Tag: pregnancy after infertility
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

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

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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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A Result, an Update, and a Plan.

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014.  29w5d.

I know many of you have been waiting to hear the results of the amniocentesis that was done last week, to determine if the virus I have has crossed the placenta and possibly infected baby girl.  I appreciate your kind words, thoughts, prayers, happy vibes, good juju, and manic stalking more than you can ever know.  🙂

Our results came in earlier than expected – Friday afternoon, actually.  I do apologize that I kept some of you waiting, but before telling the whole world, we wanted to meet with doctors and gather some semblance of a plan.

I do hate blind results with no next steps in place…

*****

The amnio results were positive for CMV.  This means that the virus has crossed my placenta, and is currently in the baby’s blood stream.  Her urine, which is basically the amniotic fluid that was tested, is showing that she is shedding the virus.

I have it, she has it – and now what does that mean?

What this means is that we now have a higher chance for baby girl to be affected by the virus in utero, at birth, or beyond.  This could be in the form of mild central nervous system issues such as learning delays or mild hearing or vision loss, or more severe issues such as blindness, deafness, and mental retardation.

What this also means is that there is no real way to know if she will actually suffer any effects from the virus… There is just no way to be sure, aside from time and watching her carefully as she grows.  She could be perfect at birth and develop issues later, or she could just be perfectly healthy and grow up a normal, healthy, crazy kid.

At the moment, the ultrasounds are not showing anything greatly concerning, which the doctors say is encouraging.  They do say, however, that sometimes just because something is growing and looks appropriate via ultrasound does not always mean that it will function exactly the way it should.  We just can’t know what the future holds for this little one based on all of the data we have today.

The not knowing is excruciating.  It takes me back to the darkest days of infertility and not knowing if I’d ever be a mother.  This is different though, because there is an actual life, not a vision of a life, in the balance.

This is my child.  The one I feel kicking and squirming all day long.  This life is real and tangible, and in true danger of suffering anything from zero to mild to severe issues throughout her life due to a virus I couldn’t protect myself from, and could never have seen coming.

And so now, despite advice from my previous doctors to just wait it out, we push forward.  I’ve never been one to just “let things be”…

*****

My new doctor has recommended a two-pronged plan of attack on this virus, and the husband and I are fully on board.

She recommends a very high dosage of an oral anti-viral for me, to work on killing the virus that is in my system currently, and hopefully be some benefit to the baby as well.

She also recommends the “experimental” treatment I had mentioned previously, an immnoglobulin infusion, to be done once per month as soon as we can start.  Likely I would only be able to do the treatment twice before delivery considering how far along I am at this point – most women find out they are CMV positive much earlier in pregnancy than I did – but the doctor did say that despite the lateness of the treatment, she still sees the benefit in pursuing it.

So what is our time frame exactly?

We don’t know quite yet.  The one caveat in our treatment plan is that the immunoglobulin treatment is not something that is readily covered by insurance, and my doctor and her staff will have to fill out form after form, appeal after appeal, and plead with the insurance company to understand the necessity of paying for something that is not FDA approved for this use.

And paying for something so ungodly expensive.

These treatments, out of pocket, regularly cost around $20,000 each.  And I’m to have two.  Maybe three.

TWENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS.  PER TREATMENT.

I almost laughed, just because we somehow, by the grace of God, avoided having to pursue IVF at that cost… and now this?

The irony is there.  I see it.  It would almost be funny if it wasn’t so horrifying.

So despite having a plan in place, we wait yet again, this time on the insurance company and the amazing staff at University of Michigan’s Fetal Diagnostics Department.

May the odds be ever in their – and our – favor.

*****

And so that’s where we are.

Waiting.

Hopefully only for another couple of days… I’m told that we can move forward with treatment as soon as we have some kind of go-ahead from insurance, and from there, we hope and pray that the antivirals for me help kill off the virus, and that the immunoglobulin infusion treatment for baby helps boost her immune system so it can fight off any damage the virus could be causing to her system.

And still, we pray for the miracle that despite the virus, baby girl fights and stays strong and is born perfectly healthy.

I think that’s what every mother hopes for their child, but it’s a very real concern for me at the moment.

If you’re the type to send up a prayer, happy thought, or positive energy of any kind, please think of both the doctors who will be appealing our case to the insurance company, and doctors who work for the insurance company to have compassion for our situation.

Financially, this could be a huge blow, but considering there is no other choice but to do nothing, we will accept what we need to do to give our baby girl her best possible chance at a happy, healthy life.

…Even if she does have to sleep in a drawer.

*****

Again, thank you to everyone who has reached out with positive thoughts, success stories, caring words, and real and virtual hugs. 

You all are keeping us afloat, and we will need you even more in the coming days, weeks, and months.

