Monday, January 28, 2008

Inappropriate Juxtaposition

I have numerous things to cover in my post, and they are horribly at odds with one another in terms of appropriate-ness. But I'll go ahead anyway.

Most importantly, there are some scary things going on in the blogsphere right now. If you haven't already, please go lend some support to:

Alexa -- after losing Amos 2 weeks ago, she is now on hospital bedrest trying to keep his twin, Simone, inside and growing nicely for at least a few more weeks. She's currently being tortured by the dreaded mag sulfate, but -- as always -- is enduring it with incredible wit and humor.

ME -- bedrest, a cerclage, a shortening cervix, funneling and general fear prevail as she fights to keep her 3 little girls on the inside for at least another 6 weeks.

AMS -- there are no words to describe the horror of what they have endured these last three weeks. After delivering Zoe and Lennox at 24 weeks, she lost Lennox 2 days later and then lost Zoe 19 days later. I'm not sure how one is supposed to be able to survive that kind of grief, but I will surely be praying for all of them.

Now for the terribly inappropriate change of topic...

Yesterday was my birthday. We won't talk about how old I actually am (because I am in serious denial), so don't even ask. What I will share is this birthday card I got from a family friend. It doesn't even matter what it says on the inside (something about being a party animal), it's the outside of the card that made me laugh so hard I actually snorted. Hope you enjoy it as well:

I mean seriously -- do you see the 3 separate sets of cleavage? Dang, is that funny.

My last item is that I seem to have "popped" overnight. Many people at work still don't know I'm pregnant because I don't look all that big (let us not forget I was a solid size 10 pre-pregnancy and already routinely sporting elastic waisted pants). I went to bed yesterday still able to wear a few non-maternity items of clothing. Today, no dice. My belly is sticking out farther than my boobs. Now that's really saying something since they have grown from a C cup to a DD cup in the last 2 months. I think they need their own zip code.

Needless to say, I feel like a giant whale. I can't believe how huge my belly is now, and am having equal amounts of trouble comprehending that I'm simply going to get bigger and bigger over the next 16 weeks. Yikes. I guess all things considered, I'm not doing too bad considering this is my 2nd pregnancy (okay, it's my 4th, but only the 2nd one that made it past 9 weeks) but Holy Hannah I am one. big. chick. today.

If it means Spidey is growing and thriving, then I'm all for it. Just 6 more days until the anticipated 24 week mark which means possible viability. I know it's far, far from a guarantee but it will feel mildly comforting knowing that we've at least reached that milestone intact.

Of course I won't discuss that I can only sleep sitting up, have round ligament pains that last upwards of 10 minutes, take 300+ mg of Zantac daily for my outrageous heartburn, and generally feel so worn down that it's as if my entire body has been hollowed out from head to toe and filled with concrete. NOT that I'm complaining, though...

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Order of the Plastic Ute

Our local group, formerly known as the DC Metro Stirrup Queens, got together tonight. I managed to score one of those plastic models of the uterus from my OB. We needed something to display on the table whenever we get together at restaurants so that new people would be able to find us. Brilliant, yes? We liked it so much that we discussed an official name change. :-)

Anyway, an even dozen of us got together at LJ's house since she's on bedrest following her transfer this morning. The plastic ute sat on the front porch and greeted people as they came up the steps. What a nice, warm welcome! Mel conducted a little photo shoot of the ute, and LJ's husband (Mr. Badger) took a group picture of the 12 of us while LJ held the ute, so as soon as I can get access to either of those pictures, I'll post them.

We ate pizza, chips, dip, brownies, dump cake, and other yummy stuff. We watched portions of a couple of movies, and the end of the Miss America contest. Mostly we talked, laughed, bitched and enjoyed each other's company, understanding, and comfort. A good time was had by all!!

LJ stayed confined to the couch for the most part (minus a trip to the potty and some goodbye hugs). We have everything crossable crossed for the 3 embies that entered your blissful uterus this morning.

