions, and sometimes just to introduce themselves at the beginning of their shifts.  It’s necessary I suppose, but I don’t think I truly rested the entire time I was in that hospital.

The next morning, my MFM doctor came by for a visit.  She checked in to see when the Cervidil had been placed, and then checked to see if I had made any progress in dilating.  I was dilated to 3 by that point, and she was happy with that.  She gave the nurses permission to feed me (before then I was on a liquid diet, slowly starving to death on broth and jello), and said she would check back on me in a few hours.

By the time the Cervidil had been in place for 12 hours, I had not progressed any further than a 3, so once the Cervidil was removed, the doctors started me on the IV Pitocin to get my labor moving.  Some contractions had begun toward the end of my round of Cervidil, but once the Pitocin kicked in, I started feeling them.  As the Pitocin level was turned up hour by hour, the contractions got progressively more noticeable.  Some of them started to become painful by Friday night, but my dilation to 3 still had not progressed.

At this point, the doctors gave me a break from the medicine.  It was probably 3am on Saturday morning when I took a shower and bolted down a cold sandwich, yogurt, and some fruit that the nurses managed to rustle up for me.  I felt much more human by the time I got back into bed, and the doctors restarted my Pitocin drip, hoping that the break from the meds would kick my body into a more active labor.

Spoiler alert:  They didn’t.

I spent all day Saturday with my Pitocin level being cranked up hour by hour, and every cervical check would yield the same results: dilated to 3.  I was tired, hungry, in a tremendous amount of pain, and my nerves were frayed to say the least.

Around 6pm, my MFM doc came back to see me before the end of her shift.  She was happy with the progress I had made, but unhappy that it had sort of plateaued.  In a very calming and reassuring voice, she talked to me about how she thought the next 12 hours would go, all the while gathering up an assortment of instruments from a cupboard behind a curtain.  When she emerged, she told me it was time to have my water broken.

It’s funny how often you hear that someone has their water broken, like it’s no big deal – and really, in the grand scheme of things it isn’t – but when it actually happens to you, it’s a very different set of thoughts that run through your mind.  Panic, to start…

It took literally less than a minute for the doc to break my water, and then she was off to enjoy her night.  She said she’d be back in the morning to see me, and she thought I’d have a baby by then.  Funny, because she probably hadn’t even reached her car in the parking garage by the time my contractions started getting REALLY painful.

I mean, I’d been contracting for a solid day and a half at that point, much of the time in a great deal of discomfort, but a few minutes after my water was broken, SHIT GOT REAL.

Now I’m not totally granola crunchy, and considering the high level of medical intervention I’d already required with this pregnancy, it’s not like I could object to medications,  but I was really hoping to avoid pain meds with labor.

That resolve crumbled within a half hour of my water being broken, and I sent the poor husband scurrying out of the room to get that epidural lady NOW.

Ain’t nobody trying to be a hero.

The epidural turned out to be just what I needed.  I was numb from the waist down by 8pm, and finally fast asleep fifteen minutes later.  I slept soundly for the entire time the husband was watching a football game.  The game ended around midnight, and a few minutes later, a doctor came in to check my cervix.

Oh, side note:  “Check my cervix” is another one of those terms that is taken far too lightly in my opinion.  It’s not like they just look up there with a flashlight… oh no.  You’re basically being fisted by a trained professional, and some of those resident docs have less training than others.  There was one doctor I called Dr. Sausage Fingers that was particularly lacking in experience… She was not my favorite.

Anyway, at around 12:30am on Sunday, December 7th, a doctor checked my cervix which had been at a 3 only four hours previous.  She checked, checked again, pulled the sheet back over my numb bottom half and said, “How about we go have a baby?”

It was go time, apparently.  The combination of my water being broken and the epidural had done the trick, and not only was I fully dilated, but the baby’s head was engaged and ready for me to start pushing.

Things moved quickly after that.  A whole brigade of nurses and doctors came in and started rearranging the room.  The poor husband just stood out of the way and waited for instruction.  Within minutes, a nurse was heaving my dead legs into the stirrups and they were coaching me on how and when to start pushing.