Just… thank you.

*****

UPDATE, 10/14/14!!!

 

 

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Because You Asked… And Because I’m an Open Book: Details, the Baby Edition.

I’ve been asked a few times in the past couple of weeks what exactly is going on with my pregnancy.

Is the baby okay?  Are you okay?  Why are you going to the doctor so much? 

Is everything alright??

Short answer?  No.  It’s not.

However, the longer answer is that we’re well on our way to answers and possible solutions, and those are all very positive things.

Let me ‘splain.

…In great detail and at great length.  It’s been a long couple of weeks… you’ve been warned.  🙂

*****

Back  in August, I had a routine anatomy scan at 20 weeks.  Baby looked wonderful, just a little smaller than average, which didn’t much surprise me considering I am married to a hobbit.  🙂

My OB’s office said that because a couple measurements came back smaller than they’d like, they would prefer to send me over to Maternal Fetal Medicine for a follow-up scan, just to see how two weeks and a different machine looked with baby’s measurements.

No biggie, right?

Sure…

So I went to the follow-up, blissfully ignorant that anything would be wrong.  The sonographer was chipper and lovely and said my baby looked beautiful to her.  Once the scan was complete, a whole horde of doctors came into the room with a genetic counselor to talk to me about “my options”.

Uhh… what??

They told me that the ultrasound had showed not only some smaller measurements that were somewhat concerning, but also bright, or echogenic, areas in the bowel.  I was told that neither of these was terribly worrisome on their own, but together could be markers for all sorts of diagnoses like Down’s Syndrome, cystic fibrosis, and other genetic abnormalities.

I was offered more advanced genetic and infections testing, which I readily accepted.

Two weeks later, around 24 weeks at this point, I was told that my genetic testing had come back looking excellent, with very low odds for the baby having any of the main genetic abnormalities they test for, and that since I am not a carrier for cystic fibrosis, that was also not a concern.  My infections panel however, had come back positive for CMV, or cytomegalovirus.

You can research CMV in pregnancy all day long, and it will scare the pants off you.  It’s extremely common, and yet I’d never heard of it.

Well now I’m extremely well-versed and educated.  I know the important things, such as:

  • Most people have been exposed to CMV by the time they reach adulthood, and by then have formed antibodies to the virus, which is not dangerous in pregnancy.
  • The only time it’s really dangerous to have CMV is if you are exposed to it for the first time – a primary infection – during your first trimester of pregnancy.
  • If that happens, there is a much larger chance that the infection could cross into the amniotic fluid and infect the baby.
  • If a baby contracts CMV, it is called Congenital CMV or CCMV, and can have some serious effects on the baby, including blindness, deafness, and mental retardation.
  • There is a much higher chance that a baby born with CCMV will not be impacted by the virus, but one in six will suffer serious issues…
  • The only way to test a baby for infection is either through amniocentesis, or to wait until the baby is born and test her then.
  • There is no standard treatment for CCMV in babies, but there are some antiviral protocols being practiced by Pediatric Infectious Diseases Specialists nationwide.  These treatments cannot reverse serious issues caused by the infection, but can help in possibly preventing further damage from occurring.
  • There is one, somewhat experimental treatment being implemented with babies still in utero… And that treatment is showing excellent results in some large studies that have been and are currently being done.

My current Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist recommends the wait-and-see method, wherein we would just monitor the rest of the pregnancy and once the baby is born, she will be tested for the infection.

If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, or know me in person at all, then you know that I’m just not that type of gal.  No sir.

And so I’ve gone rogue.

Big surprise there, eh?

I have been reaching out to anyone who may be able to help me, including an amazing organization, Stop CMV, who was integral in connecting me with a wonderful doctor – one who is leading the national research being done on CMV in pregnancy.

This man, Dr. Adler, reached out to me and we spoke on the phone for a solid 20 minutes on Monday.  He gave me a metric crap-ton of information, including the names of some doctors in my area who may be able to see me and help me gain access to possible treatment while it can still be effective.

On Tuesday, I received a call from the University of Michigan’s Fetal Diagnostics Center, and they set me up for an appointment for an ultrasound and second-opinion consultation with one of their Maternal Fetal Medicine specialists.  They work fast over there!

On Wednesday – yesterday – I showed up to said appointment (I told you they work fast!) and had an ultrasound at 29 weeks to look over baby and all her measurements yet again.

The sonographer and two separate doctors confirmed that the echogenic bowel has disappeared.  There are no further signs of infection that they can see, except some somewhat smaller measurements – however, baby is just measuring a bit small overall – nothing scary.  Also, again, married to a hobbit.  So there’s that.

