Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Christmas Story

Well...there aren't going to be any nicely lit Christmas tree photos on this blog. Or even a beautifully told story of our holiday recap. What you're going to get is a poop story. Like you've come to expect anything else from this blog. (Yes, I too, remember the days when I didn't constantly talk about the inner-workings of my digestive system. Believe me, I wonder all the time what happened to that girl. She could tie her own shoes and get off the couch in a single try, and had no idea how good her ab strength really was.)

So remember last Christmas Eve, when I unexpectedly got my period at my Aunt's house? Well...this Christmas Eve at the very same house, right around midnight, when Santa was filling the stockings of all the good little children around the world, I was holed up in the bathroom, alternating between violently vomiting and pooping. For three straight hours. I still don't know if it was just a stomach bug, or a touch of food poisoning, or if I ate too much too close to bed. Whatever it was, it was not pretty. When it was finally over and I crawled back into bed next to Bobby, he wearily asked if I was okay.

"I think so," I told him. "I didn't poop out the baby."

So that was my Christmas miracle. My life is so glamorous.

We had to travel home on Christmas Day because Bobby's enslaved by Corporate America and had to work on Friday. I work at a nonprofit, so lieu of things like "Christmas Bonuses" and "401ks" and "Competitive Pay" we just get a ton of extra holidays off work. At 6:00 a.m. on Friday morning, when Bobby was tying his Windsor knot and I was still snug in bed, I have to admit having no retirement plan didn't seem so bad.

I'm also unlocking pregnancy achievements left and right. Here's a list, in no particular order.
1. A stranger asked when I was due. Bold move, but I almost kissed her on the mouth.
2. I peed a little when I sneezed. So it begins.
3. As I was putting lotion on my belly last night, Bobby asked if I could see my feet. I could not.
4. I've grown out of the biggest bra I own (my fat bra, if you will. I keep it around for winter weight gain purposes).
5. Double-digit weight gain. Up ten total pounds at my 24 week appointment.
6. I started eating prunes. The Christmas Eve poop was a RARE occurrence. And pretty much the only pregnancy advice my mom has given me: "Don't let yourself get constipated. Hemorrhoids are a bitch."

Merry Christmas, friends!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Always Be Prepared

There are a lot of things I should be doing to prepare for this baby. And since I'm no Boy Scout, instead of actually doing something about these things, I'm just not. I was going to write that I'm stressing about them--but I'm not really stressed. I probably should be, and I probably will be eventually, but right now, I'm just procrastinating.

So here are the things I'm doing/not doing/worrying about/complaining about. We're going to do this bulleted-list style, since then I don't have to write paragraphs and topic sentences, and transitions.

Baby Stuff
I was going to make a list of all the things we still need to get for this baby. Instead, I'll make a much shorter list of things we do have:
6 bibs (all say something about "Grandma" - wonder where those came from?)
8 MN Vikings toddler outfits (re-gifted from some of our friends who are Lions' fans)
2 toddler t-shirts (from the tourist-y town my in-laws live in)
3 onesies (seems like enough, right? I hear babies are pretty clean)
3 pairs of socks (basketball, baseball, and soccer patterned - gift from MIL)
4 blankets (1 knit from Grandma Susie, 3 hand-me-downs that belonged to Bobby's brothers. All 3 are going into storage (or garage sale?) because they are about as soft as sandpaper.)

We have basically nothing for an infant to wear, nothing for baby to sleep in, nothing to carry baby around in, nothing to cover babies' butt, and no alternative for feeding baby if breastfeeding doesn't work out. I try to look into what I want, but I get overwhelmed. If someone could just give me their list of baby stuff they have/liked (including specific brands, types, etc.), I'd just go buy all of it. I don't know what kind of car seat I want. I know I need a crib for short moms that I'm not going to have climb inside of to get the baby out--but how do I know what that is? Do we get a bassinet? Or a rock n play? Or just put baby in the crib from day one? Or, as I recently learned I slept in for the first several months of my life, a cardboard box?

About a month ago, Bobby and I got serious and cleaned the junk out of the nursery. And then when we put up our Christmas tree and decorations, we had to rearrange our living room, and the furniture and everyday decor that no longer fit in the living room ended up in the nursery. So once again, it's full. And not in a good way.

Birthing Classes
I've never taken a Community Ed class in my life. The thought of taking a birthing class makes me cringe. Hard. I don't really want to do it. I actually feel really good about my research and knowledge, but...I'm just going to say it...I'm worried about Bobby. He's going to be shocked when I don't have a Hollywood-style water break or one big contraction and an immediate panicked rush to the hospital. He's going to expect maybe 10 minutes of excruciating pushing, and then: baby. His knowledge of labor and birth is based completely on TV and movies. And yes, that freaks me out a little. The only reason I'm even kind of considering taking a class is for him.

I've read the two books my clinic gave me and sticky-noted the chapters I want him to read (probably 10ish total between two books--not exactly an overwhelming amount), but he won't do it. He promises to read the books, but he hasn't. I know that shouldn't worry me as much as it does, but he's had plenty of time. He has several hours a night that we sit and watch TV together--he could easily crank out a couple chapters and be done with it. I love Bobby more than anything and there's truly no one I'd rather have by my side during labor, but I am worried at how unprepared he's going to be. He's such a studier and a planner and an analyzer...as soon as I'm in pain and struggling he's going to lose his shit because he doesn't know what's happening. But if he would just FREAKING READ THE BOOKS, then he would know what to expect, what's normal, and when we need to ask for help.

Labor
I don't have a birth plan. I'm not going to have a birth plan. My "birth plan" is let's get this baby out in one piece. And not have my vagina torn up to my belly button. Seriously though, my plan is to labor as long as possible at home. And then labor as long as possible at the hospital without medication. If interventions are needed, I'll let them intervene. If a C-section is needed, I guess I'm getting cut open. I'd love to be a strong advocate for myself. But I'm not. Need an example? At my first OB appointment with Dr. G., he asked if he could ask me a personal question that would never leave the office (remember, he's a family friend, goes to my church, has known me since I was a teenager). He asked, "Are you in a monogamous relationship with your husband?" I almost laughed, but nodded yes. He's the only man I've been even remotely intimate with. Dr. G continued, "Then can I ask why Dr. V (my GP) has been giving you annual pap smears?" Honestly, I have no idea. I didn't actually know they were supposed to stop doing them annually once you were married. I've been getting an annual pap smear since I was 16, even though I was definitely not having sex at 16. I didn't know I could refuse them. When a doctor tells me to put on the gown and get in the stirrups, I do it. I mean, I didn't go to medical school. Isn't the point of having a doctor so they can tell you what to do? Yeah...I'm not exactly the best advocate. I totally expect my labor to be an absolute disaster.

Caring for a Baby
I'm a little nervous about this. And I think that's good. That means I need to pick up a couple books that actually deal with life post-pregnancy. Like how to soothe a screaming baby. And yeah, everyone keeps telling me, "Oh, just trust your instincts." That is not helpful. Yes, to some extent I will learn about my baby and be able to mother it just right. But right away? I don't trust my instincts. If I were playing volleyball? Absolutely. My instincts are fantastic for knowing if I'm up against a double block or if the setter is cheating up a little. I will trust my instincts all day on the court. Even coaching - knowing when to take a girl off the court to help her clear her head, or leave her on to force her to push through. But a baby? If there's a baby screaming for no apparent reason and I haven't slept in two months, my instincts are going to tell me to shove that baby right back up my hoo-haw and take a nap.

Breastfeeding
Okay, this isn't something I should be doing right now, but it's something I'm thinking about. I fully plan to attempt to breastfeed. I also expect it to not work out so well. I don't know why, maybe just past experience of everything to do with getting pregnant and being pregnant--I mean, what part about this was easy? I really want it to work out--both for the nutrition and bonding. I'm totally prepared to give the kid formula to keep it from starving, and I have no problem doing that. Except I know that I'm going to be mad at myself at least a little bit for failing. AND the idea of pumping, storing, etc...it overwhelms me a little. Sometimes formula just seems easier.