I pushed clumsily through the first contraction.  The baby was moving around too much and the monitors kept losing her heart rate.  The second contraction they lost her completely, and she had moved into a transverse, or sideways position in the birth canal – they want babies to come out face down, apparently.  The nurses moved me onto my side to encourage baby to rotate, and I stayed that way for a couple more contractions.

Once she had rolled to the proper position, I started pushing again.  This time, the doctors were more concerned that not only were they losing baby’s heart rate on the monitor, but also that what they were able to see appeared to be dipping quite low while I pushed.  They placed a monitor on her head to help them keep a better eye on things, but it was apparent rather quickly that her heart rate was dipping dangerously low when I pushed.

The doctors started rushing around the room and talking to me about possible “manual intervention”.  I was covered up and moved down the hall to an operating room in case it was necessary to perform an assisted delivery with suction, forceps, or surgery.  It was a total chaotic whirlwind, and in the midst of it all I remember was yelling at the husband to put on some damn shoes as he stood there in his pajama pants with a mask and gown in his hands, and a look of absolute disbelief on his face.

The operating room was only a few doors down from my room, so I was in there and being moved to a table rather quickly.  There had to be fifteen doctors and nurses present, and it was overwhelming.  Someone put an oxygen mask on me, and the husband was nowhere to be seen.  Eventually he came in, wearing a gown, mask, and hairnet, and stood by me while a doctor asked for my signature on different release forms in the case of surgical intervention.

I was in position to start pushing again a minute later, and after maybe three contractions, a squishy, tiny baby was placed on my chest.  It all happened from the first push to the last in less than an hour.

At 1:15am on Sunday, December 7th – Pearl Harbor Day – Clara Noelle arrived.

There was a whole lot of crying after that.  Her, me, the husband… More the husband and me, really.  Clara was relatively stoic about the whole thing after her initial entrance into this world.

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Of course I was thrilled to finally have my girl in this world, and I was happy to be done with the whole labor thing, but I was terrified of how the CMV infection would impact her.  I knew that there would be some initial examinations right there in the delivery room, and it had been made clear to me a few times that there was a chance Clara would need to go to the NICU.

One of the delivery doctors was talking to me about having to place a stitch because my stubborn little miss turned at the last second and came out face UP, thus tearing a rather sensitive part of my nether region.  (Yikes.)  I only vaguely registered that conversation because I was trying to hear and see what the doctors and  nurses were doing with my baby on the other side of the room.  I had sent the husband to go with her wherever they took her, and he was taking close to a thousand pictures, but no one was relaying anything to me.  Finally, a nurse yelled over that she was measuring five pounds, two ounces, and 17.25 inches long – a petite little lady,  but a very  healthy one!

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I was in so much shock that I barely understood when they told me we were going back to our room – all of us.  From there, we were left alone to spend some precious moments together as a family.

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At one point, the exhaustion overtook me and I slept while the husband spent time with his girl. And apparently took this picture of the three of us – our first family photo, lol.

Things after that started blending together into brief moments of activity.  A nurse came in to help me attempt to breast feed for the first time.  Someone gave me some yogurt to eat, which I promptly threw up.  The husband called his mom, crying his face off, to tell her that her newest granddaughter had arrived.  I couldn’t keep it together, so I texted my parents, my brother, and my best friends.

At 2am.

Considering nearly all 2am texts are typically drunken texts, it was a great pleasure to be able to send that one after so many years.

We slept a bit here and there.  Eventually I was able to eat solid food.  A nurse helped me to the bathroom, and considering I had very little control over my legs and urinary tract, it was a harrowing experience for all involved.

By the time visiting hours rolled around, our families started arriving.  I don’t remember who was there first… I know that my parents and sister had stayed at a hotel in the hospital since the place we delivered was about three hours from their house.  Oh  yeah – U of M has a hotel IN THE HOSPITAL.  What the what?!  It was nice knowing they were close by!  My best friend had stayed close by as well – she lives in my hometown, too – and she was there that morning to see us.  The husband’s parents came up from Toledo to visit and fawn over our girl.  Another of my besties drove FIVE HOURS to see us, too!  Clara has had a fan club since long before she was born (or even conceived!), and it was so nice for her to finally meet some of them!

