The Pregnancy Chronicles

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Lately I haven’t been blogging much, save for my (not-so-micro) #Microblog Mondays. I don’t always know what to say or how to say it. I have complicated feelings about pregnancy, and specifically me being pregnant. I will say I am part thrilled and part terrified (still). Obviously this was the goal, and I am so excited to meet our daughter but I am scared out of my mind about being a parent, and being responsible for a life. Pregnancy is also not all sunshine and lollipops, not that I thought it would be, but when you are aggressively drugging your body to cooperate into getting pregnant these are the things you push to the back of your mind.

As of now I am 18 weeks along (nearly halfway!) and the second trimester has definitely been nicer than the first. I almost never have any nausea anymore (save for when I am brushing my teeth, my gag reflex is really strong right now and I generally only have vomiting episodes due to tooth brushing). I am hungry all. the. time. I am a pretty petite person, and I’ve always had a small appetite so when I can pack in more food than my hubby I find it rather amusing. I still haven’t gained a ton of weight, about a pound a week which I’ve read is average. I didn’t really gain any in the first tri, and may have actually lost a couple, as I was sick in the mornings and the rest of the time I still didn’t have much of an appetite. The morning sickness started subsiding around week 13 or 14, it’s hard to remember now, it was a gradual shift and the nausea was really at its peak between weeks 8 – 12.

We’ve used our at home doppler a couple of times, and it is my favorite thing, listening to the racing heartbeat inside my belly. Last time we recorded it, and text it to the grandmas to be, which I thought was pretty cute. So now I have it on my phone, and sometimes listen to it just because. We have our anatomy scan on Apr. 9 and I can’t wait to see her again. It was so amazing seeing her at 12 weeks when she looked like an actual baby, and was flailing and wiggling all around. I am excited to see how she’s grown, and hope that everything measures normally.

So far I still have a relatively small bump, it’s definitely there but if you didn’t know I was pregnant I don’t think you would immediately make that assumption upon my appearance. If I hadn’t told any of my coworkers, I could have hidden it longer, in looser tops and sweaters but it is just easier not having to hide it. I still feel awkward telling my clients (and I only say something if the conversation steers that way), but eventually I won’t have to say anything, and let my belly do the talking. Our neighbor in our condo building hasn’t seemed to notice, and I see her pretty frequently so I guess I am still pretty small even though some days I already feel like I am getting huge (and I have so far to go!). My boobs are definitely bigger, not a ton bigger, but I am very small chested, and I almost have a bit of cleavage now which is pretty awesome for me!

I still have weird bump envy/inadequate bump feelings. Because I am still not showing too much, I don’t always “feel” pregnant without the large and in charge physical appearance. It mostly just makes me uncomfortable if I am in a baby/pregnancy-centric situations; baby stores, maternity stores, prenatal yoga, expectant mother parking spots (which I still won’t use). I also don’t “feel” pregnant because I am not sick anymore, and I don’t have as many weird symptoms. The all day hunger, frequent headaches, and expanding waistline help me remember but most days I feel pretty normal. So I am sort of just coasting right now.

Except when I try to sleep, that is a whole other thing. I have to sleep on my side, which I hate, but I do have a snoogle (which I also sort of hate) that my SIL gave me. It helps me stay on my side, but no matter what I do my hips get sore in the night, leaving me constantly tossing and turning trying to get comfortable. I don’t have to pee in the night (hallelujah for that!) but I find I wake up around 5 am, and don’t fall back asleep until just before my alarm goes off (convenient). I find I feel most unwell when I’ve had a really bad nights sleep, and potentially adding to the headache situation. I love to sleep so it makes me really sad that I am so uncomfortable all the time. Such is life, just as I’m about to lose a good nights sleep for the next 18 years, pregnancy robs me of it early, just when I need it most.