Lea Bee relaxed on the couch quite a bit too since it's fairly uncomfortable toting around 50 follicles (retrieval is on Monday).

In and Out of Luck was looking great at almost 18 weeks pregnant.

Shelby also relaxed on the couch in an effort to keep the contractions away.

Liz, a newcomer and a blog-less lurker, retired to the bathroom at one point during the evening to give herself stim shots. We're all rooting for this cycle!

Allison (whose blog I don't know, I'm sorry), also a newcomer is on a break while her hubby works many states away.

Bean was there looking lovely as always.

Mel, the SQ to top all SQs, enjoyed a nice plate of Doritos. :-)

Karen made an appearance, enjoying a few moments away from the triplets.

Sunny was there, exuberant and wonderful as usual. We have everything crossed for her upcoming beta.

Meghan was there, looking great at 7 weeks pregnant and offering some kick-ass brownies.

It simply can't be said enough how wonderful it is to spend time with these lovely women in person. Although IF really, really sucks, at least it afforded me the opportunity to meet such a wonderful, funny group of women. They are definitely the silver lining.

Thanks for coming ladies, it was great to see you all! As for the other 18 or so that couldn't make it, we hope to see you next month at Austin.Grill.

Friday, January 25, 2008

NG '08

Please go send some love to JJ. Astoundingly, she just got some bad news regarding her recent FET. When will this woman catch a break?!?

Also, go wish some luck to LJ and Lea Bea who should be having their retrievals this weekend. Go, follies, go!

There are many, many other things going on right now with my blog friends, so it's clear one of my long lists where I beg you to drop by and visit them is in order. Look for that coming soon.

In Spidey-related news, I had an OB appt this week. It was blissfully uneventful. I'm up 7 lbs which still isn't too bad for 22 weeks, but I'm feeling like a beached whale nonetheless. They just weighed me, took my BP, and listened to the heartbeat via doppler. We chatted a bit, and then Kevin and I left. The whole thing took about 12 minutes and I didn't even get naked. Ah, how nice.

Now, on to NG '08.

What a week. The thing that's been stressing me out has almost nothing to do with Spidey, but it has been horrible nonetheless. Well call it NannyGate '08.

When Megan was born, we started looking for a nanny. Previously, I worked full time at a hospital here in Baltimore (although I'm not clinical, I work in IT). However, they agreed to let me come back just 3 days a week once my maternity leave was over. I think they were so thrilled that I was coming back at all, that they would have agreed to anything. So, we looked for someone to care for Megan in our home on Mon, Tue and Thu. We interviewed a bunch of crazy people, but eventually found a truly wonderful person named Jessie. She was only 19 at the time but she was calm (I am not), serene (I am not), and had experience caring for babies (which I did not). We hired her, she became like a member of our family, and she stayed for 2 years. She only left because she and the boyfriend that she was living with broke up, so she moved back to PA. We are still close with her. We'll call her Nanny v1.0.

Once Jessie told us she was leaving, we started looking for another person. Again, we interviewed a lot of crazy people, and some that said just silly things. I asked one of them, "What would you do in an emergency?" She responded, "I guess I would call the AM-BA-LANCE." Yes, she referred to that wonderful place with the books as a LIE-BERRY too. Not exactly the person I want teaching my daughter her grammatical skills. Anyway, we finally found another nice girl named Kelly who was 22. Since my best friend is also named Kelly, it got confusing for Megan so we named her Nanny Kelly. NK was going to the community college here in town, and finally graduated in December. On Monday (in 3 days) she starts at a 4 year college here in MD. But she's going full time and living on campus. So we set about to replace her. We'll call NK Nanny v2.0.

