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!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Boy, Oh Boy!

First, the big news is that I found out I’m having a boy. That’s right – a little, tiny penis is growing inside me. I can’t even believe it. Before I got married, I was single for so long and spent so many years trying to understand men. Now, here I am about to have a little man. I hope and pray I can understand him!

Apparently, the baby can start to hear around twenty weeks so starting week twenty, I’m going to say these two statements to him over and over again:

1. No one will ever love you more than your mother.

2. If you say you're going to call a woman, you’d better f*cking call her.

The woman doing the sonogram asked my husband and me if we wanted to know the sex of the baby and we both said yes. She said that if she was able to see anything, she’d let us know. Five minutes later, she went, “WHOA! You still want to know the sex???” We knew immediately that it had to be a boy with that reaction. I mean really? Who says “Whoa!” to a vagina other than perhaps Joey Lawrence? Man, what a crappy catch phrase that was, huh? Damn you writers from BLOSSOM. Damn you straight to hell.

Right after the appointment, my husband made a list of all the things he can't wait to do with his son: Go to a baseball game, play catch, show him STAR WARS, etc. He also turned to me and very seriously said, "And think! You'll probably catch him masterbating when he's thirteen!" Uhhh, thanks? Frankly, I'd rather go to a baseball game. Yikes.

I’m also happy (and relieved) to report that the family member I spoke about in my last post (see here) did eventually email back. She thanked me for acknowledging her recent loss, she shared how she’s been dealing with it and she was generous enough to wish me only the best.

One thing she shared with me that I feel I MUST share with you was that when she returned to work after her loss, almost all of her co-workers avoided her and in some cases, wouldn’t even look at her. This absolutely breaks my heart as you know it wasn’t because she did anything wrong as much as it was that they didn’t know what to say. In my last post, where I debated whether or not you should acknowledge when someone loses a baby, I still think it’s a case by case basis, however, to totally avoid the person is unconscionable. Seriously – on what planet do people honestly believe that’s the best response? “Oh look… there’s that person who recently had a heartbreak. Quick! Let me run in the other direction!” Nice.

And I did end up getting an amniocentesis. I know so many of you were against that and it amazed me how many Tweets, emails, comments and even advice I got from people I work with about not doing it. To be extra clear – I was just as concerned and hesitant as many of you. I had three lengthy conversations with my doctor, I went to a genetics counselor and asked a million questions, I spoke to my husband and therapists about my feelings on it, and I went online and did as much research as possible before agreeing to do it. So, trust me when I say a lot of thought and energy was put into deciding to have it done.

A few things I learned on the subject was that when the "powers that be" initially said there was a 1 in 400 risk of complications from amnio, that was when they were doing these tests WITHOUT use of a sonogram. This absolutely blows my mind. Basically what they did was stick a needle in blindly and take a sample. If that’s the case, I’m surprised the statistics weren’t worse! Nowadays, it’s more like 1 in a 600 risk and the chance of miscarriage was a 0.5%.

Also, when they put a needle in the amniotic sac, it is not like a balloon that pops. I'm sure you all knew that but in my head, that's what I imagined. It turns out that it’s more like sticking a very small needle in your skin that starts healing as soon as the needle is removed. It's not as fun as a vacation in Bermuda but most of forty-five minutes for the amnio is taken up by doing a sonogram, sterilizing and prepping. The needle is usually in for no more than 60 seconds. For some, it doesn't hurt. For me, it pinched a little and I had a slight back pain afterwards but that was the worst of it. They have you on bed rest afterwards to help the healing process along… and in my case, to help me catch up on some serious crap television.

The main reason I decided to do the amnio wasn’t that I thought I would ever terminate the pregnancy, but it was more that if something was wrong, I would much rather be prepared and have the time to research Down Syndrome and find the very best way to raise the child.

Let me be EXTRA clear here though, I am in no way saying that what I did is the “right” or “best” choice. It was the choice my husband and I felt the most comfortable with. I don’t want anyone to ever think that I’m telling them what to do because whether to get an amnio and what you would do with the results are nobody’s business but your own.

