PLEASE NOTE: If you are struggling with infertility or are currently trying to conceive and you DON'T want to read about my pregnancy (which I totally understand), I recommend starting at the beginning of the blog (March 2010) and reading from there. I find out I'm pregnant in June 2011 so there is a lot of trying to conceive posts in between that you might find funny, helpful or relatable. Wishing you all the luck in the world!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Food, Mineral or Vegetable

This morning was our first ultrasound and I’m thrilled (and relieved) to report that it went well. The doctor was pleased, we saw the baby (well, as much as you can see) and we saw the flickering of a heartbeat. And what was the very first thing I said when I saw all this? “It’s so cool to finally see something in there and not a big ol’ empty space!” Maybe not a phrase you'd see in a Hallmark card or embroidered on a pillow but that was the first thought that came to mind.

We go back in exactly two weeks from today to hear the heartbeat. Yes folks. I'm in yet another two-week wait! It's like the universe WANTS me to keep writing on this blog and not start a whole new one! :)

Last week, I told my niece and nephew that according to the Baby Center, the baby (then at five weeks) was the size of a sesame seed. I told them that that very morning, I had a sesame seed bagel, grabbed one of the seeds, showed it to Sam and said, “Look! It’s our baby!” They found this utterly hilarious. I’m so pleased they find their Aunt Jay’s warped sense of humor amusing.

According to Baby Center this week (6 weeks), the baby is the size of a lima bean. When Sam and I saw the ultrasound today, we confirmed to one another that the baby does, in fact, look like a lima bean. Not only can we now not stop ourselves from calling the baby lima bean but we can't dare eat any legumes anymore.

I promised myself I would not give a nickname to the baby. I know many do and that’s totally fine if that’s what you feel comfortable with but for me, I just didn’t feel right doing that until we were at least past the first trimester. I’m not buying anything for the baby, I’m not changing my twitter name and I’m not telling the public at large until we’re at least past the first week of August. Of course, I’m already emotionally attached so none of this will necessarily make things any easier if something were to go wrong but still, I feel the need to wait until we're in somewhat safer waters.

Also, if I’m being honest, despite being someone who named her uterine polyp, Jackson Polyp, I was never very comfortable with the overwhelming cutesy-poo factor of naming your fetus something like “sugar kitten or “lil’ angel muffin” or something like that. I say that with the sincerest respect to my fellow pregnant friends who have come up with nicknames for their babies. I promise - I'm not saying that all nicknames are bad or nauseating, I’m just saying that there have been a few that have been so sweet that the mere mention of them have given me a cavity.

Now that we’re calling it lima bean (at least this week), does that mean that I’m going to start calling the baby whatever noun, fruit or vegetable the Baby Center sends me from week to week? I sincerely hope not. That seems too fickle and strange. “I’m so in love with our little cumquat!” Or “Our little baseball is getting so big!

I’m either going to have to resign myself to just calling our baby “the baby” or coming up with a nickname that doesn’t make me feel like it’ll induce eye rolling or gagging every time I use it.

And speaking of gagging, I asked my doctor if using deodorant/ antiperspirant was ok as the organic Tom's Deodorant has been making me gag from how bad I smell. She said I should really try to use “aluminum free” deodorant. Dammit. I’m going to have to start looking into other brands… and I have a feeling I’m going to go through a whole lot of them before I find something effective.

I’m warning you now – don’t be surprised if pretty soon, I write a blog entry called, “The Many Smells of Jay”. Oy.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

For The Love Of Macaroni and Cheese

First and foremost, I’m starting a campaign to make Macaroni and Cheese a food group. This is a cause recently taken up by my stomach that seems to want nothing else but macaroni and cheese. To appease my guilt, I’m hoping to get it added to the food pyramid in its very own category. Go with me on this people…

So, as of today, I’m 6 weeks pregnant and tomorrow will be my first ultrasound. I had planned on posting a blog entry after the ultrasound tomorrow but then this morning, I received an adorable, thoughtful email from a reader of mine, Linda, asking for an update. Actually, she said she AND her co-workers wanted an update so thank you Linda and co-workers for checking in on me! By the way, maybe it’s just me but I think LINDA AND CO-WORKERS sounds like a modern day office band. Their first hit single could be, “Photocopy My Love”. What? Why are you all looking at me like that?