At the beginning of December, we started looking for Nanny v3.0. Within the first week, we found a wonderful, amazing girl named Erinn who seemed just wonderful. She was 23 and really had a level head on her shoulders. She worked 1 week with Nanny Kelly and 1 week with me, learning the routine and whatnot. We all had a teary goodbye with NK and were excited for Erinn to officially start full time. Megan LOVES Erin. Well, on the very first day that Erinn was supposed to work by herself, she didn't show up. Didn't call, didn't text, nothing. She was supposed to be here at 7:30am, and we finally heard from her at 9:15am the. next. day. Via text message. With some lame excuse about a stomach ache. Needless to say, my response to her went something like, "Unfortunately, it's not going to work out. I'll mail you a check for the hours that you worked." We'll call her Nanny v3.0.

Thankfully, NK hadn't started school just yet so she was able to come back for a few weeks. We started feverishly looking for another nanny. We found an 18 year old girl named Jennie who, despite a couple of things she did or said during the entire interview process, we agreed to try out for a test period. She agreed to come this past Tuesday from 12pm - 2pm and work with Nanny Kelly. It was a total disaster. She only stayed 1 hour, and the ENTIRE time she was here, she either talked on her cell phone or texted people. At one point, Megan was trying to get her attention, "Jennie, play with me!" and Jennie's response was to talk LOUDER so that her friend on the phone could hear her over Megan's request. What was the topic of such a hot conversation? They discussed some sort of drink that you can buy at G.NC which will flush drugs out of your system. Greeeeeeat. Within 3 hours of leaving my house that day, I called her up and fired her. She was stunned, and had a million excuses, but too bad. We'll call her Nanny v3.1.

I immediately started calling more people. The next day (Wednesday), we interviewed a 23 year old girl named Shannon. We liked her a lot, and she was great when she interacted with Megan. A couple of the questions that we asked her yielded strange answers, but it just seemed that there was more to the story, not necessarily anything sinister. (Like why did she graduate in the top 10% of her class from East.Carolina with a nursing degree in December, yet she's back home looking for a job as a part time nanny?) So we decided to give her a try. Since we were in an obvious time crunch, I asked her to come the next day (yesterday) despite the fact that I hadn't checked her references or run her background check. But yesterday was NK's for-real last day and I wanted NK to spy on Shannon. Shannon agreed, and planned to be here at 10am. We were optimistic, but had been burned too much to get overly-excited. I'm sure you guessed what happened -- at 8:15am yesterday, Shannon texted me to say that she couldn't come that day, and wouldn't be able to take the job after all. I replied and asked if there was any particular reason why, but she didn't respond so I guess I'll never know. We'll call her Nanny v3.2.

So now? We are screwed. NK is gone and we have no one. We do have some short term options, though. Option #1 is that Jessie (Nanny v1.0) is seriously considering taking a 1 month leave of absence from her job in PA (where she only works 1 day a week anyway, it's a long story) to come and help us out. While we figure out if that's going to work, here's option #2: we've lined up NK's Mom (who we also dearly love, as does Megan, and she just adores Megan in return) to come on Mondays. Then my neighbor Lynn will watch Megan on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Then Kevin and I will each take one of the afternoons off (either Tue or Thu) and stay home. It's sort of cobbled together, and will have a serious impact on our work schedules, but NOTHING is more important to us than Megan's safety and happiness. So we will make it work while we continue to search.

There are 3 other women (ranging in age from 24 to 61) who weren't exactly terrible, but I'm hesitant to settle. Kevin is okay with them short-term, but I feel like we've already messed with Megan's head enough. I feel like the divorced Mom who parades around a new boyfriend each week, and it's got to be confusing for Megan. That just breaks my heart.

We interviewed someone last night. When I asked her what her greatest weakness was, she responded with a long explanation that can be summed up with, "crying babies stress me out." I said, "Um, you DO realize we're having a baby in May, right?" She said, "Yeah." Thanks, but no thanks.

Hopefully we will either find someone spectacular soon or we will be able to limp through until my maternity leave starts in May. (Look at me all confident and optimistic that I'm actually going to have a real, live baby in May. Aren't you proud?) Then I can spend that time off looking, yet again, for Nanny v3.x.

