A New Pregnancy, and an Old Adage

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Last week I met up with my mom and two of my Aunts to celebrate a birthday (my Aunt’s, not mine). We just had a casual coffee date, my Aunts were excited to see my belly as one of them I haven’t seen since Mother’s Day and the other, longer than that. There was the inevitable chit chat about my pregnancy, ect. but it was all pretty innocent and harmless.

We moved on from me, to what was going on in everyone else’s lives and my Auntie D announced that she had some exciting news; a pregnancy of course! Her son (my cousin) and his wife just had twins last year so I was fairly certain they weren’t pregnant (again). Her other daughter, who has been married for about a year and a half (and coincidentally is a labor and delivery nurse), doesn’t seem to be in a rush for kids, but she was our best guess as she was the last to get married. My Aunt’s oldest son, T, has one child that was born via surrogate as his wife, E, has an “incompetent cervix” (Doctors verbage, not mine) and cannot carry to term so we all thought that was it for them, just the one. Apparently not the case, as they are having another via surrogate!

I am so excited for them, to have had embryos left from their first cycle that gave them their daughter and to have found another surrogate! I spoke with my cousin’s wife a bit about my IVF experience, since she had at least done the retrieval half of it, and understood how the whole process worked. It was nice being able to talk to someone without having to dumb it down, and having her really understand. I didn’t ask her if they had any embryos left from the cycle that gave them their daughter, as I didn’t think it was my place and she didn’t offer up the info (looking back, when I told her about my pregnancy her surro would have been in the early days of their pregnancy). Their daughter is almost 5 so I didn’t think they were going to try for more, especially not knowing if they would have to cycle all over again. Plus, to find a surrogate, for a second time, I thought that might be difficult as well.

E’s first surrogate (her best friend) already had her own 3 children before carrying E & T’s daughter, so has now had 4 pregnancies and births, so I was pretty sure she was done with carrying babies (no matter who they belonged to in the end). I should also state, that in Canada it is completely illegal to pay for a surrogate (beyond reasonable medical bills for the retrieval, meds, ect.) so you have to find someone who is willing to do it out of the goodness of their heart. Apparently E has some mighty kind and loving friends, since someone else has now stepped up for her and her husband, again. Their surrogate is around 20 weeks along, and they have been waiting until they are much farther along to share the news. They haven’t even told their daughter yet, as they wanted to know the gender first so they could tell their daughter if she was having a brother or a sister. She has been asking about a sibling for a long time, so it is really sweet that her wish will come true (which she may take back after being an only child for 5 years!).

It is really fantastic for them, and of any pregnancy announcement that has surprised and delighted me the most (of people in my “real life”), this is the one. Before moving to surrogacy they got pregnant 3 times on their own and lost all 4 (one set of twins) babies, in the second trimester. Their first daughter was born at 23 weeks and survived on the outside for around a week. None of their other children that E carried were born alive. It was an awful and heart wrenching time for them, especially since they could get pregnant so easily. With the last pregnancy, with their only boy, she was on bedrest early on, and had a cervical cerclage performed to try and keep the baby in as long as possible. To no avail, they lost their little boy as well. When E’s best friend became their surrogate, and birthed their daughter our whole family was so grateful and thankful for such an amazing gift. And now they are receiving that gift again, from someone else!

With the discussion going on, despite the fact that I have gone through IVF and somewhat explained it to my mom and my other Aunt, it was still a bit hard for them to wrap their heads around IVF, surrogacy, ect. Talk got more broad and somewhat centred around infertility. I mentioned that a family friend had said “after her honeymoon she was going to get pregnant” to which I scoffed and said it’s not always that simple. We have another family friend who is in the process of adoption, and disappointed in how long it is taking. I’ve spoken to her on a one on one basis and know how she struggled trying to get pregnant but they never sought any treatment. They just recently found out that as far as any testing shows there is nothing “wrong” with either of them. My Aunt mused that this family friend is a bit of a high strung person, and maybe she is doing harm to her body and cycles by being stressed out (she didn’t say she just needs to relax, but that was the effect of her words).

Of course I felt the need to come to her defense and adamantly insist, that’s not how it works. Especially if there is a medical reason, (and even if it’s unexplained, who knows what the underlying cause is), it can’t be cured by relaxing. They still went on about how stress can effect your body, and your cycle so I had to just let it go so my head didn’t explode trying to argue the point. And it is a hard point to argue, especially when you see women become pregnant naturally after having to use IVF for a first pregnancy, or getting pregnant while a surrogate is carrying a baby for them. But these are anomolies. I wish the real world would stop seeing these situations and using them to placate the infertile world en masse. It’s infuriating.