I was reassured that my baby looks healthy and great.  Her brain is even measuring a bit advanced for her age, so I’m going to assume she’s a smart little gal, too.  🙂

And that’s when the appointment got interesting.

The MFM doctor sat me down and told me that in her opinion (and in the opinions of the experts also studying this virus…), the only real way to confirm if baby has this infection while there is still a chance to possibly treat it is amniocentesis.

I nodded, hoping that she would want to talk about scheduling this procedure for sometime soon.  I’m eager to have these yes or no results in my hand so the husband and I can have either a.) the relief of knowing that our girl doesn’t have this possibly dangerous infection, or b.) knowing that she does, and having the ability to then pursue treatment and form a game plan.

This wonderful doctor then told me her plan:  to send me to get some lunch, and then have me come back upstairs for an amniocentesis.

That day.

In like an hour.

…I was a little stunned.  I mean, holy CRAP do they work fast!

So I took her up on it.

*****

In case you’re not familiar with what an amniocentesis actually is, I can give you a quick description.

A doctor takes a needle about eight inches long, and pokes it into your belly, through layers of muscle and fat, and into your uterus – all guided very carefully by ultrasound of course – to get a two-tablespoon sample of your amniotic fluid for testing.

Sounds fairly simple, but there’s soooooo much more than that.

In my case, baby was relaxing after lunch, taking a bit of a snooze upon our first investigation by ultrasound.  The doctor found a good spot to gather the fluid, and inserted the needle.

Sidenote:  When a needle is inserted into your skin, it stings.  When a needle is inserted into your uterus, you cramp up like you’re having a CONTRACTION.

Once the cramping subsided, the doctor started carefully watching the ultrasound so she could get a fluid sample.  Shouldn’t take more than a minute, she said.  Most babies, if they even notice, usually move away from the needle, so there’s really no danger to the baby, she said.

Apparently my baby is a curious little rebel, because she attempted to GRAB THE NEEDLE INSERTED INTO MY UTERUS.

There was never really any danger of her being harmed, as the doctor had the needle tip well out of her reach before she was close enough, but the whole situation caused the amnio to come to a screeching halt.  The needle was removed, no sample was taken, and I was told to breathe and relax for a few minutes and they would try again.

AGAIN.

So yes.  I basically had TWO amniocenteses yesterday.

SUCH FUN.

The second attempt at the procedure was quick and successful, though still very painful, and I was told to lay back and relax for a few minutes while they prepared my shot of Rhogam.

Oh yeah.  My blood type is negative, and the husband’s is positive, so anytime something like this occurs where there’s a chance that the baby’s blood could mix with mine, I get to have a really awesome shot with yet another giant needle.  My last shot was a week ago at my routine 28 week OB check-up where I was told as a reward for passing my glucose screening, I would get a shot in the arm.

YAY.  SHOTS!  And not the fun kind.

So today I feel somewhere in between a pincushion and a waterbed that’s been stabbed and patched.  Moving a little slowly, and overall just a bit sore.

The good news is that despite my tiny, big-brained, strong-willed child’s antics during the procedure, my amnio results should be in early next week.

If the results are positive, we can know that certainly the baby is exposed to, and likely has the infection, and we can start the process of pursuing treatment to help prevent the possibility of serious side-effects.

If the results are negative, we can breathe easy, knowing that baby will almost certainly not be born with, or be impacted by this infection.

Obviously we’re hoping for the latter, but if the results do come back positive, it’s nice to know that there’s a solid plan in place, and a doctor who very much supports our hopes for treatment, no matter if it is a bit experimental.

*****

And so that’s where we are today.

My apologies for writing such a novel, but the past few weeks have been quite a roller coaster ride, to say the least.  It only makes sense to keep those closest to us in the loop, and we will definitely update once we have next week’s results.

Thank you to all of you who have reached out, offered to help, listen, provided information, or just generally cared enough to be present during the craziness we’ve been trying to manage.

I know there’s only more crazy to come in the next few months, but it certainly helps to know that we have such an amazing support system, as always, and without fail.

I love you guys, and this kid will too.  🙂

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Let’s See How Far We’ve Come

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014.  20w 5d.

It’s hard not to worry, even now when things seem to be going so well.

This has been an amazing year for our little family.  A surprise miracle pregnancy, a raise and promotion for me, and recently, a raise and promotion for the husband, too.

We’ve accomplished so much, and yet it all feels so delicate, so tenuous.

With all of that good in the air, I still worry over this babe every day.  I really try to enjoy each new day and what it brings to me as far as life and this pregnancy are concerned, but it’s sometimes hard to escape that dark cloud of worry that follows me at a distance.

At Jelly Bean’s anatomy scan, everything looked great according to the sonographer.  She was gracious and talked to me the whole way through, pointing out every part she measured and explaining why that was important.  She didn’t talk down to me, and it was nice to just feel like an observer rather than a test subject for a change.

