Tag Archives: emotional

Pregnancy ain’t for Punks

I do this or get very close at least once a day.

Or maybe it is. I am already starting to cry, after all.

It’s my own fault. I’m home — instead of where I should be — watching “Beaches,” an automatic tearjerker when I’m not carrying two tagalongs that I can’t eat. (I swore off all Girl Scout cookies this year to avoid the chocolate and accompanying caffeine in my favorite ones, Samoas.) Only this time, the movie just started. Cece just ran off in the rental car and in the flashback just met Hillary and my vision is already teary-eyed blurry.

(Sniffle, sniffle)

I’m remembering how I just woke up from a 13-week sleep, having not talked to my best friend enough recently to know her dog died nor a new good friend to hear the potty successes of her new baby nor my “stickgirl” at all. (And she’s got Va. Gov. Bob McDonnell to worry about.) “Beaches” makes me think of all my close friends, and in watching it, I haven’t been a good friend at all. And the friends I’ve made in the Midwest USA aren’t quite close enough to reassure nor understand, but that’s just something else to cry about.

(Sniffle, sniffle)

Instead of weeping to “Beaches,” I should be wading through slush to choir rehearsal just like I should’ve been at work today. But I couldn’t get out of bed. I wish it was because I was asleep. Apparently, pregnancy even at this stage in the game causes the joints in your hips to loosen in preparation for labor, and it hurts like the devil. At a steady decline every morning, my ability to walk is likely something from a dilapidated extra at Shady Pines, the fictitious nursing home in “Golden Girls.” It’s like somebody has replaced the area between my lower back and knees with 90-year-old parts. I’ve been in bed most of the day whining with the Mr. jumping at every groan. Turning from my right side to my left side is a major decision because it requires a commitment to stay there for time worth the pain and struggle. None of this bodes well for frequent bathroom breaks. Lowering myself in the Oval Office then brings a new seat of tears.

(Sniffle, sniffle)

Getting ready for work — and finding something to wear — has been torture. Today’s preparation involved sending a text to my supervisor and having the Mr. bring my laptop to work from home. I typed everything with one hand while trying to keep this new set of girls out of the way. It sounds easier than it actually is. I would’ve just taken a sick day, but I feel guilty for not being able to push past the discomfort like I’d do if I were merely sick. I worked to keep from crying.

This pain has been ongoing for the past three weeks. I’ve tried to stretch, but that doesn’t work for joints, it seems. I tried to put away the flats until I really need them, figuring heels would stretch out my thigh muscles. I was cute — and can still walk in 5-inch platforms, thank you very much — but all that did was made me look like the pregnant woman who wants to be Beyoncé. I don’t.

But I’m pregnant! It’s an exciting time. I even glow some days. But I’m not the smiling belly-rubbing lass you see in commercials or even the one you see accepting congratulations while dodging presumptuous hands heading for my abdomen. I really am happy we got to this point in the infertility journey, and I read “The Bump” daily to see how many days left until my due date. I marvel at baby things and try not to be taken in by the hype. At the same time, though, this is no walk in the park and I know I’ve had it easier than most.

So, from here on out, whenever you see a pregnant woman in public, know that she probably fought to get out of bed and fought harder to get out of the house with enough food for the day to keep from throwing up. Don’t roll your eyes because she’s late. Don’t question her outfit even if you saw it two days ago. Don’t be mad if you haven’t heard from her. And for God’s sake, don’t be alarmed if she leaves the choir stand in church to go pee. She’s likely been holding it awhile. And if she’s not where she’s supposed to be, know that she’s not milking the whole pregnancy thing. She’s just struggling her way forward and probably on her way somewhere to go cry about it.

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Look at me, look at mee-ee-eeeeee

This is the album cover for the original "Dreamgirls," featuring Jennifer Holliday. I'm a sucker for classics even when the remake is awesome.

“I am changing …”

So, OK, the song from “Dreamgirls” doesn’t really apply beyond those first few words, but things are definitely a-changing. I’m still a day or so away from the end of my first trimester, but I am definitely larger. People tell me they can’t quite see it, while others tease me about my frontal rotundity. Getting dressed every morning is a struggle for pants that fit. If only that was the only thing different.

