Monday, June 14, 2010

Adieu, adieu, to you and you and you.

I'm bad at goodbyes. Always have been, always will be.

I think that's why I've been procrastinating about moving over to the new blog address I established –while still pregnant! over four months ago! – here. That, plus I've been running around with a tiny human being who relies on me for his every waking (and sleeping) need. But it's getting silly now, because I need a spot where I can just dash off quick, maybe not fully formed or cogent thoughts about this new world I now call home. And it feels somehow wrong to do that here, where I spent so much time trying to trudge through the painful wilderness of infertility treatment, miscarriage and even the often-perilous 10 months of pregnancy. It feels like there's too much baggage, like I always owe infertility something when I write here, even if all I want to do is write about the bulls*&t diapers they sell at Costco (don't buy them) or how much you want to scream out loud when your baby bites down with his new teeth on your poor, unsuspecting nipple (which he did again today).

While I've procrastinated, I've missed writing about Mother's Day (which was, seriously? A day in my life that, for once, finally lived up to all the hype), my baby's baptism (another amazing day, in part because for so long I figured it would never happen even as I hoped it someday would) and the whole teething thing (which I definitely will cover in my new blog home). When we put rice cereal in my baby's four-month-old belly yesterday I resolved to get blogging again. So here I am.

And here I go, off to the Internet's equivalent of greener pastures or a deluxe apartment in the sky, or something like that. I'll be back from time to time, when I need to vent about something infertility related (because I'm learning that your baggage doesn't come out with the baby – though it would have been nice, for my abdomen's sake, if it did) or talk about the try for number two, if there is one (hello worms, how's that can?). And I may start yet another blog about my adventures in stay-at-home-parenting (Yes, that's right, the other thing I missed writing about: I quit my job!) and freelance writing – one for consumption by family and friends with a little less information and from which people cannot link back to overshared descriptions of the inner workings of my vagina. Meanwhile, I'd love it if you followed me over to Good Egg Hatched.

So much blogging to do! And so little time, but all I can do is begin. So I won't say goodbye (since, see above, I suck at it) – I'll say ta-ta for now. And thanks for everything.

PS - I've been trying to figure out what to do about this whole baby-identity-on-the-web thing. Let's face it, there are a lot of creepos out there. And I'm a pretty neurotic person, as we know. So I don't know if this is perfect but here's the plan. The baby will in my new blog home be known as H. I'll set up a password-protected post here with the long-awaited details (I know you've been holding your breath) like his name and a few photos. If we have a blogging/commenting relationship, leave me a comment here requesting the password and including your email address and I'll send it to you. Maybe I'll do more in the future, but it's taken me all these months to finally come to this and I'm afraid it's all I can stomach for the moment.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Oh Shapewear, My New BFF

A long-overdue, chock-full-of-juicy-info update is coming soon. But for today, a timely public service announcement to all you recovering preggers out there who share my horror and dismay at the location of various body parts following the removal of a human being from your abdomen:

SPANX on Rue LaLa today.

Email me at if you need an invitation. Off to snatch up some body sucking lycra.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Fast Forward

One year ago on May 2, I walked into the clinic for an egg retrieval, not knowing whether it would lead to a baby or more heartache.

Today, the product of that cycle turned three months old. That cycle changed everything – changed me forever. I look at this baby and still can't wrap my brain around his existence, how all of the shots and scans, the tears, an egg retrieval and transfer, and hope against all odds added up to this real, live baby that smiles back at me.

But he's definitely real. I cleaned up his very real diaper blowout tonight.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Decent Exposure

I think it's safe to say that I've never taken my boobs out at work before. So today was a first on several fronts – first day back after my leave, first time exposing my ta-tas in an office setting. It was more than surreal sitting there in the tiny server room, computer fans humming over the sound of my pump, as I whipped up my shirt and stuck the suction cups on.

If I'd allowed myself to imagine (I was too frightened) what this would feel like several months ago while I was still pregnant, I wouldn't have believed I was capable of it. It's amazing what you'll do, without thinking twice, for your baby.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Back to Reality

Today is the last day of my maternity leave. And seriously, just tear my heart out now.

I've loved this time. Every single sleep deprived, poopy diaper, spitup everywhere, pee on the wall, seriously is he awake again moment. I can't imagine a better place to be than right beside my sweet boy, getting paid in toothless grins.

What else can I say: I wish this didn't have to end.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Impressions of Motherhood, Part I: Maybe She's Infertile

It's interesting, being on this side. Walking around with a baby, seeing the world through a mother's eyes. Sometimes I want to wear a t-shirt that says, "Ask me about my hellish journey to motherhood." Other times, I'm glad to just blend in, to be no longer a patient but a mother.

I remember when I was going through infertility, especially on the bad days, it seemed like mothers acted so entitled. Like, hold the door for me and my big obnoxious stroller. Now that I'm the one pushing the stroller, grateful to be out and about in the world with a baby who, for the moment, is content to just sit quietly, I obviously see it differently. I'm not asking for special treatment, but I am asking for common courtesy.