Last Friday, my beta was up from 220 to 1894 (which I hear was a very good year) and although it’s been hard to resist, I managed to only pee on one stick this week. Any which way, I’m still amazed that I’m pregnant. Me: The person who never got pregnant. It’s still crazy to me.

I’m still working out what to do with this blog in particular as I sincerely don’t feel entirely comfortable talking about my pregnancy when so many have discovered my site because they are themselves in a two week wait. It’s like starting a website about your dating adventures and then you continue writing on the same site about your marriage. It just feels wrong to me on a certain level. I don’t know though – I go back and forth on it constantly.

And speaking of dating, my quest to find an OB/GYN that takes my insurance and deals with High Risk pregnancies has made me feel like I’m back on looking for some love (although in this case, it’s clinical love). My insurance company referred me to their website but a lot of the information listed are either out of date, or the doctor’s don’t do deliveries anymore or they moved offices entirely. Then, anytime anyone recommends this “amazing” doctor, I call and they don’t take my insurance.

Two days ago, I found a doctor who met all the criteria: Takes my insurance, is an OB/GYN, is actually in the same city as me and specializes in high risk pregnancies. I called, told the nurse that I was thirty-seven, that I got pregnant after my third in vitro and that both of my sister’s pregnancies were difficult ones so I wanted to have a doctor who dealt with high risks. She said they would review my case with the doctor and he would decide whether or not he’d like to take me on as a patient. So, much like my single days, I’m sitting by the phone hoping he’ll call.

It occurred to me after the fact that I should have mentioned I’m also slightly overweight. I said to my husband, “Do you think it’s weird if I call back, ‘Can you also tell the doctor I’m fat?’” Sam talked me out of it. The ONE time I could use being overweight to my advantage and I forgot to mention it! Sh*t!

Meanwhile, I’m learning a few little things that I never knew before about being pregnant (and don’t worry, this list is not a touchy, feely, cutesy poo list).

1. Lately, if I don’t return my mother’s calls in a two hour time span, she freaks out.

2. The smell of flowers apparently makes me nauseous these days. Flowers people. How lame is that? I guess no picnics or botanical garden for me this summer.

3. PMS symptoms and pregnancy symptoms are the same. This is something I was in denial about but now that I’m pregnant, I have to admit it – they so f*cking are. I HATE saying this as I think it prolongs the torture for many of you in the two week wait but sadly, it’s true. Whichever entity came up with that really needs to be bitch slapped.

4. Even though I’ve gotten the elusive “BFP” ('big fat positive' pregnancy test), I still need and deeply appreciate the love and support more than I can say.

5. Finding a good parking spot suddenly makes me emotional.

6. Just because I’m pregnant doesn’t mean that I’ve forgotten for one second how insanely, unfair and painful struggling with infertility can be.

7. I still get annoyed when I see pregnant women (figure that one out!)

8. Aluminum-free organic deodorant does NOT work. I smell like vanilla sweat these days.

9. I have maintained my sense of humor… but now I do so with slightly bigger boobs.

Overall, it’s still so early and I’m definitely nervous (especially about the sonogram tomorrow) but despite the occasional nausea, feeling tired and my fears of all the things that can go wrong, I feel damn good. I’ve worked hard for this and dreamed of being pregnant my whole life, so even though I can’t predict how this pregnancy is going to go, even though I haven’t found an OB/GYN yet that wants to make a commitment, and even though I stink (thanks to my effort to only use organic products), I am very much in the moment. Today, I’m pregnant and I’m happy. I’m also about to have more macaroni and cheese.

Now, Linda and Co-Workers – Get back to work! :)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Speak Softly And Carry a Pee Stick

I came home from work to find my husband sitting on my couch looking at me very seriously.

Jay?” my husband said. “Can you sit down for a moment?

