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!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Son Will Come Out Tomorrow

Tomorrow, on January 27th, we will finally get to see and hold the result of my third in vitro. Two and a half years, five timed cycles, three IUI’s, two failed IVF’s and finally, the third IVF that went from 13 eggs to only one embryo to transfer; in all that time, I never got pregnant and we had little hope. Tomorrow though… the baby we struggled for, dreamed of and wondered if we would ever be able to have, will be here. I seriously need to check my driver’s license as I can’t believe this is actually happening to me.

As I mentioned in my last post, my doctor was concerned that I had Cholestasis and in fact, I do. In these cases, they do not let the pregnancy go more than 37 weeks and I will be 37 weeks EXACTLY tomorrow. My doctor called me this past Monday morning to tell me the diagnosis, to immediately give me medication (Ursodiol for those who are interested) and to discuss our options. She said she could try to induce me on Thursday night but since the baby hasn’t “dropped” and that my cervix is hard and closed (much like my boss), she felt that there was more than a 50% chance that I would end up having a C-section anyway.

After a long conversation, we decided to skip inducing and just schedule a C-section for Friday. My logic was if the odds are we were going to end up there anyway, why torture myself (and possibly the baby) for 24 – 30 hours waiting to see if we could force my body to cooperate. My body has rarely listened to me in the past so why it would start to now is beyond me. Also, if nothing else, this makes me feel less guilty for dropping out of my birthing class.

I realize some of you may not agree with the decision to get a scheduled C-Section and I genuinely respect that. To me, even though the thought of surgery scares the bejesus out of me, given the circumstances, it’s what I feel the most comfortable with. Both my doctor and I agreed that if perhaps the baby seemed more ready to go or if there were any sign from my body that it was at least close to delivering, we’d opt to see what would happen with induction. However, since it seems like my son is perfectly happy where he is and has no intention of leaving anytime soon, and he unfortunately has to, this seemed the way to go. As I said to her before, I don’t need the experience of labor. I just want my baby safe and sound.

Given all of this, we went from thinking we had three weeks to prepare but quickly, it became whittled down to only a matter of days. My gestational diabetes diet and my soft cast immediately went out the window (I’ll just use an ace bandage and sometimes cupcakes can be medicinal) and I began cramming for parenthood. While I watched a DVD on how to breastfeed, washed baby clothes and Googled pediatricians in the area, my husband rushed to put various baby items together and get the car seat installed. It’s simultaneously funny and scary to me that there are things I put away in my changing table that I don’t actually know what they are or understand how I use them yet. I’m trying to comfort myself by remembering that other than diapers, a place to sleep, the car seat and my boobs, I have everything I need.

I’m sure a fertile person would currently be talking all about the nursery, or baby names, or the cute little outfits they have picked out but more than anything, I think I’m just so in awe that I’m having a baby. Years ago, I remember thinking, “The question isn’t if I’ll be a mom. The question is how I’ll be a mom.” Thanks to medical science and a huge amount of luck, that quote turned out to be very true. I may not have gotten here the usual way but I still got here… and I almost can’t believe it.

It’s important to me to add here and now that after my experiences and hearing others experiences, I can never flatly say anything quite like, “Don’t lose hope!” or “It’ll happen for you!” because I know the reality is that things don’t always work out like you expect. I even still contend that “hope” in general can be both a good and evil thing. However, I want to say specifically to those of you who are still struggling to be mom… if there’s anything to be learned from my journey (other than always get a second opinion, remember to talk to your husband about things other than your cervical mucus, bikini waxes are important and don’t use Icy-Hot on your private parts), it’s that even when you don’t have any answers (as we never had a diagnosis nor have we ever found out why we didn’t get pregnant the ol’ fashioned way), even when it seems hopeless and pointless and even when you think it’s impossible, you just never really know.

Ultimately, I’m not saying, “Everything will work out!!! Just relax!!!” What I am saying though is until someone says it’s impossible, there are still options and possibilities. As I said, if you desperately want to be a mom, it’s not if, it’s just how… and I truly, whole-heartedly want that for anyone who knows the pain of infertility. Once you know what that’s like -- how unfair, cruel, taxing and heartless it can be, you never forget. I seriously hold anyone who is still in the thick of it in my heart. It’s impossible for me to overstate how much I mean that.