So although some of the people in my family have been fully immersed in the world of infertility, treatments and the like, doesn’t mean they understand. It was disheartening, especially from people that I have been open with about my own struggles. We never gave anyone a reason for our infertility (as it’s most certainly not their business) but I can’t help but wonder if they think I could have just relaxed a bit more…

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#Microblog Mondays: Control

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Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

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All throughout this journey with infertility, control was a big issue. Mainly, a lack of it. Infertility takes so many things away, and one of the main things is control. Control of your body, control of your life, control of your emotions. It’s one of the things I struggled hardest with, and rallied against as if I could wrestle some control back. In some ways you can; you control the decisions you make (the ones you are left with once the cards fall where they may), and how you handle each next step, heartbreak and unexpected turn. But overall, the whole experience feels like a giant free fall.

Once I finally fell pregnant, the control issue didn’t get a lot better. Though I am (somewhat) in control of my body, as in what I put in it, and how I treat it, I knew anything could happen and that getting pregnant didn’t immediately equal baby. I have been trying to take it day by day and week by week, and it has gotten somewhat easier as time has gone on.

We’ve reached a point where we are prepping for a real live baby to come into our lives. I just did a load of baby laundry, with scent free, gentle detergent. We have a glider, a stroller, a dresser and tons of clothes. It’s so surreal. The nursery has become a place where I focus my energy, after all the time we’ve waited, I want it to be perfect, just like the vision in my head. And that’s a hard task, especially when money has to be taken into account (whereas my dreams do not have a budget, reality does). In a way, it feels like a distraction from all of that which I don’t have control over. I can’t control much to do with our pregnancy besides treating my body right, so I focus on the physical space and exert all of my control on that.

I’ve spent hours searching for the exact right curtains, the perfect rug, the thing that will perfect the space (even if I don’t know what it is yet). I ordered a glider, only to have it come in what I thought was the wrong colour. We sent it back, and had a new one shipped out. It came in today; still the wrong colour. Apparently it is completely misrepresented on the website, and it drives me crazy! The bedding we have picked out is showing not available online or in store right now. I called 1-800-BIGBOX store to find out if it was discontinued, but they show it is just out of stock, with no idea when it would be available again. It took me forever to find something that I loved and I will be so upset if we can’t get it. It’s on our registry, so we’ve been waiting to see if someone buys it for us, but now if I see it available again, I might just buy it myself.

But overall, I have to tell myself to realize that none of it really matters. I’d like to think that I’ve learned a little something throughout this journey. I need to stop worrying about the things I can’t control, and focus on those that I can, like just loving this baby with all my heart. Because that is definitely a life lesson I’ll need to remember when dealing with this new little person coming into our lives.

#Microblog Mondays: Returning to the Scene of the Crime

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Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

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Last week I needed a refill on my prenatal vitamins. Mine are prescribed to me, because that’s just how my fertility clinic rolls. When I decided to pursue IVF they wrote me a prescription for something like 2 years worth of prenatals. It has a higher amount of folic acid, and is split into two doses for better absorption, or something to that effect. It’s actually been to my benefit because since it is a prescription, it is covered by my benefits, and those suckers are expensive normally. Especially for someone like me who has spent 3 years taking them!

I get the prescription filled at a special pharmacy that stocks all matter of fertility meds, aids and a bunch of stuff for once you actually get pregnant as well. So it’s the same pharmacy I went to for all of my injectable drugs. I was there near every other day during the times of my IVF cycle, and subsequent transfer. I saw a lot of the same faces as would be at the clinic first thing in the morning because we would have our scans done and then be sent off to the pharmacy to pick up whatever meds were needed for the next steps. I never spoke to any of the other women, but we were pretty well all there for the same thing.

The last time I had to get more prenatal vitamins I was definitely not showing much, and I was still in the early days (in my mind) of my pregnancy. It felt weird not being there for more needles, swabs and meds to jack up my ovaries, but no one else would know that. This time, I was 6 months (obviously) pregnant. Luckily there was only one other person there at the same time as me but she was getting a prescription for some sort of injectable and they were teaching her how to use it.

I sort of wished I could sink into the floor. I felt bad walking in there with my big pregnant belly. It’s no longer a place for me, for which I am thankful.

*Alright, so it’s not actually Monday anymore but nothing was coming to mind yesterday when I was trying to come up with a post.

As The World Turns…

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My baby and I have been getting bigger and bigger! Every time I start to draft up a post, I get writers block or I just get plain too busy. Ever since our anatomy scan just before 20 weeks I feel like things have just been coasting along (which is awesome!). On one hand it feels like time has slowed down, but here we are at 28 weeks and third trimester already, less than three months until she is here! This pregnancy has gone quickly and slowly, if that makes sense. Slowly when I am waiting to hit a milestone, for a next appointment or some other such “event”, but otherwise I can’t believe how much time has passed since the day of the two lines, our first ultrasound, finding out the gender and the anatomy scan. The beginning felt like a whirlwind and time to tell people came so suddenly (despite the fact that I put it off as long as possible) but now we are in more of a sit back and wait mode (sort of). Not that we haven’t been busy preparing for baby girl’s arrival!