Despite the happy visits and surreal firsts that happened all day long, there was still a lingering tension over our little family, knowing that we needed to see a few specialists to determine if the infection had injured any part of our girl’s brain or central nervous system.  Urine testing from her first few hours of life indicated that the infection had passed into her system, as we thought it would, but how that would impact her was yet to be determined.

The eye exam was first, and she passed with flying colors.  We will still need to see an ophthalmologist regularly to be sure her vision isn’t deteriorating, as can happen sometimes with CMV, but initial testing on her first day, and a follow-up visit two weeks ago showed no visual involvement from the infection.

One down…

Next was her hearing.  Again, we will need to monitor this regularly as she grows to ensure that she doesn’t lose hearing as can happen with CMV, but her hospital testing was perfect.

Hearing and vision – check.

The last specialist we waited for was from neurology.  Because Clara came on Sunday, there was no one available to perform the necessary cranial ultrasound immediately, so we were told they would come by to see us on Monday morning instead.  The sonographer was not able to give us any results of course, so we would need to wait until the doctor could interpret the findings and come back to speak with us.

When a resident from neurology did come back, we were told that they saw some calcifications in Clara’s brain.  What that would mean for her was yet to be seen, and we weren’t given much information right away.  The resident said that the head of pediatric neurology would come back to speak with us more, so until that point we had to just wait and try to digest the information we were given.

It was late in the day on Monday when the neuro attending and his team came to see us.  The nurses had arranged for our discharge that day – for BOTH of us to be discharged, together! – but because of the lateness of the neuro visit, we opted to stay one more night to avoid driving home in the dark and snow.

The visit from the neuro team was surprisingly relieving.  He told us that the calcifications seen were small, few in number, and in an area where there wasn’t a whole lot of very important things happening.  All in all, a best case scenario for that particular finding.  He said that he’d seen pediatric patients with worse findings than ours who he had finally had to discharge from his care because there was absolutely nothing wrong with them that they needed to see a pediatric neurologist.

It was recommended to us by our pediatric infectious diseases team that we start Clara on an oral antiviral medication that’s been shown to have really wonderful results in congenital CMV babies.  The newest study shows the benefit of a longer treatment with the medication, so we’ll give this antiviral twice a day for six months, with blood work monitoring throughout that time to ensure the medication isn’t affecting her immune system at all.

An amazing relief, and an excellent treatment plan, although we know that only time will tell if our girl has any lasting effects from the infection and the calcifications.  We have been set up with a full roster of follow-up appointments for the next six months, and we know that we are in excellent care with Clara’s team of doctors.

Finally, on Tuesday, December 9th, the three of us went home as a family.

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Since we’ve been home, it’s been a whirlwind, as they tell you it will be.  Having a baby during the holidays is especially crazy, but we’ve enjoyed every minute of it.  So far, Clara has had her first Christmas, was there to celebrate our sixth anniversary with us, rang in the new year, celebrated her one-month birthday, and enjoyed her first MSU basketball game (on TV of course) with her dad.

They won, in case you wondered.

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Most of our time has been more low-key, though.  A whole lot of this.

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All in all, things have been amazing.  We have no way to know what the future holds for us or for Clara, but we’re optimistic that our girl will have a full, happy, and healthy life.

A few things are certain, however…

We are so incredibly blessed, and so incredibly in love.

I mean, how could you NOT be?  :)

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Video

A Thousand Years

So I made this little video.

Really it’s a photo montage of the year, focusing on the most important events…

I chose the song because for a long time now, it’s been a sort of aspirational anthem for me.  I always envisioned humming it to my baby, and when I learned I was pregnant in April, it became even more important to me.  The lyrics are so spot on, it’s hard for me to imagine my Clara having a more perfect theme song… The lyrics even hang in her nursery.

a thousand years

Thank you all so much for being with me this year, and may 2015 bring us all our hearts desire and more.

So much more.

Click here for the video (sorry… not able to embed Flipagrams at this time.)