I honestly have no real complaints. By everything you’ve ever heard about pregnancy, I’m coasting. I don’t have morning sickness; I have “it’s time to eat again or else” sickness. I go from normal to starving Sally Struthers style about every two hours. It’s when I don’t answer that call that I get nauseated and struggle even more to find something I feel like eating. I don’t have any weird food aversions or cravings, but there are foods that make me happy. Among them — because it varies from day to day — are Honey Nut Cheerios with or without milk, vanilla milkshakes, tomatoes, pasta in alfredo sauce and baked potatoes heaping with sour cream. Those aren’t that weird, except that I prefer real milk to the vanilla soy I drink normally and have turned my nose up at the chocolate shakes I would order before. And as much as I always loved a good steak, the thought turns my stomach …

Which I’m not sleeping on. Paranoia has me off my back as well. I just turn from side to side, feeling like a fish flailing from side to side all night long. Sleeping is uncomfortable even with the body pillow. Usually, the Mr. rubs my back until I fall asleep. Then, he wakes up when I get up for potty breaks to make sure I don’t bump into anything. Sleepwalking makes a person a little clumsy. Plus, our cool high box spring bed isn’t any more because it makes getting out of it a small challenge that I suspect will only get worse.

One thing I couldn’t have anticipated at this stage is sore hips and thighs. It’s like my joints are on strike. I stiffen quickly as if it will rain any minute. Apparently, my body is already preparing to Rufus and Reefus launching pad. And sleep must be a really big part of the preparation. I’m so sleepy all the time that I feel lazy. And when I’m not sleepy, I’m just plain tired. Every day, it’s like I’m playing catch-up with my fast-moving life.

Though not by choice, I’ve had to slow down. Fortunately, so has my burping before every sentence. Its unmentionable counterpart hasn’t really; the Mr. has been really nice about it. (I have an excuse that he never had. I call it even.) Singing is a challenge, but only to make me breathe the way I should’ve been breathing all along. That’s one thing I’d like to keep doing until I just can’t; though, I’ve read that it is possible that I could sing throughout the entire baby-cooking process barring any calls for a Lyric Opera performance (not gonna happen).

Otherwise, as accepting as I’ve become of actually being pregnant, I’m approaching acceptance that I do need more food, more sleep and to keep taking my prenatal vitamin despite how it now tastes like metal. I will not concede to being more evil. I’m just too tired to be as diplomatic as I normally am. More than not, I’m really just responding to feelings that seem to get hurt a lot more often though I pretend otherwise when it involves friends. I let the tears flow, however, while listening to the NPR story about school truancy in Detroit. Odd, right?

It’s pretty clear that while I’ve got the physical stuff down, I’ve got to work on the emotional side of pregnancy.

Double, double toil and trouble …

Despite good news, I'm still wary of the other shoe dropping. And given my reaction to a series of poop storms, I should also be watching for houses.

With infertility, silence sometimes means the worst has the happened. Fortunately, that isn’t the case, but as it always happens with every two-week wait and the optimism of each cycle, struggling to conceive means waiting for the other shoe to stomp all over your baby-building parade.

Under the invisible dangling shoe that has kept me quiet for the past few days, my human chorionic gonadotropin (hcg) levels doubled and then some, according to my latest blood test. Sunday, it was 148. Tuesday, it hit 552. It took a grueling hour to find that out.

I’d stepped away from my desk to pray with the rest of the company for the family of a recently deceased coworker, and the nurse called. A little shaken from the solemn office gathering and nervous about the call, I locked myself out of my voice mail. While waiting for the systems guy to reset my password, I tried calling the doctor’s office back. Every transfer to a live person went something like this:

“Name?” My name. S-P-E-L-L-E-D O-U-T. “Date of birth?” My birthdate and year. “Who’s your doctor?” My doctor. Then silence. “Let me transfer you to the IVF nurse.”