Circumcision
If any of you with boys want to weigh in on this, feel free. Bobby is pretty adamant that we circumcise our boys. He is so it's pretty expected. I honestly don't have strong feelings either way, although I said if he insisted on circumcision, he's going to be on incision-cleaning duty until it heals. I guess I am sort of the opinion that a boy should be the same as his dad. Bobby's going to be the one (hopefully!) to teach him about his junk, so I guess it's makes sense they should look the same.

My Body
My back has returned to feeling like there are kabob skewers stabbing into the spinal fluid between each vertebrae. Sitting hurts. Standing hurts. Lying down hurts. If I ever end up flat on my back, you'll hear a loud round of, "Ouch, ouch, ouch, can't breathe, ouch, ouch, help." The only semi-relief I get is from sitting on an exercise ball or leaning over it. I try to walk and do squats every day, but some days it's just too much and I can't. I know I'm being lazy, but I just can't push myself.

My stomach has lost any ab muscles it once had. It's a struggle to get out of bed. It's a struggle to get off the couch. Rolling over is practically an Olympic event. I don't even want to talk about putting on my shoes. And I'm not even that big yet! I can't even imagine how much worse it's going to get.

The best way I can describe how pregnancy feels, is that it feels like you're really full and need to poop all the time. But you don't. You just continue to feel full. Maybe it's just me, but I'm not hungry very often. I feel like I'm stuffed already. There's no where for food to go! I try to just keep snacking all day because I never really eat meals anymore.

My belly button, which at it's original state is roughly the depth of the Grand Canyon, is now flattening out slightly. I'm not sure it'll ever "pop" because it's so deep, but it's now only the depth of a minor valley. And sometimes I feel shooting pains coming from it. Not sure what that's all about, but they always go away, so I don't worry about it (see, I'm such a good advocate about medical stuff!).

We're taking Christmas card photos tonight and I have a really great pimple on my chin. So there's that.

I think that's everything that I'm stressing/not stressing about right now. But feel free to add to my list if there are things I'm forgetting. Or, you know, give me all your secrets and advice.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Paying It Forward

I keep coming back to this blog. I've done a pretty good (good - not great) job of keeping up with reading and commenting on most of your blogs. But I've done a pretty terrible job of writing. I want to write here, I want to document this pregnancy, largely because the adorable pregnancy tracking book that my mother-in-law sent me is completely empty. I haven't written a thing. This blog is the only place where I've kept track of what's going on since the beginning. And even that has been hit or miss.

So I keep coming here, opening a new post and staring at the screen. The only thought I can get typed out is: I should write something. And that's not exactly a captivating opening line. I feel like I should write something because some of you have invested time and interest in my story, and I know I feel disappointed when bloggers I like suddenly disappear. I should write because there are many things happening to my body that I don't understand and things I'm struggling with that I would love advice on, or at least your commiseration. I should write because I'm letting myself get stressed by work and family and holiday obligations and lack of sleep, and when I come to this place and let myself vent and be stressed and not even try to act like I have everything together - I feel better. I need a place where no one knows me so they can't judge me for acting like a crazy person sometimes.

So here I am.

I'm 21 weeks pregnant. We had our anatomy scan last week and were told everything looks good. No details, not much discussion, but at this point I'm taking that as a good thing. We did not find out the gender, but I'm still mostly convinced it's a girl (if it's a boy, please don't tell him that I thought he felt like a girl my whole pregnancy). Since we told the tech we didn't want to know the sex, she let us know when to "look away" while she was scanning that area. We were both like, really? The only reason I know that I'm looking at a hand is because you told me. You really think I can figure out blurry baby genitals? I closed my eyes anyway, but I have no idea if Bobby did. But I trust his ultrasound tech skills even less than mine. If he did figure it out, he's been really good about keeping it quiet.

I've also finally told everyone at work. It was getting necessary because my bump is pretty noticeable now and was getting really hard to hide, even in sweaters and over-sized flannels. I didn't tell everyone that I'm leaving though, as I'm afraid they'll assume I'll check out and not really be helpful my last few months here.

My boss kind of dropped a bomb on me that sealed the deal that I'm leaving though. I was prepared to possibly negotiate down to working 20 hours a week, which is what I was originally hired at (I'm currently at 32). I would see if I could be in the office only two days a week and work from home the rest of the hours. Before I was even able to ask about this, at my last meeting she informed me that after my 12 weeks of maternity leave, they want to make my position 40 hours a week and almost entirely in-office, only a few days per month allowed to work from home. I never wanted to be full-time here, since I wouldn't be able to keep coaching, and I definitely didn't want to increase my hours that much immediately after maternity leave. So...yeah. Decision made.

I also officially told the school where I coach that I'm pregnant. They are willing to hold my fall coaching job until summer, since I said I would like to keep the position. I'll just have to see what my work situation is like and how well we're adjusting to having a baby. It'll be much more difficult--do I bring the baby on the bus to games? What about to tournaments? Who will we find to babysit for full weekend tournaments while Bobby's working? What about the half hour or so between the time I go to practice and Bobby comes home from work? Do I bring the baby to practice until he can pick it up?--there's a lot to consider, but I'll let future Lilee deal with that.

We officially had our first Christmas last weekend at our house with Bobby's dad, stepmom, three brothers, and grandparents. It was a good time and I'm glad we were able to host it. We got some cute stuff for baby, including a really sweet blanket from Grandma Susie. In her last few years, it was hard for her to get around much, but she still wanted to do something worthwhile. So the only thing she really asked for for birthday or Christmas gifts was yarn. She knitted hundreds and hundreds of blankets in her last two years, donating them to military overseas, women's shelters, hospice homes, and NICUs. According to Bobby's stepmom (Grandma Susie's daughter), this gorgeous pink, blue, green, and yellow baby blanket was one of the last ones she made before she died. Of course, she didn't know we were going to get pregnant a few months later, but it was still a really special gift for us.

So, in the same spirit...I want to pay it forward and give back too. I actually meant to do this awhile ago, but then I got nervous about the pregnancy and decided to hold off. And then I forgot.

I have a large stash (originally 50ish?) of Wondfo OPK strips and probably 20ish Wondfo pregnancy tests. I got them on Amazon last summer when I decided to stop being a pussy and pretending like I couldn't figure out how to work them right. I only ended up using them for 2-3 cycles before getting pregnant, so there's still quite a few left. And they expire in April. If all goes well, I'll be delivering a baby in April, not peeing on sticks.

So...who wants them? I know most of you who comment regularly already have babies or are currently pregnant, or are pursuing IVF and not so much in the cycle-charting stage. But I know I have quite a few more readers who don't comment regularly who could maybe use them. So de-lurk yourself and let me know! If there are several people who could use them, I can split them up, or you can have the whole bundle. I'm not sure on exact counts since they are at home and I am not. I can figure it out if there's interest. All I ask in return is that you do something nice for a stranger: shovel their sidewalk, buy a cup of coffee, participate in an Angel Tree or Operation Christmas Child drive, or whatever else you can do!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Let's Talk About Stretch Marks

I'm currently running a scientific experiment on my husband. He's been a semi-willing participant, complaining louder on some nights more than others. He has a hard time saying no to me these days (he totally let me lie on the couch like a lazy bum while he went grocery shopping on Monday because I was complaining that it was too cold to go outside), mostly because he thinks my "bump" is so darn adorable. I think this is funny because my "bump" is still barely more than a pooch. In fact, since I've only gained about seven pounds, I think I'm right on track for my normal winter weight gain. I've just stopped sucking in my stomach all the time. Either way, I'm totally taking advantage of his vulnerability and using him as a guinea pig in this experiment.

Let's back up. I'm vain enough to admit that I don't really want to get stretch marks. I mean, I think that's pretty normal, right? If I had a preference, it would be to keep my belly looking the way it currently does. But we pretty much always hear pregnancy = stretch marks. EXCEPT for all those advertisers and makers of expensive creams and lotions that promise use of their product = no stretch marks. So, I figured I should get some lotion.

