Thursday, December 14, 2017

Do they know you're pregnant?

So my mom calls me up because she just received my In-laws' holiday card - they usually attach a lengthy typed letter to a card, and attached one to a Chanukah card for my rents, as appropriate.

"Have you seen this card?"
"No, not yet, is it the usual doozy?" I ask.

They tend to write these rambling formal letters documenting everything from their most recent medical history to their daily activities at the senior retirement community where they live.

"OMG.  THEY DIDN'T MENTION THE BABY?  WHAT ABOUT THE BABY???" screeches my New Yorker mom, in a most intentionally Seinfeld-esque way.

"ALL we talk about is the baby," she continues.  It's true.  My mom and dad are buying layettes, and onesies and crib sheets, and mailing us all of the things that make Niblet coo when she opens these boxes.

Mom proceeds to read me the letter.  Indeed, it documents my in-laws' "increasing medical appointments and decreasing energy."  But with that, they're remaining active at their community, doing things like the library book collection and maintaining the community bulletin board and gardening.

They mention being in close distance to their son D and his wife W, and their son T, his wife [Me] and their almost 9-year old daughter.

And that's it.  No mention that they are hoping to meet another grandchild soon.

Now, look, being Jewish, I am used to superstition.  Some of us don't even buy anything before this kid takes a breath outside the womb.  But, having endured the loss of a baby in the second trimester - who I went as far to name - I would like to think that if in some horrific twist of fate I lost Nutmeg, we would be publicly shouting her name to the hills.  She would be honored.  She has been loved, by more than just me.

But I'm about to pop out a kid, and likely sooner rather than later. (Another post on this soon).  Niblet is currently the ONLY grandchild in the family, on both sides.  Aunts and cousins on Viking's side are already sending us cards talking about their excitement for this impending arrival.

You guys, the retirement community BULLETIN BOARD got a shout out in this Christmas letter and my baby didn't.

"They seem oddly hostile to this poor baby," said my best friend, who has met them too many times to count, and following the saga of how they don't talk about the pregnancy at all.  ""Did they include the test results from the colonoscopy in the card?"

Recall the day after we told them Nibble was going to be a big sister, I was 18 weeks along.  And my MIL pulls me aside and whispers, "aren't you worried that you have too much on your plate?"

PSA - when someone tells you that they're pregnant - and they're smiling and excited about it - the only thing that should come out of your mouth - regardless of that someone's age or personal circumstance - is CONGRATULATIONS.

Rant over.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

"I could write a fucking sonnet..."

Just about 33 weeks pregnant and I wanted to write a fucking sonnet about the breakfast sandwich I had this morning.

It was egg and cheese and avocado on a biscuit all made from scratch at this ridiculously expensive but delicious coffee shop in my 'hood.  It was an EIGHT dollar breakfast sandwich.  And it was gone too soon.  Far too soon.

That was honestly what I was thinking about this morning when I took this picture, my break from anonymity below.






Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The marathon stretch and better living through chemistry


I am approaching 32 weeks.


Yesterday Dr. W and I chatted and laughed about the final stretch.  There are going to be a lot of fucking appointments.... continued bi-weekly visits and then starting at 36 weeks, weekly Non Stress Tests (NSTs  - which could stand for "No Such Thing" where stress and I are concerned).

I mentioned how some of the memories of painful childbirth have begun to flood back to my brain, to which Dr. W responded 'Better Living Through Chemistry" - ha ha Dr. W.

In all seriousness my epidural experience with Niblet was something of a tragicomedy.  After about 16 hours of active labor, exhausted out of my mind, and with no real progression in sight, I said fuck it (out loud of course) and asked for an epidural.

The douchey anesthesiologist walked in - no seriously, guys, he wore a Pittsburgh Steelers do-rag on his head.  I'm not even a football fan, but this is very bad form in my adopted home town, especially in a hospital. 

I remember sitting in a sort of straddled split position, my back to Mr. Douchebag, and holding Vikings hand's.  Staring into his eyes, I noticed that Viking looked a little queasy watching the Steelers fan work.  See, apparently, the needle that administers the meds looks exactly like a drill-bit to my handy around the house husband.  Anyways, I braced for the pain of the needle/drill-bit/harpoon and probably only gently cursed out loud (according to Viking, I don't actually scream when I'm in pain).

Douche: "You did great there Justonemore.  But, let me ask you, are you a runner by any chance?"

Me: "No, but I am a former professional ballet dancer."

Douche: "Interesting.  Because you have a really muscular back."

Me: "Ummm, Thank you?"

Douche: "Well, see, the thing is, I like to work on floppy backs.  And unfortunately that needle didn't go in, because your back isn't floppy at all.  We're gonna have to try that again."

I look up at Viking, still clasping his hands, his bright blue eyes are starting to look a little unfocused, and I swear, he looks like he's going to faint dead on the floor.  Thank god he knew I would have clocked him if he even tried pulling that bullshit on me.

I have some pretty strong memories of labor pains coming back to me.  I also have the distinct memory of the calm, cool sensation of the medicine rolling down my spine when the (second) epidural eventually started working.  Yes, it completely felt like the sensory equivalent of a York Peppermint Patty.  Months later, I chewed some of this gum, and I swear, I would hold the canister out to Viking and say, "THIS DUDE.  THIS WAS THE FEELING OF MY EPIDURAL."













Friday, November 17, 2017

Out

Well, it's done.  I am out on Facebook and Instagram. 

If you can believe it, there were many friends and family members who didn't know before today.



Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Niblet's Birthday

So Niblet is nervous and excited and all of the rest about Nutmeg.

She also turns nine exactly nine days before Nutmeg's due date.

Can you feel my stress?

We are trying to put a party together for her on Saturday the 6th or Sunday the 7th.  Theoretically, this puts me in the 38 week arena.  Niblet didn't arrive until 41+2.  My OB won't let me go past 40.  

Niblet *understands* in the way that a nine year-old can understand, that Nutmeg can arrive anytime.  But honestly, who gives a shit - she wants her party.  Can you blame her?

So I am putting a deposit down on either two hours at a local bowling alley, or a craft store.  The bowling alley is the easier of the two, everything is provided for, but it's more money up front.  And then I am praying that I am not in the hospital on the weekend of January 6th.  I love her to death, but I don't want my mom anywhere near me in the hospital.  It's Viking or no one.

I am trying to stay rational.  I have no reason I believe that I am going into labor early.  Labor is like a 20 hour ordeal anyways.  What's two hours in the grand scheme of things?  Worst case scenario I lose a deposit.  We can cancel and promise Nibble to reschedule the party after Nutmeg arrives. 

And in more comical news people are asking me if I am having a baby shower.  Are you fucking kidding me? 

