Monday, October 16, 2017

Social media and the sum of its parts

Last night I added a miscarriage and infant loss ribbon to my facebook profile picture.  It's about as "out" as I have ever been about my losses on social media.

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Meanwhile, I am somewhere in the ballpark of 13 months away from meeting this little person.  I've just had the conversation with my HR department about my leave benefits (and don't hate me, but for the US they are plentiful).  We Also started trying to clean the house out a bit more this past weekend.  It's clear to me that Viking doesn't have the same sense of urgency as I do (and Niblet for that matter).  But after fifteen years together this isn't a surprise.

Later this week I am volunteering some zumba-ish dance warmups for a kids fundraiser at the school.  There are plenty of neighborhood friends of ours who still don't know I am expecting.  They see me dropping Nibble off at school in the carpool lane.  I'm guessing that word will spread fast after their kids get a load of me in workout clothes.

It's occurred to me that the Parent Teacher Organization will likely take some pictures of me zumba-ing with the kids and post them with tags (they did last year).  That's certainly one way this news might spread.  It's not like I can hide a baby, and it's not like I would want to.  With the world being a literal dumpster fire right now, my news is joyous and bright.

I always said I would never share a pregnancy on social media, partly because I didn't want to trigger other people who were struggling.  But, like fertility itself, the control we have over our selves and stories isn't as cut and dry as we would like to believe it is.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Musical furniture and Help me.

So I am approaching 26 weeks, and there are so many things. That aren't getting done.  My house is a hilariously fucked up obstacle course .  Donated rocker/glider chair with an ottoman sitting in the hallway?  Check.  Children's art shelves sitting in the dining room?  Sure.  Attic crammed with five million things that need to be cleared away so I can store other things in there?  But of course.

We have an office crammed with Viking's desk and our books that is ostensibly going to be a nursery.  Maybe?  Assuming she makes it to 40  weeks?  I don't wanna cast blame, but Viking, I'm looking at you.  Those books won't stack themselves and carry themselves off to the book donation site we like, or the attic.

Nibble has a million school projects (third grade is no joke at her school), ballet class 3X a week, violin and sunday school every other weekend.  That's not counting the birthday parties and play-dates.

I have a fuck ton of work to get done before I hand off my work life to my work husband.  One of the reasons I can't post here as often as I'd like is when I get to the office, I am working.  Nonstop.  So I can leave by 5 to get the Nibble across the universe.

I am also the asshole who agreed to help the PTO do a fundraiser with some Zumba next week.  Because sure, why not.

Ok, we have fifteen weeks to get this shit done, if I'm lucky.  I'm operating under the theory that something will go awry and Nutmeg is going to try to emerge sooner.  I wish that this would spur Viking into action, but sadly it isn't.  He spent his last Sunday lying around - with me audibly sighing and furrowing my brow at him.  This is the sexy stuff marriage is built on of course.  I know you've been hitting the gym in the early mornings and just sanded our kitchen counters, but what makes you think you can just lie around Viking????

My co-workers are appalled that I haven't started a registry.  What do I need?  What don't I need?  Honestly, I have to do an inventory of the attic, and kids, PSA announcement, this is what happens when you choose not to really acknowledge a pregnancy until after 20 weeks.

I am amazingly fortunate to have these stresses, but I have to get my act together, stat.  I am even second-guessing the trip I booked for us to the beach, later in the month.  A cheap four-day weekend at the ocean, while amazing, is also four less days to accomplish something.

Oh well.  We DID save a nice bassinet we can put this baby in.  We don't have a room with any space for it, but we'll get there.  We could use some clean sheets, and some car seats too, but we'll get there when we get there too.

Let the marathon begin!

Monday, October 2, 2017

ballet as anxiety relief and celebration

Like, as soon as I make a post that's all "Yay!" about this pregnancy, I woke up at 5am in a cold sweat with my heart racing.

A nightmare about losing Nibble had baby Nutmeg kicking wildly as well, it seemed.  Set in my old elementary school, I arrived to pick up Niblet, only to find she was missing.  Cue the frantic racing through the hallways of my old school (only more maze-like), and the screaming at teachers, shouting Nibble's name in agony.

Princess - who usually sleeps at my side - appeared as shaken as I did, I must have flailed a lot.

Anyways, there was only one way to reset my brain, that was a ballet class.

So, I haven't really had any doctor's orders about dancing.  I mean, Dr, W has said she didn't want my heart rate going too high, but like most doctors, she knows jack about classical ballet.  And likely doesn't know how conditioned ex-professional dancers like myself are to take classes and pace themselves through all kids of ailments and injuries.

Man, I hope I can keep dancing.  Maybe it's hormones, but I am looking pretty fucking spry these days, I'm still executing some limited jumps and turns.  And I guess my pelvic joints are readying to push a baby out eventually, because I'm pretty flexible.  Last night I had one of my calming dreams, where I am perfectly balanced at the end of a series of double pirouettes (unlike the weeble-wobble that I currently resemble when I attempt multiple turns).

So, with that, I firmed up an idea I had a few weeks ago:  I would like to do some pregnancy photos with the Nibble - both of us in leotards and tights at the barre.  With my belly in full view.  And I think I found a great dance photographer who can make it happen.

I have no idea who would ever see these photos besides my closest friends and family right now, but I have some regrets that I never really took any professional photos when I was carrying Niblet.  I've come a long way for baby Nutmeg, and Niblet's reaction and love for this tiny creature that now kicks me all night is something I can't capture.  When I was thinking of memorializing this pregnancy, it struck me that I look pretty fucking good for a 43 year-old aging ballerina.  I'm proud of what I've gotten this body to continue doing.  And I'm proud of my one living daughter, who moves with so much joy to music in her own ballet classes.  So why the fuck not capture some of that joy - for this baby, for dance - in some pictures?
Oh, and when I walk into class I say to myself, be this chick.

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 do pelvic checks, but I know everything I need to know without scans, this isn't a risk for you anymore").

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 you 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.