 

A Thousand Years by Christina Perri

Heart beats fast
Colors and promises
How to be brave
How can I love when I’m afraid
To fall
But watching you stand alone
All of my doubt
Suddenly goes away somehow

One step closer

I have died every day
waiting for you
Darlin’ don’t be afraid
I have loved you for a
Thousand years
I’ll love you for a
Thousand more

Time stands still
beauty in all she is
I will be brave
I will not let anything
Take away
What’s standing in front of me
Every breath,
Every hour has come to this

One step closer

I have died every day
Waiting for you
Darlin’ don’t be afraid
I have loved you for a
Thousand years
I’ll love you for a
Thousand more

And all along I believed
I would find you
Time has brought
Your heart to me
I have loved you for a
Thousand years
I’ll love you for a
Thousand more

One step closer
One step closer

I have died every day
Waiting for you
Darlin’ don’t be afraid,
I have loved you for a
Thousand years
I’ll love you for a
Thousand more

And all along I believed
I would find you
Time has brought
Your heart to me
I have loved you for a
Thousand years
I’ll love you for a
Thousand more

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A Day That Will Live In Infamy.

This blog, and all of you reading it, mean the world to me.

Not a whole heckofalot can keep me from this space, so you have to know I’ve had a very good reason for being absent these past two-ish weeks…

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This is why.

*****

Meet our miracle, Clara Noelle.

Our little Pearl Harbor Day baby, born at 1:15am on December 7th.

5lbs 2oz, 17.25 inches

Healthy.

Happy.

Heartbreakingly beautiful.

And most importanly, HOME.

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This is why, guys.

Never, ever, ever give up.

<3

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Thirty-Four (and Thirty-Seven)

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014.  36w 6d.

So yesterday was my thirty-fourth birthday.  I really didn’t do much to celebrate, since there is so much else happening at the moment, but it was a nice day regardless.  Some things were accomplished around the house and office, the husband sent me some gorgeous flowers, and I got lots of calls and hugs and stop-bys filled with birthday wishes.

In continuing the trend of eventful days, today is my last day at the office for a while.  I’m sad to leave, but I know everything is in good hands, and I know I’ll be back in early March to reclaim my workload like the martyr-y workaholic I am.  It’s also our office holiday party today, so there’s a lovely festive feeling in the air around here.  Makes for a nice last day…

Tomorrow evening at 37 weeks pregnant, the husband and I check into the hospital to start the likely very slow induction process.  We’re hoping for a baby by Sunday, but it’s hard to tell how this will all go.  There are many unknowns with the cCMV infection as well, but we are hopeful that baby girl will have received the benefit of the IVIG infusion treatments, and we know that we are in the best possible hands at the University of Michigan.

So, to recap:  I started this week as an employed thirty-three year old wife, and will end this week (God willing…) as a temporarily unemployed thirty-four year old mother.

Life is full of twists and turns, and sometimes the rug gets pulled right out from under you, but you know what?

Life is good.

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Thankful.

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014.  35w 6d.

I know… I have owed everyone an update for nearly two weeks now, especially after my last cliffhanger of a post.  In my defense, I did actually write one, and while I was wrapping up the last of it, my browser crashed and I lost the whole thing.  And then I was mad, and I was tired, and just felt so defeated by technology that I didn’t come back to it till now.

Anyway, here I am, with updates galore!

When I last posted, the doctors were worried that baby girl was becoming anemic, due to the rapid pulse in her brain.  I was scheduled for a follow-up scan and instructed to report any noticeably decreased movement.  The anemia could be very dangerous and would warrant a quick delivery to ensure our girl didn’t suffer any decline in health.

At the follow-up, the doctor said that she didn’t see anything concerning like she had the week before.

*audible sigh of relief*

She also said that she was very pleased with everything she saw, and that she felt comfortable keeping me pregnant, at least for a couple more weeks.

*WHEW*

So… wait.  What does a couple more weeks mean, exactly?

Turns out she wants us to deliver around 37 weeks, and no later than 38 weeks.  Baby will be in better hands on the outside as far as treatment and testing, and once we are past the pre-term stage, her odds of being a healthy kid greatly increase.

The plan is this:  we will check into the hospital late next week, arriving in the evening to start the induction process.  We’ll start with a cervix-softening medication overnight, which can take some time to work, and then once that has made the progress they like to see, they’ll give me medication to help induce contractions and labor.