When I announced that I was finally pregnant (see post here), I talked about how a positive pregnancy test was just “the second level” of my imaginary infertility video game. When I hold my baby tomorrow (who I desperately hope is happy and healthy), I will have reached “the final level” and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for following my story, for continuing to read the blog, for finding my uterus as amusing as I do and for all the supportive comments and emails. I plan to keep writing and sharing both about infertility and life as an IVF Mom (so to speak) and I hope you’ll all be there to share in the next chapter.

So, today may very well be the last day I’m ever pregnant. I know I can’t afford to do IVF again so unless an unexpected miracle happens, this may be it. I’m thinking of even taking a home pregnancy test just to see “Pregnant” one last time. I’m going to get pre-op blood work, spend time with my husband and see if I can quickly teach myself how to swaddle, change a diaper and burp a baby. I promise to check in as soon as I can but for now, as always, I’m sending each one of you love and laughter.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

My Body - The Enemy

In medieval times, when a knight went into battle, he would put on layers upon layers of armor. There were the small metal rings called a chain mail, a linen shirt, a pair of pants (as well as heavy woolen pads underneath the metal-ringed tunic), a bucket like helmet, his shield, a sword and on occasion, a battle hammer, mace or metal ax (should it be necessary). This is exactly how I feel when I get up in the morning these days... like I'm going into battle with my many layers of armor.

One of the many things that was made ABUNDANTLY clear while I was trying to get pregnant for two and a half years is that my body and I do not get along. Whether it was fertility related (follicle count, uterine lining, egg quality, etc.) or my general state of health (a bad knee, migraines, thinning hair or my inability to lose weight after a diet consisting of air and communion wafers), we never seem to be on the same page. If anything, we’re in two entirely different books. I’m in “Chick Lit” and my body appears to be in “Science Fiction”.

In addition to vertigo and gestational diabetes, in the past two weeks, I have had a slight yeast infection (yes, we’re discussing this), an even slighter case of hemorrhoids (yes, we’re discussing this as well) and my foot started to kill me. One night, I took out Monistat 7, Preparation-H and Icy Hot Heat (all doctor approved by the way) and stood in the bathroom to apply everything.

Should you EVER find yourself in this situation, let me give you a suggestion: Apply the Monistat first, then the Preparation-H and THEN the Icy Hot Heat. It’s impossible to get the Icy Hot Heat off of your hands once you use it. I’ll spare you the details but trust me when I say that I don’t care what harlequin romances say: It’s not always a good thing to have your loins on fire.

A week after this crucial error in cream application, I went to see a podiatrist to figure out what really was going on with my foot. With my OB/Gyn’s approval, he did an x-ray and it turns out that I have a stress fracture. How did I do this you ask? No one knows. The podiatrist is guessing that it was the fact that my weight is more "forward" and I dared to attempt to wear cute shoes. I stupidly thought if Beyonce could walk all over town pregnant in heels, so could I. The reality is, as the song says, if you like her, you should put a ring on it. In my case though, if you like me, then you should put a soft cast on my left foot for the next two weeks.

And this brings me to the acid reflux…

I love my husband… but you know what I love more than him lately? Tums. So much so that I’m considering writing a whole post that will consist of a full “food critic like review” on the various different flavors.

The acid reflux is worse at night so I’ve been propping up my head when I sleep. Between those extra pillows and the ones on either side of me, there is no longer room for my husband as I look like I’ve encased myself in a fortress of solitude built out of white cotton.

Every morning, I get up, literally climb out of my bed, take a Tums, drink some water, locate an outfit that is clean and looks like I gave a sh*t, check on my cast, check my blood sugar, put on a special designated sock to cover said cast, put both the cast and sock in an even sexier walking cast, wash my hands, apply creams (again, in an appropriate order), put on contacts, deodorant, make-up, clothes, hair extensions, a Poise pad (ahem) and then I usually take more Tums for good measure. By the time I get my huge pregnant ass with my broken foot down the stairs to head for work, I’m exhausted and want to turn around and go back home.

