Thursday, January 31, 2008

A moment in the moment

Warning: This post is about pregnancy in a way I wouldn't have wanted to read about in my more vulnerable moments. This might be a post to skip. In fact, if there is any doubt at all, you should skip it.

I was just dancing in my kitchen to this song among others:

Such a wonderful moment - to feel the music in my soul and to enjoy the movement of my body, my bare feet on the cold kitchen floor. To dance - but not like I normally dance. Many of my favorite movements had a little change here or a different feel there. I relished in the way my pregnant body moved. How wonderful to notice that I don't balance quite as well. What joy in the moments when I felt compelled to touch my belly to give it just a bit more support for this move or that. How lucky am I that I get to dance? How doubly lucky am I that I get to dance with a little one growing inside of me?

The perfect storm

This is a storm of happy news and it has really lifted my spirits!

First of all, I have been sleeping better thanks to this magical invention. It is a weighted blanket designed for autistic kids because they found feeling pressure on their skin can help calm their mind. In the past, I have slept on my stomach because the pressure of my body on my thighs helps calm my restless legs. Sleeping on my stomach hasn't been much of an option and so my friend recently loaned me her son's weighted blanket. It isn't a miracle cure (neither was sleeping on my stomach), but it has helped enough so that I have been getting more and better sleep each night. Things have improved so much that the last two nights I haven't even used it (the restless legs are worse when I am sleep deprived)

I have also been invited to participate in a public health forum that our local public radio station is hosting on infertility. As a means to spark interest and help define the direction of the forum, they are doing a story on fertility as well. This is all very exciting, but also anxiety producing, especially since the other two people on the "panel of experts" are both MD's. One is my very own RE and the other is the OB who was on call when I went into preterm labor with Ernest (not that she remembers). The last couple of days have been particularly stressful because I had to submit a headshot and a short bio. How would I look compared to the doctors who probably have a headshot taken when they were 25 (by a professional, no doubt) and a bio that includes degrees instead of failed cycles? Well, I did the best I could and sent it off today. No matter how it looks to the public, at least I am done and can forget about the whole thing for a bit.

A minor, but likely contributing event, is that I shared a mocha with my husband on the way to work today. I try to keep these to a minimum for the babies sake - I probably average less than one a week - and it was sooooo good in a way it can only be when you haven't had one in a while.

Finally, yesterday Brad had a surprise business trip come up. He is leaving in just 13 days and will be gone for a week. Why is this a good thing? Because I am going with him and we are going here!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

OB Appointment #4: 20 weeks 0 days


Everything looked good on the u/s. I asked Dr. Wonderful if he had any concerns at all and he said no. He said, "I went looking for trouble and couldn't find any."

Oh yeah . . . long wait - probably close to an hour, still had pregnant people in the waiting room, but then we got to see Little Butterfly moving all around. I was feeling movement!

It was great having Belinda there too. I am glad we got to share that with her. The most amazing thing to me (outside of seeing the baby) is that when we were done with the u/s I turned to Belinda and said, "Thank you!!!" I have always been thankful, but with it there was a bit of an emotional catch because I would have preferred to have not needed her help. Today I was just so glad that she was able to help us grow a (so far) healthy baby.

Brad and I grinned all the way home. We are still grinning. Yeah!!!!!

"Happy 20 weeks, my love!"

"Happy 20 weeks, my love!" is how Brad and I greeted each other this morning. It has become a ritual every Thursday when we reach another week milestone. Today is an especially big day because we will be seeing our OB and getting a detailed (not 3D) ultrasound.

It seems strange to type that because I used to think "it is what it is" and didn't need or want an ultrasound. I also felt I was being easier on the baby by not disturbing / harming it with the ultrasound. Then we did IVF and lost more babies and had many embryos die in a dish. What's harder on a baby? IVF with ICSI or an ultrasound? What is an occasional ultrasound compared to that? So while Ernest had zero ultrasounds until we knew something was wrong, this baby has had 7 - not counting the pictures as an embryo and the u/s's as an egg.

We are also no longer of the opinion that we will accept whatever baby we have. Although I think the situation would need to be extreme, we now want the option of aborting a pregnancy if things don't look good (notice how I switch from "baby" to "pregnancy" here? Who wants to say "abort a baby"? ). After all, nature has picked for us many, many times. Why shouldn't we have a vote?

Another big deal today is that Belinda will be joining us for the ultrasound. I had been thinking about it and agonizing about inviting her for weeks when I finally asked Brad what he thought and he said, "Sure, why not?" Just like that, he had decided. Is that a guy thing or is Brad just unusually easy going? At any rate, we invited her, she was thrilled and accepted. I am not sure why I thought it was a good idea to invite her, but it just seemed (and still seems) the right thing to do. I asked Brad if he thought it was odd to invite your egg donor - who wasn't a friend or family member when this started - to an OB appointment. He said, "No, it's just us." I guess he just thought it felt right too.