After the ultrasound, I met with one of the doctors in my OB office’s rotation.  There are four of them, and this one I like very much.  She’s a sweet little lady, but she is very clear in her instructions and explanations.  She doesn’t dote, but has a way of making her patients feel special.

I asked about my second trimester screening blood work that I’d had done the week prior, and she said that it had come back totally normal.  Based on the first trimester screening labs, the NT scan, and the second trimester labs, she says the risk of this baby having any kind of chromosomal abnormality is very low.  That was a relief to hear, as it was yet another thing I’d been worrying about.

The doctor wanted to talk to me about the ultrasound report from my anatomy scan.  It looks as though our little Jelly Bean is measuring a bit petite for her age, which I suppose shouldn’t surprise me given that the husband and I were both small babies, and not very large adults, come to that.  Of course this is yet another thing that consumes me, however… I’m told that she will likely catch up and that it won’t be a problem, or that she will just be a petite baby, which again, shouldn’t be a problem.

And still.  I worry.

The what-if’s are terrible.  I try to control the amount of time I spend letting myself go down those roads, but sometimes my mind just gets away from me.  I’ve run these finding past my sonographer friend, who assures me that as long as baby girl is growing consistently, there shouldn’t be an issue.  She may just be a little peanut.

It’s that gray area that’s implied in the word may that keeps me awake at night, however.

Well, that, and my bladder.

And so, after yet another restless night of worried thoughts and compressed organs keeping me awake between short bouts of fitful sleep, I started this morning a little rough.  I was tired and cranky and hungry and I wanted chocolate milk but I’ve consumed the gallon and a half we had in the house in the past three days, so then I was straight-up hangry.

And then something really interesting happened.  I turned on Pandora on my phone while I got in the shower, and every song that played throughout my morning ritual was trying to tell me something.  Gratitude, optimism, appreciation – surprising lessons from late 90s/early 2000s alt rock, sure, but they were there speaking to me nonetheless.

At some point during Jimmy Eat World’s The Middle, I started to get the picture.  I mean, that song was my infertility mainstay, and listening to the lyrics now not only show me how far life has brought me since those days, but also that those lessons are still completely applicable today.

It just takes some time
Little girl, you’re in the middle of the ride
Everything, everything will be just fine
Everything, everything will be all right, all right 

Just to drive the point home, the last song I heard before I got out of the car at the office this morning was a Matchbox 20 song, Let’s See How Far We’ve Come. 

Point made.

*****

I figured it was time to indulge the Powers That Be and really truly reflect on where I’ve been, and where I am now.

Over five years, three OB doctors, four reproductive specialists, two acupuncturists, four recommendations to move on to IVF, 60 cycle day ones, and countless moments of extreme doubt that we would ever be parents later, we are just a few months from meeting our baby girl.

After months upon months of medications and Western medicine and feeling like a science experiment, I finally found some peace in the process when I gave in and gave acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine a chance.

Despite the lack of hard science behind acupuncture and TCM, it was the one thing that finally made the difference for me.

On what was planned to be my very last cycle of treatment with acupuncture, during a poorly timed encounter at that, and after several days of abusing my body with poor sleep, food, and beverage choices, conception somehow occurred.

Very faint home pregnancy tests led to a very low beta blood draw, which rose slowly as well.  An early ultrasound showed a tiny speck with a tiny heartbeat, and we were given hope and cautious optimism, but still I worried… and yet – this baby has grown to the size of a petite  banana in the weeks since.

So many times I was given the sad hand-on-shoulder pat, meant to be reassuring while delivering me the hard blows of “maybe it’s time to move on”.  On to another treatment, on to another doctor, on to another pursuit in life besides parenthood. 

So many times I had hopes that were dashed, and so many times I had to talk myself into optimism when just giving up and crying it out would have been easier.

So many times I worried and stressed and lost sleep over what I thought might never happen, over what I thought might be a figment of my imagination, over what the doctor told me was there but I was afraid wouldn’t stay with me.

So many times I’ve worried, and so many times I’ve been proven wrong. 

I may be worried now, and that may never stop, but I do have faith. 

I have faith in my body, I have faith that this Christmas will be the best one of my life, and I have faith that the little lady currently delivering me tiny ninja kicks to the abdomen will come on her own time, at just the right size, and in perfect health.

*****

So, let’s see how far we’ve come?

Miles and miles, and a lifetime of needless worry. 

I’m sure five years from now, I’ll be saying the same thing while looking back on what’s changed from the time I was expecting, to the time I will be getting Lady Ninja Kicks ready for her first day of school.

We’ve come so far, and we have so far to go.