I am still having a bit of a hard time connecting myself with being a pregnant person. I’m getting used to people who know commenting on my belly, or things to come but I still have a hard time with the words coming out of my mouth. It’s still sort of abstract I guess, I’m waiting to feel movement to help it seem more tangible. Seeing her at the ultrasound will help as well, for a short time at least. Beyond that, it’s still too early (for me) to be buying things, or really doing much to get ready for her arrival. We did buy a dresser, sort of spur of the moment at the Habitat for Humanity REstore as it was a ridiculously good deal and just exactly what I wanted (even though I didn’t know it until I saw it). It needs to be stripped and repainted which I am hoping we can handle but if it is a big failure, no harm no foul. We’ve been gifted a few small items that currently reside in the dresser, and the spare room has been mostly cleared out of the junk that used to inhabit it, but beyond that it just sits empty. We have a good idea of the colors we’d like to use (I love redecorating but I get really specific, near impossible things set in my mind that make it difficult) so I am excited to start buying decor pieces, but still holding off for now.

The spare room was always a bit of a sore point because we always wanted to turn it into a nursery, and now we are finally getting the chance. Right now it is just a mostly empty room, which is somewhat haunting. We used to keep the door closed because one of our dogs like to go in there and poop on the bed (territorial thing or something). Now the bed is gone, so we leave the door open, and the sun that comes through east facing window of the room bathes it in sunlight every morning. It looks so inviting but I still caution myself, one step at a time. I am just getting used to the idea of the room, before we start filling it with baby items.

We’ve had several people offer to give us their old baby items but so far I haven’t taken anyone up on their generosity. I don’t want to start collecting things and bringing them into the house just yet, my superstitious sense getting the best of me yet. J noted that he feels like we should be buying stuff, that it’s making him anxious that we’re not getting prepared. I replied that getting everything too early makes me anxious. As morbid as it may sound, there is no point in buying anything before we hit viability and that’s going to be my sticking point for any major purchases. My mother in law wants to hoard diapers for us now? Go for it, but they’re staying at her house. My BIL and SIL have tons of baby stuff from their two little girls and we need to go visit them (3 hrs away) and spend some time going through it. J wants to go sometime this month (and I potentially won’t be able to go so there may be a skype session involved). We are going on a weekend getaway at the end of May for our 5 year wedding anniversary that will take us right through their city so I suggested stopping in on our way home. By then I’ll be 26 weeks, and more willing to believe we’re bringing a baby home.

I have no true reason to be so paranoid, I’ve never had a miscarriage, a failed transfer or even a “chemical pregnancy”, it’s just I’ve seen what others have gone through, and up until this point my body hadn’t cooperated in getting pregnant so I guess my mind just leaps to the worst. It is still surreal and just seems like pretend. When I really stop to think about the fact that I am pregnant I am flooded with overwhelming happiness that we’re on the pregnancy roller coaster now instead of the infertility roller coaster, but it is still tinged with guilt for those left behind. Infertility has robbed me of confidence in my body.

We are taking things a day at a time, and (knock on wood) so far, so good. I like to think I am in the eye of the storm that is pregnancy; through the first trimester, but awaiting what’s to come in the third. It feels like nothing is happening right now, but soon will be baby showers, buying massively expensive baby items, and getting increasingly large and I’m sure time will disappear quickly. I’m not in love with being pregnant (though I think it is pretty amazing what our bodies can do), and I think that’s ok for me, or any other infertile-turned-pregnant woman. The goal isn’t really to be pregnant, it’s to get a baby out of all of this expense, heart ache and hard work. And that is my end game.

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M.I.A. Where I’ve Been, and Where I’m Going

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I’m sorry, I’ve been a bad blogger. I don’t really know what happened, or where the time went. I wrote my last blog post, and then J went out-of-town, and I had intentions of writing some updates, getting some pre IVF jitters off my chest. And then J was home, and I still hadn’t written anything. I was having good days and some bad days but I was feeling ok. I wasn’t having as much anxiety about our impending IVF cycle, and so I decided maybe I would just take a little bit longer of a blogging break. I’ve still been following along, and sporadically commenting but some of you may be wondering where I went (maybe? Maybe not?). I was in a friend’s wedding this past weekend, and the lead up to that was taking a lot of my time and attention (which was a nice distraction). In the past few weeks I’ve eaten sushi, drank (in excess at the wedding), had as much caffeine as I damn well please, and generally done what I want, when I want.

So here I am, on CD1 of my IVF cycle. I thought AF wouldn’t show up until tomorrow (CD29 rolling into CD1) because when I’m on BCP that’s usually how it goes. I was paranoid that she would be late, but I started feeling bloated and crampy over the weekend, and then today, there she was. So I picked up the phone and left a message on my clinic’s IVF line. I called later this afternoon, so I am expecting a call tomorrow morning telling me to come in Thursday morning for my baseline ultrasound. It’s go time. But first, let me back up and tell you what’s been going on, ’cause it’s a lot.