The appointment is in 6 hours and I can't think or work with the anticipation. I think I have been feeling the baby move so most of the time I am less nervous than I have been with previous appointments. Then I wonder if it could all be in my mind. We have wanted this for so long I don't think it would be impossible to imagine feeling what I want so badly to feel.

Emotionally, I am still up and down. I desperately need more consistent sleep, more exercise and Spring. I am working on resolving the first two items. I am hoping better moods will follow if I can get consistent sleep and exercise. One study found that 30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day was as an effective anti-depressant as drugs such as Pro.zac. I figure I can do that. In the meantime, I have talked to my midwife and OB about my recurring sadness to get their opinions (they agreed -more exercise and sleep) and just to be cautious. I don't want things to get out of control and I want to make sure I'm not stressing out our little butterfly too much.

Monday, January 14, 2008

What a difference a night makes

Actually, it was two nights in a row . . . one where I was in bed for about 12 hours and the next where I slept pretty well for 10 hours.

I woke up Sunday morning feeling like a new person. Brad and I were laughing and joking with each other like we did so much pre-infertility. In the late morning, we met my sister and her husband for chocolate croissants then went for a walk in a nearby park.

You may remember that I am not much of a winter person. In this park there is a conservatory filled with plants. I have often gone during the summer, but it just never occurred to me to go during the winter. What I have been missing out on! It was such a wonderful respite from the snow and cold. Inside it is warm and humid with a waterfall and pond. Below are some pictures I pulled off of the internet - I tried to get just the ones taken during winter.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Midwife appt #2: 17 weeks 6 days

I am a little bit late with this update. My appointment was last Wednesday. It was pretty uneventful. My midwife arrived at 6pm. We started with getting caught up a bit on each others lives. Then I said, "Let's find a heartbeat and see if this baby is still alive."

She sent me to pee on a stick first - everything looked good except for specific gravity (as usual) and I was leaking ketones. That freaked me out a bit, but my midwife said it could be from not getting enough protein or being dehydrated and not to worry. Of course, later that night I checked the internet and it does seem to be no big deal. Some practitioners don't even check for ketones anymore.

Then I laid down on the couch and bared my belly. She felt around for where the baby was and brought out the doppler. She moved it around and I could often hear my heartbeat. She kept looking and looking. It felt like minutes. Brad was holding my hand and I was holding my breath. She asked if my placenta was in front and I confirmed that it was. She felt around some more for the baby. She said, "Oh, he has moved down here. She placed the doppler and we heard that fast rhythm that had to be the baby. I was so relieved, tears streamed out of my eyes. We just sat there and listened for another 15 seconds or so. Such sweet music!

After that she measured the size of my uterus which is measuring right on time. Then she took my blood pressure and as she wrote it down next to my last appointment's bp she said, "Ahh, so now we know to check for heart tones then take your blood pressure."

We talked about how I haven't been sleeping very well. I have restless legs which are completely manageable when I am not pregnant, but get much worse when I am. Every night I have trouble falling asleep. About 4 hours later I wake up from a vivid dream only to have trouble falling asleep again. We talked about using the herbal remedy skullcap - which works wonders for my restless legs, but it works because it is a mild sedative and I worry about using it too often. She thought that a 1/2 glass of red wine before bed might be better. As she pointed out, many cultures drink small amounts of wine throughout pregnancy and I would have a muscle relaxant as well as some good antioxidants. I think 1/4 of a glass would probably do me quite nicely, so I might just try it.

We also talked about a recurrent theme to my nightly vivid dreams. About 80% of the time they are about the time I was in high school or college and 80% of those involve my family members who are all appropriately younger. My midwife thinks I may be processing "family of origin" issues. My therapist said that as I am moving to create my own family, it is only natural that I would be thinking about my childhood and the things I want to duplicate and avoid.

As I read through this post before publishing it, two things struck me. 1) that I have reached a point where I can be so upset because it takes a few extra seconds to find a heartbeat and 2) that there is someone in my life I so casually call "my therapist." Thank you, infertility.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Letting go . . . part 2

Thank you everyone for your wonderful and thoughtful comments. I have taken them to heart. I do think I am trying to rush the grief I am feeling (Pamela Jeanne has a timely post on the subject) and perhaps not allowing myself to grieve

I don't have any regrets for rushing in to DE. It was the best decision at the time and most of the time I still feel that way. Ironically, I think it is the greater peace and hope I feel because we (so far at least) seem to be so close to have a baby, that makes me doubt our decision. Now I have the energy to try again with my eggs because now I have the hope of a baby which makes it all seem more survivable. When I think back on how hopeless I felt before this cycle, I am reminded we did the right thing. In fact, my mom had offered to pay for a second "last chance with my eggs" cycle and I turned her down partly because I didn't want to take her money, but mostly because the idea of trying the same thing and hoping for different results just made my heart sink.