But then I started reading some pregnancy books. Okay...I'll admit, my step mother-in-law gave me three books on pregnancy/babies. My clinic gave me two. I've read a combined total of maybe six chapters between two of them. To be honest, I gave up when they started talking all about rare complications and diseases. Like, am I supposed to actually memorize this stuff? Let's be real, if I get a rare complication or it turns out my baby does have some disease, I will do a ton of research then. I doubt I'll remember a short paragraph about the obscure complication anyway.

Back to the point, both books mentioned stretch marks. And both said that they are almost entirely genetic. There is no cream, lotion, potion, or anything else you can put on the skin itself to prevent stretch marks from happening. Basically, if your mom got stretch marks, you'll get stretch marks. Well. Okay. But what about what all those fancy creams promised!?

AND what about all the real-life stories from my own friends? Of course, they vary. One friend used Lotion A every night before bed and got no stretch marks. Her mom had stretch marks. Another friend used Lotion A five times a day and still got stretch marks. Her mom did not have stretch marks. I mean, what the heck?

Here's the thing. My mom doesn't have stretch marks (that I know of), and as of this moment, neither do I. I bought a cheap cream (some Palmer's Cocoa Butter that's like $4 at Walmart) mostly because my skin was starting to itch and I had to start putting some sort of lotion on it at night before I clawed through my belly button.

But I still wondered, is this doing anything? 

I do have some faint white ones on my boobs because in fourth grade I literally went from could get away without wearing a shirt in public to needs something with an underwire pretty much overnight. Yeah. Being nine and having a B cup? Not awesome. I doubled up sports bras for the next three to four years until the boys stopped making fun of me. But the white lines were pretty faint.

I started dating Bobby when he was a freshman in high school. He was pretty average, around 5'6" or 5'7" with a pretty normal build for a guy that height. Since his parents were divorced and his dad lived in very, very northern Minnesota, Bobby would spend the summer at his dad's. So he went away for three months between his freshman and sophomore years and came back over 6' tall. He grew five-six inches in only a few months. As you can imagine, there were some consequences. His skin definitely stretched, resulting in some pretty dark purple stretch marks on his hips, legs, and lower back.

You can probably see where this is going. I convinced him to let me put my lotion on him every night before bed, just to see if it really did anything. It's okay; it's FOR SCIENCE. Now I kinda wish I would have taken before pictures or measurements or something to put on my tri-fold science fair board, but for right now, I'm just going by what I can remember. Since he's starting to hate it more and more, I told him we'll keep doing it until Christmas (about two months total). If they don't look any different by then, I'll quit and decide the only thing the lotion was good for was to keep my skin from itching (which thankfully it has, that alone has made it worth it).

So...what are your thoughts/experience with stretch marks? What did you use to keep them away? Or did you not care? Is it all genetic and this is totally a waste of time? Is it totally unethical to use your husband as part of a scientific experiment?

Friday, November 14, 2014

An Anniversary

One year ago today I published the first post on this blog. I'd been reading infertility blogs for awhile before that, since we'd been trying for about a year and a half to get pregnant and it was clearly not happening. Most of my friends were getting pregnant. My doctor and my acupuncturist didn't seem to be taking me seriously since I was only 25 years old. Even my husband was convinced it was just a matter of time before it would magically happen. The only real way to describe how I was feeling is alone. I had moments where I literally felt like I was the only person in the world who couldn't get pregnant on command.

So I started with a Google search. It initially led me to BabyCenter and Bump threads that were catty and scary and, to be honest, a little bit crazy. Those were the kind of women that were like me? Those crazy-obsessive, snarky women who had been trying for all of three months for their fifth child and were PANICKING because it wasn't happening? This was the only place I could find support?

Eventually I found someone's blog. And then another and another. And then I noticed that the same people were commenting on each others' blogs. Wait...do they all know each other in real life? I finally put it together that, no, they did not know each other, but they were a community. And they were supportive and nice. And some were really funny. And some were sweet and kind. And they were all so honest and real. And they were infertile. Just like me.

I will never forget that feeling of realizing I'm not alone.

When I started reading infertility blogs, I didn't know very much about infertility. I knew almost nothing about IVF. I had no idea it required monitoring or medication. I mean, they just make a baby in a test tube and then shove it up your vag, right? Sure it was expensive, but it was pretty easy. And it ALWAYS worked - that's why celebrities did it. I had never even heard of IUI. I didn't know much about cycles or follicles or ovulation or cervical mucous. I had no idea that there was so much to being infertile--it was sort of terrifying. And overwhelming. And oh my gosh I think I need to get a PhD in human biology to have any idea what's happening to me right now. 

But I didn't need a science degree (thank God, I got a C- in Earth Science in COMMUNITY COLLEGE), I had all of these bloggers that had somehow learned all of this stuff. They understood their bodies inside and out. They understood medications and herbs and supplements and protocols. And they were nice enough to share that information in ways that I could (mostly) understand.

I know that I'm different from a lot of people in this community because I did manage to conceive naturally. But I'm going to make a bold statement here: I don't think I would be pregnant right now without all of you. Obviously, I have no way to back that up. Maybe I would be, but I doubt it.

When I started this blog, my cycles were just beginning to regulate themselves from mostly non-existent after being off birth control over a year (70-100+ days) to 40-50 days. With a change to my diet, more exercise, and adding in some red raspberry leaf tea, they finally settled themselves to 30-35 days.

But it wasn't until I started charting my temperatures (at the suggestion of many of you), that I figured out my ovulation. At first I was terrible at charting. It was all over the place. There were no patterns and none of it looked like the internet charts. But I eventually found my rhythm and actually had a normal looking chart for several months in a row. I could see post-ovulation spikes. I could see my temperature drop right before I got my period. It was amazing. My body was doing the right things--sort of.

And then you obsessive POASers got in my head. With your exact knowledge of ovulation, confirmed by digital smiley faces. I had started thinking about trying OPKs before I started blogging, but I wasn't sure I could do it accurately. I figured it was a waste of money. But I had some Amazon points sitting around, so I ordered a stack of the cheap ones. Because of you ladies and your pee stick worship. And that's how I found out that my ovulation was significantly later than I had previously thought, and my luteal phase was significantly shorter--like defect-level short. And I was totally inaccurately timing sex. Which is sort of an issue when you're counting on timed intercourse to get you pregnant.

So, again at the recommendation of many of you and after some lengthy research (that's right, I'm not even in school and I did scientific research), I started taking Vitex and B6. And after two months, it worked. It moved ovulation up by nearly four days, fixing the luteal phase defect, and making timed intercourse actually effective.

And well...you know the rest of the story.

While this is sort of the tale of "How I Managed to Get My Infertile Self Pregnant," what I really want it to be is a huge Thank You. I started this blog, like many of you, when I was at my lowest point. I was stuck. I had no idea what to do. And I was really, really lonely. And you all were there for me. You supported me, you offered kind words and helpful advice. You answered questions, shared your insecurities, and became my friends. Maybe not "friends" in the traditional sense, but you all genuinely cared about my life and my story, and I care about yours. Reading about your failed cycles and miscarriages and low moments were like a punch to the gut. I would read your blogs at work with the biggest, dumbest smile on my face when you finally got your BFPs. You were strangers, but at the same time you were my friends. We all wanted the same thing. I wanted this so bad for all of you. For all of us.

Many of you that read and comment regularly already have your babies or are currently pregnant. Some of you are still fighting--and I'm still cheering. My story is not one of the most inspiring ones out there (I mean, it's really just the story of a girl who finally learns some science), but I'm just so grateful that you all accepted me. You were the first people who took my struggle and my worries and fears seriously.

On this one year anniversary of this silly little blog, THANK YOU. I know I wouldn't be where I am without all of you.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Maternity Clothes Woes

Today I'm wearing a pair of my friend's capris as full-length pants. This is the sort of thing you're able to do when you're only 5-feet tall.

This good friend dropped off two boxes of her maternity clothes at my house yesterday afternoon and I am sooo grateful. I probably could have used a belly band with my regular clothes for another month or so, but the constant adjusting and unrolling was getting a bit annoying.

My friend is probably a size or two smaller than me on the bottom (big butt here, remember), but most of it seems to work fine. I only ended up being able to fit in one pair of her maternity jeans--the others wouldn't go past my volleyball thighs. The dress pants are so comfortable, I'm seriously wondering why all pants don't come with elastic waist bands. Get it together, clothing designers!

