Friday, September 22, 2017

So wait, you mean... I'm normal?

Well, I'm a week or five away from viability, depending on how you want to define it, but my 23-week appointment went well.

Dr. W is no longer worried about my cervix ("we will still so checks, but I know everything I need to know without scans, this isn't a risk for you").

My weight gain remains stable (I think I'm up about 12 pounds now?) 

My blood sugar will be tested for gestational diabetes between 26 and 27 weeks.

The only risk factor I'm dealing with really *is* age related, and that's Pre-ecclampsia.  I'm diligently taking my low-dose baby aspirin and just crossing my fingers at this point.

And get this, if my good fortune can hold on for a few months longer, I am not necessarily going to be induced before 40 weeks.  I won't be going past my due date (tentatively listed as January 18, 2018), but it's nice to know that it isn't a standard practice with my OB.

Baby Nutmeg (so named by the Nibble), we hope to meet you in about 16 weeks.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The blergh pursuit of the golden egg

There's something that sets my teeth off about the phrase "golden egg."  It's a phrase you see fair bit on boards of women over 40 who are trying to conceive.

Let me start by saying, I honestly believe that for some women, sure, it's quite possibly in there.  There's a genetically normal egg in this woman's hypothetical ovaries and she just needs a fuck ton of luck and timing to ovulate it.

The problem is, I hit on one, at 40, after three consecutive miscarriages.  She was Celine.  She was genetically *perfect* and yet she still isn't with me on this earthly plane.

You know, since the age of 38, I started a regimen of Co-Q10 (Ubiquinol, of course), Vitamin D, interspersed with DHEA, myoinistol, vitex, you name it.

There was still something inexplicably and incredibly fucked up going on.

I truly believe that whether or not I pulled the trigger on taking my own eggs out of the equation I would still be getting regularly knocked up and losing them to this day, at 43.  Doctors couldn't explain it ("Superfertility" maybe?  A uterus that welcomes ANYTHING?)  The last genetic counselor we saw was the first to suggest that something was terribly wrong, beyond the usual aging of eggs that cause them to fail.  Maybe I am a genetic carrier, of something in addition to my gnarly version of MTHFR, something unnamed and unknown and truly fucked up.

But I also recognized at age 42 that honestly, this quest for a golden egg was entirely meaningless for me.  Plugging away at pregnancy since my thirties and Not. Ever. Holding. A. Baby. Rinse and repeat EIGHT times.  This required action.  What the fuck good would a boatload of supplements do me if virtually all of my eggs were bad? And it doesn't actually matter why they came to be this way, they just are.

We were entirely fortunate and unusual in having our kick-ass IVF-covering insurance policy from Viking's latest job.  And the ability to squeeze a little cash outta a home equity line that was being taken to fix a creaky old roof and finish a basement.  This was what afforded me the ability to pull out of this endless cycle of misery.  Our fortunate financial situation allowed me to end this vicious cycle of loss after loss after loss that would SURELY continue.

My heart breaks when I see the over 40 boards and women with histories like mine, or women enduring loss after loss, with the hope that they will buck the statistics, they will hit on that golden egg.  They totally might, hell, I pray they do.  Because I know that each loss, no matter how early, slowly eats away at you, chips away at your ability to function.  The drive to continue, it's inexplicable.  I know from too much personal experience what it means to pick yourself up after a miscarriage.  How pop your vitamins and soon wake your sleepy husband up from that early bedtime after your living child is tucked into bed, and you've both had an exhausting day at work because you feel your left ovary twinging, and you Can't. Miss. That. Egg.  You just can't.

Every woman's breaking point will be different.  Lurking those boards is an exercise in sadness, with an occasional burst of good news and hope.  And that's why I don't post on them.  Despite the fact that I am approaching 23 weeks at age 43, I am definitely not a success story to many of these women, and I don't offer  them hope.  I "gave up."

I understand.

I sometimes wonder what would have happened had I immediately attempted IVF with Dr. Cuddles back when I just turned 40, after my third miscarriages.  Before I went to Babies Guaranteed, who could kick me and my high-FSH to the curb.  Viking was working in a really low-wage state job.  I was worried that I needed the "support system" of a big clinic.  Dr. Cuddles stressed me out.  But I do wonder had I cycled with her, whether I even would have had any PGS-normals from that cycle?

Deep down, I know the answer.  And that the baby I am carrying - who may like Nibble look like Viking, or may by the great genetic crap-shoot in the sky pop out with big brown eyes and brown hair and resemble me - is the baby I am supposed to carry.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Welcome to the basket-case stage of pregnancy

Here I sit at 22 weeks. The countdown to viability has begun.

I'm basically showing, and fully resigned to elastic-waist maternity pants.

Slowly, one by one, rather than in an awkward group staff meeting setting, I am letting co-workers know that I am going to be out a while come January, knock on wood.