Monday, November 13, 2017

When your brain goes to dark places

We are trying to line our ducks in a row, as one does when a newborn may arrive into your house in less than 10 weeks.

Viking's benefit enrollment period begins in a few weeks.  I have that magical unicorn of insurance known as cadillac insurance in the states - no co-pay, no deductable, no costs at all.  All employer paid.  Covering everyone in my family.    However, we've been paying a few hundred dollars a month for Viking's employer insurance for one reason:  IVF coverage.

Naturally, with me heading out of work for six months, some of this time unpaid, and with mounting expenses of daycare looming, we should drop Viking's insurance.  Right?  Of course.

Unless you worry that something terrible will happen.  To the baby you are carrying.  And deep in the recesses of your mind you worry that you will have to endure another IVF cycle.

But the baby is dues in January and we need to make this decision by the end of November.  Which means we are likely throwing caution to the wind and dropping his coverage.

What's it like to get ready to deliver a baby, and just imagine delivering that baby without incident.... to just walk around without any sense that something can go wrong?  Beats the fuck out of me.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Fragility

I was sitting in Dr. W's office today, waiting on the nurse to get my BP reading.

The walls in her office are paper thin.  I could hear the sound of the doppler.  And distinct the lack of whooshing.  I have too much experience with these scratchy sounds.  It was clear: they couldn't get a fetal heart rate on the baby of the patient next door.

I stared at my phone and the google search I had done on "ear clogged pregnant" (for reals, I haven't been able to hear outta my left ear in almost 2 weeks).  Anything to not focus on the idea of a mother not hearing her baby's heartbeat.  Anything to keep this 40-something's blood pressure down.

"Write out the ultrasound order" I hear my nurse being instructed.  She rushes in, fills out a paper, runs back out, and I am grateful to the gods above that the patient next door can be seen by an ultrasound tech just down the hall (Dr W's high-risk practice is a godsend in this regard).

My BP was fine, 124/76.  I gained two pounds in the last three weeks. Then I laid down for my own doppler reading.

"150s.  Totally normal.  Your baby decided to be cooperative."

Thank you Nutmeg.  I am going to believe that the couple rushed to the ultrasound room merely had an uncooperative baby.

Friday, November 3, 2017

She creeps up on me

Celine is on my mind daily during my morning commute.

My fingers aren't quite swelling yet, none of me is, really, but the stacking rings I wear get a little tighter each day.  29 weeks pregnant will do that to a gal.

Lately, I wonder if I should have named her Ciel the french word for sky instead of a beloved Parisian grandmother. Did I make a grave error in using the name on a dead child?  Could I change her name.... would it matter, since she has no grave regardless?  Viking - who actively chooses to avoid thinking of her as often as possible - once called her by her name.  It was literally once, and I could feel his tongue tripping over the soft C and the vowels.   

Dans le ciel is where she resides, on those days I choose to believe in a non-earthly plain.

Other days I wonder if theory of the spirit baby is true.  Is Nutmeg the ultimate manifestation of all of the babies who came before her?  I often describe the compulsion to bring her into my home as the need to bring this missing person to our family.  The one and only psychic I ever spoke to about the topic seemed to believe strongly in this.

Niblet has many ideas for her sister's name, and will be part of her naming (on a pre-approved list though, y'all, since I otherwise run the risk of Nutmeg's name sounding like some sort of mermaid/pony/stripper as an 8 year old is apt to create.  You think I jest).

But taking Celine out of the mix, it feels a little awkward.  And then thinking that thought makes me feel terrible, as if I've given short shrift to my little girl who never made it.

Grief immersion can be a pool with bottomless depths.


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The mad scramble when you only acknowledge a baby half-way through the pregnancy.

Nutmeg is kicking my bladder as I write this, I'm almost 29 weeks.  Moms at the school drop off are just starting to notice and comment, and thankfully, no one has said anything that hasn't been sweet and kind.


(And is my work bathroom the most depressing space in the universe, or what?)

Sometimes I can't believe how much this pregnancy is like the one I carried Niblet.  I look the same, feel the same, eat the same things.  I happily DO NOT have gestational diabetes.  My cervix remains sealed up tight.  I'm starting to get a little more sleepy in third-trimester-land, slowing down a bit from my usual frenetic pace.

Our house is a disaster - there is literally no where to put this baby should she arrive early.  Nibble joked that in one of her books a baby was placed in a dresser drawer, and I sadly realized we don't even have this option.  Viking and I have even come up with a desperate action plan this holiday season - I will take Niblet to NYC to see my 'rents alone, while he stays behind to get the office cleaned out and baby furniture assembled and installed.  (TBH, this is fine, his relationship with my parents is best summed up as "cordial").

I've drafted a detailed work plan for my work-husband in my absence, which I now am certain will be six months.  Back to work sometimes in July.

I've begun a registry, because coworkers are harassing me about it, but I can't get my act together to throw a shower.  There's no way people will be allowed to enter my house en masse at this point.

We need car seats.  We need an infant carrier.  We need a day care spot reserved (STAT).  We need a will and new power of attorney papers because despite our youthful visages, Viking and I are as old as fuck.

Eleven weeks left y'all. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The things that were said

Things said to me today, when I gave a zumba warm-up at Nibble's school as part of a PTO "walk-a-thon" fundraiser, my bump in full view in work-out clothes:

"OMG, wow, are you like, excited?  Or maybe not?"
I was excited when I thought we were bringing a new kitten into our house.  This, well, meh.

"Was this planned?"
Are you asking me if I still have sex with my husband?  

"I had no idea!  Actually, I thought that [Niblet] had two homes, I have never met her father and just assumed...."
Are you asking me if I still have sex with my husband?  Well you're right.  This one's got a different baby daddy, I've got another hot one on the side.

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 weeks 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.

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.

Monday, August 28, 2017

As it sinks in

I cried during my anatomy scan last week.

The tech was looking at her heart, and identified the left ventricle.  And then she moved and the tech turned to a look at her spine.... and I spent a few minutes in a state of panic that perhaps there was still an unidentified heart issue.

Viking grabbed my toes, the tech asked if I need a tissue and I said no, and shut my eyes for a second.

Right now, she is healthy.  We are going to have a fetal echo next week (becoming standard practice for IVF patients), but the expectation is that we will be in the clear.

I was thinking of some women I know who have repeated donor egg ivf cycles fail.  Perhaps egg quality, perhaps immune responses, perhaps uterine issues, doctors don't know.

And I got to wondering why I got so lucky for this to work on the very first try.  Just one round of lupron, one round of progesterone injections.  Suddenly I am approaching 20 weeks, while women I know are bracing for their second or third cycle....

"How did this become so easy for us?" I said to Viking.

"Easy?  After everything you've been through?  I wouldn't call this easy."