It can, and likely will be, a long and drawn out process.  We are hoping for a baby by December 7th, but I’m not placing any bets.  Our girl seems to do everything at her own pace, and she likes to keep us guessing… I don’t see that changing any time soon.  ;)

Since that appointment, I’ve had another NST at my OB’s office in Toledo, which looked great.  I also had a second follow-up at UofM yesterday, which was part NST and part ultrasound, both of which also looked beautiful.

While we still don’t know if or how the infection will impact Jelly Bean, we do know that she’s active and growing and looking great on all of the testing we have in place so far.  What will be once she’s born remains yet to be seen.

What I can say with certainty is that this year has been one of extreme joy and, at times, extreme fear for the husband and I, and while things have not always been sunshine and roses, we are extremely thankful for what we have:  an amazingly supportive family and group of friends all over the world – including all of YOU, access to medical care and facilities that support and treat us like the most important patients they have, and finally, our little growing family and our miracle baby.

And so even in the face of some uncertainty, we are so, so thankful.

May this Thanksgiving holiday be a time of appreciation for the things you have, in spite of the curveballs life may be throwing your way.

And may there be pie.  Always, always pie.

 

Pumpkin_pie_slice_H

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The Futility of Planning

Friday, November 14th, 2014.  34w 1d.

This is going to be largely just an update, because I both don’t have a whole lot of time to spend blogging these days, and because my mind is enormously preoccupied with trying to re-prioritize basically EVERYTHING.

So I’ve been having twice weekly non-stress tests with my OB’s office here in Toledo.  Things have been looking just fine with those, and during the Tuesday appointments, I get to see Jelly Bean on the big screen because we have what’s called a biophysical profile done along with the NST – the sonographer watches baby by ultrasound looking for certain movements within a certain period of time.  She’s been a little stubborn here and there, but mostly she passes with flying colors.

During one of these appointments about two weeks ago, the sonographer did an unofficial glance at baby’s measurements.  As usual, her head and femur measurement are about two weeks behind, which is consistent with her growth since the 20 week scan.  She could come by that genetically, or there’s also the possibility that it has something to do with the CMV infection – either way, they’re keeping a close eye on things at my OB’s office, and I’ve felt pretty content that baby girl is strong and growing and responding to the treatments.

Yesterday was my first trip back to the University of Michigan since my first infusion treatment.  It was a big, really long day, as I had many appointments scheduled throughout the day, and adding being large and out of breath, and relatively sleepless of late, made the day feel even longer.

I had my infusion appointment first.  Things went smoothly – I sat and did some work on my laptop, and the nice medical assistant brought me snacks.  I held off on snacks toward the end of the usually four hour treatment thinking I’d have time to get lunch between noon and my 1pm orientation with the UofM OB Department, but treatment went long, and I was forced to skip lunch in order to make it to that appointment – I took a grape juice to go, and still made it to OB twenty minutes late.  Ugh.

That orientation didn’t take too long, and they were able to usher me off to my next appointment – an ultrasound with Fetal Diagnostics, the specialists who have been managing my and baby girl’s care – on time.  The husband even made it in time to meet me for this portion, so it was nice to have him there for support.

The ultrasound was pretty routine.  The sonographer was nice, the measurements she took were what I expected, and then she went to run over her scans with the doctor, promising to send someone back to see me shortly.

It took a while, and I started to get nervous.

When my doctor finally came back to see us, she had me pull my shirt up so she could re-scan a particular area.  EVEN MORE NERVOUS NOW, DOC.

It turned out that what she was looking for was the baby’s heart rate measured in a certain area of the brain.  When this heart rate is very fast, it can signal that baby is anemic.  Sometimes it’s mild, and other times it can be moderate to severe.  My doctor said she was concerned, and wanted to watch this closely.

She scheduled me back to see her in a week, and told me to keep a close eye on baby’s movements – if they slow down significantly, it could signal that baby’s heart is having to work too hard due to the low blood count – something we don’t want to happen, and something that could spell even more issues for our little one.

We discussed some options, one of which being a blood transfusion for Jelly Bean in utero.  This is done occasionally, but because of its risks, it’s usually done earlier in pregnancy when the benefits of keeping baby inside outweigh the risks of taking baby out a little early.  Because I’m 34 weeks at this point, my doctor said that if things start to decline, she would probably want to deliver me early.