Sorry for the long-winded whine. It's just been such a laborious, stressful process that I had to do something therapeutic to get it out of my head. Oh yeah, did I also mention that I just finished tapering off my Zoloft? The perinatologist and OB both recommened that I go off it by the 3rd trimester if I can (based on a brand new study about Zoloft and some other anti-depressants which links their use in the 3rd trimester to fetal persistant hypertension). So I took 1/2 a pill for 2 weeks, then 1/4 pill for about 2 weeks. I've been Zoloft-free for a week, and I can't tell if the recent (albiet brief) crying jags are a result of NannyGate '08 or the lack of Zoloft. Good times, I tell you. These are some good times.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Spidey's Pictorial Debut and more mad ramblings

First and foremost, thank you to everyone for the kind comments on my last post. I knew it was all a little loopy, and once I got it out of my head and into a post, I felt much better. But then I felt 6,000 times better after reading all of your comments. Thank you for all of the comfort and stroking!

Now for Spidey's photo shoot... Kevin and I bought a scanner for Christmas. It's been hooked up for a couple of weeks, but we finally sat down and made the time to scan in the pictures from our level 2 sonogram.

These are a little over 3 weeks old, they are from Christmas Eve. But they are still some nice pictures so I figured better late than never, right?

Here is a shot of him just relaxing (albiet looking a bit squished). To me, he looks sort of like he just said, "Hey, right on!":

Here is another similar shot, although this is the one that caused Megan to name him "Grinch":

Here is the obligitory shot of the hand:

And last, but not least, one of my favorites. Assuming you're good at reading these type of pictures, you'll be able to make out his legs and feet stretched all the way out (thighs on the left, feet on the right).

Not much else to report. I've been gripped with fear the last few days, but it's unwarranted. This story is sure to bring out the fangs and claws in the best of us... I wore a maternity shirt to work on Monday which prompted a few people to ask, "Um, are you pregnant?" I managed to smile confidently and say, "Yes." (Without all the dramatic explanation of the road paved with shards of glass and our hearts it took to get there. I was proud of myself.)

Anyway, a total moron woman that I work with asked if I was. I said yes. She asked how far along I was, and I answered a little over 21 weeks. She then spent the next 5 minutes -- until I asked her to stop and walked away -- regaling me with the stories of her two miscarriages AT TWENTY TWO WEEKS. I finally said, "Um, Theresa? No offense, but I'm not sure I should be hearing this right now." Seriously? Seriously?

I drove home that day thinking that this was just silly. I mean, what are the chances that my baby would just up and die at 22 weeks. Then I read this post. I was paralyzed. Mostly with grief for Alexa, I can't comprehend how to deal with something like this. But then I became truly terrified for Spidey.

What happened next? You guessed it. Spidey went dormant. Sometime yesterday, he took a big ol' chill pill and stopped rearranging the furniture in there incessantly. I can now go for hours at a stretch without feeling him. I woke up several times in the night last night and didn't feel him once. This morning, nothing. I laid on my stomach, I poked him, I drank apple juice, everything. It took over an hour of this insanity until I felt a flutter. Although that should have been reassuring, it still wasn't enough. Ugh. It was so bad that I dropped Megan off at school 20 minutes late because I was busy tormenting her brother. That's just not right.

All day he has been quiet, but there. It's almost like I've regressed 3 weeks. Even Kevin mentioned that my belly button looked a little more sunken in, and my stomach was much softer than it has been recently. However, I just have to believe that my entire uterus shifted position somewhere along the way (there's still room for it to move around quite a bit at this point), and that's what's caused the big change. Of course as I sit here typing this, he's attending an aerobics class in there or something, he's all over the place.

It's sad that I am actually considerably more physically comfortable than I've been in weeks, and it's a source of stress. I was explaining this to my best friend Kelly, who totally gets it, and she summed it up well. She said, "So you don't feel beaten up, bloated, stretched and miserable? Sorry that you can't enjoy it." It just makes me realize that I haven't traded my IF insanity for pregnancy insanity. I've merely added more crazed behavior on top of the pile I already own.

