Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tag! I'm It

The wonderful Amy over at Miracle in the Making recently tagged me in her blog! Amy is a PCOS survivor and a very supportive friend. She is also an incredibly talented stylist and recently saved me from the most terrible haircut of my life. (you didn't see this haircut but it was BAD, but thanks to Amy I can go out in public again) Anyway, now that I am tagged I have to answer Amy's questions for me and then come up with my own and tag other bloggers to answer them. So here goes!

1) How has infertility changed you? Wow this is a huge question for me with answers that I could blog about for days, but I will try to stick to the short version. Infertility has changed me in very profound ways. Many of my beliefs about life, the universe and the meaning of these things have been changed permanently. My spirituality has certainly shifted, especially after my miscarriage. There is a part of who I was before my struggle with infertility that I will never get back. I am not the same person I was. But that is not to say that all of the changes I have experienced have been negative. I may not be as naive or idealistic as I once was, but I have become stronger than I ever thought possible. And I am definitely more educated and aware about my body and the realities of trying to start a family. As painful as this journey has been, I know that I have grown and learned a lot because of it and I plan to continue to be a voice for infertility awareness and advocacy.

What is your biggest craving right now? CEREAL! I just can't get enough of the stuff these past few months! I swear Snow Pea's new nickname should be Cheerio. It's practically all I eat. Right now there are 6 different boxes in my pantry, all bought a week ago and all almost gone. It started in the early weeks when I was too nauseous to eat much else, but now it's still my favorite go-to food. I have had cereal for dinner on more than one occasion and there was even a day when that was literally the only thing I had for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Oh, also I have to have to fruit whenever possible lately. Getting at least 3 of my food groups right?

3) Who do you look up to and why? This is another question that I could go on and on about. I have a lot of heroes. My mom has always been on top of that list. she is just amazing in every way. I also look up to both my sisters-in-law because they are both such amazing mothers and I hope to continue to pick their brains and learn from them as I begin raising Snow Pea. The person I look up to most though is my husband, Chad. No matter what life has thrown his way, he never gets discouraged or gives up. Throughout every difficult or heartbreaking moment we have experienced on our TTC journey he never stopped believing that good things would happen, that we would be parents. When all I want to do is scream and cry about how unfair it all is, he still has always been able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It's not just dealing with IF that he does this with. In any adverse situation he has been in, he always believes everything will be ok and then he does what it takes to make that true. For someone like me, who is prone to worry, I admire him and rely his strength more than he knows.

4) How did you and your DH meet? He used to be my boss! It's not as sordid as it sounds though. I started working at a soup & sandwich type cafe while I was in college on the exact same day he got transferred to the location where I was hired. I worked for him for about 4 months before I realized food service was not for me. I told him I planned to quit right after he learned he was being promoted. Once he was positive we wouldn't be working together anymore he invited me to hang out. I thought we were friends for two weeks until he finally worked up the nerve to let me know he liked me! Yes, I am clueless and yes he was so adorably nervous.

5) What was your most embarrassing moment? I never know what to answer for this question. Not to say that I have never done anything embarrassing but I never feel like I have a moment worthy to be the answer to this question. I do have foot-in-the-mouth disorder though and regularly say things that come out all wrong and leave me feeling incredibly embarrassed and apologetic. Like when I was younger and my uncle told me I had grown so much and I said he did too, and he happened to have gained a bit of a belly since I'd last seen him. I truly didn't mean it like that and spent flustered minutes trying to fix what I said. I still do stuff like that. All the time.

Ok so now that I have rambled on and answered these questions, it's my turn to tag some of my fellow bloggers and I am going to totally cheat and tag everyone that reads this post, so if you're reading this your tagged and need to answer my questions!

And they are:

1) What do you look forward to or enjoy most about being a parent?
2) What's something about you that would surprise most people?
3) If you could be any animal what would you be and why?
What's the nicest thing someone has done for you?
5) What are you most looking forward to over the next month?