As early as next week, potentially.

I never planned on a 35 week baby… But then again, nothing about this pregnancy has been planned or expected.  I suppose I’m being prepared for parenthood in that way.  Yeesh.

So in preparation for this possible change in delivery plans, I was given a steroid shot (RIGHT IN THE BUM!) yesterday at the hospital, and another this morning in my Toledo OB’s office (IN THE OTHER CHEEK!).  These shots will help baby’s lungs develop a little more quickly, and have been shown to improve lung function, among some other benefits, to babies born preterm.

After all of that, and with no real time to process what we had just been told, we were off to our next appointment – again, without food – to tour the hospital’s birthing center and learn about the labor and delivery process.  It all seemed a little bit of a moot point to me, considering that I may end up skipping all of the valet car/special elevator to triage/private birthing and recovery suite business in lieu of heading straight to a delivery room or the OR as early as next Wednesday…

It was also hard for me to concentrate because I HAD NOT EATEN SOLID FOOD SINCE 10AM.  By this point it was after 6pm, and I was seeing stars.  A little apple juice and some water just wasn’t doing the trick.  The husband and I headed home (luckily he had a spare apple in his car I could eat – my hero!), and finally had some real food with honest to Jeebus protein in it.

The day then caught up to me and I promptly passed out… Oh, but not before watching last night’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy wherein a pregnant mother needs to either have a transfusion for her baby or deliver early.  The doctor chooses early delivery, and while the baby ends up fine, the mother dies in surgery.  SPOILER ALERT, by the way, if you still watch this trainwreck of a show (says the girl who STILL WATCHES IT).

So yeah.   Bad choices in skipping opportunities for food yesterday, AND bad choices in evening programming.

I went to bed shortly thereafter, where I slept about two hours or so, and then woke up and just kind of hung out online for another three.  Sleep is a hot commodity these days, but try telling my anxious, preoccupied, steroid-wired brain THAT.

So anyway, that’s the update.

Things are not going as planned… but were they ever?

I’m completely unprepared to have a baby.  You’d think that after trying for so long, that would not be the case, but seriously… I’m not ready.

I mean, I have to shave my legs… somehow!!  And the baby’s room is just wrapping up the painting TODAY.  We don’t even have furniture put together in there yet.  I don’t have a hospital bag packed, but you can bet your ass I will by the end of this weekend.  Same thing with getting a car seat installed.

My anxiety is primarily over Jelly Bean’s health, however it’s obvious that there are some basic loose ends to tie up.  I’m working my hiney off trying to get that all handled while some how “relaxing” since that’s become something I’ve told I need to do more.  LOL… Sure.  Let me just try to fit that in somehow.

I apologize for the scattered-ness of this post, but again, I’m just trying to get the information out there as best, and as quickly as I can.

Thank you all for your continued prayers, healing thoughts, good juju, and kind words and emails.  They are appreciated more than you can ever know.  <3

 

A Post Script and an Infusion Update

I guess my post from yesterday riled a few people up, which was definitely not my intention.  If you don’t care to read my defense of that post, and prefer to read an update on our infusion therapy treatments, feel free to skip down to the second section for that.  :)

I meant no offense whatsoever with yesterday’s post, and was just expressing something I’ve noticed more and more of lately… There seems to be a little bit of a double standard when it comes to infertility and pregnancy, and while the majority of Infertiles are not included in this action, there is a lot of judgement out there on the interwebs.

Someone mentioned to me that as far as pregnancy complaints by Infertiles who have managed to conceive, that the audience makes a difference.  I agree a thousand percent with that statement.  There is no excuse for someone who’s been there in the trenches to bitch and moan to a group – or internet full – of people who would give anything to be in that position.

I was in no way defending that atrocious behavior, though the folks who do that are obviously a bit misguided in where to turn for support in their current situation, and could probably use a gentle nudge in the direction of their local Pregnancy After Infertility Support Group.

What I was trying to convey, while perhaps a little clumsily, was that I don’t think anyone, let alone our fellow Infertiles, has the right to shame a woman for expressing some of the negatives about her pregnancy.  It’s easy enough to turn away from those statements if you’re not in a good place to hear them, but openly ridiculing someone for not enjoying every single aspect of what is a totally life- and body-changing event is a bit much.