In other news, the DC Metro Stirrup Queens are getting together in Bethesda for dinner on January 26th. If you live in DC, MD, VA or PA and want to join us, let me know! Or, if you're simply passing through town, please join us. We've now welcomed 4 different bloggers who were visiting DC and it's been just wonderful.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Where Have You Been?

What in the heck happened? I haven't posted in 12 days. I used to write 2 and 3 posts a day. I refrained from publishing them all at once, for fear of looking like a Blogger addict. I wondered how there would ever be enough days for me to post all the stuff I wanted to chatter on about. I think it was Sunny who mentioned once that she creates posts in her head all day long. I used to do that too. Now, nothing.

I also didn't understand why some of my favorite bloggers sort of dropped off the face of the Earth once they got pregnant. Now I completely get it...

First, I was just too tired. So I didn't post.

Then, I was simply scared all the time. I felt like a giant whiner when I would write rambling posts about how scared I was. Nothing was going wrong, everything was on track, but I was gripped with fear all the time. I got tired of listening to myself fret all day in my head, and I couldn't imagine that anyone else wanted to hear (or read) about it. My posts were boring, and circular, and pointless. What's crazy about this is when other newly-pregnant IFers write fretful posts, I always jump in to comment and tell them it's normal and they will be okay. Why did I think that people would consider me an ungrateful whiner? Because I'm deranged. So I didn't post.

Next, I wasn't scared as much. I passed the point when my sister had her 1st miscarriage. Then I passed the point when we had our 1st miscarriage. Then I passed the point when we had our 2nd miscarriage. Then I passed the point where my friend's Snowflake melted. Then I graduated from the RE. Then I made it through the NT scan. Then I made it into my 2nd trimester. Then I passed the point when my sister had her 2nd miscarriage. Every day was a struggle, filled with milestones fashioned from experiences all around me. But I was starting to feel okay (both physically and emotionally), and that made me feel weird. How do I blog about being happy? How do I move from angst-filled IF chick to the pregnant chick who is supposed to be happy? I still felt so much like the IF chick, but I also felt like a fraud. Would you think I was patronizing when I continued to write posts about how much IF had jacked with my head, heart and life while I sat here being knocked up? Instead of running the risk of offending my dear IF friends still in the trenches, I just didn't post.

Then I made it through the "big" scan at 18 weeks. Another milestone passed that I never took for granted, especially after Ann's experience. I had gone back to being scared. I was feeling the baby move every day, but not all the time. Hours and hours would go by when I would feel nothing, and I would become irrationally convinced that the baby was dead. It never really occurred to me that I might give birth prematurely like so many of my other dear IF friends (especially Carlynn), although that could have happened at any moment. I chose to assume that the baby was just going to up and die one day without letting me know. I went for weeks where I lived in one of two states of being: 1) the baby was moving and I was reassured, and 2) the baby wasn't moving and I was just sure I had lost him. Unfortunately I spent 90% of my time in state #2 and very little in state #1. Again, I felt terrible blogging about it. Do you guys really want to hear about how I'm not feeling my baby move enough? That's just a stupid, stupid, stupid and insensitive thing to moan about to my IF friends. So, you guessed it, I didn't post.

Now, I feel him move all the time. I mean all. the. time. I'm actually a little worried that he's going to be a handful when he comes out because he's going to be so wild. In the past 2 weeks, I can count on one hand the number of times I've stopped and thought, "Hmmmm, I haven't felt him move in a while. Hope he's okay." By the time I get around to thinking that, he's already moved. Thankfully letting me know he's in there. But how do I blog about that?

I have actually written numerous posts about all the shit that is still going wrong. The incessant heartburn, the debilitating migraines, the round ligament pain, the sciatic nerve pain, the throwing up (yes, still, although not nearly as much). I thought that these would be more acceptable topics for an IF blog than the "good" stuff. But then I realized that it was just more whining and who the hell wants to read that?