Tag! You're It!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Milestone Moments

I have a habit of checking my email and twitter account from my blackberry each morning before I get out of bed. Yes, it's partially a technology addiction but it started because I had to wake up a half an hour early in order to avoid any mess from my morning dose of progesterone gel. Either way, it's a habit I now enjoy as I am not a morning person and it gives that little bit of time to really wake up before having to be "up". This Saturday though as I checked my email I was ready to hop out of bed from excitement without the 30 minute buffer. There waiting in my inbox were two separate pregnancy subscriptions welcoming me to 13 weeks and the start of my second trimester!

I have been of course counting the weeks and days as they pass by but for some reason it never registered that such an important milestone was upon me until it happened. The sense of joy, relief and gratitude I feel at reaching this wonderful new stage of preg
nancy is almost impossible to express. I suddenly felt more connected to Snow Pea than ever before and more excited to think about the day I will hold my baby in my arms. After losing sprout, I have definitely been more guarded and a little disconnected. Not that I am not enjoying and loving every second but I still keep taking it all moment by moment. Reaching this point of pregnancy feels like a dream come true and makes everything feel more real than it did before.

Making this new stage feel even more real and even more exciting is that today was the nuchal translucency scan. For those that don't know the NT scan is done between 11 and 14 weeks to measure fluid at the back of the neck as an indicator for d
own's syndrome. They also measure the baby's growth, heartbeat, and take a look at the developing limbs and organs. Since you're already in the office with your belly all jellied up, the u/s techs are usually also kind enough to show off all kind's off other cute baby parts. It was incredible!

This was our first really good "tummy u/s" too which somehow made it feel that much more real to me. Every other time we had gotten a good view of Snow Pea it had been with wandy, so we were always looking from an unconventional angle and it's not exactly where I think of the baby as being. As soon as she put the probe on my belly we could see Snow Pea moving and kicking around and as soon as the tech declared how active our baby was, Snow Pea promptly fell asleep. For those of you that know Chad, you know this is definitely a trait of his that he has so kindly passed on to our child. He can fall asleep anytime, anywhere and sleep fo
r 13 hours if he has nothing forcing him to wake up. As much as it drives me nuts that my husband can sleep like that, I have to admit it was cute and a bit endearing to actually witness Snow pea doing it.

Of course though, Snow Pea being asleep wasn't entirely conducive to the scan and the tech had to keep bouncing little one around to get the correct position. And again, being my husband's child, Snow Pea wasn't exactly easy to wake up. But after a bit of jiggling she finally got the view she needed and reported everything looks right on target. She also gave us our very first listen of our sweet little miracle's heartbeat. It was music to our ears, and one of us got a bit teary eyed. It measured at a very healthy 143bpm.

We soaked up every second of seeing our baby in profile for the first time and relished watching the twitches that looked like full body hiccups. Then the tech asked if we'd like a guess on the sex. Since neither of us are great at waiting for surprises we said yes so she pointed out the little nub between our baby's legs and explained the difference between males and females at this stage of development. Based on the position and angle, she predicted tha
t our baby is made up of XX chromosomes as opposed to XY but of course nothing is definite this early on. I will say though that based on my research, this office does have a high rate of accuracy, as does this method of prediction when done by a skilled tech. Of course, we aren't betting the farm on this but since our approach to parenting is more gender neutral to begin with, if the prediction does change later it wouldn't be the end of the world. The most exciting thing about possibly knowing the sex is just feeling that much more connected to Snow Pea as a real person and not an "it". (Although, truth be told, Chad REALLY wants a girl so he's even more excited right now)

I just can't believe that we've reached such an amazing milestone and I can't stop looking at my sweet baby's newest pictures. My favorite thing to do lately is go through them in order and watch Snow Pea grow, starting with the very first picture on transfer day when Snow Pea was just a large clump of cells. This is truly an amazing experience and after all it took to get here, I am incredibly grateful for every moment.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

There Is A Season

Happy Fall Everyone! All week I have been very excited for this new season to start. I love the colors, the slight chill and the magic of fall. Of course autumn is not the only new season that is upon us, we are also approaching cold and flu season, and wouldn't ya know it on the first day of fall I woke up with my first cold of the season.