I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed lately, and not just because of IVF barreling down on us. Recently we’ve been considering purchasing a new condo, in our same building, but on a higher floor, with a bit more square footage. We are fortunate enough to have a small mortgage on our current unit which would allow us to keep both, and have one as a rental property. Figuring out the purchase is a bit stressful, as it will mean we will have two mortgages. Not to mention we would be purchasing from the executor of an estate, so we are not working with a realtor, as overall it is a pretty cut and dry sale. We already live here, we know the details of the building, but all of the legal paperwork, and figuring out the best tax arrangements for our situation is a little over my head. We have bankers, lawyers and parentals to help us, but it is still a big thing, and it is sort of scaring me. We may not get it, we aren’t willing to pay more than we think it is worth, and that may not jive with the family member executing the will. So be, it isn’t the be all end, all we just thought it would be a smart investment. So, that’s all going on right now.

In addition to that, J has been interviewing for an international job transfer (he applied for it a while ago, and they just recently contacted him). It has seemed to be much more serious than many of the other interviews he has had in the past months, and they are wanting to make a decision by the end of this week, or early next week. Let’s just say it is somewhere tropical…So if he gets the offer, we think we will take it. I may be pregnant, we may have embies on ice, or we may have nothing, but we can’t keep putting things on hold so we are going to go about our lives in the best way we can while trying to continue our IF journey.

One last thing that came up somewhat recently as well; J has a rather large lump on his leg, that has been there for about a month or so, but has gotten larger. He finally went to the Dr. last week, who then sent him for an ultrasound. They called yesterday and asked him to come in on Wednesday for the results. He asked if he couldn’t just get them over the phone, and they said no, that he needed to come in. So if that’s not scary as all hell, then I don’t know what is. Obviously there is some reason for the bump, but we have no idea of what it could be, or how serious it is. That one has got me very worried. So we will have to wait and see.

So with all of the above going on, we are also about to embark on our IVF journey. Before AF even started today I was feeling anxious, and then once I made the call to the clinic, my nerves increased. Now I am feeling calmer. It is like knowing you have a mountain to climb, but that you don’t have any choice but to do it. Methodically plugging through becomes the default. We’ll manage it, somehow. Other parts of our life will play out, however they may, and we will deal with whatever comes. We’ve become good at that, IF is a good teacher in patience and perseverance, although not the nicest way to learn. With that, so begins IVF 1.0.

And The Hits Just Keep On Coming

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Ah Facebook, my worst frenemy. I know I should really just deactivate it because it causes me more heartache than anything, but I do keep up with some friends, and people message me on there rather than email or text. I know they would find another way if I suddenly disappeared, but I am addicted.

Tuesday my cousin’s wife had their twin boys approximately 7 weeks early, so of course Facebook was all a-buzz about that. Then my Aunt sent out an email to the family officially announcing it, with a couple of photos of the teeny little boys. Yesterday two brand new baby photos (one of a set of twins, and one of a singleton) showed up in my news feed, and they belonged to people I don’t even know. Two different friends of mine had commented or liked one of their friends photos, and you know how it does that thing where stuff your friends interact with show up in your news feed. Gawd, I wish it didn’t do that.

*Update: another friend announced a pregnancy on Facebook…of twins! This will be the third set of twins for people I know, over the course of a year. WTF?!

Today a friend of mine, that I don’t see very often (because him and his wife live in the US), posted a throwback thursday photo. It was the two of them dressed up as Bleeker and Juno from Halloween back in 2008, and captioned with “foreshadowing for 2014” as their subtle pregnancy announcement. Someone had wished him a Happy to-be Father’s day, but no one else really commented, and he didn’t really respond so I sort of just ignored it for the time being, though it obviously ignited my suspicions.

Someone commented on the photo that they should wear the same costumes this year, because it is so funny when a pregnant woman dress up as a pregnant person (har-dee-har-har). He commented back that it might be too late by Halloween. I immediately start counting on my fingers…she is probably about 4.5 – 5 months along already. I am surprised, and not, that they hadn’t shared yet. Her husband loves social media and is constantly posting links, and pictures, ect. But, they are fairly private people about their personal business.