Perspective gets skewed.  I can list five years of nightmares and traumas and rationally accept the difficulty to get to this point.  But now, as it sinks in, as I start wearing pants with stretchy waistlines and prepping for the months ahead, I still can't quite wrap my brain around it.

I am mostly calm.  But there's a sliver of me that is still gearing up for the bottom to fall out.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Telling Nibble

WHAAAAAAT????

I never thought this would happen.  O-M-G I am sooooo happy!!!!!

How big is she now?  How big will she be when she is born?

Can I be the person who reads to her every night?  Maybe she'll like Sandra Boynton books! 

Can I help figure out where her furniture will go in the office?

Can I pick out the colors of her room and make her decorations?

Can I make her a mobile for her crib?

Can I tell my friends?!?!

I won't have to change her diapers, will I?

Thursday, August 24, 2017

48 hours, Part II

Man, those were longer weeks offline than I expected!

Where was I?

Oh yeah, right.  So, check it out, my boss surprised me.

She grinned and grudgingly agreed to not smoke in her car.  As we walked to the garage, she offered what I could only take as sincere congratulations.  There were no snarky remarks about my breeding.  No jabs at my age (though I suspect she thinks I'm a few years younger).

A few minutes into the walk, I could sense the real issue, and I cut to the chase:

"I want to make it clear, I fully intend to come back to work - with the full disclosure that I plan on taking the longest maternity leave possible."

Her smile got warmer, as she stated "Well, fuck, you better come back, we would hunt you down if you didn't."

For the next two hour drive home through wretched DC traffic I learned a bunch of things.  Her maternity leave was a full year ("they're always sick when they're infants, you might as well stay home if you can").  She never thought she would have her only child - also a daughter - until a psychic told her there was a spirit who was waiting on her.

I learned that she values my opinions to some extent.  She bounced all kinds of work ideas on me.  She shared a little too much in my opinion of what she thought of some of my colleagues. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

We actually didn't spend most the ride talking about babies and pregnancy.  But where it came up, she learned a few things too - although most of the story remains crouched in mystery.  Yes, I have had a million failed pregnancies.  I always believed there was a missing person in my home.  I've been feeling tired and wretched but I'm really good at compartmentalizing work and my personal life.  She truly believed I should burn some candles to tell this baby to stick around.

When I got home late that night, a bit of the weight of this pregnancy was lifted. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

48 hours, Part 1

The last 48 hours have been mildly out of whack.

It started when I got home from work on Monday night and started puking my guts out.  And then some.  And then some more.  About 18 hours later, I hadn't kept down any water, let alone food, and called my doctor.  Food poisoning?  Stomach bug?  Didn't matter, the on call doctor told me to head straight to L&D.

"Isn't this a bit extreme?" I thought out loud.

Not so.  A urine test showed some pretty wicked dehyrdation.  Two bags of IV fluids later with a drip of zofran for good measure, and I felt better than I could have ever imagined.

You guys, I lost 4 pounds! 

Yes, it seemed a tad extreme to head to a hospital for a run of the mill bout of gastroenteritis.  And yes, I was completely panicked while waiting for the nurse to find the baby's heartbeat.  And yes, I had to answer a million questions about my "special" history when I was examined by a midwife in the unit.  But here's the deal: when they offer the IV fluids, they are offering a weakling a dose of AWESOME.

The next day, feeling slightly like a new person - oh, about ten hours of sleep also did wonders - I had to head into DC for some meetings, that included toxic boss.

So, I'll cut to the chase.  I had to tell her.  Here's how it went:

We were in this one meeting together where she had me present some info.  She was beaming as usual, when I was done, because I am something of the in-house "think tank" for my organization.  They like to trot me out to meetings to show off all the smarty-pants things I am paid to think about.

I don't drive in Washington, I like to use commuter trains and the metro to get there and around.  The meeting location was far far far from public transportation, I had actually cabbed from an earlier meeting in another part of the city to get there.  Boss offered me a ride back to my car at the train station about 90 minutes away, and I was definitely taking it.

I should state at the outset, we actually get along.  She loves me, I am probably the only person on the plant more sarcastic than her.  I have just been trying to avoid her like the plague.

Well, here's the thing about her offer of a ride, it came with strings:

"So, you know I have to smoke."

"Oh, wow, that really won't be possible."

"You know this, you've ridden with me before, I can't handle the long ride through this traffic without a smoke."

"Wow.  Ok, so you're making me divulge this about three weeks earlier than I planned, but here goes. You can't smoke in front of me.  I'm 17 weeks pregnant."

Mic drop.

to be contined


Monday, August 7, 2017

In today's news...

1.  I am starting to show. Niblet, amazingly, commented that I look to have lost weight this morning.  Not so, little Nibble, I'm approaching 17 weeks and up 7 lbs.  I had to change outfits four times this morning.  Skirts with waists, y'all, skirts with waists are key.  I have to be in a meetings with toxic boss tomorrow and Wednesday.  Wardrobe choices are critical to my sanity.


2. I'm anxiously awaiting the results from my AFP test.  Yes, it's just a screening for neural tube defects, no, it isn't diagnostic.  But I won't even consider telling Niblet before we leave for the beach without a low-risk result in hand.

3.  Today I cried watching a video of.... wait for it.... of a husky puppy getting a bath.  Pregnancy is fucking ridiculous.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Cartwheels

Viking and I asked - begged really - the tech to go beyond the cervical scan that was ordered by the doctor.

Me: "I understand you are not able to provide me with a detailed anatomy scan, and I know I am scheduled for one in three weeks.  I totally get that things are way too small to clearly see any potential abnormalities.  But can't we just quickly see whether things look normal for 16 weeks?"

V: "You see," he started, "we're going on vacation next week.  It would make such a difference to go to the beach with a little less worry."

T: "What are you worried about, exactly?"

"Well, I've had eight consecutive losses.  One was to a severe abdominal wall defect."

T: "Gastroschisis?"

"No, a Giant Omphalocele.  And I am just concerned about Neural tube defects, spina bfida.  I have a folate deficiency, even though I take lots of extra supplements."

The tech's face softened with understanding and she relented.  We saw our baby, and unless it's testes were being pushed in by the umbilical cord (there's like, a 2% margin of error), there was a decided lack of boy parts.

She looked healthy, her spine looked normal, her abdominal wall looked normal and her brain looked normal. Her heartbeat was a normal 160bpm.  At once she pumped her fist into the air, my punk rock baby who wants to fight the power.  If she makes it, I bet she won't listen to me any better than the Niblet does.

And then to my cervix, which they wanted to see above 2cm - I was measuring 4.

"I can still be active at the beach!" I exclaimed.

"She's probably gonna do cartwheels on the beach now," the Viking said smiling to the tech, "no really, she's a dancer."