Faith has carried us to today, and will carry us into tomorrow. 

We just have to believe that the impossible can happen, because it can

And it does.

What Has Changed… And What Hasn’t.

Monday, July 28th, 2014.  18w 4d. Obviously becoming pregnant is a situation that is rife with change.  Your body changes, your lifestyle changes, your heart and soul change.  I’ve noticed some of the obvious changes in my waistline and bra size, yes, but there have been other, more subtle changes happening behind the scenes that

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Knocked Up: the Details

July 10th, 2014.  16w 0d.

***This is obviously a pregnancy-related and detail heavy post.***

  ***If you’re not in a place to read this right now, then this is your friendly warning.***

I know that there are those who probably want to know some of the down ‘n dirty details of this pregnancy, and those people are about to be either 1. very happy, or 2. very grossed out.

Here comes the TMI, ladies and gents.

I’m guessing we should start at the beginning.  In the first days, I didn’t feel like I was the walking embodiment of the miracle of life or anything.  The fact is that my only real “symptoms” were pretty much exactly what I would have been feeling had Aunt Flo not missed her bus that month.

Breast tenderness, check.  Wee bit o’ cramping, check.  Bloating, check.  Fatigue, check.  Normal stuff.

The only things that were different from what I’d usually experience happened well after I’d confirmed the pregnancy with the doctor’s office and eleventy thousand peesticks.  One was a very real and apparent need for food in the morning.  I was never nauseated per se, but if I didn’t get something – even liquid – into my stomach shortly after getting out of bed, I’d have a killer gag reflex and just feel sort of woozy until I rectified the situation.

The other fun little gift was far less talked about in the world of early pregnancy symptoms, and came in the form of an ungodly amount of cervical mucus.  I’m talking flash flood warning levels here.  SOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooo GROOOOOOOSSS.

I had a couple of teensy bouts of not-quite-spotting that were like beigey-orange mucus that happened at random times, and of course these occurrences sent me into anxiety spirals from which there was little escape.  I was constantly terrified in that first trimester, and things like this didn’t help.

And while we’re talking about gross things that have evacuated my body, let’s talk about gross things that refuse to evacuate my body.  Around 9 weeks, the doc told me to start taking an iron supplement, because I was slightly anemic.  No biggie, and I figured I’d work on upping iron in my diet as well.  Ever since then, I’ve basically been on Poop Watch 2014.  It’s like a blessed event when it does happen.  I figured out that cherry season (thank you, Michigan!!) is my friend, so that’s been helping.  Prunes?  No sir.  Apricots are just overkill, and we shall never speak of the events that occurred after my last consumption of that devil fruit.  Just let it go.

Around week 9 or 10, we went on a trip to California for a wedding.  In wine country.  Where the vegetarian menus were composed of lovely delicious things covered in OMGDANGER!! soft cheeses.  So that was an adventure, ha.  Flying was  a little nerve-wracking for me, as I wasn’t sure if I’d suddenly develop debilitating nausea on the plane, or if flying would cause me to spot… or worse.  It all turned out to be fine, however, and I managed to have plenty to eat at the veggie-events.

Sometime around 1o or 11 weeks, I dug the home fetal doppler I ordered a year and a half ago out of the bottom of my hope chest.  It had never even been opened, sadly.  I watched numerous videos online of women finding their babies’ heartbeats at like 9 weeks, so I was confident that I could do it, too.

I was wrong.  I failed the first time I tried, and gave up on the grounds that it was too early.  Maybe a week later, in a fit of frustration, I tried it again, and was surprisingly, almost immediately successful.  It was such a great sound to hear – one we hadn’t heard since Jelly Bean’s first ultrasound at 7 weeks.

I’m now a pro at using the doppler at home, and while I know I shouldn’t abuse it, I often listen to baby’s heart before bed as reassurance that he or she is still in there, growing away.  I think that once I’m feeling regular movement, I’ll need the doppler less and less… Until then, it’s my crutch, but it’s helping my anxiety like you wouldn’t believe.

So really, that was it for the first trimester.  The fatigue got worse for a while, and then it got better around maybe 11 weeks.  The weird morning gaggy thing disappeared sometime around then as well, so I’m guessing that was the beginning of my transition into that fabled Second Trimester Honeymoon Phase that people talk about.

Oh, wait.  I mentioned the bloating earlier, but didn’t go into enough detail, clearly.

From about 7 weeks until probably 12, I was so bloated that my pants wouldn’t button – granted, many of them were getting a bit snug before my uterus started to expand, but still…  It was ridiculous and nothing I did changed it.  I was dressing to hide a bump that no one knew about yet.  I  felt like it was obvious to EVERYONE, although the handful of people that knew later on never said anything.