This has not happened to me, mind you – well, that I know of, at least – but I’ve seen it, and it makes me upset.  Hell, I’ve probably done it at some point in the past myself!

We’re all human, and no matter our path to get to this point, pregnancy is hard.  There are even harder things to deal with than nausea, swelling, pain, and the gross things that come out of your body on the daily, too.  Hyperemesis, preeclampsia, pregnancy complications, and pregnancy depression are all very real concerns that our fellow Infertiles sometimes go on to face after a long battle to get their miracle baby.  Don’t even get me started on the terrors that await a new mother, fertile OR infertile…

Life’s not fair, but as people, we can be compassionate and show a little grace and understanding toward everyone… our fellow pregnant Infertiles – who will always be our sisters – included.

So that’s all I wanted to say… Just a bit of a wrap-up from yesterday.  Agree or disagree, I meant no one any offense, nor did I mean that as an Infertile you are required to listen to pregnancy-bitching from anyone.  You do what you need to do – I know I have turned away from some of it in the past.  It’s a natural response.

And to you pregnant folks out there struggling to make the transition from Infertile with a whole internet of support, to mom-to-be with fears and concerns and complaints with insecurities in who to confide in… You do what you need to, as well.  There are people to listen and support you.

The entire internet might not be a friendly place, but there are PLENTY of friendly faces within the IF community, and outside of it.  I promise to be one of them.

*****

And now the infusion therapy update that I know a few of you have been waiting for…

After a bit of an insurance snafu (read: the hospital scheduled me faster than the insurance company could grant clearance for the treatment, resulting in a scheduled appointment for Thursday, a cancelled appointment for Thursday, a night of panic that insurance was changing their mind on covering the treatment, and an appointment reschedule for Friday morning…), everything worked out just perfectly.

We arrived on Friday morning at 8am at the hospital’s infusion center for check-in.

I was shown to a big comfy recliner, and introduced my nurse and medical assistant.  They brought me a drink and asked me if I wanted any snacks… I liked them immediately.  :)

From there it was all rather uneventful.  The infusion center’s pharmacy prepared my treatment, which came in four small bottles instead of one large bag like you typically see hanging from an IV pole.  The nurse got my IV started, which barely hurt, and the medical assistant helped me recline my chair and got me some warm blankets and a pillow so I could relax and browse things on the internet while I waited.

Once the infusion started, it was about four full hours of internet browsing, snacking, dozing in my chair, and chatting with the husband – who at one point brought me some delicious breakfast from Panera.

It was seriously no big deal.

We were released when it was all over, and I was told I shouldn’t expect any side-effects aside from a little irritation at the IV site, which was more from the tape being torn off than the needle.  My arm didn’t bruise or anything.  Seriously, no complaints whatsoever.

This is the best I’ve felt about our situation since finding out that I tested positive for CMV.  I know that between the infusion therapy and the daily antivirals, we are doing everything possible for our little lady to ensure that she is born healthy and has a happy life.

It’s up to her immune system now… And from what we’ve seen of her recently, this gal is a little fighter.

I’m confident that this treatment will make a difference, and I’m so, SO thankful that all the pieces fell into place so quickly for us.  We started treating this much later than most people do because of the point at which we discovered the infection, but studies show that even one treatment can facilitate big improvements.  We’re hoping to make it to three treatments before she’s born… as long as she’s not so much of a fighter that she decides to fight her way out too early.

Thank you to everyone for the thoughts, prayers, good juju, and positive vibes… Your support means the world to this little family, and I know that I wouldn’t be here, nor would my sanity, without it, and without all of YOU.

XOXO!!

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In Defense of Post-Infertility Pregnancy Complaints

I know.

Trust me… I know.

I spent five years rolling my eyes and just WISHING I had pregnancy issues to complain about.  I swore up and down that if I was ever lucky enough to be pregnant myself, I’d NEVER complain, and I’d enjoy every last second of it no matter WHAT!

So what’s changed?

Nothing, really.

And yet… everything.