I wrote even more posts about the great stuff. Posts about how I've managed to only put on 4 pounds and I'm 21 weeks along. (Don't be too impressed, I was 15 pounds overweight to start with.) Posts about how indescribably cute Megan has been since we told her about the baby (which we didn't do until Christmas). Posts about the crazy names she's come up with for the baby -- currently it's "Scuttle Pinata Grinch." No, I'm not kidding. Posts about how I actually managed to buy some boy clothing last week, in an amazing show of acceptance that this might actually happen. Posts about how we bought crib bedding (it was on clearance at Target, I couldn't resist) and I think it's so cute.

Most of those posts got deleted. They were too happy, too fluffy, too in-your-face with the "look at me, I'm pregnant" factor. But that's just stupid. Even when I wasn't pregnant, I still loved to read blog entries from my pregnant IF friends because I was genuinely happy for them. I liked being able to reassure them when they were scared. I liked being able to bask in their glow of happiness when they were enjoying the ride. I simply liked sharing the entire experience with them.

So I'm not sure why I thought none of these topics were acceptable to post about. But I did. I've continued to read my regular blogs every day. I don't comment as much as I used to, because I'm perpetually afraid that people will think I somehow come off as some sort of poser when I empathize with the IF struggle.

The reality is that I still feel more like an infertile than I do like a pregnant person. I guess I knew this all along, and that's why I was so guilty and conflicted. On the outside, I was a pregnant person. But on the inside, I still have all the crazy feelings of an infertile. The only thing that has really changed is I actually can see a light at the end of the tunnel. That makes a big difference -- but I'm also acutely aware that if I let my guard down too much and think things are actually going to work out, it could all be snatched away in the blink of an eye.

See, this is why I didn't post. I don't make any sense. I nearly attacked a pregnant co-worker the other day, berating her for constantly rubbing her belly. I bordered on rude, I'm sure, but I was sick of it. But why? It took me a while to figure it out, but I think I know. I am hyper-sensitive regarding infertility. I assume, at all times, that there is a woman within eyesight or earshot who is struggling with infertility. I assume that this woman is having a horrible day and doesn't want my pregnancy thrown in her face. I couldn't live with myself if she mistook me for one of those smug fertiles who don't understand the gift, the wonder, the miracle that has been given to me. I wouldn't want to cause her one single second of pain because of something I did or said. I am her. I might not even know her, but I know her sadness. She may never even know this, just as I may never even know of her unfulfilled dreams, but I am ever-present in my commitment to be sensitive to fertility struggles.

I know I still make my non-IF friends and co-workers uncomfortable at times. I can't simply accept a compliment or congratulations regarding my pregnancy without spewing the entire history leading up to it. When someone says, "Hey, how great that you are having a baby!" I know I should say, "Yes, isn't it? We're really excited."

Instead I say, "Yes, it was a long, hard road paved with lots of heartache, lots of work, and lots of money. It took us many years, lots of science, a couple of miscarriages, 4 IUIs and 3 IVFs to get here." Wow. That's heavy for a fertile or a man to comprehend. It's like I'm desperate for people to know how much I still consider myself part of the IF community, how much IF has changed me, how grateful I am for where we have gotten.

But at what price? Am I robbing myself of pregnancy happiness? Am I wallowing in my IF grief? In my efforts to make sure I'm not offending you lovely people who read my blog, am I actually driving you away by never posting?

Good GRIEF, can you tell I'm hormonal or what? Anyway, that must be the longest explanation ever regarding where I've been and why I haven't posted much. Please forgive me. Forgive me for posting so infrequently. Forgive me for not commenting as much as I should. Forgive me if I've ever inadvertently come across as flippant, ungrateful or ungenuine. I will do my level best to start posting again regularly, regardless of the topic. Some days, it might be happy stuff. Some days, it might not. I have to keep reminding myself that if you aren't in the mood to read my drivel, you'll simply skip my blog that day. But just know that I'll still be reading yours, and cheering for you!