Normally my sticky, scratchy throat and heavy headache wouldn't be too big of a deal and I would go on with my day normally, if maybe dragging a bit. But now that Snow Pea is on board and forced to endure these things with me I have opted to stay in my jammies in the hopes that I can fight this off before it becomes full blown. I feel kind of lazy but I know it's the right decision. The decision I am unsure about though is how to deal with the remainder of flu season.

It is very common for OBs to prescribe flu shots to women that are pregnant anytime
during flu season, between October and April. The CDC recommends that all pregnant women be vaccinated by October to protect their already weakened immune systems. But of course like all other things, there is another side of the coin. Many independent scientists, doctors, moms and researchers claim that flu shots are unnecessary and even dangerous for the pregnant woman and her fetus. Some have implicated thimerosal, a type of mercury and common ingredient in the vaccine, as being linked to autism along with other health problems in children.

A conversation on Twitter yesterday about whether we all need or should get flu shots got me thinking about this debate. Since I am not due until April, I will be pregnant during the height of flu season. I would love to claim that I have a killer immune system and am unconcerned about getting sick, but the reality is I get sick all the time (as today's cold proves). I get some sort of cold or flu every season and I can't imagine this year would be any different, especially with an even weaker immune system.

But still I can't decide if I really want to get the flu vaccine. I have never gotten one in the past and even though I do get a cold every season, I also recover from it fairly easily. And I don't know why but it does kind of make me nervous. Yes, I know the claims of flu shots being related to other health problems are not widely corroborated or researched and honestly those claims aren't the big reason I am uncertain about the shot. I generally just don't know if it's something I want to do or not. I think it is an uneasiness with the unknown more than anything, especially since I have never had one before.

So as always I turn to the opinions and experiences of others for insight. Have you ever had a flu shot? Either while pregnant or not? Did it keep you from getting sick? Did it make you feel lousy afterward? And anyone that decided to skip it, did you manage to stay healthy anyway? Any thoughts or experiences are appreciated. Of course, I have every intention of speaking with my doctor about this and asking questions and hearing his advice before making any decisions. I just can't help but look at each step during this pregnancy and want to evaluate all the information from every side before making a decision. Part of it is just who I am, and part of it stems from the years of infertility and treatments. I spent so much time learning so much about the process of getting to this point and being so involved in each step of that process, that now it's the norm and I feel uneasy if I don't learn as much as I can with each new step.
Ultimately, I want to do what's best for Snow Pea every step of the way and the more I know, the more confident I can be that I am doing just that.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Graduation Day!

I can't believe this day has actually arrived, our last visit to Dr Jedi before officially moving on to the OB. Knowing we would be seeing Snow Pea today, both Chad and I were very excited for this appointment but it was also bittersweet to be seeing Dr Jedi and his staff for the last time. As amazed and grateful as we are to have reached this milestone and be officially released as a "normal" pregnancy, we have felt so comforatble and cared for with our fertility clinic I kind of wish we didn't have to go.

Dr. Jedi was very excited to see Snow Pea and show us how
much growth had happened in the last week. Today I am 11 weeks 6 days and blown away by the little person I have growing in there! Snow Pea is over 2 inches long and about the size of a lime. There was lots of moving around and it was incredible how much more controlled it seemed than last time. We could see a sweet little ear, a steady heartbeat, the stomach, brain, spine and ten tiny little fingers waving hello! It was unbelievable. I still can't fully wrap my head around the fact that this amazing little creature is inside my body right now!

After taking some pictures of Snow Pea we talked about our plans for additional prenatal care and of course coming back one day so that we can give Snow Pea a sibling. The nurse loaded me up with a stack of information and graduation swag, and reminded us to come back with Snow Pea this Spring. I asked if we would be able to schedule that with them so that no one would be in the waiting room because I would hate to upset anyone. It's a small practice and we have never been at their office as the same time as anyone else, but I still don't want risk causing anyone any pain. She was very understanding and said she couldn't wait to see all three of us in 6 months. Wow, 6 months. Just half a year until we hold our sweet little Snow Pea in our arms!