A bit unfortunately though, my friend's kids were both due in late summer, meaning she was getting bigger in the spring and summer. She was able to wear her normal clothes in the winter. Much of one of the boxes was filled with tanktops, sundresses, and shorts. I'm entering this week's forecast of 8-12 inches of snow with three pairs of dress pants, one pair of jeans, and a pair of capris that are about 1/4 inch too short (thankfully as long as I pair them with boots it isn't noticeable).

Also a bit unfortunately, other than my direct supervisor, no one at work knows I'm pregnant. So I'm still covering my (barely-there) bump with sweaters, cardigans, and vests. Maternity clothes like to emphasize even the smallest bumps, so I still don't have a lot to wear at work unless I cover it with a sweater...which I guess in 12° weather (yes, that's the forecast for next week---booo), isn't really a problem. I'm not really sure how to tell everyone at work. The obvious answer would be to announce it during staff meeting. We always have a time at the beginning to share personal news, but in no world does that sound like anything I would do. Being the center of attention like that would be unbearable. I've also thought about telling a few people, and since I work with all catty women, just letting it spread on its own. But then I'll be answering individual questions for the next month until everyone has heard. And that sounds pretty awful too. I'm not really friends, or even acquaintances, with anyone at work. There are several days a week I don't actually talk to anyone here. I'm feeling really weird about the whole thing, because I'm not going to be able to hide it much longer.

In other non-clothing crisis news, I got to hear Cannoli's little heartbeat last Friday. Dr. G. said my uterus was measuring perfectly (um...thanks?), and he found the heartbeat instantly. None of the drama of last time, thank God. He also pointed out that all of the "alien noises" I heard on the doppler were the baby moving. He asked me if I had felt any. I said that sometimes I think I do, but I'm not sure if it's really movement or just digesting food. He told me that officially I'm not supposed to feel anything until 19-20 weeks, but many women report movement earlier. Even as he was speaking, there was huge static on the doppler.

"That was a huge kick," he said. "I wouldn't be surprised if you feel those if you're laying still."

So I guess I'm going to try to pay attention more and see if I can feel movement.

I'm 17 weeks today and starting to feel like more of a human than in my last post. I even made it most days last week without a nap. I went to the chiropractor on Thursday and he fixed my back. I can walk upright again and actually move without my hips feeling like they're about to jump out their sockets. The nausea seems to be lessening. It's still there, but not as constant and not as strong. I mean, I've kind of forgotten what it feels like to have absolutely zero nausea, but I can at least live with this. We have our anatomy scan on December 1. We're not finding out the gender, but I'm anxious to see our Cannoli again (and hope that it looks more like a baby than a Cannoli--like it did last time we saw it).

I'm exciting to be heading into the holidays and how much time I'll get to spend with my family. We have so much to be thankful for every year, but we're especially grateful for our new little one this year.

I'm also very thankful for maternity pants heading into Thanksgiving...or, you know, Thanksgiving Pants.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Not Good At This

I don't know how to start this post, so I'm just going to drop this bomb:

I'm not good at being pregnant.

I always thought I would be. I don't really know why, I just assumed I'd be one of those ladies that loves pregnancy and waltzes around town with tons of energy, glowing, with a beautiful, round bump. I'm not that lady. I'm the sweaty lady that can barely fit into my sweatpants because I have an over-sized beer gut.

I'm 16 weeks today, and other than the fact that I'm so excited to be having a baby, I've hated nearly every minute of being pregnant. I'm still nauseated 24/7. I'm still exhausted. I've been worried about how my back would be affected by having a significant weight pulling on it from the front--and it has not been good. Last night I couldn't sleep. I couldn't lay on either of my sides without both my stomach and my back hurting, and I was not longer comfortable lying on my back. My bump isn't adorable, it's fat. It's too much mac and cheese and not enough veggies. My face is getting fat and so are my arms. I tell myself I want to work out, but I just can't force myself to do it. Our "nursery" is so full of junk it overwhelms me to even start thinking about it. I've worn yoga pants to work for the past 6 days. I just want to sleep all the time because it's the only time I'm not dry heaving. I'm not good at this.

A friend of mine once told me I'd be good at being pregnant. She's one of the butt-less women who's back flows directly into her thighs. She said she was constantly off balance while pregnant because she was so front-heavy. Of course, this friend repeatedly told me during high school how jealous she was of how my butt looked in jeans. It's not really a secret--I have a big butt. Like one of those rapper guys' girlfriends sized butt. So apparently, I was supposed to be good at being pregnant, because my butt would keep me from tipping over once my belly got big.

I've also been an athlete my entire life. I'm fairly strong, coordinated, and agile. Carrying around an extra 20 pounds didn't seem like it would be rough. I've always had decent ab strength, which I hear is good for labor. When my volleyball career ended, what else was I supposed to do with this life-long training? Why not be really good at having babies?

At the beginning of our infertility journey, when it was becoming clear that getting pregnant wasn't easy, I had to reflect for awhile. I was definitely pro-adoption (even over using ART), and I had to really decide if I was okay with not carrying my children. And I decided early on that I was. While I had always imagined carrying my children the old fashioned way, I didn't find myself "grieving" the loss of pregnancy. Of course, it never truly came to that, but what I realized was what I really wanted was to have kids and be a mom. I didn't need to be pregnant for that to happen.

And then I got pregnant. And it was rough. From about 7 weeks on, I was miserable. I was nervous about everything. I was sick. I was tired. I was lazy. I was hungry. I was pooping. I was anxious. And I was seriously questioning why anyone had more than one child after knowing what they were getting into. THIS was the magical time of pregnancy that everyone gloated about? No, thank you.

 I want this baby so badly to be here in my arms. I want to meet this tiny person that I've come to call Cannoli. I'm not even halfway through the pregnancy, but I'm so ready for it to be over. This might make me a horrible person for writing all this when there's so many women stuck in infertility wanting so badly to be pregnant. I know how that feels too. I thought this was what I wanted. I just didn't know that I'd be so bad at it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Mom Club

As news of my pregnancy spreads across my social circle, things are different. Being married for four years with no kids often left me feeling like I was missing out. Many of my friends who were the same age as me, or even a year or two younger were socializing and becoming close friends with other, older women. They'd meet together at MOPS, set play dates, talk preschools--and their only real connection was that they were all moms. When we were first married and I wasn't trying to get pregnant, I still felt like I was missing out, since none of these women wanted to be my friend. I didn't make much effort to join their groups, as I had no interest in peewee soccer or baby birthday parties, but it stung a little that they saw no value in me because I didn't have any children.

Once we were trying to conceive (and failing), it became worse. I wanted to talk peewee soccer and birthday parties--or at least diapers and nipple cream. But at the same time, I hated being around it. I avoided baby showers and ladies fellowship parties, knowing that it consisted mostly of "mom talk." It was too hard. I was realizing just how exclusive this mom club was, and I was trying to accept the fact that I may never be let in.

And then I got pregnant. Not a single person has suspected that it took us any longer than what we wanted. Everyone is assuming that this pregnancy was planned for this time (Oh a spring baby! How wonderful!). And everyone is excited for us. And you know what? It's fricken weird.

I told my volleyball team last Monday after practice. There were gasps and congratulations. I didn't know how they would respond. None of them are older than 16, and I haven't coached any of them for longer than two years. When I was their age, an adult's pregnancy announcement would have been met with a shrug of my shoulders and a, "That's cool." But they were all sweet. And at our game the next day, all of their parents congratulated me. So the news was passed on fairly quickly.

And here's the thing. Everyone has their own pregnancy story. They ask how I've been feeling, and then they share their experience. I don't mind, I like hearing it. But it's weird--I've instantly been accepted into Mom Club. They ask about my doctor, about my nursery plans, about waiting to find out the gender. Everyone wants to talk about my pregnancy all. the. time. It's not that interesting, I promise.