As I was putting down my purse and getting comfortable, I tried to rack my brain figuring out what I had done.

Honey, you have to stop peeing on so many sticks.” He said. “I almost brushed my teeth with one this morning.

Yes. It was a Pee Stick Intervention. Clearly, I’m still shocked that I’m finally pregnant.

On that note, I want to sincerely thank all of you who commented on my “Level Two” post. The comments were so gracious, sweet and in some cases, downright hilarious.

I was also touched by how many of you got annoyed with me for not getting to the point sooner. I love that we’ve grown so close that you feel comfortable to be like, “Way to drag it out lady!” I found it both adorable and touching. Maybe it’s because that’s how my family talk to each other. My dad just said me the other day, “Your mother told me a joke so long and convoluted that I thought I was watching THE LORD OF THE RINGS all over again!”

Believe it or not, not announcing the good news straight away was a very conscious choice on my part. It wasn’t that I wanted to build tension or keep you guessing as much as it was fulfilling a promise that I made to myself, that if I ever did get pregnant, I would write a blog entry in the same format and style as any of my other blog entries. I’ve struggled too long with infertility to get cocky and write a simple, “I’m pregnant! Let the good times begin! Wah hoo!” entry.

One thing that's been on my mind lately is that I’ve always had a hard time when I found a blog that had an infertility title and/or description of someone struggling to conceive only to visit their site and see that they are now pregnant. I TRULY don’t mean that in a disrespectful way to any of my fellow fertility challenged blogger friends. I’m a firm believer that anyone who gets pregnant after struggling with infertility earned it and can write about it anyway they want. It was more about me and my feelings. I would go to their blog, see that they were pregnant and this would in turn remind me that I wasn’t. Feelings of sadness and the strong need for sushi and alcohol would soon set it.

I know many people have discovered this blog because they were in their two week waits. Now that I’m pregnant, I feel a little like my site has become a bait and switch. “Oh look… she’s trying to conceive too! Wait a minute, the bitch is pregnant! What the fuck???

This was my point with the “Level Two” entry. I’m at the very beginning of this pregnancy, there’s still so many hurdles to jump (not that I’m jumping much these days) and although I’m thrilled, I’m in no way feeling a hundred percent secure. Hence, the mountains of home pregnancy sticks scattered about my home.

What’s ironic to me is technically, I’m sort of back in a two-week wait right now. My first beta was last Friday and it was 90. I had my second beta this past Monday and it was 225. My next is tomorrow and then the week after that is my first ultrasound. So, in between this past Monday’s beta and next Friday’s ultrasound is… drum roll please… two weeks! Ta da!

For now, I’m going to keep writing until I figure out what the best thing to do is. I’ve been debating starting a separate blog called, “The 9 Month Wait” (already got a blog address for it) so that way, this space here will be solely dedicated to trying to conceive/infertility and the new space would be solely dedicated to being pregnant. More than anything, I desperately want to be respectful of those who are still trying to conceive. If you have any thoughts or suggestions on the matter, I'd love to hear it.

And for obvious reasons, the piece I wrote back in October 2010 has very much been on my mind lately. It was called, When Your Infertile Friends Leave the Nest:

Meanwhile, I told my husband I would chill out on the home pregnancy tests. In reality though, I’ve just gotten better at hiding my dirty habit. Perhaps I should give them out as party favors the next time I have a get together. Better yet, I could use them to decorate this year’s Christmas tree as one online friend suggested. “Jay? Why does the tree smell like urine???

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Whether it's follicles, embryos, your bank account, or your sense of hope, this picture is perfect for Wordless Wednesday...

I'll write a proper blog soon but in the meantime, I'm sending each one of you a buttload of love & happiness!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Level Two

I’ve often likened the journey of trying to conceive when having fertility issues to that of a video game. Every video game has different levels. For example, in one level, you will need to kill a few dragons, jump over a few motes and find a secret key to unlock a door so that you’ll be allowed to enter level two for the next series of obstacles and hopefully, rewards. Ideally, with patience and luck, you’ll get to the highest level and win the game.