But we do have those 6 months and of course a little thing called labor and delivery to get through before we are able to do any baby holding. Which is something I think about a lot lately. (and something I plan to blog about soon) I really want to be sure we choose someone to take us through these next stages that is as wonderful as Dr Jedi was at getting us to this point. He has been truly wonderful from day one at our 1st consultation, to the decision to begin IVF, through every wanding and transfer, during the heartbreak of losing Sprout and then starting again with FET. He and his staff have been supportive, attentive and caring through every single step of this process and I can't imagine anyone else having helped us reach this point. I only wish he could remain with us through the rest of the journey and deliver Snow Pea in addition to helping us create him or her.

But since we did have to say good-bye today we didn't have to go without some really great graduation gifts. In addition, to the stacks of magazines and the cute little planner we got this:

My new favorite movie!

In addition to seeing the fingers and organs I mentioned earlier, you might notice an interesting name on the screen, just below the Seimens header. Chad and I were left alone with the machine for a minute before the ultrasound started and silly boy that he is, he added "Dr Jedi" to the screen. That is not his real name but I kind of love that our nickname for him is forever imprinted on our 1st baby video.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Reaching Out

I want to thank everyone again for the kind and supportive comments I received on my "Pregnancy Guilt" post. It was important for me to get my feelings out and get much needed feedback on whether we were doing the right thing as far as our neighbors are concerned. After getting my thoughts out and hearing your reactions, Chad and I decided we would definitely make an attempt to get together with them and we would share our story at that time.

Just days after that blog post, we ran into them again unexpectedly in the neighborhood and the four of us wound up chatting on the sidewalk for nearly an hour. We learned a lot more about them and their precious daughter in that time and we were able to share more about ourselves as well. D (husband) and J (wife) told us that they had been TTC for almost 3 years and were about to begin testing when J discovered she was pregnant. Her pregnancy was mostly normal and healthy until after an ultrasound in her 3rd trimester they learned that their daughter had a 95% chance of being born with down syndrome and a congenital heart defect. J said she was initially in denial. She had no risk factors, she was young (26 during this pregnancy), she couldn't believe it. But when their angel was born the diagnoses was confirmed.

J and D spent lots of time, money and energy getting their daughter the medical care she needed. She had surgeries on her heart in attempts to save her life but during one of her operations her little body let go. Her parents though, did nothing but smile at the memory of their sweet baby girl as they told us of her short life. She was so sweet they said, smiling often and rarely fussy and her 6 months with them was a blessing.

Of course, Chad and I were fighting back tears as they told us all of this and then we lost that fight a bit when J went on to tell us that after they lost their daughter in February, she became pregnant and miscarried in May, one month after my own miscarriage. Which I shared with her and although I know my loss is different from hers, an understanding of that pain passed between the four of us. And I worked up the courage to tell them about our IVF and FET and current pregnancy. They were very congratulatory and understood both our hope and our fears after suffering a loss. It was an incredible conversation and we really enjoyed talking to them. As we parted ways we all agreed to spend time together again soon and the next day we exchanged phone numbers and email addresses by leaving them on each other's cars.

This past Friday, Chad was very excited about our potential new friends and invited them over for a drink. They happily agreed and we wound up sitting in our living room talking and laughing for over 3 hours. It was great and so easy. Conversation just flowed easily back and forth between light, getting to know you topics and more serious stuff. We talked about our jobs, school, families, relationships, mutual interests and of course our desires to be parents.

All night I kept thinking about what great new friends we were making and how much I hoped for good things for them. Then J announced she had taken an HPT that very morning and gotten a BFP. She is pregnant again! She told us we were the first and only people they had told because after the m/c she dreads another and wants to wait at least a month before telling family. She just needed to tell SOMEONE and
since we are expecting again after m/c and understand the hopes and fears that come with that, she felt comfortable for us to be those someones. Right now, I am very optimistic and cautiously excited for them. I am still so honored that they shared their news with us, and of course I am hoping with all of my heart that this pregnancy brings them the child that they so deserve.