Then… this past Saturday… I started to itch all over. It was mostly my hands and feet but then it spread to my stomach, back, legs and arms. Thinking that it was my body officially deciding it was allergic to me, I applied some Benadryl lotion and went to bed. Luckily, I had an appointment with my doctor a day or so later and I mentioned it to her. She said it could be hormones, that my skin is just stretching OR it could be something called Cholestasis. Cholestasis of pregnancy is a condition in which the normal flow of bile in the gallbladder is affected by the high amounts of pregnancy hormones. Doesn't that sound perfectly lovely? One simply doesn't hear the word, 'bile' enough! They took blood to check my liver functions and the preliminary results show a slight elevation. Of course it did.

So, this is where we are at: I’m 36 weeks pregnant as of tomorrow. The baby is doing well, my cervix is closed, the baby hasn’t dropped yet and he has no real plans to leave as of yet. However, we are doing repeat blood work next week and if my liver numbers continue to climb, I will be induced at 37 weeks. Am I nervous? A bit. Am I surprised? Not at all.

I can’t help but find this funny. After going through all of my many various fertility treatments, the fact that my body is still managing to dick around with me isn’t at all shocking. Seriously - if my arm just fell off for no reason or even if I woke up to find I suddenly grew a scrotum, I wouldn’t be remotely surprised. I’d laugh and say, “Oh Jay’s body! There you go again!!! You little prankster!!!!

What’s been REALLY funny are people’s expressions when they see me. I’m 9 months pregnant, I have a huge cast on my foot, I’m limping and although no one would say anything, I’m pretty sure I smell as if I’ve been pickled from all the f*cking Monistat, Preparation-H, Benadryl and Icy Hot I’ve been using. I’ve been trying to overcompensate for my lackluster appearance with make-up, colorful outfits and a big smile but really, that can only take me so far. Most people look at me and say, “Oh my god! Are you ok? Why are you out of the house? You should be home… baying at the moon from your bell tower! Quick everyone! Avert your eyes!!!

Until I get the final word from the doctor on what we’re going to do, I will continue putting on my many layers of armor whether it’s my air cast, my over-the-top bedazzled maternity shirt or a metal ax (should it be necessary). I know in my heart that as overwhelming, frustrating and comedic as this has been, when they hand me my healthy baby boy, I won’t mind it a bit. I've worked hard to get here and I'm going to be grateful even if I break every bone in my body. I just hope that my son has better luck with his body then I have had with mine...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Labor and Delivery: Do I HAVE To Be In The Room???

Today is my first day back from my holiday vacation (which consisted of napping, eating and wearing no make-up, bras, pantyhose or anything that constricted me in any manner). Years ago, I used to fantasize about being rich and famous. These days, I fantasize about being able to lay in bed as much as possible and wear nothing but huge, comfy tarps. Perhaps that’sthe way to go in the New Year – keep your goals and resolutions super low.

What’s your goal Jay?

To lay in bed!!!

Incidentally, what is it about the maternity clothes industry that thinks it’s a good idea that the bigger you get, the bigger the patterns should be on the outfit you’re wearing? Early on, they have little polka dots on your baby doll shirt. Then, when you’re in the third trimester, they have huge geometric patterns on a moo moo. And why are there SO MANY maternity outfits with horizontal stripes?!? Thanks fellas! Make a pregnant woman look even wider! Good plan!

I'm back at my day job now after my holiday break and have not only resumed make-up, bras and pantyhose (I recommend Berkshires Maternity Light Support Pantyhose by the way), but I’m also wearing hair extensions and false eyelashes. The bigger I get, the more I hope to resist ugly maternity clothes and glam it up. I worked hard for this pregnancy and paid a lot of money for it that I’m going to wear it well if it kills me. Of course, if I get any bigger, I may have to start carrying around spotlights, smoke machines and background music to distract from my huge ass.

Putting aside fashion challenges for a moment, two things we did during our holiday break (in addition to the napping and eating) was to attempt to put together the nursery and try, once again, to learn more about the birthing process. We took a birthing class a month ago and quite frankly, we didn’t find it very informative. Truth be told, we even ended up dropping out of it. We liked the teacher and there was nothing dead wrong with the class… but we both felt that it was a bit too new agey and stressed natural child birth more than anything else.