Yet every day is two steps forward, three steps back.

On the surface I've got my shit together.  I have kept relatively trim, thanks to weekly ballet classes and lots of walking.  And being careful with my diet.  I get my work done at the office then get Niblet to her activities, help her with her homework.  My hair is shiny and trimmed and freshly colored (yes colored, no judgment allowed - because I know too well that a semi-permanent hair dye never once killed one of my babies).  

Viking and the Nibble and I are talking about this baby as if she will be a member of our household... but then afterwards, I immediately feel a wave of anxiety and dread.  What if she doesn't make it?  What if she suffers a cord accident?  What if I develop Pre-E, and my skyrocketing blood pressure leads to a premature delivery?  What if what if what if.  How can any rational person plan on buying car seats or decorating a nursery when there are so many ways that women lose their babies late in pregnancy?

Then there's the ridiculous walking cliche I have become.  Baby animal videos make me cry.  Mean- spirited videos people take of their children and then post on facebook - thinking they are harmless ways to poke fun at their tantrum-ing kids (but in my view are really acute invasions of privacy and truly insensitive to the clear distress of their children) - those videos make me cry too.

Don't even get me started on the news and headlines.

When you look beyond the shiny veneer, I'm actually a teary-eyed mess, and my eyes are already a little red because sleep is tough these days.  Princess has taken to regularly crawling into bed and spooning me at around 4am, clearly sensing the jig is up.

Oh sweet kitty, while I recognize my role as uber-mom in our house, and revel in your affections, you gotta cut me a little break.




Wednesday, September 6, 2017

More random musings on geriatric pregnancies

(The fetal echo went fine btw)

I've been mulling my age over the last few days, wondering, well, "Why am I so not concerned about it right now?  Shouldn't I be more concerned?"

I mean, I know rationally I can't prevent aging, or disease, or early demise.  I know rationally that if my daughters find partners and start families in their later years, Viking and I may be off this earthly plain. [Though, I gotta say, I will highly encourage the Nibble in particular to start her fertility journey - if she so chooses one - far earlier than me.  Because, hello, mthfrucking genes].

But I was also thinking about some of the older mommas I personally know.  A close friend who had her son at 45.  Another friend who gave birth to twins at 46. An artist who had her two kids at 39 and 42.  Another old high school friend who is also pregnant right now....

All of these women are tired.  Much like my friends with babies at age 30.

But none of them really dwell on their actual ages.  Anecdotally speaking, these mommas are fit.  Their facebook feeds are the stuff that "40 IS THE NEW 30"  Cosmo and Redbook articles are made of.  They hike, they swim, they eat their veggies, they schlep the kids around and all hold full time employment.  They're all fairly funny and acerbic, and honestly, they all just live.  None of these women really drink or smoke or engage in the risk behaviors that jack up vulnerability to chronic diseases.

There's an interesting study I came across a few years ago, showing a correlation between women who have their children when they are older, and increased life expectancy. Like, along the lines of "women who have children in later years tend to live to age 90 in greater numbers."  Now, the research analyst in me tends to think that these studies ignore the bigger more important patterns to causation... like, many women who delayed childbearing did so to further education and socio-economic status.  So, like, I went to graduate school, I make some decent money now, and I have some pretty kick-ass health insurance and work benefits.  I get check ups.  I get my glucose tested.  I get sick leave when I'm sick and vacation leave when I'm burnt out.  This is the real secret to my fountain of youth my friends.

That and the ballet classes. (I could write a fairly science based-essay on the ways that dance -ballet in particular - keeps people spry, seriously).

But even if I cried uncle in this struggle to have just one more baby, it's not like I would be a markedly different woman as the mom of just Niblet.  I would still be a pretty fit, youthful chick who teaches zumba classes and gets mistaken for someone in their thirties. [Side note, I was told by one friend that I am getting far less side-eye from people who are learning I am pregnant because they have no idea I am 43.  Interesting].

I've said it before, I could get hit by a bus tomorrow.  Or struck by cancer.  But honestly, all things being equal, with whatever the universe has in store for me, I don't really envision being a creaky-old 65-year old.  Or even 75 year old for that matter.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The slow reveal and the reactions

Today I'm having a fetal echocardiogram, as per recommendations for IVF pregnancies.

We saw all of the biggies you want to see on the anatomy scan, but being me, well, I am still a little anxious going into this.

I've started telling people - friends and co-workers as I see them - though based on their surprised reactions and the very obvious stare they give my admittedly small midsection, I could probably have kept this pregnancy hidden a few more weeks with the right clothes.  Some days I wonder, should I be waiting until viability?  Maybe 24 weeks?  What is the date that someone like me can stop worrying?  Beats the fuck out of me. 

This weekend Nibble and I found a surprising amount of stuff in the attic.  Bouncy chair, crib sheets and mattress pads, a million baby books, some toys, an umbrella stroller.... Our house is a complete shambles, as we are literally moving everything  - musical chairs like - around to different floors and it all is somehow sitting in the hallways.