I am also hoping that this friendship can continue to grow. I am so glad that we reached out to them when we did. Not only did we give them a bit of comfort but now all four of us are enjoying the benefits of a new friendship, a friendship that it seems couldn't have come at a better time for any of us. If I have ever doubted whether being open and honest about our struggles with infertility was a good idea or not, this just proves that is.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Down The Rabbit Hole

Yesterday I fell down the rabbit hole. It was my 1st appointment at the OB's office and being in a new waiting room with a new staff and waiting to see a new doctor left me feeling like I had wandered into a strange new, curious world where I didn't understand the customs or traditions. I thought I had prepared myself at least a little by reading up on the first appointment, listening to others accounts and talking to the office staff beforehand, but inevitably it still didn't go exactly as I had expected.

As soon as I checked in I was handed a stack of new patien
t paperwork to fill out but after all the infertility paperwork I had done in the past it was really a breeze. I was happy to see that all the pregnant women that came in smiled and seemed to enjoy being there. Everyone on the staff that I encountered was very friendly and warm. They called me back fairly quickly and of course first checked my weight and blood pressure- both of which are good. Then Chad and I waited in a very comfortable exam room until Dr. Casual came in. I call him Dr. Casual because he was just that, very laid back and comfortable. He was friendly and happy to answer all of our questions. It felt a lot like making small talk with a new acquaintance, now I just hope he begin to feel like a new friend.

He did a very quick ultrasound which was very weird for us because it was the first one to be done externally! I have had so many dates with wandy now, I wasn't
prepared for the cold gel and pressure on my tummy. It was exciting to be far enough along for a peek at our Snow Pea from the outside, but I was disappointed with the quality of the ultrasound and how quickly it was over. He didn't zoom in or spend too much time showing us the details of our baby. Snow Pea just looked like a teeny blurry blob. Luckily, Dr Jedi had already scheduled an appointment with us for this morning and I knew we would get a much better peek in his office. And wow was I right! Baby looked so much bigger and so clear. Today I am 10 weeks 4 days pregnant and the baby is 37.5mm, a little bit larger than a kumquat. Not only has there been lots of growth since last time but lots of movement too! Snow Pea was wiggling and moving all over the place. We could see little legs and arms jiggling and the umbilical cord was bouncing and shaking as the baby moved around. when Chad and I were talking on the way to the appointment, he kept saying that this pregnancy still didn't feel real to him and he just couldn't get really excited yet. That all changed after he saw Snow Pea waving at us. He was absolutely giddy with excitement and couldn't stop smiling, it was cute to see him get so into it.
We get to go back to see Dr Jedi one more time and they are making a DVD of the ultrasound for us during that visit! Snow Pea will be 11 weeks 6 days at that appointment so it should be a good show, I can't wait! Dr. Jedi gave me even more good news and said I could stop all the supplements now. No more shots! No more gross Crinone! Of course I would do shots the whole 9 months if it meant Snow Pea would be safe and healthy but it's still a huge relief to be done with that stuff. I have been on both meds since June!

I am still a bit anxious about leaving Dr. Jedi completely but I am glad I was able to take a peek through the looking glass at the next phase without having to stay there exclusively right away. Hopefully by my next OB appointment next month I will be feeling a little more secure in the transition. Chad and I have also decided to check out a local birthing center just so we know all of our options, especially since it's important to us to avoid a C-section if at all possible. We will be doing that next week in addition to our last RE visit. After that is our nuchal translucency scan and I will officially be down the rabbit hole for good and in the strange new world of pregnancy. I hope that Dr. Casual is a better guide through this weird, wonderful land than the white rabbit was for Alice.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Pregnancy Guilt

Lately, it seems like there are more and more ladies in the infertile community crossing over into the new and unfamiliar territory of pregnancy. With this transition comes so many wonderful emotions and feelings but there are unexpected emotions as well. Almost everyone I know that has gone from infertile frustration to pregnant elation has dealt with some type of guilt in the process. Everyone remembers the hurt they felt after a BFN or pregnancy loss when someone else around them got pregnant. Having dealt with that pain ourselves we hate to think we could be the ones unintentionally inflicting it on others. I have read many blog posts this year from women who are feeling this way and want desperately to reach out and let others know they care while still honoring their pregnancies and cherishing them.