We finally bit the bullet and ordered a crib (in white) a couple of weeks ago, which should be here by the end of the month. The dresser we bought ages ago has finally been sanded, repainted and we (more so J) have been working on painting the inlay detail on the drawers and down the feet of the dresser. It was originally all gold, but when we repainted the dresser we painted over the inlay to do that fresh as well and I found a rose gold to sort of coordinate with the pinks in the nursery. It is such a beautiful piece of furniture and I am so excited to be able to start putting clothes away and assembling a changing station on top of it. We also ordered a glider from Costco last week. There was one I had my eye on for a long time but then when I went to order it there was a new one on the website, and it was on sale! So we ordered that one but if we don’t like it we will just return it and get the other one instead. We’ve picked bedding (we had bought some already from Babies R’ Us but then I found some different stuff I liked better at Buy Buy Baby and returned a majority of the BRU stuff). Our theme is nautical pink and navy. It is sooo cute, but not too baby-ish, or girly. Which I realise sounds a bit odd, because she is a baby, and a girl but I’m not into the really “froofy” stuff so this was perfect. Plus we are most definitely water people, and the room will have that vibe.

The nursery is one of the parts of pregnancy I have been most excited for (besides the actual baby part!). I am not a decorator by nature but I have very specific ideas of what I want, and what I don’t. Sometimes that gets me into a bit of a pickle when I can’t find exactly what I’m looking for. So far I have been pretty lucky, in finding an old, one of a kind dresser, the perfect bedding, and my mother in law is going to make us black out curtains. I still need to find a bookshelf, and a side table to go next to the glider but I feel good because the big pieces are on their way (and the dresser nearly complete).

A few weeks ago, J and I had to go to Ontario for his grandma’s funeral, while it was poor circumstances, it was nice to go visit his family out there. All of his family besides one set of Aunt and Uncle live out east because it’s where both of his parents are from. So we don’t have family gatherings with them often, and has been several years since I’ve seen some of them as there hasn’t been a wedding in a while! Of course everyone wanted to see me and the baby bump, which I really didn’t want to be the centre of attention on this visit but it was nice as they normally wouldn’t have seen me during my pregnancy at all.

The funeral was difficult as it was my husband’s last living grandparent. It was my mother in law’s mother and they were very close despite the fact that they lived thousands of kilometers apart. In grandma’s apartment there was a baby blanket that she had bought to send us (J’s aunt knew it was there), which added another layer of sadness. She was very excited for our child, her 14th great grandchild, to be born. J wrote a note that went into the urn of her ashes and buried at the gravesite, introducing her to the newest addition by her full name. So Grandma is the only one to have the privilege to know baby girl’s name before she is born.

The following weekend, at the end of May, J and I went to the mountains to celebrate our five year wedding anniversary. We got engaged 7 years ago at a beautiful hotel set into the side of the mountain so we stayed there this time as a special treat. We had a room with a gorgeous view into the mountains and the valley. We spent a weekend relaxing, eating, and just sauntering around town. We did also take a 5.4 km hike to a waterfall that I was proud of myself for managing, though I was pretty tired out after all that walking. When we got engaged it was out on a balcony overlooking the valley and the mountains, so we asked the hotel if we could get onto that same balcony to take an updated, where-we-are-now photo. We couldn’t get the exact one, but managed two floors lower with the exact same view. It was pretty great to be able to take those photos with my belly on display, to see us now and then. If I could have told the me of 7 years ago what was in store…

So far I’ve found pregnancy has been pretty kind to me, I haven’t had any awful symptoms, or at least nothing that has been more than what I expected. My sleep is more restless, because my hips get sore from laying on my side but I still don’t get up in the night to pee. I don’t feel like I’ve really had much of an increased urine output much at all, except for the fact that I drink more water, that has to come out more often. And occasionally I’ll get a kick to the bladder that makes the urge to go sudden, and urgent, even if I just went five minutes prior. I’m surprised I’m not running to the bathroom constantly because I had a peanut bladder even before I got pregnant. I tend to get a stuffy nose around bed time which makes trying to sleep really annoying. I don’t wear heels much at all anymore because I find my back gets sore much more quickly. Makes me sad, as majority of my shoes are heels (and not many are less than 3 inches) so it has limited my footwear choices significantly. I’ve had occasional flare ups of eczema on my chest, but have managed those pretty well (this in fact was one of the very first pregnancy symptoms I had). I’ve had bouts of intestinal back-up and some indigestion discomfort but truly, none of it has been unbearable or continued for any great length of time.