This was all too reminiscent of my low-ovarian reserve diagnosis. No one would tell me what the number was for my anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) test. I’d ask, and then they’d refer me to someone else. Essentially, this test can help determine the number of quality eggs a person has as well as determine gauge what the response might be to in-vitro fertilization. My test results suggested that my ovarian fertility potential hovered in the low- to very-low category. My doctor mentioned the use of donor eggs very early in this infertility process. I feared he was right and coped with the possibility by ignoring him.

That’s why is so unbelievable to me that, according to today’s doctor visit, he actually used what my husband called “the p word.” Here I was thinking the Mr. was being vulgar; instead he was marveling that the doctor kept casually referring to me being pregnant. I’d had moments of wanting to jump around like Doc Brown in “Back to the Future,” yelling, “It worked; 1.21 gigowatts!” but that still seemed a little premature. Short of that temptation, I’ve held out on using the p word and instead described my blood test results in strictly clinical terms.

Today, the Mr. and I had a brief moment of acceptance of a positive outcome. Then life kicked in and my focus returned to the poop storm spinning over work and now where we live. The latter is a horrific mess that would turn anybody into a Scrooge, or in my case, the B. on a Broomstick. That’s the bad news. The good news, in addition to the news I have yet to accept, is that trouble don’t last always. Praise God, it still will be a merry Christmas and a maybe even a very special one.

Meanwhile, I’ll be on the lookout for falling shoes — and houses.

 

Here’s to the numbers game

The "butterfly" part goes into a vein, and a blood collection tube attaches to the "vacuum." I gotta do this again in a couple days. It used to be fine, but now these little suckers are starting to hurt.

I made it to my first beta test without giving in to pressure to buy a home pregnancy test. I kinda floated through the last several days, having some symptoms of something but blaming everything on the drugs — not just my bad moods.

For example: In the lighter sleep of early morning, I tend to have a blanket tug of war with the Mr. That fight involves turning to one side with a death grip on the covers. After nearly three years, I can literally do this in my sleep. But for the past week, that sleeping turn has come with the equivalent of what feels like someone clanging cymbals on the girls. Mmhm, those girls. I wake up abruptly — mad — then stay awake for another hour or so until about five minutes before my alarm sounds. I blame this for my constant need for a nap before bed. And the vicious cycle continues.

Then, there are the slight pains in my side that go away as soon as I try to identify them. It’s like I’m leaning over to stretch, except I’m sitting still. In that case, I didn’t necessarily blame the drugs. I thought, as usual, it was something I ate from the dairy case. (Infer what you will.)

The whole point of the mind games was to downplay anything that could be unnecessarily attributed to a pregnancy that had not been confirmed. Instead of wishful thinking, it was careful thinking.

The game changer was the quick phone call from the nurse about an hour an a half after my blood test, 10 days post transfer. “I’m calling with good news that your beta level is positive at 148. You’ll keep taking your meds and come back Tuesday. Then, it should double to about 320.”

She didn’t say pregnant and I didn’t hear pregnant nor say pregnant to the Mr. But we all know 148 is a good sign. Still, I know not to get too excited — at least not yet. Here’s why: While anything above 25 milli-international units per milliliter (mIU/ml) equals a positive pregnancy test, the real proof is in how much the numbers increase in 48-72 hours. Even then, it’s only through ultrasound, somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 mIU/ml, that we can get more accurate information about the pregnancy. That includes whether we’re carrying one or two babies.

I could come up with a multitude of Doomsday scenarios, but the possibility of them is enough to keep me grounded even despite the silly grin that the Mr.’s probably worn all day. It’s cute, and it reminds me that there’s hope. Don’t get me wrong: I am tickled chocolate brown and a little bit relieved, but I remain super cautious. I’m thankful to God because I consider this an answered prayer even though there are others to come. With all of that in mind, I’ll quietly celebrate 148 mIU/ml for what it is with a glass of water, more drugs and gummy prenatal vitamins. In the meantime, we’ll see what happens

Here’s to the numbers game. Cheers, big ears.

It’s the %@*$# drugs

We're done with the injectables, but these two seem to pack a more emotional punch. The Mr. finds it funny; he's allowed. Everyone else, look out.

It’s the drugs. It’s the drugs. It’s the drugs.