To be clear, I’m not saying I’m against natural child birth. I’m just saying I’d rather get all the straight medical facts and all of the options first... then decide what I’d like to do.

There was one class where the teacher (who is a Doula) talked about using your placenta to create art. Apparently, you take your placenta, dry it out, dip it in paint or ink and stamp it on a paper. Now here’s the thing: That’s lovely but is this information going to help me when I’m writhing in pain? “Quick! The contractions are getting closer together! Somebody get my painting kit!!!” I don’t think so.

I genuinely have respect for Doulas. I think they are extremely knowledgeable and if you can afford one (or are friends with one), they can be a valuable asset to a delivery. That being said though, when the teacher (who, again, is a Doula) said that one of the best things about having a Doula is that she can give your husband a break, I couldn’t help but laugh.

Why should he get a break? I’m not getting a break. I’ve endured the brunt of years of fertility treatments, needles, shots, retrievals, etc. This will be the home stretch of feminine torture and I expect him to be there. My only request is if he’s going to pass out or steal focus from me in any way, he can leave the room. Otherwise, no Doula is going to let my husband off the hook. Besides, if I’m going to punch someone because of the amount of pain I’m in, it’s going to be him. I think that was even included in our wedding vows.

And for the record, the more I learn, the more I wonder if I even want to be in the room. I have DESPERATELY wanted a baby and I'm so incredibly grateful to finally be pregnant after so much... but... how should I put this? Me no likey pain. I wonder if I could give birth via Skype????

In lieu of a class, we bought a DVD on Labor and Delivery to see if we could get the plain facts but it also seemed to have a "natural delivery" slant to it instead of a broad cut and dry description. My favorite part was when they interviewed a couple who had agreed not to use any medication. They recounted their story explaining that some point during the labor process, the woman begged for an epidural but the husband refused to let her have one. In the interview, he said, “I’m proud that I stuck to our original plan and I’m sure she’s happy we did too!” The camera then cut to her and her expression was priceless. She said nothing, kind of gave a strained chuckle and had a look of, “You’re proud honey? That’s nice. Next time you’re in pain, I’ll be sure to stab you in the nuts.” I only hope that one day he gets a kidney stone and she tells the doctor not to give him pain medication. "Are you proud now honey??? Are ya???"

What amazes me is I JUST want to know about how far contractions should be apart before calling the doctor. What a contraction feels like. What a mucus plus looks like. Things like that. I have basic simple questions and I keep not getting them answered. What’s almost hilarious is I caught the last couple of scenes of KNOCKED UP this past weekend and I think I actually learned more from that movie than I did from my entire birthing class. Then again, as I said, I did drop out.

My doctor asked us this morning what our birthing plan was and we answered, “To get the baby out in the best healthiest way.” Really. I’m not opposed to anything if my doctor thinks it’s necessary. I don’t need the “experience” as much as I need and want my baby delievered happy and healthy. She actually thanked us for this response as she said it gave us a lot more options.

I suppose that ultimately, you can have all the information you want and all the plans you’d like but no one can predict how it’s going to go. Of all the women I’ve spoken to that gave birth recently, I think only one of them had things go exactly as planned only because it was a scheduled C-Section. In general though, it seems like a ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ kind of deal.

I'd be remiss not to mention that my Russian neighbor informed me recently that babies who are delievered via C-section suffer from claustrophobia. I have no idea where she got this information or if it's true but her conviction in passing on this "fact" was impressive. It reminded me of the time she told me that Gloria Estefan had Selena killed because she coudn't take the competition.

As for putting together the nursery, I don’t think I’ve ever heard my husband curse so much in his life. I also had no idea how long EVERYTHING would take to assemble, put batteries in or simply figure out. There were moments when our stroller/car seat combo was like a virtual rubix cube. There are
levers and buttons and zippers and snaps. It was like an 8th grade boy trying to unhook the bra off of his date.

Overall, I feel like every day, between trying to look good, figuring out exactly what a nipple brush is and learning that a “bloody show” isn’t a television series on HBO, I’m winging it. We have (roughly) six weeks left to go and that will hopefully give us enough time to figure out what the f*ck we’re doing. If nothing else, I hope we figure out how to fold up the pack and play before then.