Around 12 weeks, the bloating faded a bit, but by that point my uterus had started its ascent into my abdomen.  By 13 weeks, simply unbuttoning my pants was no longer a comfortable option, and zipping them was becoming laughable as well.  I picked up a Bella Band around 14 weeks, and that’s helped a bit…

Yesterday, just shy of 16 weeks, I bought maternity pants.

Shit’s getting real up in here, folks.

Honestly, I think this little front-pudge looks like more burrito than baby, but I can tell that it’s on its way to a discernible bump.  Soon.  Very soon.

As for the next few milestone moments, what I’m looking forward to most is a tie between finding out this little Bean’s gender, and feeling regular movement.  I’ve noticed a few odd sensations at inconsistent intervals that have felt a bit like rolls I guess, but I have no clue if that was baby movement or sluggish bowel movement.  It’s a little early for that quite yet anyway, as I hear many don’t feel movement until after 20 weeks.

What will be nice is that we should be able to find out baby’s gender before the 20 week anatomy scan.  I had a cervical procedure many  years ago, and because of this, I’m being monitored by ultrasound for cervical shortening every two weeks from 16 to 24 weeks.  My first scan in that series is this Friday, and they’ve said that there’s a chance they’ll be able to tell the gender then.

I’m trying not to get my hopes up, but I’m really, REALLY hoping this kid cooperates and shows the goodies.  I NEED TO KNOW.

So anyway, that’s about it.  I’m not really letting myself get carried away with all the weekly updates and bump pics and that kind of thing because it’s not really me, and because I’m just not in a place yet where I feel I can let myself go with that kind of completely unbridled excitement.

Maybe someday.

I did check out a due date website that emails me things I apparently need to know, and they say that Jelly Bean is approximately the size of an avocado this week.

…Which is appropriate because if one more person asks me what we’ll name this kid, I’m going to tell them Avocado because it’s gender neutral, walk away, and leave them to wonder if I’m serious.

Mwahahaha.

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Survivor’s Guilt and the Future of This Blog

July 8th, 2014.  15w 5d.

I’ve been asked – more than once – and I’ve wondered myself for some time now what exactly will become of this blog now that I’m on my way to the “other side” of the infertility struggle.

In many ways, I just don’t know how to answer.

Yes, I want this to remain a resource for those who are struggling – and an outlet for myself, as I still struggle as well.

No, I don’t want to lose readers who just can’t bear to hear about pregnant life at this point in their journeys.

Yes, I want to continue to tell my story, the same way I always have – no holds barred, TMI ablaze.

No, I don’t want to stop writing… nor do I want to start a whole new blog at the moment.

Yes, I want to become a mommy.

No, I do not want to become a mommy blogger.

So that’s where I am.  Halfway between where I’m headed and where I’ve spent the last five-ish years.

Limbo is a sucky place to be.

I don’t want to turn away anyone who isn’t in a place to hear pregnancy updates, and I understand that some will have to back away from my posts for exactly that reason.  I do understand, truly.  I’ve had to do the same at points in my journey as well… It comes with the territory, and I can only hope that my story offers some light at the end of the tunnel for those who are still in the trenches – even if they’re not in a place to read it.

I also don’t want to stop blogging details of my life, because the infertility struggle doesn’t just stop when you become pregnant.  If anything, it can come crashing back as hardcore as it ever was in the beginning, and the need for support and an outlet is even greater than before.

An Infertile once is an Infertile always, despite success or resolution.

I do feel a large amount of survivor’s guilt as well.  I feel it when I post something on my personal Facebook, knowing that I have friends who are struggling.  I try to remain sensitive to that and not blast my news feed with ultrasound or bump pics.  I tried to be sensitive when we officially “came out” a couple of weeks back, emailing those friends I knew were struggling before posting the announcement photo.  I wanted them to have a heads-up, as I know I’ve appreciated having one in the past.

I feel badly that I am allowing myself to be happy.  I have been such a steadfast and reliably infertile confidante for so many over the years, that now when I’ve sort of crossed over, I worry that those who relied on me won’t have the same support I was able to offer before.

Part of this worry comes from being fiercely protective of my support group, and worrying that I won’t be able to carry the torch for them for much longer… at least not without an obvious and growing abdominal-area distraction which could cause discomfort for all in its presence.  I want them to continue, and to be well taken care of by whoever comes forward to take over hosting (or co-hosting) duties.  Most of all, I don’t want to be a drain on the complete openness we’ve managed to accomplish at our meetings and in our little online group.

Basically, I’m a woman stuck between two worlds.

My heart still leaps to my throat when I see a pregnancy announcement.  I feel dread and fear and jealousy before I am able to tell myself that it’s okay, and that I’m there too now.