It looks like this:
Wake up to my alarm
Hit snooze, too tired to move
Hit snooze again
Drag myself out of bed 20 minutes before I need to be at work
Dry heave while brushing my teeth
Attempt to find pants that still button--give up and find a rubberband to hold them closed
Go to work
Try not to throw up
Try to stay awake
Keep shoving food in my face so I don't throw up
Throw up anyway
Go to volleyball practice
Sit on the floor and yell instructions
Go home
Lay on the couch while Bobby makes supper
If I'm in a really good mood, walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes
Lay on the couch until I can't keep my eyes open any more (approx. 8:30 p.m.)
Dry heave while brushing my teeth
Go to sleep
Repeat

But here's the other thing. I've learned so much about so many other women--women at my church, my volleyball players' moms, people at work. I've learned that many of them had miscarriages. Many of them had multiple miscarriages. Or unplanned pregnancies. Or high-risk pregnancies.

But one of my player's mom's stories has stuck with me. We were chatting after a game while the girls changed in the locker room, and she actually mentioned Mom Club. She said, "Once you get pregnant, you realize there was this club that you were never a part of."

I sort of pondered that for a moment, realizing how true it was, but she went on, "Of course, we were infertility patients before we had Mary, so it took us a little longer. Not as long as many people, but it was still a little different for us..."

She may have said more, but my mind got stuck on that. I coached her daughter Mary for three years--she graduated last year. Her two younger sisters are on my current team, and there's one more sister in sixth grade. Obviously their infertility had been resolved. And they would have been infertility patients 20 years ago--there weren't nearly as many options back then, and certainly not as many studies and advancements. I wanted to ask if she was an early IVF patient, but obviously I kept my mouth shut. I thought about sharing my own fertility struggles, but what is there to say?: "We couldn't get pregnant for two years, and then all of sudden we did."

So...I don't think I make a very good Mom Club member. I think I'll be an okay parent, and eventually I'll figure out the mothering thing, but I don't think I'm ever going to be good at what everyone else expects a "Mom" to be. I don't like to carry Kleenex in my purse.

I got a congratulations text from a friend today that made me cringe. It contained one of my least favorite phrases that I hear all the time from moms: "Having kids was the best thing I've done in my life." I disagree wholeheartedly with this. I have a semi-important job that helps a lot of people. I've experienced some life-changing moments while coaching. I've accomplished some things I'm really proud of--both professionally and personally. I got pregnant by dumb luck. Maybe this is a horrible thing to say, but I don't think having kids is going to be the best or most important thing I'll ever do in my life.

I think my Mom Club membership is about to be revoked.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Where we left off

Well that was terrifying.

I continued with the brown spotting (only on the toilet paper, not heavy) throughout the day yesterday. My appointment was at 3:45, so my day at work was totally unproductive and incredibly long.

I didn't tell Bobby about the spotting until I called him while I was waiting in the parking lot at the clinic. He was going to join me for the appointment and I wanted to see how soon he would be there. He asked me if I was excited, and I told him I was nervous.

He's already been telling me that I'm thinking too negatively, I just need to relax. Of course, that's easy for him to say, he doesn't have to analyze every single twinge, cramp, muscle stretch, ache, pain, discharge, and feeling that's happening to his body. So yeah...it's pretty easy for him to just relax and trust me to take care of this pregnancy.

Of course, the moment the nurse called my name, he grabbed my hand and looked into my eyes: No matter what, he whispered into my ear and kissed the side of my head. That's been our theme this pregnancy. No matter what, we're still a team and we're going to be fine. No matter if the pregnancy test was a false positive. No matter if the 7 week ultrasound showed an empty sac. No matter if this appointment revealed the spotting to be bad, and the doctor couldn't find the heartbeat. No matter what. 

And we almost had our moment. I told Dr. G. about the spotting, and he told me that if I were 8 weeks, they'd do an ultrasound. But since I'm 12 weeks, if he picked up a heartbeat with the doppler, then I wouldn't need an ultrasound and shouldn't worry about it. It was probably just the placenta "digging roots."


I lay on the table, and he spread the gel on my stomach and began moving the doppler. I could hear all sorts of wooshing and whirring, but nothing that sounded like a heartbeat. I stared at Dr. G.'s face, afraid to look at Bobby because I knew Bobby was studying me. He moved the doppler higher and I finally heard a heartbeat, but it was much too slow. I knew it was mine. Dr. G. started over--moving the wand back to the far left of my stomach and scanning to the right again. Finally, right beneath my belly button, I heard a racing heartbeat--at least 2 beats per second that I knew belonged to a tiny baby. Dr. G. breathed a sigh of relief and faced the doppler screen toward me. "175. That's your baby." We listened to it for a minute or so, and I could finally breathe again. "I could only find the heartbeat when you exhaled." Oops. I may have been holding my breath the entire time before he found it.

He pushed around on my belly and said my uterus wasn't protruding yet. He didn't comment either way about whether that was good or bad. He said the spotting probably wasn't much to worry about, I could take it easy if I was worried, but he never really puts restrictions on his patients for rest. He said no sex for a few days to keep from aggravating the cervix, but to be honest, between the nausea, puking, and pooping, sex has already dropped pretty significantly around here. He also gave me the Rhogam shot since I'm O- and I guess they do it early if there's any spotting or bleeding. Just an FYI - Rhogam is a giant needle and it goes in your butt. So that was a fun surprise. Dr. G.'s nurse was supposed to give it to me, but she came back with another nurse, saying she'd never given this shot before, so she was just going to observe and let this other, more experienced nurse do it. The new nurse promised she'd done it thousands of times. It actually didn't hurt that much, but I was leaning against the exam table, looking at Bobby sitting in the patient chair while he watched two nurses shoot up my butt. He enjoyed it waaaay too much.

I'm only up 1.5 pounds but Dr. G. still lectured me about not gaining too much weight--especially in the first trimester. I didn't think that was fair, since that morning when I weighed myself at home I was actually down 2 pounds, so the "gain" was just normal fluctuation. He promised that the baby will "eat first," so even if I skip a meal or two, I'm not going to starve the baby. Apparently I look like I need to skip a meal or two. Thanks, Dr. G. I do really appreciate him. He always reminds me that I can call or text his cell phone at anytime with questions.

For those who have asked, I'm not doing any prenatal scans, like the NT scan or quad scan. Any abnormalities will be discovered at my 20 week ultrasound. There's nothing that I would do with the information any earlier other than worry (and I'm doing PLENTY of that already), and at 20 weeks I would still have time to surround myself with the right doctors and hospital and NICU if anything bad is discovered.

Dr. G. mentioned he was feeling a little "off" during my appointment since he had a 20 week ultrasound for one of his patients that morning that received some not very good news. He got very quiet and blinked a few times. "I've been doing this for 30 years, but that's hard news to deliver that never gets any easier." I like that about him. He's willing to admit he's human and this still affects him.

Bobby was thrilled to hear the heartbeat. He's already telling most of his friends and people at work. I'm excited, but I'm having a hard time sharing the news. I don't know if it's because I know how much it can suck to hear other people's pregnancy announcements, or if I'm just still nervous this is all going to disappear.

Bobby and I had a long discussion last weekend about putting an announcement on Facebook (I'm against it - he wants to, though he said only ONE small update saying we're expecting, not weekly (or hourly) updates about every miniscule detail that no one cares about). It was an interesting conversation and it really revealed how infertility affected us differently. He insisted that "people like us" (infertiles) just get used to pregnancy announcements. Yeah, it sucks to not be pregnant, but other people's announcements don't make it worse. It just continues to suck equally. I disagreed, but I know many of you have suggested similar to Bobby. You're able to separate other people's pregnancies from your own infertility. I guess I'm not like that. I told him he could put something up if he wanted to, but I wasn't going to. I'm hardly on Facebook anyway, and I know he's just excited to share with everyone, so I'm probably going to lose this one.

I guess I can live with that, since I've won in not finding out the gender of the baby until birth. It's about time we do something the old fashioned way.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Code Brown and Panic

I have my 12-week appointment this afternoon, which I am both excited and nervous about. We decided that if everything went well--we heard a good, strong heartbeat, doctor says everything looks great--then we'd start telling people about the baby. Of course, I've had the natural amount of nervousness just hoping everything is progressing fine, since at this point I don't feel or look any different. I'm still nauseated all the time and my stomach is starting to pooch a little...but the pooch could easily be blamed on my overall laziness and less-than-great eating habits.