Later I called my mom:

Wow.  I can't even process this.  We haven't had good news for so long.  Years.  I don't recognize what it feels like.  Your dad still seems to think you're too early to get excited, but I was telling him "NO, I'm pretty sure she's passed the parts where she lost the others."  He doesn't know what he's talking about.  Right now I'm just going to be happy and live in this moment and love the fact that we have good news. 

We are still waiting on telling Niblet.  I am waiting for my AFP test results (which test for risk factors for Neural Tube Defects) to come back, early next week.  I am on the cusp of showing.  My Mom, who is incredibly superstitious, wants me to wait until after the Anatomy Scan (in three weeks).  I am skeptical that I won't already pop by then.  And part of me longs to tell her, but I also want to protect her.  Viking is following my lead, he hasn't told his parents yet.

We just don't know.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Crazy town (or, keep yo head down)

Earlier today I'm sitting at a table eating lunch with my work friend L, and another colleague, T, walks over to us to say hi.  Just then, the cleaning lady at our office comes out of the bathroom, and has the following crazy-sauce exchange with T:

CL: Congratulations, when are you due?

T:  (looking down at her protruding belly) Um, I'm not pregnant.  I'm just eating a lot of food lately.

CL:  Oh, Okay... (long pause)... but really, you can be honest.

T: No, REALLY, I'm not pregnant.  I just get a large stomach when I eat a lot.... I'M NOT PREGNANT.

L and I are watching this thirty-second exchange with our jaws dropping to the ground.  We are stunned and only too late do we make feeble attempts to jump into the fray to help T.

"Yeah, everyone gains weight differently right?  Me, I get the jiggly arms and my thighs don't fit into my pants," I say, a little too wide-eyed and eagerly.

"I gain weight here," my friend says, flourishing her hands from her shoulders down her torso.

The cleaning lady walks away, and I look down at my yogurt.  And grab a peek at my still relatively flat stomach.  Any week now, I could well be the focus of a conversation of such fuckery.

The crazy of my office is a top to bottom experience.  My toxic boss recently stated to a lucky few of us in a meeting that we needed to make sure we didn't hire any "breeders" for an upcoming campaign we're staffing.  Yes, you read that right. Breeders go on maternity leave and we've had a recent flux of staff turnover when people don't ever return to work from their leave. I wonder why?

Of course, she also noted she didn't want us to hire any older, sicker people, and OF COURSE I had to be the asshole to note that if you went with young and healthy on the hiring front, the risk was higher that they might breed. Just sayin'.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Like Batman, without the crime fighting

So, I was talking with Viking about G, my researcher.  To call him that doesn't quite do our work relationship justice, being honest, he's my work husband.  He started working with me when I came to my organization over five years ago, we were both new, but he was brand-spanking new, a junior researcher out of college.  I trained him with everything I've got, because dudes like this don't grow on trees, just trust me.  I could write sonnets about how impressed I am with him as a colleague and how trusted he is as a friend.  Our dynamic in the office - we finish each others' sentences kind of thing, and can easily swap out for one another in meetings - has long been noticed by the higher-ups.

And while I'm still his boss, I've trained him to do everything last thing that I do, and even to think the way I think, analytically speaking.  He's approaching thirty, and I like to think in some small way I raised him, I've certainly tried to live up to the definition of mentor.

Well, a few days ago, I shared with Viking how I revealed a little bit of this life with my Director, J.  I also expressed some concern to Viking that G will have work-related insanity thrown at him regardless of how this pregnancy goes down.  If I lose this baby, he will certainly be stepping in my shoes sooner rather than later, while we're swamped as fuck.  And if I am on a six month maternity leave come January (yes, I know, I'm crazy lucky to have that time, a post for another day), he's gonna be running this shit-show.

Yesterday G was walking out for coffee, asked if I wanted any.  "I'll come with you!"

We started walking and when we got half a block from the office I jumped off with my new favorite line: This may be more awkward for you than it will be for me...

So, I'm really trying to get our work-plan solidified, we have so much on our plate next year, and well, there's a possibility I will be on an extended leave, starting in January.  You see.... well, I'm about 15 weeks pregnant.

Here's what was shocking:  He honestly had no idea.  About any of it.  NONE of the miscarriages (even the one I thought was sort of public knowledge).  Not this pregnancy. (I guess I'm really not showing). This particular go-around of doctor's appointments, he's thought I was anemic or something.  My secret life, like Batman, was revealed.  More than anything his mind was blown.  How did you even function?  I can't even imagine doing what you've been doing in this place all these years while going through that.  And he started connecting dots (as strategic thinkers do) about things I had stated in the past, about times when I had requested leave, about all kinds of things that were said and unsaid.  One of the more hilarious moments of realization came when his mind went back to a specific conversation we had about three weeks ago:

Me: So, G, we are launching this new campaign, and I think that we should try to request another researcher for help from NYC to get on our team.  Maybe even someone who only works half-time on our project, but someone we can oversee to take the edge off of all the work you'll have.

G:  Wow, this feels like when Mom and Dad tell you that they want another baby.  "We're not replacing you, we love you very much, but we want another."

Me:  G, I love you very much but I think we need another baby.

I'll say, for a conversation essentially centered around dead babies, it had its share of guffaws.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Ten Days

I have just about ten days until my 16 week scan.  It's supposed to be a cervical measurement check, but I'm gonna cross my fingers that we take a peek at anatomy as well.

Ten days of hiding.

Ten days of still not being able to be anywhere near a clove of garlic.

Ten days of emotional outbursts when there are dishes in the sink.

Ten days of trying to stay in my current wardrobe and playing off my thick waist and sweet Baby Jesus, this rack on my chest, I can't even see my feet, like I simply fell off my diet and exercise wagon.

I've been put in an awkward position at work the past few weeks. A few more resignations have been submitted as a result of the toxic atmosphere, and my team is overworked and stressed.  Ordinarily the summer would be slow and easy.  Instead we're swamped. And we are heading into a gubernatorial primary season next year... I'm realizing that I need to start working on next year's work plan in the next few weeks, and maybe put in a bid for some extra help.

So, last week I was having a conversation with my Research Director in New York, and we are talking about the office politics we're both mired in.  And this guy is something of an ally, he's a dad with two kids, funny as hell, and deeply cynical about our organization.  And I realize during the course of the check-in that I have an ally....

So, J, I have something to share that will probably be a lot more awkward for me than for you....

Okaaaay...

Well, you know how we want to be doing x, y, and z in January?  Well, there's a possibility, depending on news I get in the next few weeks that I will be out of the office for a few months...like six months to be precise....

I left out most of the ugly details, but did share my current state of expectancy... and with it, the general reason why it was just too early to offer me congratulations when he tried ("Awkward for you J, I'm sorry, because in all these years we've worked together in this nut house, I've been pregnant for like 53 weeks - eight pregnancies in all not counting this one.")