It shouldn’t have been such an unexpected shock to me, they got married 18 months after us, bought a cute little fixer upper house last year, got a dog; a baby was the next “logical step”. But I am still surprised. They live their lives like J and I, doing what they want, enjoying their relative freedom. I sort of expected them to carry on their merry child-free lives for a few more years. I do forget, though, they are in their mid 30’s and don’t we all know time is off the essence?

His wife was actually my roommate when her and I were living abroad. I was 18, and it was my first time overseas, and my first time being on my own. So her and I formed a fast friendship, being that we were both in a sea of unknown, together. We’ve kept in touch over the years, her and her then-fiance came to Canada for our wedding reception held here (since our actual wedding was in Jamaica). We went to their wedding the following fall, and visited them again last May. We don’t keep in close contact, but I would consider her a treasured friend.

I’m not offended that they didn’t tell us separately (we’re not that close), but for some reason this announcement has bothered me a lot. Maybe because in them, I see myself and J. Although fundamentally, we are not very similar couples, I relate us to them. For once I don’t feel an ounce of jealousy (ok, maybe a smidge) but they are the sweetest people, and if anyone truly “deserves” a baby, it is them. Not because they had to struggle for it (though I don’t know that), but because they are really awesome people. If only that’s what really mattered in procreation, right?

I’ve been having a lot of ups and downs this week, and I suppose it is not hard to see why. I am not an outwardly emotional person, so even though I have been feeling very anxious lately, one would never know it by my demeanor. I hesitate to say I’m having a down week, because it hasn’t been all down. It has been bumpy. I am more intuitive with my feelings and emotions lately, which leads me to try to mold them.

When I feel myself getting upset, or anxious, I try to calm myself by working with my destressing techniques. And a lot of the times it works, for a little while at least. But, because I am able to observe my feelings, rein them in, and bounce back, it leads to a lot of yo-yo-ing. I suppose this is the road to being more even. First it was anxiety, and sadness most of the time, now it is more unstable ups and downs, but balanced at the same time (if that makes any sense).

I am 19 days away from CD1. We did our serology labs last week, J did his updated SA today (I am hoping Dr. M calls to give us the results, even though at this point by doing ICSI it doesn’t entirely matter). There is a stronger underlying nervousness for me. I haven’t had as much of an appetite lately, and I’ve been getting stomach aches more often. A sign I am familiar with when I am under a lot of stress. I spoke to our clinic today to clear a few things up, questions I had, based on the info they had sent. I’m just trying to manage it all, and not let my emotions get out of hand before we even hit the starting gate.

I honestly think the waiting to begin might cause more anxiety than the actual stimming will. Of course there will be new and different stresses, plus the retrieval, number of eggs, fertilization and transfer will be worries of their own. But for now, I am standing in the warm up area, with nowhere to go, just psyching myself out.

I’ll leave you with this thought, that I read on The Journal the other week, in an article by Trevor O’Sullivan;

“To those who understand childlessness an explanation is not needed, and to those who don’t understand it an explanation is not possible.”

He also cited a fantastic quote from Laura Bush, in her book Spoken from the Heart;

“The English language lacks the words to mourn an absence. For the loss of a parent, grandparent, spouse, child or friend, we have all manner of words and phrases, some helpful some not. Still we are conditioned to say something, even if it is only “I’m sorry for your loss.” But for an absence, for someone who was never there at all, we are wordless to capture that particular emptiness. For those who deeply want children and are denied them, those missing babies hover like silent ephemeral shadows over their lives. Who can describe the feel of a tiny hand that is never held?”

Exposure

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There is a lot of garbage on T.V. lately, and unfortunately I partake in watching some of said crap. One particular fascination of mine is Hoarders. I don’t know why, but this is one train wreck that I can’t take my eyes off of. I know it is a legitimate disease that causes people to behave this way, but holy dead-cats-under-the-garbage, I can’t wrap my head around it sometimes.