I worry more now than I ever did in the past.  I have this precious thing now, and I feel like every time I do something that’s considered a big step in a normal pregnancy journey (like starting a baby registry… YIKES), I feel like I’m tempting fate and waiting for that other shoe to come down on my head.  Hard.  With a pile of bricks in its wake.

I have two baby name books in my possession.  My mom bought me one, and I picked up the other… I’ve wanted to have one for years, but always felt it too jinx-y to actually own one.  Now that I have them, I can’t bring myself to highlight them.  Any step like that feels like a step toward a permanence I’m terrified to look forward to.

People want to plan baby showers, and they ask me about nursery colors and bedding designs and baby names, and it’s all I do to quell that inner voice that’s screaming “OH MY GOD STOP!  THE MORE WE TALK ABOUT THIS, THE MORE I SPIRAL INTO INCAPACITATING WORRY THAT IT WILL NEVER ACTUALLY HAPPEN!!!”

Infertility is terrifying.

Miscarriage is terrifying.

Pregnancy is terrifying.

Those two pink lines do not in any way solve every problem infertility causes.  While I thank God every single day for the reason that I’m so damn terrified all the time, and while I know how unbelievably lucky I am to be here right now, I still struggle.

I think I always will.

And that’s why I need this space.  Badly.

I need to write, and I need all of you.

I want you to know that if you need to back away at this time, I completely understand.  I’ve done it, too.  It’s what you need, and that’s perfectly fine.

As for me, I will be here.  I will be sharing what I can without blasting pregnancy crap down your throats.  I will struggle and I’ll take you with me, and I will (hopefully) triumph and you’ll be there too.

So there it is.  I’m staying here.

Steadfast, terrified, confused, worried, and so happy in those small moments in between.

You can be here, too.  If you want, and when you want.

I’m here for me, but I’m here for you as well.

Stick around if you can… I get the feeling that this ride’s just getting started.

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“Sooo… How did this happen?”

Since dropping my little 14 week bombshell, I’ve had numerous comments and questions, both here at the blog and in real life, to the effect of:

“How did this happen?”

“What finally worked for you?”

“All this time and it was getting drunk that did the trick, huh?”

“Did you conceive naturally or have some kind of treatment?”

“I told you to just stop trying!  See??”

…And so on.  🙂

I figure I should probably let you in on the not-really-so-secret series of events that led to this amazing, if unexpected development.  Here we go…

1.  Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine.  And not just dabbling with it – full-on hardcore living the lifestyle that meshed best with my Chinese diagnosis, which included reading books, giving up cold drinks and food for months, spending three hours driving round trip weekly to appointments, spending money on said appointments, supplements and herbs, lying on a table with tiny needles sticking out of me at regular intervals, and learning to have the kind of patience that only five years of infertility can really teach a person.

I’m serious about the patience thing.  I gave my life, diet, medicine cabinet, and pocketbook to this process over the course of eight full months of treatment before I learned that I was pregnant.  That’s eight solid months of prepping my body to do something in a healthy way it had never been able to previously; eight months of retraining my hormonal system to operate correctly and release healthy eggs; eight months of helping blood flow where it should, increasing my intake of whole foods, and improving and repairing my body with the right kinds of supplements.

It sounds like a lot,  but spread over the course of time, it was relatively simple to integrate the changes into my everyday life.  The part that wasn’t simple was the part where I had to learn to let go completely, learn to trust a soft science verging on straight voodoo, and learn to let the positive changes come to me over time rather than as instantaneously as taking five days’ worth of Clomid.

So that was the biggest part of what worked.  The conundrum is that the researcher in me may never be satisfied with why it worked, because there are just so many unknowns about TCM.  I’m working on just accepting that things just are, rather than asking how they got there.  It’s a process,  but I’ve got a pretty good distraction to keep me occupied while I figure things out.  😉

2.  Time.  I know, I know… We all hate to hear “good things happen to those who wait!” and “it will happen if you just give it time!”… I hate it too.  Even now.  But I’m telling you that for me, the journey to this point had to happen the way it did for me to arrive at the solution.

Five years ago, you would not have been able to tell me that if I invested in some kooky Chinese voodoo that I’d likely conceive in eight months’ time.  I would have laughed you right out the door and promptly marched over to my RE’s office for pills and shots that would obviously work faster.  It’s funny, but I look back at how much younger I was then.   Not just in years, but in life experience.  I’ve learned more than I can even comprehend, about medicine – traditional and alternative, my body, and myself.

Time gave me a new outlook on life, and taught me about loss, letting go, and still having a full life.  I think coming to that conclusion was so freeing… McStabby might say that reaching this conclusion unblocked some meridians or some crap, and maybe he’s right.  Either way, getting to that point made a big difference for me, mentally, physically, and emotionally.