And then this morning, there was brown discharge when I wiped.

So far, I haven't had any sort of spotting except after my cervical exam. This came out of no where. It was definitely brown, not red, and you better believe I googled the crap out of it. It seems fairly common and like it shouldn't be a concern as long as it stays brown and there's no cramping. I felt some strong "pulling" (I guess) in my lower abdomen yesterday, which I'm led to believe is my uterus stretching, and I read that it can cause some bleeding when the ligaments stretch. It's definitely not as painful as menstrual cramps, but I wouldn't say it's exactly "painless" either. The next 5.75 hours could not possibly go any slower.

I'm not scheduled for an ultrasound today, as Dr. G. was only planning on listening to the heartbeat with a doppler. I suppose if the heartbeat is fine, he won't be worried, but I'm kind of hoping he'll give me an ultrasound anyway and maybe tell me where the bleeding is coming from--or if it's just cervical bleeding and no big deal. Or if the cyst he saw on my ovary in my 7 week ultrasound burst...or something else. Any kind of answer would be nice.

I haven't gone to the bathroom since this morning's incident. The irrational part of me wants to believe if I just don't see any more bleeding then I can pretend it's not happening. I wondered if I should call my doctor right away this morning, but I doubt I could get in any earlier than my already-scheduled appointment, so my only option would be the emergency room. And a little bit of brown spotting doesn't seem like an emergency room situation--especially since I'm seeing my doctor in a few hours anyway (5.5!).

How does anyone make it through this part of the pregnancy--where you can't see or feel your baby and have no idea what's going on inside of you!?! I'd just like a real growing bump that's more than last night's spaghetti. But that's still weeks away. Or some friendly kicks to let me know baby is still there. But that's still months away.

Am I ever going to be done WAITING for the next stage of my life!?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Telling My Parents I Got Knocked Up

On Sunday we took my parents out to eat and told them about the baby. We found photo frames that said "Grandma&Me" and "Grandpa&Me." I took the stock photo of happy grandparent and kid and flipped it over to the blank white side and wrote "Baby Davey - coming April 2015" and put it back together and wrapped them up.

Nearing the end of lunch, I told them I had early birthday presents for them - since their birthdays are a week apart in late October/early November. They looked confused at first, and then kind of guessed, "Oh, because you'll be busy with volleyball tournaments then?" I sort of nodded.

They both unwrapped the frames and my mom's jaw dropped to the table. There were gasps and congratulations, and my dad's first words were "I'm too young to be a grandpa!" Which he is not. He's in his late-60s and has been retired nearly a year. So of course Bobby chimed in, "I better not tell my parents then!" as his parents are a solid 15 years younger than mine.

No one yelled at me for being irresponsible or throwing away my future. Except when I mentioned that I was going to quit my job when the baby came. That did not go over well. I don't really have plans to be a stay at home mom, but I've become increasingly unhappy at my current job. I've been looking for something new already, and this is actually giving me a perfect excuse. I'll be able to take as much maternity leave as I want, and then look for something new probably in the fall. I want to get back into tutoring or working in the schools, so I think it will work out perfectly. My current job pays well, but it's becoming more and more stressful and the management is getting worse. I'm ready for something new.

Bobby called his dad and stepmom Sunday night and told them. I'm not sure exactly how it went, since I was out playing volleyball, but they were still talking over an hour later when I got home. They've wanted to be grandparents for a long time, so of course, they were overjoyed.

Bobby is going to mail his mom a canvas print we picked up over the weekend. He wanted to tell her that way since that's how she told her mom when she was pregnant--by cross stitching something "grandparent-y" on a pillow and mailing it.

This is going to be the first grandkid on all fronts, so yeah...it was pretty exciting for everyone. I texted my sister, and Bobby texted his brother. They both immediately asked if we knew what it was yet...clearly neither one knows much about babies, but they were both excited.

I saw Emma at a volleyball tournament this weekend, so I told her. She was of course super excited and it was really fun to talk to her about it. I always thought we'd be pregnant at the same time, but little Rorschach is 7 months old, and he's a pretty fun age too--although he has zero hair and kind of still looks like an old man. I'm glad I'm only a year behind her, instead of much more like I thought I would be.

I'm 11 weeks 1 day today, so we'll probably start tell everyone else in another week or so. We have an appointment next Wednesday to listen to the heartbeat for the first time...I'm hoping for a good strong number! The only thing that keeps me sane is that I'm still nauseated 90% of the time. According to my doctor, that's a good sign. 

Coaching volleyball is still kicking my butt, but I'm so close to being done. Only a four more weeks - 6 games and state tournament! I can make it. I'm also hoping for a break in the nausea in the next couple weeks. I can't even remember what it feels like to not be at least a little bit sick.

Friday, September 19, 2014

In Case I Forget

Since I do want to track this pregnancy, and since I'm not doing it anywhere else, I should probably write something. I'm also exhausted out of my mind, so here's a bulleted list of what's going on.
  • My vomit-free pregnancy officially ended today in grand fashion as I puked up saltines at work. Other than that, I've just been feeling nauseated all the time. Nothing really helps. Saltines, water, ginger ale, ginger tea, ginger cookies, Conan O'Brien. I've tried it all.
  • The fatigue is worse than I ever imagined. I'm barely keeping my eyes open at work. I'm napping almost every day. I go to sleep at 8:30 p.m. I'm actually sleeping really well. I hardly ever wake up during the night, and if I do, I'm able to fall right back asleep. So that's not the problem. And I know the fatigue is only going to get worse, so any advice would be great.
  • My boss knows I'm pregnant. I was going to tell her at 12 weeks during my one-on-one meeting with her, but she approached me today and asked, "Should I be concerned that you're eating saltines all day and sipping ginger ale?" She promised not to say anything. In a lot of ways, I'm relieved. I've had to make dumb excuses to work from home when I'm really nauseated or tired, or try to sneak in a little late on days I can't get through the gagginess of brushing my teeth. She sent me an email right after we talked saying, "Don't ever worry about coming in late! Take your time. You'll get your work done. I never worry about that." Thankfully no one witnessed the puking, as the secret would probably be completely out then.
  • We haven't told anyone else yet (except my dental hygienist on Tuesday...that was a weird experience all on its own). I'm 9 weeks, 4 days today, and we were sort of holding off on telling people until 12 weeks. But it would be so much easier if everyone knew. I've had to cancel a lot of commitments or drag my exhausted self through them, and I just know people would be a little more understanding about why I can't volunteer for EVERYTHING anymore. 
  • I'm particularly nervous about telling my parents. I have no idea why. I just imagine them giving me a speech about responsibility and throwing away my future--which is crazy! I'm not 16! I'm a totally appropriate age to have a baby...I'm not even that young. They aren't grandparents yet, so really, they'll be thrilled. But having this conversation totally makes me feel like a teenager who did something bad. Since both of their birthdays are soon, I was thinking about getting them "grandparent" things and having them open them. I dunno. Help? Did you tell your parents early? How? Did they yell at you for getting knocked up (just kidding...kind of)?
  • I've tried to at least keep up with walking 30 minutes a day. I originally had some grand plans to keep up with my regular workout, just modifying it a bit and slowing down. Ha! That was a joke. I can't even type the work "jog" without feeling like my lunch is about to reappear. 
  • This one is rough. I've written two whole posts about it and decided not to publish either one. It makes me really sad and disappointed in myself. Here's the truth: I wish my volleyball season was over. I'm struggling this year and I know I'm not on top of my coaching game. I'm distant at practice, mostly sitting out of drills because I'm too nauseated or tired to participate. I feel an incredible disconnect from the girls on my team this year, and I'm sure some of it is my lack of effort to really get to know them. I don't have an assistant this year, so I'm on my own. I really feel like I never should have agreed to take this on, since I'm totally failing at it. I have a little over a month left, and I just want it to go fast and be over. That's not fair my girls, and I hate that I'm feeling this way.
That's probably enough confessions for now. I never wanted to complain about this pregnancy since it's everything I've been trying for the past two years. But I will say it's different than I thought. I imagined some graceful puking in the morning, but being totally fine the rest of the day. I imagined combating fatigue with exercise, fresh air, and healthy foods. I imagined being more excited and less nervous. I imagined more baby bump, let bloated belly.