In the Infertility Video Game (which really needs to be invented), an early level would perhaps entail scoring some ovulation prediction kits, jumping through insurance coverage loop holes, and finding a Reproductive Endocrinologist that will help diagnose your issues.

Other levels could be having your husband’s sperm fight off antibodies, slaying hospital bills, finding the money to pay for an in vitro and then, hopefully, getting pregnant. Getting pregnant would then lead to another series of levels, such as getting through the first trimester, having an NT scan and making it through the labor and delivery without causing bodily harm to your husband. Really, as far as I’m concerned, the game isn’t completely over until you hold a healthy baby in your arms.
For the record, I’ve never been good at video games. I’m always the one who gets disoriented in the very first room and who can’t figure out how to even use her controllers. I truly suck at it. We have Nintendo Wii and while my husband can sail through Lego Star Wars with his eyes closed, I stick mostly to games like Wii Music where there are no levels. They are just entertaining games that involve little skill other than being able to recognize where the television is in your living room.
This past Thursday night, June 9th, was the night before my beta. It had been an extremely difficult week as I had been getting pretty much all of my usual PMS symptoms (cramps, moody, bloated, migraines and that oh, so familar feeling of wanting to punch someone in their face). The migraines especially have always been the death knell. Whenever I’ve gotten a headache, my period is always sure to follow. That’s how it’s been for the past twenty years I’ve been getting those bastards. I actually almost wrote an entry last week called, “Between a Rock and a Headache” but I was simply too depressed that once again, this cycle looked like a total clusterf*ck.
At one point last week, despite the fact that I’m a grown woman, I cried hysterically on the phone with my parents. We had a bunch of bills that had come in from the clinic, I had my signature knife-in-the-brain-like-migraine and I was convinced we’d have to do a fourth IVF. I was stressing about how we’d pay for it, that we would still have no guarantees, that maybe we should just give up altogether and whether my marriage could take much more.
My parents were comforting and my dad said that if push came to shove, they would help me pay for the fourth in vitro. It would be my birthday gift, Christmas gift, and my inheritance all rolled into one if I needed it. This offer made me cry even harder to which my dad responded with, “Ok, you’re making me cry now so I’m hanging up.” *CLICK!*
So, on Thursday night, as tensions grew over the impending beta test/results the next morning, I wrote out a list of next steps I would take in preparation for yet another negative (join a gym, overdose on chocolate, buy a huge bottle of wine, take a writing class, schedule and cancel an aborted suicide attempt, etc.) and what questions I wanted to ask the doctor at our inevitable next “WTF Appointment”. I even wrote out an email I would send to the friends and family who knew we did another IVF. In it, I thanked them for their support and told them that we had no choice but to take a break for a while.
As I finished the letter, my husband asked to speak with me. He sat me down and for the first time ever, he told me that he didn’t know if he had the heart to do a fourth in vitro. He seemed so sad, beaten down and simply done. He talked to me about how bad things have been; financially, emotionally, sexually and physically (as if I needed him to point this out). He suggested we should not think about this for the rest of the year and start thinking about adoption as clearly, we can’t seem to produce more than one embryo.
I let him talk as I could tell he needed to. It’s not that anything he said was dead wrong; I just didn’t think I felt the same way. I ended up telling him that this is something we needed to talk about but not tonight. He quietly left the room and went off to watch television in the living room. It felt like there was an entire ocean between us and I went to bed that night thinking, “Hello rock bottom! My name is Jay!