I do wish I could rush this grief. The reason I want to rush it is because I want to be fully present for this child now. I want this child to know that I love him unconditionally. I want to enjoy this pregnancy and not wonder if I would have felt differently with my genetic child. To that end, I went to my hypnotherapist and asked he to help me not care about the DE issue. She refused. She said grief takes as long as it takes and I need to let it happen. She said children are resilient and both of us will be better off if I use this time to grieve and not try to shut it away. "Yes, but I don't have time. This baby deserves to feel loved and cared for now." "Ahhh," she replied, "but you obviously do love and care for this child right now or you wouldn't be here asking me to take away your sadness for her benefit."

So, Anonymous (1), I am separating my grief of not having it a certain way from the love I feel for this child. I am happy we are so close to having a child. I will take time to relish in the life currently growing inside me and I will also take time to grieve the loss of the way I pictured I would become a mom.

Lori, Brad and I have both decided to write a letter to the mutually genetic baby we thought we would have. I think I will also write a letter to myself - from the part of me that is proud of the obstacles we have overcome to the part that feels like she wasn't enough.

Anonymous (2), I didn't mean to sound ungrateful although at the time I was writing the post I suppose I wasn't feeling very grateful at all. I am sorry for your struggles and your losses and did not mean to cause you any pain.

Drowned Girl, thank you for the links, I have read 2 of them (from your blog?) but it was nice to read again.

Frenchie - Thank you for the poem. I cried too, but it was nice to read. I am going to be rereading it in the future. Thank you also for telling your story about how much you love and cherish your son. I fully trust that I will feel the same way. At moments I already do and I hope those feelings will start to outweigh the grief feelings.

Thank you again to everyone else for your understanding, your advice and your reminders that things will get better. Losses will be grieved, dreams will shift and our child will never be second best.

One more note. Today I told my acupuncturist that we are calling this baby "our little project". Partly this is due from a desire not to jinx things, but also partly because of the bittersweet and somewhat tragic way we came to name our son. She was none to happy. It was too impersonal, she said. Brad and I discussed this and decided she was right. It was time to embrace this one a little more. Not only will we spending more time just being with this baby (and my acu has suggested some reiki as well) but he has a new name. From now until sometime in the future, she will be called "Our Little Butterfly"

Thursday, January 3, 2008

How do you let go of a dream?

My apologies for being a broken record. As the title suggests, I am still trying desperately to come to terms with our situation.

How do you let go of a dream? Often when I tell people that I am sad that I will never have my genetic child, they tell me that I can try again after this baby is born. I know they are trying to help. I know they want to believe in endless possibilities. I used to believe too - before reality kept knocking me down and proving to me that life is not endless possibilities. There are times when you simply will never have your dream. There are times when the only option remaining is to let that dream go.

I simply don't know how to do it. My usual resources - even the therapist whom I adore - can't seem to help me because they think I will be able to do at 41.5 what I couldn't do between 38.0 and 39.5. Even if the chance wasn't almost zero by that point, does it even make sense to risk $12,000 - $15,000 on a 5-10% chance of success when Belinda has offered to cycle again for an 80% chance (at about $25,000)?

It hurts when people tell me I could try again. They say that I will be less stressed or more fertile because I will have a child already. Will that have more of an impact than my rapidly declining fertility? Don't they remember how hopeful I was during many of our IVF cycles? I knew it would work, I did yoga and acupuncture and meditated and nothing, in the end, was enough. How is a child going to make that much difference? To me, those statements are just evidence that they don't really understand. It's another version of "take a vacation and you will get pregnant." How can they help me let go if they don't acknowledge that it is an issue?

Tonight my sister called to let me know a mutual acquaintance is pregnant after two years of trying. She never went to the doctor about fertility issues. I don't think she even temped or used OPK's. She did discover she was insulin resistant and changed her diet . . . then discovered she was pregnant. I think my sister thought I should be happy for her - and it's not that I wish her ill, but I certainly don't know her well enough to be happy for her. She got her dream and I didn't. She didn't really try and I did. She had an issue she could fix and we had issues we could do nothing about. She got pregnant by having sex with her husband for freaks sake! Oh my, we have so much in common.

In the past my sister would have never passed on this news. I preferred it that way. Now she, like so many others in my life, think that everything is ok because I am pregnant. But just because I am pregnant doesn't mean I have what I wanted. I hate to say it is a second choice - I would never want this child to think he was a second choice - but if it was my first choice I would have gone to donor eggs two years ago. I try to explain these feelings and once again they say, "you can try again with your eggs next time."

Only my RE and Brad seem to understand that dream is gone. When my RE said recently, "You need to let go of the dream. I know you hold on to your dreams very tightly, but you have to let this one go," I felt so validated. I felt understood. It felt so good, I forgot to ask the next question: "How?"

Do you know how to let go of a dream?