It actually felt sorta good, like a ripping off a band-aid that's been submerged too long in the pool and is sticking to a bit of hair on your arm and flopping around, and not doing too much about the wound, which is ok, because the bleeding has stopped.

Ten days though.  J is being great and not asking any questions, as I instructed. As I left it, either he will get some cheerful phone call from me in a few weeks, or, he will get a request for medical leave earlier than anticipated.




Monday, July 17, 2017

looooong three weeks

Today I'm 13 weeks + 3 days pregnant.

My 16 week cervical scan is in a little under three weeks. I'm hoping to make a successful pitch for an early anatomy scan that same appointment. 

These will be some long fucking weeks.

According to the one close confidante at work who is aware of my condition (I broke down and had to share with someone), my waistline isn't currently giving anything away.... but the same can't be said for my bra and the spillage that I am not paying close enough attention to, it seems.  On my 5'2 usually athletic frame, this rack is huge. 

Here's something the Viking told me a few nights ago: he had a dream shortly after my FET.  He dreamed we were taking care of a baby girl.  After watching the ultrasound he's "convinced the little bugger is a boy" (his words).  I am convinced it's an alien.  A really stereotypical, boring alien that demands mint chocolate chip ice-cream and pickles.  Could you just be a little more creative, alien baby?

 

Monday, July 10, 2017

hahahahahaha (part II)


Yesterday, at 12 weeks 3 days, I started puking my guts out.  Now?  Now I experience actual morning sickness, in addition to the constant nausea?

Today I was something of a wreck.

Just walking into the Genetics Center where we learned of Celine's fate made me feel like I couldn't breathe.  When I laid down on the table I grabbed on to this necklace I chose to wear today.  It isn't symbolic at all,  just a really smooth aqua blue stone that feels calming when I rub it.  The Viking grabbed my toes at the other end of the table, as I stared up into the monitor, trying to test my considerable lay skills at identifying birth defects....

The ultrasound technician made tons of comments.... heart rate is great, 160s.....your placenta is posterior.... it looks like you have an ant baby (??? THANKS TECH???).....head to rump length is measuring 12 weeks 5 days.... abdominal wall looks great (INSERT AUDIBLE BREATH)....And she went on.

It took some time for this baby to allow us to see its nasal bone.  The nuchal measurement was great, but none of my valiant efforts at telepathy worked in moving this baby to give us a face view.  I guess this baby isn't listening to me any more than my one living child does.

Finally, a quick turn.

And wait, is this baby fucking laughing at us?


Friday, July 7, 2017

hahahahahahahaha

I'm 12 weeks in.

My clothes are getting tighter.  I've only (thankfully) gained three pounds. I think I look a little 'thicker" rather than knocked up.  Like I've been willfully ignoring the counsel of my evil nutritionist.  Being open with my colleagues about the nutritionist and the change in diet and the A1C number, etc, has hopefully worked in my favor on this front....maybe?

But when I mentioned to Dr. W yesterday that I was planning on not divulging this pregnancy until I made it through an anatomy scan (mine is scheduled at 19 weeks), she actually laughed in my face.

You're five feet tall! You're small! Where do you plan on hiding this baby?

Ha Ha Dr. W.  Yeah, you know, seeing as things go terribly terribly wrong in pregnancy in the second trimester, I'm gonna try hard as all fuck to hide this.

But then life is also making it harder.  Like, my in-laws are popping in on my beach vacation, when I will be between 17 and 18 weeks.  Awkward much?

And the leadership of my organization is adding a fuck ton of work to my team's plates... unrealistic goals and assignments that I know are unrealistic if I make a calendar that includes my leave.

Sigh.

Monday I'm having my first trimester Level II scan -yes, the very scan where my life fell apart when I was pregnant with Celine.  No amount of mediation will prevent my blood pressure from skyrocketing at that visit.  Fuck, I'm expecting to ugly cry regardless of the outcome (no mascara that day justonemore). This time I've demanded that Viking accompany me.  There are a million things that are rare, not even on the radar of the average pregnant women, that can still go wrong later on.  I am going to spare my blood pressure and not start listing them here.  Yes, indeed, I know too much.

But that scan would be a temporarily pleasant hurdle to jump regardless.

Focusing on trivial matters like weight gain is a lot more fun than the reality that tight clothes haven't led to a baby in my arms since I was pregnant with the Nibble.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Mom rocks

Last night I had a few minutes to chat with my mom, and man, it felt so normal.  We talked about this pregnancy, I described how this one feels eerily similar to Niblet's (though unfortunately, so did Celine's).  But mostly it was nice to hear her voice and her sardonic sense of humor come through while I described my fatigue, and my cravings.  What kinds of clothes to wear to hide the three pounds I've gained and the tiny bulge in my lower abdomen (she is crazy fashionable,also a former dancer, and steered me well in skirt choices).

Some points were understandably awkward.  She's never really kept the kind of running log on my fertility history that I have.... so she mistakenly thought that at 11 weeks, I was farther along than I had been with others....and she thought I was being a little hyperbolic when I said this was my tenth pregnancy ("no, really Mom, counting Nibble this IS ten.")

I made the (possible?) mistake of telling her when my next drs visits were.  Appointment with my OB next thursday (where I explained I will likely only hear a heartbeat - if there is one - on doppler), and the N/T screen the following monday, where I will have a far more detailed ultrasound.  She didn't make the connection that this is where my world fell apart during my pregnancy with Celine, and I didn't want to tell her.  I also noted that I wouldn't feel truly confident until after an early anatomy scan, which wouldn't likely be until maybe 18 weeks.

But what was really helpful, what made me smile inside, was that the donor factor never came up.  I was just another pregnant lady talking to her mom about how the pregnancy feels. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The waiting in between anxiety in between the waiting

Today I'm 10 weeks and 5 days pregnant.  At least, I am going to assume I am still pregnant, since I haven't had anything resembling a scan for about two weeks, and I won't be getting any additional proof that this baby is still alive until after the Fourth of July holiday (Thursday the 6th, to be precise).

Saturday I woke up and felt amazing.  Maybe this is the week the placenta takes over and I start feeling great?  I took a relatively easy ballet class, ate a brunch with lots of flavor and nutrients, took the Nibble out for ice cream... and then needed to get home to pass out cold.  Like the narcoleptic I have been the past few weeks.

This week, it's been a mixed bag of nausea, the desire for real food, and then last night, some insane bloating that I shit you not, created a stomach on me that looked 6 months pregnant. I jumped in a bath (not too hot, don't worry), threw in some lavender oil, and an hour later re-emerged feeling a little better, with the ability to put on a pair of pants.

Is this baby a boy?  A girl?  Dead?  Still developing?  Developing normally?