So maybe the woman I'm about to describe is going through or has gone through infertility. Maybe she's having a rough day. Maybe she's seen 200 strollers and I was the 201st and she had just had enough of all the babies, thank you very much. I'm going to go with that, because it helps me be less pissed off. Basically, I was walking down the sidewalk by some storefronts in the center of my town, which I would call a relatively kid-friendly place – strong parents' network, lots of strollers everywhere on a typical day. A cluster of three people chatting jutted out into the middle of the sidewalk, creating a blockade for pedestrian traffic. This would have annoyed me even if I were walking alone, but it doubly annoyed me since I had the stroller to maneuver, and not because of some "watch out for my precious bay-bee" principled thing – I would have been equally annoyed if I were pushing a pile of bricks or a hot dog cart.

As I made my way closer to them, I said "excuse me" in a polite-yet-put-out kind of way, as if to say, you're really in my way, and I'm sure you'll soon see the error of your ways and be very embarrassed. And the woman? Moved exactly an inch to her right. As if to say, I see you, I know you're trying to get by, and I'm going to make this as difficult as possible for you. Because I can. So I tried to push through and ended up plowing into a sign for the bakery they were standing in front of, and one member of this threesome had to interrupt their important conversation about solving world hunger, I'm sure, to pick up said sign. So pretty much, I won, lady.

But then there was this, on the same walk: I had just pushed the baby up a big hill and was feeling good – the sun was shining, the endorphins flowing. Another woman with a stroller appeared, and as she passed me, smiled brightly and said hello. And instantly, I felt this recognition, an understanding pass between us. She didn't know anything about what I did to get to this point. For all she knew, I had a drunk night with my husband. But, regardless of how I'd arrived, she saw me for what I am:

After all I went through, I'm finally in the club.

I'm a mother.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Vaccination Rumination

Two posts. That's all I've managed this month.

Before this baby came and completely altered my universe, if you'd told me about someone who had a baby and was home on maternity leave and couldn't find ten minutes to sit down and blog about it, I'd have taken pity on her. Poor girl, I'd have said. So disorganized and overwhelmed. It can't be that hard.

I don't know what I expected, exactly, but the reality of new parenthood in my experience so far is that it is both better and harder than I ever could have imagined. When you're pregnant and friends, family and strangers tell you your life will change (and you feel condescended to), there is no way that you can know how right they are, and how wide-ranging their accuracy will be. Because this motherhood thing? Consumes you. When you're not running to get organized to feed your baby and worrying that you're scarring him for life by taking too long while he screams, you're reading up on the great vaccine debate and wondering what to do about your baby's upcoming shots.

Which leads me to today's topic, ladies and, well, ladies (do any men read this other than my husband?). Because you know how I love something to hang-wring over. And the topic of vaccinations is absolutely ripe for it.

Intellectually, I understand that I should probably just go in with the baby on Friday and let the doctor and nurses do what they normally do. I've talked to friends whose opinions I value and read the mainstream literature on it, and all are reassuring. But are concerns over someone you love deeply ever intellectual? The fear out there is palpable and not so easily ignored. I'm afraid of making a bad decision for my son that could affect him for the rest of his life. It feels like an awesome responsibility to get this right – so yes, I will be obsessing about it until the appointment comes and goes.

I've skimmed through Dr. Sears' book and looked at his alternative schedule. And our pediatrician is willing to follow that schedule for us, though he clearly doesn't have a whole lot of respect for or faith in it. He says there's no evidence that it has any benefit – and, in fact, since no studies have been conducted on it, we don't know if it could even be harmful somehow to spread them out. But he'll do it for us if we would feel more comfortable.

I don't want to be a fanatic and I don't want to inadvertently cause harm to my baby because my anxiety makes me choose something contrary to the mainstream. But the voices against that mainstream are loud ones. And the alternative schedule seems unlikely to actually cause harm, though I recognize it may not prevent it, either.

So, fellow moms – both veteran and new – and soon-to-be moms: What is your point of view on this issue? What did you do (or will you do) for your kids? Please, play nice in the comment box. This is a controversial issue but I'm not looking for a debate for its own sake – I'm looking for genuine input.

Got to go for now – my little universe alterer is calling.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

More Sweet Than Bitter

My baby turned one month old this week. A month old. Baby. In my arms. Who is mine.

I don't know if I'll ever get over the wonder of it all. Don't know if I'll ever stop tearing up when I think about the journey from there to here. When I look at him and touch his soft little head and feel his warm breath on my neck when I pick him up. He smiled this week – a real, true smile, not one of those teasing, reflex ones – and I broke down in tears. I am an emotional dishrag when it comes to this little man.

It's already going by so fast. And I know it's only the beginning – it will continue to rush by, slowing down at times –when he has a tantrum at Target or tells me he's too old for his mom or slams his bedroom door shut and blares awful music – but the months and years flying before us faster than we can keep up with photos and memory books. With this kind of crazy love comes the sweet sadness that comes with putting away his newborn outfits, saying goodbye to each stage as it passes.

It's more sweet than bitter. The only thing I can do is close my eyes and take mental pictures. Feel these moments deeply, marinate in them. Hold them near.