That’s what kind of stunned me about the whole experience. On Twitter, I had asked people what their experiences were with amnio but I never asked, “Do you think I should get one or not?” However, I received tons of responses urging me not to get one. I don’t take offense to that at all since really, if anything, I think they cared enough to give me their opinion. Again though, I think it’s close to impossible to tell someone what to do in those circumstances. You have to do what's right for you.

As I mentioned earlier, even people at work, when I told them I would need to work from home because I was getting an amnio, openly shared their opinions. I had three different people say, “Oh don’t do that!” and I had four people tell me they had it done and it was no big deal. Again, who can say what’s right or wrong? Different things work for different people.

Any which way, we did the amnio this past Thursday and I got the results on Friday saying that everything was ok and that the baby was healthy. They also confirmed that the baby is a boy which I appreciated. A friend of mine was told she was having a boy and then the week after, she found out that she was actually having a girl. Apparently the person who did the first sonogram mistook the umbilical chord as a penis. Whoa indeed. That would be one hell of a big penis!!!

All in all, things are good. I now have to learn about all things boys. I haven’t had a lot of experience in the boy genre so I’ve got to bone up on sports, trucks and army toys. I would describe myself as a girly girl and if I were having a daughter, I had anticipated make-up lessons and pink fairy dresses. Unless this baby is a drag queen, I’m pretty sure those things are out now. Dresses or trucks, I’m just so grateful that our baby is healthy.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Facebook, Family and Freaking Out

In the past few weeks, I’ve been waking up more often in the middle of the night and going to the bathroom. My husband, who never did this before, has started asking me, “Where are you going?” Usually, it’s four in the morning so I want to talk as little as possible but I’d love to say to him, “It’s four in the morning, I’m wearing an extra large t-shirt with no underwear, I have my mouth guard on and I’m heading to the bathroom. Where the hell do you think I’m going???” If he asks me again, I may answer, “I‘m heading to Nepal to climb Mount Everest. Don‘t wait up.”

This new line of questioning in the middle of the night I’m going to take as my husband being more protective and concerned about me now that I’m seventeen weeks pregnant. I can’t really blame him as I’ve been just as nervous and cautious. I even bought one of those home fetal heart beat dopplers. I must mention that my husband has often used it to sing to me with it. It’s like his own portable microphone. It’s cute and annoying all at the same time.

I try to limit myself to one night a week where I check the baby’s heartbeat. One night last week though, I couldn’t find it and I freaked me the f*ck out. Now, I majored in theatre, I have no medical background and to put it bluntly, I don’t really know what the hell I’m doing. Frankly, it makes sense that I can’t find the heart beat every single time as I‘m not the most qualified person for home health care. I also wouldn’t be surprised if our baby is like, “Dude! Can you leave me alone! I‘m gestating here!” and has turned away from the microphone for some privacy. Either that or the baby has heard it’s father’s singing and hides in shame.

Rest assured, the next morning, not only did I throw up on a street corner in the city (I assume that was the baby’s way of saying hello) but I found the heartbeat again later that night. Since this incident though, my husband has hid the Doppler. He did this to keep me from driving myself nuts and to perhaps rehearse a new number.

Now obviously, we all know that I struggled desperately to get pregnant. We also know that the more you connect with people in the infertility community, the more you hear horror stories of what people have gone through and all that can go wrong. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’ve had my share of heart break but I know so many who have had it profoundly worse and for that, they have my undying love and respect. All of this makes me especially cautious when it comes to this pregnancy… but there’s also another factor that I haven’t mentioned before that has also put me on edge.

Without going too into detail out of respect for the person involved, a family member of mine lost her baby somewhat around the point of where I am now in my pregnancy. We are not terribly close but the fact that this loss was not only sudden but also remains unclear as to what went wrong or why deeply upsets me. This also happened the same week I found I was pregnant and I have thought about it every single day since then. Come to think of it, I think that’s what prompted me to buy the Doppler in the first place.