Last night I was on the phone with a colleague, "O," going through some work related stress and bullshit that just shouldn't be.  She is awesome and brilliant, a great sounding board.... we've worked together on a campaign for the last three years, but I've never told her anything of this hidden life.  My story has always been "I've got some medical issues I have to deal with."  Well, last night, I told her a little more of the story.  We were talking about the need to shake off our work, be home for our children in the summer, be present in our marriages, not become martyrs to the mission-driven insanity of our work culture....it just blurted out of me:

Can I tell you something I've never told you?  All of my health issues these three years?  They've been miscarriages.  Eight of them.  Yes, eight.  And now I'm pregnant again.  And who the hell knows if it's gonna be a ninth miscarriage.  And I just want to not be additionally stressed by this fucking job.

Pregnancy after loss(es) is living at the edge of a glacier, facing the abyss.

Sure, work's been a little stressful, but it's got nothing on this.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Adventures in eating

This morning I ran to the corner store next to my office and got one of these.  Because THIS is what my body was demanding.

To say my diet has a been a little skewed these days would be an understatement.

The list of the only things I want to eat:
  • Real pasta with marinara sauce (Chef Boyardee notwithstanding)
  • Nectarines
  • Apples
  • Potato chips
  • Toasted sandwich bread with mayonnaise and a thick slice of tomato
  • Tuna sandwiches (I know, I know)
  • French toast with bananas and walnuts and vanilla creme fraiche from one specific local restaurant 
And that's really about it.   All washed down with water or iced tea.  Viking picked me up a McDonald's Fillet o'Fish the other day that I thought would hit the spot, but really didn't.

The good news is that my doc ordered a 1 hour glucose screen for me, because of my borderline A1c numbers.  The better news is that I passed it, so for now, this diet  - better called "the foods I can choke down" - isn't technically killing me.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Brutal honesty, and the great genetic crapshoot

The other night I woke up at about 4 am with just a tremendous amount of anxiety.  Of the OMG, What have we done variety.

This time it was about the donor.  Did I choose wisely?  Should I have waited to find a Jewish donor? What if I bear a child who is so clearly not of my blood line?  What if I give birth to a baby that just looked like they dropped from the sky?

Then I had to breathe.  And then I was ok.  Sure, finding a Jewish donor would have been awesome, but would also have added months - and probably another $10K -  to this process.  I turned 43 this year.  I just didn't have it in me to wait.

I reminded myself that my donor was lovely, and thoughtful, and artistic.  Just like my one living Niblit, who thoughtful, lovely and artistic, AND who is heading towards being a 6 foot tall amazon blonde. 

And then I worried about my generally awesome, but some what old-fashioned parents.  Would they treat this child differently because they wouldn't be able to see themselves?  Would it even matter?  My mom often calls Niblet and Viking "frick and frack" because she is just so clearly OF him. Some of her facial expressions are uncannily HIM.  On the other hand, the Nibble is such a mini-me in her words, the cadence of her speech, her love of arts, how she moves.  Is all this nature or nurture?  How much of this hinges on genetics?  Will I ever truly know?

I know not just in my brain, but deep in my heart that so much of what has made the Nibble an astounding kid is our love for her, and the way we have raised her.  The way we talk with her, the ideas we expose her to. 

The Viking and I often note to each other that Niblet is exactly why we want to do this again.  We could never replicate her.  But we do honestly feel like whatever little person we would be lucky enough to raise would have all of the potential to thrive with us as parents. Simply put, we enjoy it.

But I will be honest.  At 4 am I made a wish:  I hoped this baby I am gestating (yes, I am acknowledging it and the potential for it to love) comes out looking like the Viking. Just like the Nibble did.  The donor and I have similar eyes and we're both brunette, but she's hardly my twin.  What your baby looks like is truly a genetic crap shoot.  It's a little exciting.  But I am pretty sure that for many donor egg mothers, it's also a little terrifying.

A second baby is the same for any expectant mother.  Different, with the potential to be a completely unique fully-formed human.  For me, a little bit of the familiar might come as something as a relief.



Monday, June 12, 2017

detachment

I wonder if there will ever be a day when I'm getting an ultrasound when I don't get up on that table and expect to see a dead or very sick baby...

For now, we live to see another day.  I am 8 weeks 3 days, measuring on target, with a normal heart rate. 

I still feel awfully disconnected from this baby.  And I mean, specifically, the baby, who is starting to sprout arm and leg buds.  Not the pregnancy, I mean, there's no more *forgetting* I'm pregnant, what with the ever present nausea and narcolepsy. 

Part of me wonders if this is because somewhere deep in my psyche I worry about the lack of a genetic connection to this little bean. But, another part of me recognizes that staying detached from your tenth consecutive pregnancy is a probably fairly normal response. 

And now that I think of it, I used to call the Nibble "the parasite" when she was in utero.  Viking HATED that by the way, even though it wasn't said with a shred of malice.  Honestly, that's just how pregnancy feels to me, like this alien being is sucking your life from you.  I know I'm not the only one.  Well, I said it again a few days ago about this baby, and he reprimanded me again.  Dude, when you carry a baby you can call it anything YOU want.  I'll just be standing in a corner laughing at your inability to function at all.

Truth be told, when my one living daughter was born, I was completely numb and sort of disconnected as well.  Almost a full day of labor (22 hours), a fourth-degree tear, and a fever scare had her taken from me and wheeled away from observation for at least an hour. The hormone crash and PPD that ensued wasn't pretty.  I recall a very specific day, when she was about 10 weeks old, that I truly felt in my bones the love I had for her.

Anyways, in other news, I had vials of blood taken this morning, including a really early glucose tolerance test.  God, I hope I pass, if only because the only thing I could choke down yesterday was a giant vanilla milkshake. 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Crushing on my new OB

So this is your 10th pregnancy, and you only have one living child?  And nine of them were with your own eggs?  Ok.  Whoa.

Dr. W is awesome.  Maybe the many years of Dr. Cuddles has made me never expect a warm OB, but I found Dr. W to be surprisingly good-natured.  And, oh man, it's so nice to talk to a doctor and say things and not have them look at you like you're an alien. 

The good news is that she doesn't think that my A1C number makes me particularly high-risk.  The better news is that she does view the five million D&Cs I've had as potentially making me high-risk, and she has a monitoring game plan off the bat.  And she's also moved to get me in for a NT screening before the end of the first trimester to ensure we're not looking at another Omphalocele. 

I feel like I'm in good hands. 




*Because they encouraged me to, I counted chemicals.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Medical Records

I usually get to work about a half hour before anyone else will even consider it.  I like the quiet.  I especially like being able to copy a million pages of confidential medical records without anyone seeing me at the copier.