My OB visits are getting closer together now but they are still very brief and going well. I passed my GD screening (hallelujah!), my weight is right on track, and my belly is measuring as it should. I’ve been given a kick count chart and if baby girl doesn’t make 6 or more movements in 2 hours I am to go to L&D to have her checked on. Her movement declining is the thing that sends me worrying quickly but so far she is active pretty consistently. I have to get a note from my OB at my next visit to give to my HR department so I can officially let them know I am going on mat. leave. Unofficially my boss already knows my last day will be Aug. 14, giving me about 2 and a half weeks off before my due date.

Speaking of my due date, my OB’s office has a different due date for me than what the fertility clinic gave me. I don’t remember how it came up but one of the resident doctors I saw mentioned it being Aug. 30, when I have it as Sept. 2 . Apparently they set it as Aug. 30 from my very first ultrasound measurements. Of the one day that I do not want baby girl to make her grand entrance it is Aug. 30. Both of my nieces (my BIL and SIL’s girls) are born on Aug. 30, the younger of the two by scheduled c-section. So, I’m hoping that Murphy’s Law does not burst my bubble, and that our daughter does not inherit my husband’s promptness to arrive on her due date. But I have been sticking to Sep. 2, because the fertility clinic knows how many days old she was when they transferred her, we’re going with that!

I have a baby shower hosted by my Aunt coming up in about a month, which I requested to be a brunch shower and keeping the silly games, and other such shower traditions to a minimum. This will be a smaller shower with mostly just the ladies of my family, plus some close friends. Initially J’s aunt was going to host a shower for us after the baby is born, sometime in September but with her daughter getting married mid-September and the fact that she’ll have to travel here from Ontario, it became less feasible. So instead, J’s mom is going to host the co-ed backyard BBQ baby shower of my dreams. It’s all I really wanted, just a casual party with couples (not just ladies). My MIL is pretty well letting me take the reigns because she wants it to be what I want. First task is figuring out invitations which I might just design myself and have printed. I can’t quite find ones that I like, the ones I do like just need a few tweaks, or I want a combination of two different things so just as easy I do it. I designed and printed our wedding invitations myself and I have to say they were pretty gorgeous and not at all “handmade” tacky looking (I know not all handmade is tacky). So I think I can handle this. Unfortunately, my MIL is going to be out of town most of July, so the shower won’t be until Aug. 9 and I will be nearly 37 weeks giant preggo! Good thing it is going to be a casual affair because I may not be up for much at that point.

My coworkers also want to host a shower for me sometime in July, just something small after work in our large meeting room. It is sweet of them, and they are all just so excited for me. So excited that it is getting really annoying. I am constantly being scrutinized, having comments made on my body, being touched and squealed over. I am so done with it. My coworker that sits right next to me spends 50% of the time I am talking to her looking at my belly, as if she expects the baby to just burst forth all of the sudden. I’ve been told I look tiny, I’ve been told I’m getting big, every other week someone says I’ve “popped”. How many times can one “pop” during pregnancy? I’ve been told my “boobs are getting bigger despite the fact that I didn’t have much to start with” (true, but thanks for that one). Beyond that I seem to have very little patience for my colleagues. I don’t want to help them with their tech problems, or answer their inane questions, whether they be work or baby related. I’ve never been the most patient person but I think this one falls to pregnancy because it is so much worse than it’s ever been. I haven’t had “pregnancy brain” too bad yet, but I am having a hard time finding my words, or remembering names of things. It’s annoying, but so far I’ve not said or done anything drastic or awful (yet).

My mother in law just gifted us our stroller/infant seat and all of the coordinating items (car mat, sun visors, snack tray for the stroller, organizer for the stroller, ect). It was a huge haul, and I am so grateful to have that taken care of. We registered for the BOB Motion stroller, but with the Britax B-Safe infant seat all in black (BOB and Britax are the same company, so fortunately their items are compatible). The BOB Motion is a bit more rugged, and had some of the features that we wanted that others didn’t (air filled tires, adjustable handle). Several of my friends recommended the City Select by Baby Jogger because it is essentially a frame that you attach either the infant seat, or stroller seat to depending on what stage you are at, making it light weight and compact. It is also the ideal stroller for those planning on having multiple children in close-ish succession (which is not our plan, if we choose to have a second, and are lucky enough to be able to do so). But I didn’t love it, it was more expensive (not that we would have ended up paying for it, but still) and I didn’t like that you had to buy all of the attaching pieces separately. The nice thing about it is you can use any infant seat with it, you just buy the corresponding adapter kit. I’m happy with what we got, and it is now taking up real estate in the alcove at our front door, which will be it’s permanent place so we may as well get used to it.

So we’re in the last trimester, things are starting to come together. I am so grateful for all of the people who will be hosting our showers, and attending our showers. I think those are the next events to come that I am most excited about, though I still don’t particularly want to be the centre of attention it will be nice to celebrate baby girl after waiting for her for so long.