3.  Heredity?  My maternal grandmother passed away when I was 15, long before I was even thinking about having babies, or about my reproductive system in general.  I can’t ask her the questions I want to ask, but if I could, I would ask if she knows why at her young age, and in the generation of Baby Boomers, it took her and my grandpa five years to have their first baby – my aunt.  I’d also ask if she knows why it took another seven years after that to conceive my mom.

No one seems to know, and maybe she didn’t either.  Maybe she struggled like I did, and maybe her five year journey will mirror mine.  There’s no way to know, and that’s frustrating, but it’s a bit heartening to know that despite obvious setbacks – whatever they were – she had two beautiful girls who grew up to have families of their own.  A happy ending to a mysterious tale…

4.  Straight-up Voodoo.  Surprised by this one?  Don’t be.  Something in the universe – besides my fallopian tubes – aligned perfectly in order for this miracle to have happened the way it did, when it did.

There are several factors that I think played into the voodoo aspect of this nearly immaculate conception.  One was the fact that just a few months back, I was speaking with the RESOLVE representative about starting a support group.  One of the questions she asked was how I planned to handle the situation that would arise should a group member get pregnant, and then further, what if I, as the support group host, were to get pregnant.  I laughed at that, but she said “You know, you’d be surprised.  It happens much more than you’d think!  There’s just something about taking this step that seems to launch many women into their path for resolution, even if completely unexpectedly…”  Hmmmm.

So aside from the RESOLVE voodoo, there’s also the fact that a coworker came to me around that same time and asked me to join his soccer team, to which I also laughed.  I mean, have you met me?  I’m not exactly athletic.  Or coordinated.  Or anything even remotely close to what should appear on or near a soccer field.  I also don’t know how to sports, so there’s that.  Anyhoo, he said that all of the girls he’d had join his team typically dropped off within a month or two because they kept getting pregnant.  He felt like maybe if I joined as an “honorary member”, that this would dramatically increase my odds.  I thought it was silly, but I agreed to an honorary membership where I didn’t have to attend or participate at all, and could still say that I was part of this cursed/blessed team composed of men and very fertile women.  I’ve also had to drop off the team since joining.  Another hmmmm.

There were several other hmmm-inducing factors that may or may not have played into this blessed event, including the fact that I’ve loved Christmas and the whole holiday season my whole life, and that I’ve always dreamed of a Christmas baby.  Too many weird little bits all falling together at one time to make me think that this baby is anything but perfectly timed for me, for us, and for this weird little life we’re stumbling through.

So now that you have a little insight into what probably and maybe led to a healthy, happy pregnancy after more than five years of heartache, I’d like to share a short list of things that I know for a fact didn’t work:

1.  Going on vacation.  Yes, I had been out of town for a night just before this happened, but no, that’s not what actually did the trick here.  Don’t be silly.

2.  Getting drunk.  Again, soaking one’s membranes in cheap vodka will not increase one’s fertility.  That’s just stupid.  I did it anyway, but still… stupid.

3.  RelaxingHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.  Shut up.  Never.  Relaxation doesn’t make your ovaries function any more than taking a nap cures cancer.

4.  The “just stop trying…” tactic.  Come on.  Be serious here.  I may have taken a bit more of a passive approach to things over the course of the last few months, but that was largely because Chinese medicine somewhat forces you into a state of patience.  Changes don’t come overnight, and neither do solutions.  Once I embraced that fact, I was able to calm myself enough to see the positives that were coming to me over time.

That being said, I never, ever, EVER stopped trying.  Even in those last few months where the husband and I had been talking about how fulfilling a life could be without having children, I still knew when I was ovulating.  Even after I had laid down the thermometer and stopped letting temping and charting rule my mornings, I was always very aware of when I was fertile.

The month we conceived, the “encounter” was timed, at least on my part and at least mostly consciously.  I actually felt more pressure that month than I had in quite a few, as I held April’s fertile days as my last-ditch effort.  I had made the decision that it would be my last month of really trying, and that the next month the husband and I would just… be.  I don’t know if I would have been able to just stop cold turkey like that, but as it happened, it didn’t matter… surprising though it was at the time.

I didn’t stop trying.

I couldn’t.

And for all of those efforts – for all of the reasons, both logical and completely illogical above – what do I have?

My little Hail-Mary Jelly Bean, due on Christmas Day.

As much as the journey sucked , there’s absolutely no way I could ever argue with that timing.  It’s completely perfect, and completely worth every minute of struggle it took to get here.

*****

So while I’d love to tell you that this miracle child is being brought to you by booze and irony, do you want to know my answer to the question, “How did this happen?”

 

I never, ever, EVER stopped trying.

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