What has been different than you expected? In pregnancy, in having a baby, in trying to conceive, in fertility treatments? How do you manage your expectations when reality finds you on a tan tile floor of your work bathroom puking into the toilet you share with 18 other women?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Surreal

So I'm pretty sure that yesterday I was living someone else's life.

My doctor had told me I could bring Bobby to the ultrasound if I wanted to, but since I was so early there wasn't a whole lot to see (other than his wife getting probed by a dildo...). I decided I wanted him there. He's always up for getting out of work, and gets a ridiculous amount of paid time off specifically designated for doctor visits and such. It wasn't so much that I wanted him to “see” the baby, since it’s barely a fuzzy blob at this point, I wanted him there in case I didn’t see anything.

So many times during the last few weeks, I imagined this appointment. The tech getting everything ready, condoming and lubing the wand, inserting it...and silence. She’d look at me with raised eyebrows. Ask me what the heck I was doing there, there was absolutely nothing inside of me. Not even a blip on the screen, and certainly not a baby. Couldn’t I read a pregnancy test right?!

Or more likely, she’d find that fuzzy blob, but it would be too small. No heartbeat. It was there, but it wasn’t alive. I wanted Bobby there in case I had to hear that news. I had specifically scheduled the appointment for a day with no volleyball games or practice because I wasn’t sure I could be a decent coach after hearing that news.

As I walked into the clinic, I realized I didn’t actually know where I was supposed to go. I wasn’t seeing my doctor, so I didn’t know if I would still go the Family Practice/OBGYN section. I was born with a hole in my heart, so I had ultrasounds growing up to make sure it was closing properly...but that was always done downstairs in Radiology. Is that where they ultrasounded (not a verb? who knows) babies too? Or just hearts?

We walked upstairs to the OBGYN section. I told the receptionist I had an appointment for an ultrasound, but I wasn’t sure I was in the right place.

She got this sweet, motherly look on her face, “Are you pregnant?”

In the past, I had only ever answered that question with a guffaw. I was certainly NOT pregnant! I paused, and smiled, a little embarrassed, and nodded.

“Then you’re in the right place.” She smiled kindly and took the rest of my information. It was crazy! People actually believed that I was pregnant. I wasn’t just making this up!

The tech brought Bobby and me back to a tiny room, gave me a sheet for my legs, told me to empty my bladder and strip from the waist down, and left. I obeyed, though everything felt strange. Like Bobby was joining me for my annual pap smear or something (which he likes to call “pap schmear,” as in the stuff you put on bagels. The guy’s a little weird). It didn’t feel like we were really doing this...I mean, we don’t do things like this! This is not our life!

Bobby kept reminding me, “No matter what, we’re going to be fine. We’re still a team.” Obviously meaning, even if there’s no heartbeat, I won’t hate you for not being pregnant. Since the room was so small, he was behind me on a chair, and I was on the table, which took up 70% of the room. I couldn’t see him at all and he could only see the top of my head and my knees up in stirrups—not my face. The screen was mounted on the wall near the ceiling. I focused completely on that.

The tech was great. She was young and nice and adept with the dildo cam. Immediately after she put it in, she focused the screen. “This is the yolk sac right here,” she said, indicating with an arrow on the screen. “And this is the egg sac.” These were basically meaningless to me, they just looked like blobs, but I was relieved to see there was at least something in there, and I hadn’t just wasted her time. “And this tiny little dot right here is your baby.”

I’m pretty sure I exhaled a breath I’d been holding the last two years. There was a baby. A baby!? Inside of me. It seemed like a mistake. I wasn’t sure how, but maybe I was actually looking at the transmission of some neighboring transvaginal ultrasound. “And this little flicker right here? That’s baby’s heartbeat.” It had a heartbeat. It was alive. I tried to act like a sane person and not like I was shocked it had a heartbeat. The tech had obviously expected everything to be fine, and I was a maniac who was waiting for someone to tell me this had all been a joke.

The heartbeat was 115 bpm (Bobby keeps saying 115 miles per hour...), and I asked if that was good. She said, “Yes, that’s very good.” Anyone know? I’m trying not to excessively Google it.

She took tons of measurements and photos and poked around at my ovaries. She seemed satisfied with it, and told me my doctor will call me eventually and go over it with me. When she was done, she handed me a strip of photos with the word “BABY” and an arrow pointing to a fuzzy blob that looks like a tiny dinosaur.

Dr. G. told me at my last appointment that a heartbeat is a huge milestone. That a “significant number” of miscarriages were pregnancies that never got off the ground—something abnormal with either the sperm or egg and never created a decent embryo and never got to the point of having a heartbeat. Once it had a heartbeat, the chances of miscarriage dropped “exponentially.” Now, these aren’t really numbers, and I didn’t ask for real statistics, but I guess it helped a little, and made some sense (except I hadn’t seen a heartbeat yet, so I was terrified of not seeing one). And I’m sure these statistics do absolutely nothing to comfort those who have had a miscarriage after seeing a heartbeat, because while “exponentially” fewer, they still exist. And I can only imagine how much that sucks.

So...we passed the heartbeat milestone. What now? I haven’t gained any weight, but the bloating is unreal. I’m sure I haven’t gained because I’m not eating enough. All I can handle are simple carbs, which I know are terrible. Fruit and vegetables are out of the question. Meat is so gross right now. I’m mostly subsisting on waffles, pop tarts and Ramen noodles. Hello, college diet! I still haven’t actually thrown up yet, but I’m still nauseated all the time. The pooping is now mostly under control (thank goodness). Also I’m drinking a gallon of water a day. I’m so thirsty and so tired. I’m sleeping through the night really well, which means I pee for like 3 straight minutes every morning. At least I haven’t wet the bed!

I’m ready to be done being sick and I’m ready to tell people so they can give me a break for being sick. Bobby’s been awesome, and totally enabling my laziness. He’s doing most of the cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, and letting me lie on the couch and be a bloated whale. It totally makes up for “schmear” and 115 mph heartbeat.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Some Good News

I missed a phone call last night, and when I listened to the message, it was my new OB Dr. G. The message said he saw me on his calendar for next month, and he wanted to chat. He had called around 5:30 p.m., but I didn't see the message until closer to 6, and figured he would have left the office already and I'd call him in the morning.

He called back around 6:30 p.m.. He explained that this was his cell phone number, and he wanted me to have it. If I called his office, the receptionists and nurses probably wouldn't let me talk to him, but I could always call or text his cell phone and he promised he would get back to me. Um...this is NOT how my experience with any medical professionals from my clinic has ever gone! He was trying to make things EASY for me! I think this man is angel.

He went over basic questions, like why I ended up choosing him. I explained and once I gave him my maiden name, he put it together who I really am and became even more excited about having me as a patient.

Also, he wants me to come into his office as soon as possible to chat about things. We'd keep the exam appointment for Sept. 17, but that was too long of a wait for me to not do anything. He wants to go over what I should and should not be doing, as well as plans for the birth and just generally getting to know each other and figuring out the dynamics of our doctor-patient relationship. Whaa??? He respects my ideas and opinions? Is this normal?

He also wanted to schedule an ultrasound. It's elective, and totally up to me, but he encourages his patients to do it so they can closely pinpoint a due date, and see how things are progressing. He wants to do it next week, since I'll be around 7 weeks, and he said that would be plenty far along to determine a due date from the scan. And then he ever so delicately explained to me what a transvaginal ultrasound is. But he assured me it would be only me and a female, highly-trained technician alone in the dark room with the screen. She's the absolute best around and makes all of her patients feel comfortable, even though the idea of an internal ultrasound is a little uncomfortable and unpleasant. (I'm sure he was remembering me as an awkward, virgin teenager who definitely would have had some objections to being probed.) I'll admit, if I hadn't been reading infertility blogs, the idea of sticking a condom on a penis-shaped camera and shoving it inside of me would have me raising my eyebrows. But since many of you have had these exams multiple times per cycle, I can probably handle it. And dammit, I wanna see if there's actually a baby (or you know, shadowy peanut) growing inside of me. Bring on the dildo cam!