Last night I remembered that I see the new OB Thursday and promised to bring my medical records.  I know I requested for my current RE's office to mail them everything they had, but not sure whether that file will encompass everything that came before them.  So I dug out the last 5 years of records, and tacked on the stuff related to my pregnancy and birth with Niblet.

The amount of paper I'll be hauling in with me is just ridiculous.  And sort of jumbled, since I was often seeing more than one doctor at a time.  And I see now that I don't have any of the records from Dr. K (who recently passed), which would mostly include the management of miscarriage number 5.

Oh well.  This is where my blog, with its Reproduction Road - TTC Timeline is pretty damn helpful.  I can cut and paste an edited just the facts version of it onto a word document and head into a new doctor's office like a champ.  Most of it I can recite by memory, but some of the dates get fuzzy.

It's been 5 long years, after all.


Monday, June 5, 2017

the comfort of feeling ridiculously uncomfortable

My constant nausea and narcoleptic like fatigue is all that's getting me through this experience with a shred of sanity. 

I curl up in bed at night with a fresh-scented bar of soap to keep me from wanting to hurl.  I am nodding off at my desk here at work, right now as I try to type this post. 

All of this takes the edge off.  I mean, sure, it's quite possible that when I head to my new OB's office on thursday we will see another dead baby on an ultrasound screen.  I mean, it's me right? 

But the fact that I feel terrible is by all reasoning, keeping the hope alive.  And stopping my mind from wandering to the terrible, anxious places it can go. 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

can I sleep now?

I have an appointment with Dr. W.  Next week, when I am exactly 8 weeks.

Dr. W is an OB with a perinatal group. She has seen everything. She also handled the pregnancies of two women I know who had issues with their cervices (cervixi?).  Both women went on to deliver healthy term babies.  That's the kinda care I want.  So it's like I'll be getting the care of an MFM who also delivers.  I'll take it, for as long as this pregnancy lasts, since there's no way I can even fathom making it that far.

In the meantime, with that huge hurdle jumped, I am tired.  So so tired.  I have to stay wide awake for the next five hours, at least, as I shuttle Niblet to her ballet's dress rehearsal and then function as the backstage dance mom.  Where I will probably be overseeing about a dozen children, with lots of "don't wipe your hands on your tights" and "use the bathroom now if you have to" and bobby-pinning loose buns and the like.  In other words, I can't curl up and take a nap.

I recall being this tired with the Nibble, when I was a spry 34 year old, so I am going to tell myself it's not because I am a desiccating person over 40.



Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Now the real work begins

So, aside from the point at the appointment where my blood pressure skyrocketed to 140/82 (fuuuuuckkkk).... We have a viable embryo. Measuring 6 weeks 5 days (and I was 6+5 walking in the door). With a heart rate of 125bpm.  There's also no sign of any clot or bleed or SCH, so the bleeding scare from last week is being chalked up to the unknown.  I could feel the Viking's posture relax behind me as I stared at the monitor.

Now I need an OB. Or MFM. Or someone who isn't over an hour drive to see me regularly. Generally the RE would release me between 8 and 11 weeks but since I'm out of state we all agree that finding someone local would make life easiest for me. I think realistically I have one more scan at this office, but the sooner I can transition out the better.

Right now I'm on an amtrak to NYC for a day of meetings, then rushing back so I can ferry the Nibble to her ballet rehearsal. Somewhere during this day I have to get myself a new doctor. Ideally Dr. W, the MFM who delivers and has saved many an asherman's friend of mine from incompetent cervix. If not her, then perhaps Dr. M, a lady who I hear is kinda mean, but competent. After a year of Dr. Cuddles, I have pretty thick skin.

I could still miscarry, I'm just approaching 7 weeks now. But I think it's time to make the move.

Friday, May 26, 2017

bread. and more bread. and a little rice too.

So, whether I'm carrying a viable pregnancy or not, my current eating habits are, umm troubling.  Here's my confessional:

I feel pretty sick.  (Yay?)  I mean, this nausea is intense. Getting out of bed in the morning is a slog, I'm queasy and lightheaded.  And my appetite, well, it's the appetite of a pregnant person.

For the past few days, I've been eating really tiny meals, the problem is they're all really tiny starch based meals.  Rice.  Bread.  A muffin.  A little gnocchi with butter last night, because I have reverted to the taste of a 5 year old.

See the problem here?

My nutritional counselor had advised that I put myself on a gestational diabetes diet as soon as I am pregnant, just to be safe.

Uh, yeah, that hasn't been going so well. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

we wait

Shocks of bright red lead to... nothing.  Blood never even touched the pad I was wearing last night, and there was nothing but the brown streaky remains of whatever last night's event was this morning.

And here I am again.  Waiting for an ultrasound, probably tuesday.

Why not go in today or tomorrow, Justonemore?  Honestly, it won't be conclusive.  Today I'm 5+6, tomorrow I'm 6+0.  Both days sort of on the cusp of when you can see something good.  Tuesday I will be 6+5, and there will either be a baby with a heartbeat in my uterus, or there won't be.  If I learned tomorrow that things didn't look good, say, there was an empty gestational sac in there, well, what good would this do me?  I would still have to go to Jury Duty on Friday.  This weekend would still be a Memorial Day Holiday Weekend where I have Monday off. I am still home with my family.

If I saw I had a SCH, well, I would be told to lay around with my feet up.  Well, after this scare, I will do that one way or another.

No, I am just going to keep to my schedule as planned. All that's different is that I'm headed to my tuesday ultrasound much more solemnly than I might have.  The blood has forced me to face that I am for now pregnant - and later may not be - head on.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

No peace.

I was wrapping up work around five pm and getting ready to go teach a Zumba class (where I wouldn't have gotten my own heart rate up, promise).  And went to the bathroom, and wiped and there was the bright. Red. Blood.

It's about 2 hours later, almost 3.  Still bright red, not hitting a pad, but it's there about half the time when I wipe.

Of course there's nothing to do but to wait. Will it get heavier. Will I need to go in for an earlier ultrasound (nurse wants me to do this of course).   Could be a sub choroionic hematoma. Could be a miscarriage. Only time will tell.

Here I am again.  Trying to accept with my rational mind that high betas are meaningless. A properly implanted intrauterine gestational sac is meaningless. Waves of nausea are meaningless. A pgs tested embryo is meaningless.

I can't have normal. I can't have peace.

sometimes I forget....

Sometimes I forget I'm pregnant.  I've gotten really good at this disconnecting thing.  It is much easier to say goodbye to a pregnancy when you aren't convinced that it will result in a screaming infant.

There was actually a screaming infant at my house this weekend - PBFAW brought both of her babies and her husband over.  Did I ever mention that her husband worked with us as well?   In any case,  Viking, myself and the Nibble used the Sunday to come to grips with the fact that we all have to say huge teary eyed goodbyes, they are moving.  Across the country, to Portland.

