Monday, August 31, 2009

The waiting game

I wish I could say I haven't been posting because I've been off dancing in Pregnancy Heaven. Blissfully designing the nursery, eagerly speculating about the gender, and just generally GLOWING as I go about my merry day.

But no. It's Pregnancy Hell.

I am finding this first trimester infinitely more difficult than when I was pregnant with Bean. The main reason for this is probably denial -- or more accurately, the lack of it. Last time, my brain took its time accepting the fact that there was, indeed, a small life growing inside my tummy. Because, again, stuff like that just didn't happen for me.

But this time, it seems more within reach. I did gestate, and quite successfully, a 9 lb. 14 oz. child for a full 40 weeks. It is possible, my brain is more prepared for this.

And also, last time the thought of an actual BABY at the end of the pregnancy was quite nebulous. I couldn't imagine what it would be like, holding MY baby, taking him home, feeding him, changing him, loving him with more of my heart than I knew existed. It was far away and foreign. But this time, I am more focused on that moment. Meeting my child and welcoming him/her into the family. My heart is more on the line, knowing what I could lose.

My ultrasound is tomorrow.

Today, I started spotting.

My doctor, predictably, is not worried. (How nice for him!) It's fairly common for women to experience this during the first trimester, it doesn't always mean Bad Things... of course I do know this. But it's not a comfort. Every moment between now and 11:30 am tomorrow is painful. I can't get comfortable, I can't relax.

I am preparing for the worst.

And it sucks.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Absolute zero

As infertiles, many of us suffer from certain "triggers." Pregnancy announcements, baby shower invitations, innocent inquiries (so when are you two going to have a baby?), ignorant comments (you are so lucky you don't have kids, they are such a pain!), swollen bellies in line at the grocery story, a pregnancy appearing in the storyline of a favorite television program... the events that make you simultaneously feel a stabbing in your heart, a swelling in your throat, and a clenching in your stomach.

While we are in the waiting-for-BFP phase of IF, I think many of us imagine that seeing two magical lines on a HPT will suddenly make things All Better. That attaining the goal, the sweet and precious reward of all of our efforts, will make the world look rosy and we'll shop for itty bitty clothes and share a secret smile with DH when the baby kicks and OH LAWD isn't every second of life just Heaven?

Of course, getting pregnant after IF is a wonderful gift. I don't mean to discount how much happier it is to take a progesterone supplement than a Follistim shot. It's a far, far better place.

But it's not The Cure.

(I apologize if I just got "It's Friday I'm in Love" in your head. Go listen to it on three times, that should get it out. Click HERE for the link. Because I care.)

When I was first pregnant with Bean, the triggers for me were just as strong as while we were undergoing treatment. I remember being less than two months along, and I went to get my hair cut. I loved my stylist, she was young and fun and friendly and great at her job. On that particular day, I was greeted with a hug and the exciting news that HOORAY! SHE WAS PREGNANT! I was thrilled at her obvious baby bump, especially knowing that she had suffered two miscarriages in the past. But despite my sincere happiness that she was baking a very sticky bean, and the private knowledge that I, too, had an early life growing inside my tummy, it was a trigger for me. As soon as I got back into my car, I started sobbing uncontrollably.

Weird, huh?

But infertility had burrowed itself so deep inside of me, that just getting pregnant was not enough to erase my response to the triggers. That's me, Pavlov's dog -- just ring the bell.

Over time, the conditioning weakened and the triggers changed. After Bean was born, there were no more tears when a birth announcement came in the mail, just perhaps a slight stiffening.

When we began to look toward having a second child, I would feel that dreaded physical response only when I saw a pregnant woman who had one child with her. A baby bump alone was not enough to punch me in the gut, which I was grateful for. And my reactions never did seem as strong as they were when we battling IF the first time. Probably because our situation never got as bad.

So here I am, pregnant again. Hopefully for another eight more months. I do feel my triggers slowly -- very slowly -- losing their power. When I see a pregnant women with her kids, I am drawn to stare, with a bit of envy. I wonder if she knows what it's like to struggle to conceive. I wonder what it would be like to conceive with my husband, just the two of us, in private. To not have that heavy weight, that dark burden, that lingering question: Will there be a child, or won't there? To take for granted that there just will be.

On one hand, I can't imagine myself being a grandmother one day (God willing) and still having a reaction to these triggers.

But on the other hand, I can't ever imagine myself not.

Like the graph of an asymptotic function where the line slowly dips lower and lower, approaching zero but never arriving.

It makes me wonder. After you've lived through infertility and felt the pain of its associated triggers, can you ever get to absolute zero? When the only churning in your stomach at hearing of another "accidental" pregnancy is yearning for a bite of that yummy-looking bagel sandwich she's eating? Is it possible to achieve complete extinction from that level of IF conditioning?