I actively appreciate every day of this pregnancy.  I thank God for what he’s given me, even though things have been difficult, and could be even more difficult down the road.  Every stressful, uncomfortable, painful, spectacular moment – I send up a “thank you”.

I want to acknowledge a small belief, however, that seems to stem from one of the more bitter corners of the Infertile Universe, though.

The belief that once an Infertile conceives, that she is never allowed to utter so much as a whine about morning sickness, heartburn, swollen legs/feet/hands/face, or fears of impending childbirth.

This belief is rather widely accepted in some circles, and while I understand where it comes from because Sister?  I’ve been there!, it’s still a little unfair.

If anything, being pregnant after infertility affords you a bit more slack perhaps than those who conceived accidentally while on birth control and drunk in a hot tub.

If you’re like me – pregnant after years of suffering the trials, tribulations, grief and bitterness of infertility, then sweetie – I’ve got some advice for you:

Bitch about whatever you want, lady.

You’ve earned it.

Don’t take pregnancy for granted – like that’s even possible – but give yourself a break and understand that your past doesn’t make a difference in how pregnancy will impact your body.  Physically, you’re undergoing one of the biggest transformations a person can make – you’re literally MAKING A PERSON – and that’s going to come with some pain, discomfort, stress, panic, and a lot of really gross shit.

Complain if you need to.

Ask for help.

Search out those who understand and don’t judge – those folks are going to be the most supportive people to have in your corner.

Sometimes those people will be members of your Infertile Circle…

But more often than not?  They won’t be.

Which brings me to another point:  When you’re pregnant, you obviously don’t want to alienate your fellow/former Infertiles, but maybe not-so-obviously, you really don’t want to alienate the Breeders in your life when going through infertility either!

You’re going to need them one day, and if you’re lucky, they’ll have stuck around and will still be willing to support  you through your early pregnancy freak-outs, guide you through your midnight acid reflux horrors, advise you on the best granny-panties to pack in your hospital bag for maximum lady-bits comfort, and come over to hold your baby while you take your first shower in a week once you’re home from the hospital with a screaming armful of infant.

Moral of the story is this:

We all need each other. 

Don’t screw it up. 

Life is hard, and complaints are allowed. 

Give a little slack, and get a little in return.

Infertility sucks, you guys.  We all know that.  We all aspire to grow out of infertility and blossom into pregnancy as gracefully (and as SOON) as possible.

Pregnancy can be beautiful, and as much as we want to think it’s going to be all glitter and rainbows when we finally achieve that dream, sometimes the cold, hard truth is that pregnancy sucks, too.

And, as much of an optimist as I am most of the time, I can tell you for a fact that going through either of those things without a strong, understanding, judgement-free support system will also suck.  Big time.

So don’t be so hard on the complainers out there, even if they are former-Infertiles who “should know better”.

Throw them some slack, because you’ll  need some yourself one day…

Also, you’ll need someone who won’t judge how greasy and smelly you are after a week with no sleep and being brainwashed to respond to a tiny, wiggly pink creature’s every whimper and snuffle.  You’re going to be gross, you’re going to need clean laundry, and you might need help applying various ointments to your cracked and destroyed nipples.  You may also need help feeding yourself, washing your own hair, and doing the small, basic personal maintenance tasks like changing your underwear that keep a husband in the house…

So, you know… Complain at will, but just don’t alienate the supportive folks you have around that you can trust to help you with those things and NOT post photos of it on Facebook.

Trust me.  I’m already putting aside bribery money…

*****

A Bit of a Post Script

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From 0 sperm to a family of three

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An atheist on life, love, and little miracles...

A Little Bit More

Life, Love, Laughter and Everything Inbetween

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Two lesbians walk into a fertility center.....

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in search of our +1

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My Journey Through IVF

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A blog about my pregnancy with our first child

beautifully bold and eastern bound

just writing my story one page at a time

NERDY DAD SHIRT

By Jeremy McKeen

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FOR REAL BABY NAMES

All names on this site are names of actual babies.

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Everything you need to know about Tula's in one place

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My personal revolution via the South Beach Diet

"A SPIRIT-Kissed Soul" by Tai East

No judgment, just LOVE! :-) (Song of Songs 4:7 NIV- You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.)

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