The responses I've had to the reveal have been universally lovely and supportive and blessedly free of judgment about my fucking age.  With one notable exception:  My MIL.

Oh yes, when we first told my MIL and FIL at the beach, the smiled, hugged us, gave congratulations.

But then things got a little weird.

MIL: "I thought you couldn't have any more babies.  Didn't you go to Boston to see a surgeon because of that?  Weren't you no longer trying to have another baby?"

Me: "Umm, I saw a surgeon five years ago after my first miscarriage to repair damage to my uterus.  I had, like, 7 more pregnancy losses after that.  I thought you knew about them."

MIL: "Oh, I'm so sorry, I had no idea."

I then look at Viking pleadingly for help.... didn't you tell your parents? You once assured me your parents knew about all of it.

Viking:  "What's going on?"

Me:  "Oh, well, your mom says she didn't know about the losses, I thought you told me she was told."

Viking: "Yes, I did."

FIL:  "Yes, we knew."

So here's the deal:  MIL has a "terrible memory" - she does see a neurologist about it.  But, that said, MIL is also terribly passive aggressive, and has a uniquely selective memory.

The following day:

(Standing in a GAP outlet store waiting at the checkout line).

MIL:  "Do you want me to stand in line for you?  Given your condition?"

Me:  "(DEEP BREATH.  SMILE) Seriously?  I'm a fitness instructor. Ha, you know I took a zumba class yesterday morning.  Nope, I'm fine. just stay put with Nibble."

MIL:  "OK, just asking, because you know you are older."

Later that day:

MIL:   "Aren't you concerned about taking on so much?  You work so much, and [the Nibble's] schedule?"

Me:  "(DEEP BREATH) Nope.  Of course it's work. We have been trying to bring this baby into the world for five years.  I'd say, concern is pretty low on the list right now."

So I tell Viking all of this when they leave.  His take:  They are "getting older" and are much less spry than my side of the family.  They moved into a senior retirement community that can transition to assisted living.  Frankly, they're probably worried we are going to hit them up for baby-sitting when we need help.  "Honestly, they're preparing themselves for their final years, which may involve the assisted living."

You know, being in a state of geriatric pregnancy, you can't help but think about your own mortality.  But, I always go back to the fact that I feel like I have so much more life in me than someone would give me credit for.  Will I age?  Undoubtedly.  Do I have some genetics on my side?  Fuck yes.  My 71 year old mother takes two or three ballet classes a week.  My 69 year old father teaches tai chi and takes a weekly combat class with cops (Yes, I said combat).

I'm not gonna recite some platitude about "age being just a number" because it isn't.  Cancer could hit you when that number increases.  But the truth is, I could also get hit by a bus tomorrow at age 43.  There's no telling.  Viking is hedging his bets as well.  He's been hitting the gym about 4 days a week, eating his veggies, and seeing his doctors regularly.  But interestingly, he's got family that's as spry as mine.  His one uncle (MIL's brother) is about 75, and hell, he just painted the entire exterior of my cousin's house.

I don't have a crystal ball.  All I can do is stay healthy and thank the lord for the few good genes I've been dealt, the ones that don't cause me to lose babies. I do actually believe though, that taking care of little people will be good for our health.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

These diagonal stripes will fool everyone!

Twenty weeks, and I'm still not quite out at work.

Me: Hey, Viking, how does this outfit look?

V:  Back in WWI they used to camouflage ships with stripes.  I think they called it "dazzle camouflage" - kinda like that shirt.

Oh, well, Fuck you Viking.





Actual Dazzle Camouflage (See: Wikipedia)

 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Celine

Celine has been on my mind a lot.

I should say at the outset that I am growing more and more attached to this miraculous baby I am carrying.  We've all cooed at her ultrasound pictures, Viking, Nibble, even my mom.  She is already loved and adored, and Viking and I have a good idea of how we will broach her genetic origin story with her, and eventually, the Nibble.  I'm just excited to hopefully meet this little person and hopefully watch her grow with intense curiosity.

But my mind wanders to Celine.  I can't describe my feelings about her termination as regrets.  Her diagnosis was so awful, and yet, so gray, so wracked with unknowns. But it's not like I want to turn back time and change my decision.  I am at peace with my decision.

I guess what fills my brain in those dark moments when I can't sleep, is that I lost a piece of myself in the process. 

I've been reading about epigenteics forwards and backwards, and I completely understand that because I am lucky enough to carry this baby, I am influencing her genes.  But the loss of Celine is highlighted in this experience.  I said goodbye to a baby that might have come home to us.  And knowing now, in hindsight, that I was destined for three more miscarriages, that Celine was my last real hope to reproduce with my own DNA as building blocks, well....it's been a rough few nights.