So I'm seeing Dr. G. tomorrow, and then he'll schedule the ultrasound next week. It's like I'm really pregnant! And I'm also terrified of having this ultrasound done and there being nothing there. Or something, but it's not alive. I can't decide if it's better or worse that I'm actually going to get things confirmed. If I waited until Sept. 17, I could at least continue pretending I'm pregnant for another few weeks. Instead, I could find out next week that it's all over.

I'm trying not to be pessimistic about this, I promise. I'm trying to accept consistent nausea as a good sign. I'm trying to appreciate the fact I can't even open my fridge because the smell of some homemade cucumber salsa (yep, just gagged thinking about it) Bobby brought home from someone at work makes my stomach turn inside out. That I'm going to bed at 8:30 every night and can still barely keep my eyes open at work. I'm not bleeding, I don't even need a bra my boobs are so darn perky, and if I stop sipping Ginger Ale at 6 minute intervals, I'm going to throw up all over my desk.

Holy balls, you guys, I think I'm pregnant.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Non-Update

For all of you eagerly awaiting to find out what's happening with my "pregnancy," here is your update: nothing. Nothing is happening.

Well, that's not exactly true, but let's back up.

I've lamented the sad state of my local clinic before here many times, but here's a refresher: it sucks. The problem is, there is only one local choice of clinic/hospital. I live 50 miles from any major city...and not 50 miles of interstate highway, suburbs, and lovely driving. 50 miles of cornfields, farms, small towns, and more cornfields. This clinic is basically my only option.

So...I called and told the first lady who answered that I had just gotten a positive pregnancy test. As it was my first, I wasn't sure who to call or what to do exactly...could she help me? I know I sounded ignorant on the phone, I didn't really care. I was ignorant. I asked if I needed a blood test. She said it would depend on my doctor. Some wanted confirmation, some accepted a positive home test as enough. She then asked who my primary was. I told her Dr. V. She took a few moments and told me, "Oh, Dr. V. doesn't do OB care anymore." I knew this when I called, but part of me thought Dr. V. might want to see me anyway--since she knew I'd been trying for two years. I thought she might do the initial visit and maybe recommend an OB. She was out that day anyway, so the lady on the phone told me she'd leave a message with her office and they'd call tomorrow. Okay, that was fine. I could wait one more day.

Dr. V's nurse called the next day (thankfully, she's always been super nice even when I've been super dumb), and she was actually helpful. Though she did confirm that since Dr. V doesn't do OB, she didn't need to see me. She told me I would need to meet with a lady who I think is some sort of CNP, who does new pregnancy consults, and then I would choose an OB and meet with them the same day. She gave me the names of a couple OBs she knew personally and liked, and transferred me to someone else.

I literally had to choose an OB in the time that I was on hold. More on who/how I chose later. Although obviously, if possible, my absolute first choice would be Jane.

I again repeated everything to this new receptionist. I had a positive pregnancy test. I needed to meet with special CNP lady. I needed to choose an OB. This receptionist was pretty helpful in scheduling, as she worked out a date with the CNP and my newly chosen OB that were within an hour of each other, so I could get everything done in half a day, instead of missing more work. I thanked her, and we hung up.

I go in Sept. 17.

And then I replayed it all in my head. No one told me what I'm supposed to do in the meantime. No one actually confirmed that I was pregnant. What if I made up the positive test? What if I was an idiot and couldn't even read a pregnancy test (I'm feeling a little better about this since I have the approval of a dozen internet strangers who are much more knowledgeable than myself)? No one told me to start taking prenatal vitamins (I also feel pretty well-covered in this area, as I've been taking them for the last 2.5 years, but they didn't know that)...shouldn't someone have maybe mentioned that to me? Or do people just assume everyone googles? No one told me to not drink alcohol or cut back on caffeine or quit smoking. Some of this stuff is pretty important to tell a pregnant lady early on! Yes, I'm fairly responsible and can figure most of this out, but they don't know that! I'm pretty sure that the CNP lady is going to go over all of this at my appointment with her, but by the time my appointment comes around, I'll be something like 9-10 weeks (maybe? I don't even know how to count this. No one told me!). They didn't even ask the first day of my last period, so the OB isn't going to know how far along I am when I show up that day. They really didn't ask me anything.

So, I don't know anything more. I won't know anything more, including the results of a blood test or a professional pee test, until Sept. 17. DO YOU EVEN REALIZE HOW FAR AWAY THAT IS!? It's like two, back-to-back two-week waits!

Let's move on, I'm beginning to raise my blood pressure to dangerous levels.

Let's start with choosing an OB. As I mentioned, I did this in about 12 seconds while on hold. Basically, Dr. V's nurse read off a bunch of names of both actual OBGYNs and family medicine doctors who also do OB and are taking new patients.

I was pleased when she read a particular name--let's call him Dr. G--as in the past I kinda wanted him as an OB (if it ever came to that). He's my dad's doctor. He's delivered babies in my town for many years, including half of the girls on my current volleyball team. He used to go to my church. My sister dated his son, who also dated my best friend Emma (yeah, he was a player...but hot). Also, Dr. G was Emma's doctor growing up (which was SUPER WEIRD for her while she was dating his son). I used to go to a Bible study at his house when I was in high school. He was always super nice to me and gave me great advice. Dr. G. was the first person outside of my family to push me to go to school for writing. He was a great mentor in some times when I was seriously struggling.

For most of my life I assumed I'd want a female OB. I've always had a female GP that has done my breast exams and pap smears, and I always wanted it that way. I was really shy and super self-conscious as a kid, and I would have cried to have a strange man touching me when I was a pre-teen. It was a given that I would have a female doctor. But all of my friends have had male OBs, and they've never mentioned any issues. At first, I thought having Dr. G would be really weird. I know him in real life...I'm not sure I want someone I know in real life looking at my vag all the time. Like, shouldn't I keep my real life and my doctor life separate? But, then I thought of one of the moms of two of my volleyball girls (twins) who had Dr. G. She always talked about how attentive he was, how he gave her his home number and encouraged her to call with anything, how he took extra special care of them because he also knew them in real life. Maybe that's totally unprofessional or abusing the system, but let's face it: I'm not smart. I need all the extra help I can get. So I chose Dr. G.

A few more things that are new...I guess I'm still pregnant because I haven't gotten my period yet. And my boobs? I used be a smallish C. Now I'm a solid D. And I'm pretty sure they're made of granite. I pee about 17 times a day, and I'm starving all. the. time. But everything makes me feel sick. Except for waffles. I know I need to eat protein, but the only thing I've managed to not feel super sick after eating in the last week has been Cheerios and waffles. Can I just eat breakfast all the time?

I'm also nauseated. Not like throw-up nauseated, more like seasick. I haven't thrown up yet (yet!), I just feel queasy constantly. And "morning sickness" hasn't really taken the traditional route. It's not only in the morning, it's all the time. And it's not vomit, it's poop. All. The. Time. Didn't want to know that? Sorry, me neither.

I feel you, Chris Traeger.
So...this is not how I thought pregnancy would look. Mostly, it feels like I have the flu. Or food poisoning. Thankfully, my job is somewhat flexible and I was able to work from home for a few hours this morning (let's not tell my clients I was actually working while sitting in an empty bathtub holding my laptop, just in case there was an emergency). But I definitely can't work from home every morning without a valid reason. And I'm still several weeks before feeling comfortable enough to tell my boss. There's also my volleyball team. They must think I've just gotten lazy this season, since I haven't been diving or going as hard when I play with them. I'll need to tell them eventually, but only once I'm ready for the whole world to know, since we all know how well high school girls can keep secrets. There's also my family and friends.

It's all very overwhelming, and none of it would feel real at all, except for you, blog friends. You are the only people that know. So thanks for validating my constant pooping as something other than IBS.