The next morning, I woke up and on the advice of a few of my friends, I grabbed a home pregnancy test. Since I would be getting the results of the beta when I was at work, I wanted to be prepared for bad news so I grabbed a digital Clearblue easy test, peed on it and fixed my hair while I waited for the result. I glanced over at the test, saw it was done, picked it up and saw the word, “pregnant”.
I froze and stared at it confused. I flipped it over to look for the “not”. I have seen “not pregnant” every single time I’ve used this test in the past two and a half years that I was in shock. It was only one word and yet I read it over and over again convinced that I was wrong or that this was a very odd and cruel pratical joke. "We've secretly replaced an infertile woman's urine with a pregnant woman's urine. Let's watch and see what happens!"
The last two and a half years flashed through my brain… my uterine polyp, Jackson Polyp, the pre-ivf bikini waxes, the sperm sample my husband produced in a Starbucks bathroom, Rudy – the lone embryo, the dog downstairs almost eating my estrogen patches, the tears, the drama and all the money I could have used to buy a house with. But now here it finally was: I'm pregnant.
When I woke my husband up, it was 5:45am and told him the news. He was so shocked and confused that he looked at me like I was a modern art painting that he couldn’t make out.
The beta results were 90 (anything over a 25 means pregnant) and what I love is all this time, I’ve been getting these sad disappointing calls from one clinic or another that I was so excited to get a happy call from them for once! However, the woman who called me was so blasé about it. “Hi. This is Dawn from the clinic. The test was positive. Any questions?” She sounded like she was ordering a pizza. “I’ll take pregnancy with a side of pepperoni please… extra anchovies
After I got the results, I called my parents who both topped my hysterical crying from the week before. They told me how overjoyed they were, that this was the news they hoped for and my father added, “Plus, this saves me $15,000!
I’ve never been pregnant before and I’ve got to tell you, after trying the old fashioned way, three inseminations and three in vitros with dissapointing fertility reports, I seriously began to think that my trying to conceive efforts were similar to my video game skills: I’d be trapped on level one forever.
Many of you who read this blog are like me; fertility issues, financially challenged, hormonal, frustrated and feeling like you’re stuck in purgatory. I’m sure that although you are happy for me, it may be also difficult as perhaps you feel I’ve “crossed over to the other side”.
The thing is though, I’ve just cleared level one. I’m not yet “home free”. There are so many more levels ahead of me and I can’t imagine doing it without the readers I’ve connected with through this blog.
I started writing 'The 2 Week Wait' to share my journey and frankly, you’ve all become a part of it. I know this will be difficult for some of you to read that I’m now pregnant but you have my word, I will never, nor would I want to, forget all that it took to even just get to this point. I will continue to be funny, snarky, resentful of the fertile world at large on occasion and on a personal note, it would mean so much to me if you could just stick with me through the first trimester as I truly don’t know what the f*ck I’m doing.
For now, no matter what you may be feeling about this news and more than I can possibly say, I’m so happy to be sharing this first milestone with all of you. I hope there will be more to come, that this truly is the little embryo that could and that we have a happy and healthy pregnancy ahead of us.
And yes, I'm still totally stunned and have peed on more sticks in the past two days than I thought possible.
Thank you… thank you… thank you…
Now on to level two.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