Recently, we decided to announce my pregnancy on Facebook. I was very hesitant to but I was getting pressure from friends, family and even my husband. I get that this is the new age we’re living in but I can’t help but feel a little uncomfortable with it. Facebook pregnancy announcements tortured my sorry ass for two and a half years (I even nicknamed Face book ‘Fertilitybook‘) and I’m amazed at how this has become such an important part of letting people know you’re pregnant. The importance of Facebook in society in general is beginning to concern me. I’ve had two friends change their ‘married’ status to ‘single” and then receive hundred of posts asking, “Oh my god! What happened?” Do you really want to discuss the demise of your marriage on Facebook? Then, a month ago, someone posted that their father passed away but he lived eighty-five wonderful years. Do I click ‘like’ saying that it’s nice to hear he lived a long life or would it seem more like I’m happy he’s dead?

Anyway, we ended up posting something funny and not overly mushy about our pregnancy news. Still, after I hit ‘post’, I immediately thought of my family member. She’s on Facebook and although I believe a mutual relative had already told her the news, I couldn’t help but wonder if seeing the announcement upset her.

And here’s my question: When someone has a miscarriage, do you acknowledge it or not? My whole family, including myself, sent her cards and/or flowers when we first heard the news but beyond that, there has been no discussion of it. In the infertility community, I’ve heard different reactions to this. Some want to forget about it and move on. Others are deeply hurt when people stop talking about it as if it’s never happened. Everyone is different and I’m certain there’s no one way or even a right way of doing things but that’s almost the trouble. You don’t always know how the person going through a loss wants to handle it.

Still, for me, after our Facebook announcement came out, I felt I had to write her some sort of email acknowledging the whole situation. I basically said that I have been thinking a lot about her, that I sincerely hope she is hanging in there and that if my Facebook posting upset her, then I was truly sorry. I closed by wishing her nothing the best. I didn’t talk about my pregnancy (other than the announcement), I kept it short and just tried to let her know that she’s still very much in my thoughts. That was over a week ago and I haven’t gotten any response.

I can't help but feel this was a huge mistake sending this email. I had the very best of intentions and sincerely thought I was doing the right thing but the more I think about it, the more I think that if she hadn’t reached out to me to begin with, I probably should have just left it alone. I just hope I didn’t say anything overwhelmingly stupid or unintentionally insensitive. Again, it’s just so hard to know.

Meanwhile, I continue to worry, obsess and freak out over my own pregnancy. We got our second blood test results back and the risk of down syndrome is even higher. Mind you - it’s still not horrible and it looks like now we have a 98% chance of everything being ok but we’re seriously beginning to consider doing an amnio just so we can know for sure instead of worrying till February (which let’s face it, I’m sure I’ll worry till February anyway).

I’m terrified and lost on what’s the best thing to do. I was practically sawed in half several times to finally get pregnant and the thought of doing anything to hurt the baby or the pregnancy beyond scares me. Also, I myself have never had a miscarriage. Anytime I’ve heard of one, it has of course disturbed and upset me… but now, being 17 weeks pregnant and knowing first hand what it feels like to connect with my baby; well now I’m even more gut wrenched at the thought. And thinking about what happened to my family member makes me that much more scared the same thing will happen to me. How I would deal with it and what in the holy hell would I put on Facebook after already posting an announcement? It's a stupid, silly thought but one that has occurred to me.

So, there’s a lot in today’s blog post and I have this eerie feeling that I’m going to get the most anonymous, “You’re a twat” emails in response to this blog entry than anything I’ve ever posted on here before. I’m not sure why. Maybe because despite my best efforts, I didn’t handle things well with my family member. Maybe because I’m freaking out and that tends to annoy readers who find it ungrateful (which, to be clear, I could not be MORE grateful to be pregnant) or maybe because there’s someone out there who thinks Facebook is the most brilliant form of communication and I’m a big poop for making fun of it.

The plan over the next week is to talk to a genetics counselor, figure out our options, try to not worry more than necessary (if that’s possible), hope my family member doesn’t think I’m a big douche bag and let my husband ask me questions in the middle of the night and occasionally sing to me. Oh, and keep my sense of humor… I must ALWAYS keep my sense of humor.