Special thanks to my cousin J for the math advice and Truth Be Told blog for the graph image.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Too easy

So here I am in Preggoville... at least, I think. It's morbid, I know, but I wake up every morning and wonder, "Is my baby still alive?" I really have no way of knowing. I still have pregnancy symptoms, but I don't trust them. Isn't that the definition of a missed miscarriage... your body still thinks you are pregnant, even when you are not?

My first ultrasound is 2 weeks and 5 days away. But who's counting? And another month and a half until I'll start renting a doppler so I can listen to the baby's heartbeat at home. DH nodded his head heartily when I asked if we could get one again. "I saw how much it calmed you with Bean," he said. Many women complain about their reliability, or find them useless after they can feel the baby move. But every night, DH and I would sit on the bed and listen to our baby's heartbeat. I could fall asleep relaxed and increasingly connected to our child. For an hour, at least, until he got the hiccups and started kicking the crap out of my liver.

Right now I am totally disconnected from this pregnancy. I am aware of every emotion rolling through my body... various shades of excitement and fear. But it's as if these are occurring on another plane. Because on the surface level, I am very calm now. More so than I have been in months. Like there is just me and DH and Bean and our pooch... not an actual itty bitty person doing somersaults in what is apparently my ginormous womb. (My uterus must be very excited to do its job again, as I already look 4 months pregnant. The kid has enough room to play nine holes of golf.)

I am in absolute denial. I can't even say the word -- when I do, my tongue feels all heavy, and it sounds to me more like pwegwant. I have experienced more than 30 failed TTC cycles total, and even with one healthy son under my belt (literally under my belt, the kiddo can't ever be close enough to his mama -- in fact, I'm hoping he doesn't catch wind of the extra room in my uterus) I still believe that I do not get pregnant.

Other women, yes, they get pregnant. But me? Nah.

I do not get pregnant.

And even if I do look at a belly shot from early 2008 and remember with horror how absolutely humongously pregnant I indeed can get... then I think, Well, but this was too easy.

Compared with the utter torture that was TTC #1, this time in the IF gauntlet was far too quick and relatively painless.

It's almost like the treatment never even happened.

And I am not pregnant.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Charting the course

I've given some thought to how I want to handle this blog, now that I am pregnant. I've still got a long way to go before I have a living baby in my arms, and I won't consider myself out of the "active" phase of infertility until that happens. If, God forbid, something bad happens to this pregnancy, I will blog about it here.

But just maybe the Universe is on my side, and come mid-April, from my abdomen will spring a real live actual human baby.

Between now and then, I plan to use this blog to talk about pregnancy and parenting after infertility. I first joined the blogosphere when I was pregnant with Bean, and I wished I could have found more women talking about what happens to an infertile after the BFP. More specifically, I felt different than a "normal" pregnant woman, and I wanted validation and support with that.

I won't be sharing baby bump photos, ultrasound pictures, and nursery designs here. You won't find a due date countdown on this site. I've decided to keep all of that kind of stuff on my other blog, Sunny in Seattle. (Which is under construction right now, by the way. Please forgive the dust and debris.) This will remain the place where I can talk about my feelings about infertility, how it affects me as a preggo, and how it affects me as a mother.

If and when the baby comes, I will re-evaluate. But for now, that's the plan. I hope you'll stay.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Just pretend like you didn't already guess that I'm pregnant

The verdict:

I'm not quite sure how this happened. I mean, I am... but... wow.

On Monday, at 8 DPO, I got a call from a friend asking if we wanted to join her on a walk. I got dressed, looked in the mirror, everything was in place... got the kiddo ready and out we went. When I got home, I caught another glimpse in the mirror, and I had changed. My stomach had popped out considerably. Like I had gone to Old Country Buffet and eaten enough for an entire family. And I started having cramps. Could be AF or the effects of the progesterone of course, but I started to get *gasp* hopeful that it could be my BFP on the way.

On Tuesday, at 9 DPO, I went against my better judgement and used one of those home pregnancy tests. That's the problem with having 12 of them in the cupboard, no cause for restraint. And I got a very faint line. Could have been an evaporation line (false positive), but those are gray. And I swore I saw pink. Took another cheapie test after lunch, same very faint line. Two evap lines? Less likely. A third very faint line that evening when DH was home from work.

On Wednesday, at 10 DPO, I used the digital. DH and I sat on the edge of the bathtub and watched the window with anticipation. Blink... blink... blink...


I called the nurse and arranged for a blood test that morning. My hcg level came back at 33. Which is a rather low number in and of itself, but when taken in consideration that I was only 10 DPO, it's relatively high. According to, the average hcg of a singleton pregnancy at 10 DPO is 16, and a twin pregnancy is 31. You can't base everything off those numbers, because what day your implantation occurred makes a big difference in your results. But looking good.