I am thrilled for them, and dare I say, a little jealous.  They both will continue working in our cause, but for way more chillaxed organizations (I mean, it's Portlandia, they have to be, right?)  They will have her brother and SIL in close proximity.  They won't have to deal with crazy toxic honcho boss.  Maybe they will continue to have crazy bosses, but at least they will experience new kinds of crazy bosses, right?

Any way, the visit resulted in me spending a fair amount of time holding a four month old.  Man, they're tiny.

And I just didn't tell her about my news yet.

Perhaps because it's not newsworthy?  She told me she was pregnant with her second baby when she was five weeks pregnant, out of concern and some deep rooted understanding that I needed to hear it from her and not someone else.  But me, well, I can't even say the word yet.

But.... it's starting to smack me in the face, at really inopportune times.

Yesterday I am driving to a meeting and the Beatles come on.  Nice.  Let It Be.  Oh, Jesus.  I am crying.  No.  I am bawling.  Like tears are streaming down my face and someone can see me at this red light.  

And then there's this morning, when a wave of nausea strikes, as I finish a little of the milk left in Nibble's cup before we get ready to leave the house for school.

I have an ultrasound scheduled for Tuesday May 30th.  I will be 6 weeks 5 days.  No questioning can result from waiting this long.  There will either be a heartbeat, or there won't be.

When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
And in my hour of darkness
She is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
Oh, let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be
And when the broken hearted people
Living in the world agree
There will be an answer, let it be
For though they may be parted
There is still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer, let it be
Oh, let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
And there will be an answer, let it be
Oh, let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be
Oh, let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be
And when the night is cloudy
There is still a light that shines on me
Shine on until tomorrow, let it be
I wake up to the sound of music
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
Oh, let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
There will be an answer, let it be
Oh, let it be
Won't you let it be, let it be, let it be 

 Whisper words of wisdom, let it be



Songwriters:  Lennon and McCartney

Thursday, May 18, 2017

fucking scans (update in comments)

So yesterday my betas more than doubled, to 3,449.  I got a message that I had to come in for a scan on friday.

Nope, impossible I said.  I live over an hour away and can't get Friday off of work (see toxic boss, who holds mandatory staff meetings from 10am to eternity on fridays).

So I get them to agree to allow me to do the scan locally.  Gee, thanks for letting me pay over 200 bucks out of pocket.

So here I am, forced to get a scan at exactly 5 weeks 0 days.  These early scans are complete bullshit designed to take habitual aborters like myself into the land of the insane.

You know what I'm gonna see on this scan?  In a perfect world, a gestational sac and the beginnings of a yolk sac.  In a possible world, just a gestational sac because the yolk sac can take a day or two to even appear, maybe until 5 weeks 3 days.  If  we assume my hcg is still climbing normally, I would expect that maybe it's around 5,000 today?  So we will be able to rule out an ectopic pregnancy, and that's about it.

I really didn't want to have to start getting ultrasounds until I was well beyond 6 weeks.  To say they're triggering is an understatement.  I was instructed that I needed to get this one and then I could hold off for two weeks.  Fabulous.

Gah.   So check this out: this morning I drove downtown to my office, got here around 8:45.  At 10:30 I will drive back north to the suburbs for an 11:30 scan, then when that's done back downtown to my office.  THEN I get in the car and drive back north toward the suburbs to get the Nibble in order to driver her back down AGAIN for her ballet rehearsal downtown.  Four blocks from my office.  Up I-83, Down I-83, about 6 times in one day. 

I forgot how much fucking driving I have to do when I am knocked up.  Being raised a New Yorker, this driving across the region fifteen times a day is painful.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Stress dreams

And so begins the moment in early pregnancy when your subconscious has decided that you better fucking acknowledge to yourself you are pregnant, because if you don't, you're still gonna have those awful dreams where all of your teeth are falling out.

Fabulous.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

when work is toxic

I tend to believe sometimes the word toxic is bandied around too easily.  The toxins in our food and air....the toxic family members...that Brittany Spears song from the 90s...

But the thing is, when it comes to people, well, it's often it's real.  When you walk around your office with a feeling of dread, and anxiety, because some of your bosses (and yes, I have more than a handful of bosses, despite being a boss of sorts myself) might say something that makes you feel even more dread and anxiety, that's well.... toxic.

I have one boss - the big honcho boss of my organization, actually - who has always raised my blood pressure.  I've mentioned her in this blog before.  When I suggest that something is black, her immediate reaction in a room full of people is to say I am wrong, but of course it's white justonemore, what are you some kind of moron?  About a month ago I spent a good deal of time stressed out that I would be required to attend a meeting in Atlantic City on the day of my FET and that I would have to explain my reason for being out, HIPAA be damned.  She makes no bones about believing in our mission to the point where she made many sacrifices on the family front.

Well, I am not the current subject of her ire for the time being, but I just learned a much-loved colleague is.  This colleague (like everyone it seems) sometimes supervises me.  So my sometimes-supervisor came to talk to me today, and spent a good hour crying in my office, about how she loves her work, but feels like she is between a rock and a hard place with our boss.  And to be honest, she is.  Their relationship has deteriorated to a real point of no return, and I don't think my beloved colleague has any real choice but to take her considerable skills elsewhere.  Not a fun thing to do when you're looking at four years until retirement eligibility.

And when she dried her eyes and left my office, I felt my blood pressure rise, and the bile build up in my stomach.  I am going to miss this colleague.  Maybe she will be here another year, but I am definitely going to lose a supportive friend.  Not to mention PBFAW may never return to our office now that she has two young children.

And I deeply want the opportunity to mother another baby - I mean, you have to want it to endure this hell known as pregnancy after loss after loss after loss.  But man, I am in what is quite possibly the least supportive environment in the world to embark upon this journey into the realm of the insane. (And yes, there is a decided lack of sanity in choosing to set yourself up for another bout with PTSD).

At some point, if this crazy plan works, I am going to be forced into some kind of conversation with honcho boss. I say this because I am assuming that if this works I will start to grow a baby and as small as I am, I will certainly start to show. Honcho boss will either:
a.  Tell me I'm crazy because I'm too old, or,
b.  Tell me I'm crazy because it's apparent to anyone that I already have a hell of a time juggling my job and Niblet.

This unsolicited conversation won't go well.  Now, let's be clear, I give less than a single fuck about what this woman thinks of my personal life.  But that doesn't prevent the dread in my bones, and the bile in my stomach.

In some ways I am happy that I am an RPL survivor.  I know beyond any question that stress has never killed my babies.  Chromosomal abnormalities, a fucked up situation where an egg was fertilized by two sperm, and a random shitty birth defect led to the stack of rings on my finger,  Stress?  Nah, I am not going to let the stress mess with my head.

But man, it sure feels awful.