The family of the “hoarder” will rally around in support, but they are usually too close to the situation to be calm with the friend or family member they are trying to help; this is where the therapist comes in. Generally a therapist is present to help the person deal with the strong emotions they feel while trying to sort through all of their belongings. One of the techniques the therapist will commonly use is exposure therapy. The hoarder is asked to choose an object to discard, and just think about getting rid of it. At this point, they will be asked on a scale of one to ten what their anxiety level is. Usually during the first exercise it is pretty high. The therapist will let them just sit with the anxiety and once it comes down to a five or a six they move on to the next step. Usually the steps get progressively harder, and produce more anxiety. They may watch something of perceived value being thrown in the trash or, be asked to discard it themselves. The therapist monitors the progress along the way, helps them deal with, and lessen the anxiety so that the clean up efforts can become a life long change and not just a band-aid solution. I realized earlier this week that I have inadvertently applied this technique to my own life.

As I’ve previously mentioned, there is a pregnant woman in my Sunday yoga class. By now she is mega pregnant and I was pretty sure she was due fairly soon. She generally sets her mat on the opposite side of the room than me, which suits me just fine. Last class we had been using props (blocks, straps, ect.) and they are all stored in a closet on the far side of the room, right where pregnant lady’s mat is. It gets a little congested at the end of class when everyone is trying to return their items to the closet. So as I was standing to the side, waiting to put back my blocks, I found myself right next to preggo’s mat. Since I was sort of awkwardly standing in her way with nowhere to go, and I was curious, I asked her how far along she was. “Hmm, 35 weeks now.” was her reply. I congratulated her on still continuing with yoga, returned my props and went back to pack up my mat.

It was a small interaction, but one that I would normally avoid at all costs. But because I truly was curious how far along she was, and I was already in an awkward position being in such close proximity to her I figured I may as well take the leap. There was a small burst of anxiety but it dissipated fairly quickly, and now I know I have at the most 5 more weeks of her bump attending “my” class.

It made me think of some of the other things I avoid because of IF, and that maybe I should try to deal with them instead of putting myself, or other people out, to try to protect myself. Although we will shortly be starting our IVF process, who knows how long we’ll be on this IF journey. And we all know that even after a successful IVF/Pregnacy/Birth/Adoption/Ect. that surviving is not without its battle scars, and most come out the other side a different person, so I’ll still have to deal with the repercussions of IF for the rest of my life.

I have also sort of been avoiding Best Friend. I probably haven’t seen her since before Christmas, as her pregnant belly has been ever-expanding. I knew that I was avoiding her but I kept making excuses for myself, that I was too busy, or she was too busy. So a few days ago I sent her a text, as she has a schedule c-section in a little over a week now. I asked her how she was doing, and if she was ready. We chatted a little back and forth, I told her I had some goodies for the baby when he arrives, and that I would offer her an extra pair of hands once the new one comes home and she has two little ones to contend with. She seemed genuinely happy to hear from me. I think she had been hesitant to reach out to me, as I hadn’t heard from her in a while either and when I did it would be sporadic and brief. She had always been my IF confidante, but when she became pregnant things changed somewhat, and then when our third IUI failed I pretty much stopped updating her. I’m glad to have bridged the gap somewhat, as I will be visiting her and the new baby (as soon as he arrives), I may as well take some steps towards that point.

Just today at the pharmacy when I was picking up my thyroid medication, I inquired to the (young, female) pharmacist if they stock fertility medication, as I would be cycling in a couple of months (actually 5 weeks, but whose counting). I know it’s not a big deal discussing fertility meds with pharmacy staff, but when going through my IUIs I would discreetly get my clomid, and then disappear, pharmacy bag stuffed in my purse. I basically do not discuss our infertility with anyone willingly, except for my doctor, nurses and psychologist, so this was a big step. We chatted back and forth a bit; they can order them in but I don’t know that it would be timely enough for me, that most people get them from the pharmacy the hospital recommends because they would have everything in stock, but I get points with the store loyalty card through my current pharmacy, and $5k plus of meds is a lot of points. It was a pretty casual, easy conversation even though I was openly discussing my infertility treatments (other people could have heard me, gasp!)

Now, I obviously didn’t expose myself as an infertile to the yoga preggo, and best friend already knew, but I am hoping that by slowing increasing my discomfort threshold, I may eventually feel more comfortable openly discussing it with other friends and family. Time to start exposing the IF chunk of my life, a little bit at a time.