There Will Be An Answer

This week, I’ve felt a lot like a boxer in the ring trying to fight the good fight. Whenever I’ve gotten hit hard or I feel like I’m losing, I’ve run to the corner hysterically crying (which I’m pretty sure Mohamed Ali never did) and either my husband, my family, my friends, my blog readers, my Twitter or my Facebook folk gives me a pep talk and then sends me back into the ring to kick some ass.

Actually, I’ve either been given a pep talk or some cookies or brownies. All of the above have been helpful.

Also helping to keep me sane has been the week off, good weather and my deck in the backyard. I’ve never been good at mediating (I always start making a mental to do list instead which defeats the purpose) but for some reason, lying on my lounge chair looking up at the sky has been therapeutic. We live somewhat near an airport, so there are planes that fly over almost every ten minutes. It’s not very loud which is good and there are all different sorts of planes that I’ve enjoyed watching. I wonder where they’re going, who is on them, if they are headed on vacation or to a family obligation. Not only do I find this relaxing but it may be the closest I come to a vacation given our financial situation.

“What did you do on your vacation Jay?”
“I got a needle in my vagina and watched planes fly over my house.”
I really should have taken pictures of either of these events to show my co-workers when I go back to work next week.
Another thing that has somewhat helped my husband and I is that we’ve been listing five things we’re grateful for every day. To be honest, I don’t think this has made a tremendous change in our attitudes but it’s been fun and a positive way to end the day. Things on my list have been my friends, this blog, how comfy our bed is and that I’ve not worn a bra or make-up for a whole week. My husband’s list has included that I’m his wife, his recent haircut, the show ALIAS, and how much he loves a cup of coffee.
The progesterone in oil shots have not been as bad as I thought they would be. I also have enjoyed telling random people that my husband gives me a shot in my ass every night and then not elaborating on what I mean. Its a little way I’m amusing myself.
Of course, I’m sitting here typing this with a painful lump in my left butt cheek so it hasn’t been all sunshine and roses. For whatever reason though, my right butt cheek is hanging tough and taking the injections without complaint. Perhaps my right butt cheek is a bit of a masochist and my left is a bit of a pussy (well, as much as a butt cheek can be a pussy).
I’ve also been thinking a lot about my life as lord knows I’ve had the time this week. Oprah on her final show said that we all have a calling. I love and respect Oprah and she certainly has accomplished a lot but let’s be honest, we can’t all live our calling. I wish we could but we can’t. I can't imagine that the woman who cleans the bathrooms at Penn Station thinks, "Yes! This is what I was meant to do! This is why I've been put on earth!"
As for me, I would love to be a successful author. I would love to help people. I like making people laugh (even when my ass is sore & my spirits are low like they are now) but I can’t seem to figure out how to make any of that happen. A publisher recently told me he loved my writing but the topic of infertility is depressing. Ok but so is war, the holocaust and Snookie and yet they all have books about them, so why not an amusing book about infertility?
I’ve been pursuing stand-up comedy off and on for many years now but unless you’re Jerry Seinfeld, it doesn’t pay well, it’s almost impossible to move ahead at it and it certainly doesn’t offer insurance. Most comics I know are constantly struggling with money. I suppose it’s a good thing they can have a sense of humor about it… otherwise, they’d really lose their minds.
For a time, I was thinking about becoming a Life Coach but classes cost almost a thousand dollars each and I’ve just spent my savings on my dreams of becoming a mom. When I was telling my mother about this and what Oprah said about following your calling, I said to her, “What do you do if you can’t afford to follow your calling?
My mom answered, “Then you find a new calling.
I just don’t think it works that way. I can’t see a person wanting to be a nun saying, “You mean I can’t be a nun? Ok. I guess I’ll be a blackjack dealer in Vegas.
I realize this is a glib snarky attitude but that’s me: Glib and snarky. Maybe that’s my calling? Can you get paid for that? If Bill Maher does, why not me?
Obviously, I’ve had a tough time lately, I’m a little lost and it goes without saying that I really want this cycle to work. I want to be a mother… that’s always how I’ve seen my life. I also want to be someone who does what they were meant to do (and hopefully get a sh*t load of money for it). I want to wake up in the morning and say, “Yes. This is the life I ordered.”
I’ll share something with you that I’ve never said to anyone; not my therapist and not even my husband. Almost every morning, the second I wake up, the first thing I think is, “One day, this is all going to make sense.
It’s not the most genius statement and I don't know why someone as glib and snarky as me believes it but without consciously deciding to think it, I just do. It’s just got to make sense at some point. There will be an answer to the endless question that is my life. I don’t know when or how or frankly, if I’m even right about that but it’s a nice thing to think; that there will be a time when I’ll look back and think, “Wow. I get it now.
I know I’ve said this before but honestly, I can’t say it enough: Thank you so much for all your comments, emails and for reading this blog. I only hope I’ve given to you a fraction of the humor, support and love that you’ve given to me. Many of us our strangers in life but our struggle (be it with infertility or just life itself) bonds us. We can relate to each other’s pain, disappointment and success (whenever we’re lucky enough to have one either big or small).
I may be a big poop but I still believe in the power of people. When you say you’re thinking of me, I know that you are and that isn’t bullshit. I can’t thank you enough for that. I hope we ALL have our happy endings, that our lives will all one day make sense and that we ALL find our callings.
(It would also be nice if we all could have as much money as Oprah but that’s a whole other matter.)
Sending you each love, light and laughs.