I of course, being newly pregnant again after years of struggle, thousands in treatment and the loss of my 1st pregnancy, have dealt with these emotional struggles as well. I love and adore the women that have supported me and cheered me on through twitter and my blog and I want to continue to support each of them as they continue their journeys into motherhood and beyond. I understand, though, how hard it can be and do my best to be sensitive to others. But I also know that there may be some who need to protect their feelings and will choose to avoid my blog or tweets and I respect that.

Recently though I have feared inadvertently hurting someone who will have no way to hide from my pregnancy and it breaks my heart to think of it. My husband and I live a neighborhood with shared garages. The neighbors we share ours with moved in when the wife was about 8 months pregnant. They were so excited and positive and couldn't wait to be parents. When their little girl was born you could tell they were overjoyed. When we passed them coming and going they always commented on how wonderful it was have their daughter home with them.

Then at about the time I did my 1st IVF transfer, about 6 months after their daughter was born, we stopped running into them. Their car was never in the garage and we never saw them coming or going. To be honest we were pretty distracted with our IVF and subsequent miscarriage so we didn't think too much of it, but then we learned the awful truth. I am good friends with the woman who manages our property and she let me know that they had planned on moving early because their baby girl had passed away. My heart shattered into a million pieces when I heard this. I know how painful my pregnancy loss had been, I couldn't even imagine how devastating losing your 6 month old child would be.

I completely understood why they would want to move and didn't expect to see them again, but suddenly one day they were back. They were as nice to us as they had always been, smiling and saying hello when we'd see each other and leaving plenty of space for our car when they parked. I didn't want to pry or tell them what I had heard so I never stopped to ask about the baby. Stopping them as they got in or out of their car just didn't seem like an appropriate way to approach them anyway.

But then they came home one day with a remembrance decal on their back window and I saw that their little angel's 1st birthday was coming soon. So I told Chad and we immediately agreed that we should do something to let them know we were thinking about them. Just hearing those simple words meant so much to me after our loss, and I wanted them to know we cared. So on the baby's birthday we left a potted plant with little yellow blooms on the front porch with a simple note saying they were in our thoughts and our hearts.

This was over the weekend. Last night, we were walking out of the garage as they pulled in and they stopped to thank us and say how much it meant to them. Chad and I both got teary as they said they had wanted to say something to us sooner but it was hard for them to talk about it. Then they suggested we all get together sometime, which we wholeheartedly agreed to.

As we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways, I cried again. I cried for their heartbreak and loss and for the fear that I will soon be a source of more pain. The day will come when my pregnancy will be visible and I can't imagine them having to be parked next to me every day never knowing when they might run into me and my bump, then one day running into me and my baby. I just can't imagine hurting either of them like that. It is the last thing I want to do. Chad and I talked and agreed that if we do actually have dinner or something with them in the near future, we will tell them our story and our situation so that they are prepared. Nothing is worse than the shock of not knowing or not being told and being surprised by the news later.

I still don't know what happened but really that is not important, what is important is that they have suffered an unimaginable loss and I want to be as sensitive to it as I possibly can. I am crying now just writing this, for them and anyone else who has ever lost a child as well as for those struggling to become parents. Both are a deep source of pain that no one should ever have to endure and my heart hurts for every unsuccessful cycle, adoption wait and loss.

Pregnancy after infertility feels a lot like survivor's guilt. Why should I be here while so many others still hurt and struggle? Why me and not them? Of course I love Snow Pea with all my heart and wouldn't trade this pregnancy for anything, but I still find it so unfair that so many wonderful people are still struggling with infertility and loss. I hope and pray that I can not only avoid causing anyone any hurt but that I can also be there to love and support those who need it.