On Friday, at 12 DPO, I went back for a follow up blood test. They want to see your hcg number double in 48 hours. Mine was 109. So it more than tripled. According to the same web site, the average hcg of a singleton pregnancy at 12 DPO is 37, and a twin pregnancy is 66.

I am, it would seem, with child.

It's extremely early, I am only 3 weeks pregnant today. (Due date is April 22, for those of you playing along at home.) And there has been so much devastating pregnancy loss in the community lately, that the fragility of my condition isn't lost on me.

I'm not excited yet, but hopeful. Please pray for me and my little one.

Thanks for holding on with me.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

(hold music)

Thank you for your patience. Someone will be with you shortly.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

This is not a pregnancy announcement

But let's talk about them for a minute, k?

Now this is a difficult post to write, because I have to first get around my defense mechanism that is screaming THERE IS AN 80% CHANCE THAT YOU ARE NOT PREGNANT! DO NOT GET YOUR HOPES UP! THEY WILL CRASH AND BURN, AND RUNNY MASCARA IS NOT A GOOD LOOK FOR YOU! As if my mascara won't run when AF arrives, just because my "hopes aren't up." Actually I hardly ever wear mascara these days. This whole situation is really just beyond sad.

But all I have to do is look over at Bean to be reminded that, well, miracles do happen. So this post is necessary.

Today I am 9 DPO. And my gut uterus is telling me that I will know the answer to The Big Question by the end of this week. I'm not sure when AF is due, based on the new variable of progesterone supplements entering the equation. But she could be here as early as Thursday, and as late as... well, who the hell knows.

Flashing back to my pregnancy with Bean. Even after two awesome betas and a tiny little heartbeat, I still was not excited to share our Big News with other people. I wanted to keep it just between me and DH, preferably until the child was born. In fact, although we did end up telling family and friends earlier than we had wanted because of the timing of a visit home, I kept tight-lipped at the office until a coworker eyed my belly in the kitchen area one day when I was 14 weeks along and asked loudly, "Are you pregnant?!" I immediately decided it was finally time to tell my boss.

I think this reluctance comes from many factors. Although we had let that team of highly trained, specialized medical professionals invade the most intimate part of our marriage, I still felt like IF was something DH and I had weathered largely on our own. I also appreciated the support I got from the few family and friends who knew about our struggles, but really it was just the two of us in the trenches. It seemed like the result, this baby, was now a part of our private space, and it was hard to suddenly let others in.

Second, part of the wounds of IF left me feeling like no one would care that I was pregnant anyway, so why tell? While I was isolating myself during treatment, frozen in the moment of BFN, everyone else was going on living. Getting married and having lots of children. Everyone was wrapped up in the exciting changes in their own lives, so why would they bother to take notice of mine? Absolutely ridiculous and unfair to my very caring friends. Lots of faulty thinking to be explored under this one... I'll save that for a rainy day.

And finally, of course, was the denial that this was actually happening after so long. And the fear that it would suddenly be yanked away.

So to make a long story short (too late!), especially during the first part of my pregnancy, I was still quiet and feeling reserved about the whole situation.

This time is entirely different, of course. I am open about our treatments, willing to share and generally in a better place overall. Generally.

DH asked me the other day, "So how are you going to deal with your blog, if you are pregnant?"

Of course this is something I struggled with before I even started this blog. I knew I wanted a place to share, vent, and get support -- as others hopefully feel the understanding and encouragement I give them on their blogs. But how to do it? Totally anonymously? That would be easiest, of course. I could be more open about things, knowing that no one IRL would find my words.

But I finally decided that even though I try not to give too much identifying information on here, I still wanted to share my web site with my friends and family. Let them decide how much (or how little) they would know about my uterus. I guess pseudo-anonymous is the best way to describe that?

I'm not sure how many of them actually read this blog, as they are kind enough not to bring up my uterus in conversation. But I always assume that they are, just to be safe.

So while I don't want to go posting a BFP picture in the first hour of its reveal, I also think it's unfair not to tell you the results as soon as possible, seeing as you have been so wonderful in taking this journey with me so far. And if I experience another chemical pregnancy, or a miscarriage, I'm sure I will want to blog about that anyway.

I guess I'm just asking for a little patience with me... I don't know the right way to handle this. A BFN, I do know the right way to handle. Chocolate, a box of tissues, heating pad, and the latest installment of "Twin Peaks." But the BFP territory is much less known to me, especially since I am now Out of the IF Closet.

I promise to update as soon as I can. I'm not sure exactly what day that will be, depending on how things play out, but if the news is good, it will be before the baby is born.

Most likely.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Because obviously I am not hopeful

(Oh, and in case you are wondering -- no, I do not feel pregnant with triplets. Or twins. Or a singleton. I am 6 DPO and counting.)