At least, that’s what I’ve been telling myself as a result of reaching the highest levels of pissivity. (That’s an original derivative of a word I hate to use and wouldn’t, well, if not for the drugs.) I was warned of the side effects of estradiol and progesterone, but I wasn’t expecting the same work-related poop storm from a few weeks ago to keep spinning. I don’t have the time, the patience nor the willingness to address it, but here it is, and here I am, nine kinds of ticked off.

Soooo, maybe it’s not the drugs.

However, the fear and resulting paranoia that pressure from this clusterfox will hurt my chances of housing the Wonder Twins long term might be drug manufactured. It would make sense to think that every significant upset would have a negative effect, but honestly, it doesn’t. Medically anyway, no one thinks so.

In addition to preparing me for mood swings, fatigue, and general haziness, the RE-mandated psychologist addressed stress and how I’d deal with it. Her focus was specifically now, the time between the transfer and the first blood test determing whether the in-vitro cycle was successful. Even though she encouraged a coping strategy — because, obviously alcohol is out of the question — she insisted that everyday wanna-throw-a-shoe, to-Hades-with-everybody, dare-you-to-walk-in-front-of my-car varieties wouldn’t be enough to derail pregnancy. What would have an effect is stress related to fear for my life, of being evicted and otherwise homeless or of not having food. Anything less than that would be implantation gravy.

I was relieved to leave aside the pressure of always trying to relax. In trying for so long to conceive, I’ve heard “Just relax” enough times to consider the phrase profane. And telling me that never works anyway. So rather than “Keep Calm and Carry On” like the book says, I’m doing just fine aligning myself with its companion piece, “Screw Calm and Get Angry.”

And if you don’t like me when I’m angry, well, let’s go with that idea that it’s the blankety-blank drugs.

Countdown …

One innocent victim of my hormone-induced emotional outburst hours before the egg retrieval

So, just like a magwai, I can’t eat after midnight up until after the procedure Monday. It’s amazing how much you want something when someone says you can’t have it. I think the frustration is really just masked anxiety about whether everything will go as planned. I signed the waiver, but I’m still not worried about the more severe risks like excessive fluid buildup, stroke or death. I’m not sure about many things, but I’m most certain that God wouldn’t allow my last “meal” before meeting Him to be pineapple jelly crescent rolls, doxycycline and candied gummy pre-natal vitamins.

Speaking of God, I imagined laying out on the altar Hannah-style in church today after all because I just didn’t have the words to pray for what I want. We sang a song, “God is sovereign, holy and just and on His word we’ve got to trust. For the at the sound of His voice, the Earth became. When God speaks in your life, you won’t be the same.” Between the singing, ministering and worshiping, I felt my heart praying and the tears fell. It wasn’t a shining moment because I haven’t figured out how to cry and sing at the same time. Nevertheless, it was a moment that I felt like God and I were on the same page on this babies thing. It made worship at the next service that much easier. Even then, the tears kept flowing though. I’m sure it’s the estrogen.

According to the Mr., I’ve also been a little more aggressive in a way more characteristic of me PMS’ing. I never take it out on people — or at least not at people who can hear me — but it definitely comes out at the television, traffic, talking heads on TV. The victim on the way home from church was a squirrel pausing in the middle of the street. A squirrel! Yep, it’s got to be the drugs. And it’s expected to get way worse.

After the retrieval … (I should describe that. Using a transvaginal ultrasound to find the follicles, a doctor will guide a needle to where it’s supposed to go and extract fluid that should include an egg. If it does, the egg goes into an incubator. He or she will repeat that process until all the follicles are aspirated. The eggs will then pair with a fresh sample from the Mr., and then we wait.), I’ll start oral estrogen and, uh, non-oral progesterone. That’s supposed to not only make me sleepy but also edgy. Doesn’t that sound like fun for everybody?

I’ll keep taking the antibiotic to ward off any cooties from the procedure and wait again to hear about the number of eggs and the likely transfer date. In the meantime, at least immediately after the procedure, I’ll do nothing but feel the lovely haziness of good hospital drugs. As always, we’ll see what happens.