Monday, March 01, 2010

The Hatching

I am trying not to beat myself up too much about taking so long to post this. I'm in awe, frankly, of my blogger friends who have somehow managed to keep up with blogging while taking care of a newborn. How you've done this, I do not know. I keep thinking I must be doing something wrong, because I can hardly find a few moments to pee throughout the day, much less assemble a thought pattern coherent enough to share with anyone who isn't legally bound to me or required to still love me no matter how insane I sound or frightening I look.

At any rate: Coherent or not, here's how the baby's arrival went down.

We arrived at the hospital on Sunday (1/31) night, just after 7 p.m. As I walked through the hospital to the L&D floor, it felt like graduation night. I couldn't help but recall the countless times I'd walked those same halls on my way to a monitoring appointment, or to meet with my doctor and hope that she'd still sound optimistic about our odds of becoming parents. And now we were walking in as a pair for the last time. Next time we walked out, we'd have a baby in tow. Our baby. Even as I waddled, literally heavy with child, I still couldn't wrap my head around it.

After we got checked in and settled in our room, and the nurse came in to do some set up, the doctor on call came in and placed the cervidil. This was relatively uneventful, so after a snack we tried to settle down and get some rest. Well. My husband got some rest. When your cervix is full of cervidil and your mind is full of anticipation, relief and sheer terror, it's a bit of a challenge to get that shuteye. Plus the nurse came in a couple of times to check on me, reminding me why the hospital is officially the worst place on earth, hands down, to try and get any sleep.

At about 8 a.m. on Monday, a new nurse came in to start my IV, followed by my doctor, who checked my cervix and declared it thinner but not dilated, and said the baby was still quite high up. They started the pitocin, and despite a voice inside me telling me I would probably still end up with a c-section, I remained hopeful that this would work.

The only thing about the hours that followed – in which I experienced 100% genuine contractions, 2 minutes apart (let me summarize those with one word: ouch) – that indicated any kind of progress at all was that my water broke around 3:30 p.m. For those who are pregnant or will be, it may occur to you late in pregnancy to worry about not knowing for sure when your water breaks. Do not be concerned about this. Unless you routinely pee your pants without warning, you will know.

I felt genuinely nervous now: I knew that the breaking of the water meant that there was no turning back. Not that this was ever really a possibility, but I definitely could not now decide to wait a few more days and go home and hide in my bed. This baby would be coming out in the next day, one way or another. At just before 6 p.m., my doctor came back and checked me: cervix was 1/2 inch dilated. A half inch, after a day of the kind of contractions that are the worst part of some women's delivery. The induction attempt began to seem like an exercise in painful futility.

We decided to turn the pitocin off, wait for my contractions to subside and try the misoprostol, with the goal of softening the cervix further so the pitocin could better do its job. At that point they could have offered to put a small hand grenade in there and I would have obliged if I thought it might work. After a few hours, my doctor still hadn't come in to give me the drug, and I drifted off to sleep. At 2:45 a.m. on Tuesday, I sensed someone standing over me – turned out to be my doctor – and jumped awake in a panic (note to doctors everywhere: Do not do this). She apologized for the delay and told me that all hell had broken loose on the L&D floor; she'd spent hours in surgery trying to remove some poor woman's stubborn placenta. As soon as the operating rooms freed up (in case I needed one myself), she'd be back to insert the misoprostol; she returned around 7:15 a.m. to give it to me, then turned me over to her colleague as her shift was over.

Just before noon, the doctor came back to check me, and only one thing had changed in the hours since: the fluid I continued to leak started showing meconium, which had became progressively more concentrated as the morning wore on. It was the first sign at any point in the pregnancy – even through the bleeding, bed rest, nonstress tests and ultrasounds – that my baby was less than happy with what was going on. Since the baby continued to look good on monitoring, it did not bother the nurses or the doctor. But it bothered me. So when the exam showed not one encouraging sign of progress, it became clear that I needed to call it a day on the whole labor thing, despite my c-section fears. My baby had had enough. For his sake, and for mine too – better, I decided, to go into surgery with a clear head and some energy than try another day of exhausting pitocin only to end up there at 2 a.m. under more panicked circumstances – I told her I was ready to make the c-section call.

This was not an easy decision. I've made my fears of surgery pretty well known, and many things about this one terrified me. I half-seriously considered what might happen if I ran out of there, drove myself home and crawled into my own bed where I felt safe. But I knew what had to be done. It wasn't just about me; I couldn't let this little guy down after he'd stuck with me for so long, after he'd done his part. Time to put on the big-girl panties.

I'd like to say that I did put them on and wore them with honor, but we've been through too much together for me as I've told you my story to spin my delivery into some sort of phony fairy tale ending. So here is the truth: I sat on the table in the stark OR and lost it. I told them I couldn't do it, that I changed my mind. I absolutely shivered with fear of the spinal, anticipating the sense of suffocation I'd been warned can happen when you can't feel yourself breathe. The anesthesiologist asked me, not kindly but not unkindly, if I wanted to go back out to L&D, spend the rest of the afternoon on pitocin and end up right back here in the wee hours of Wednesday morning. He had a point, I knew. I somehow managed to lean forward on the nurse and go completely limp. I didn't feel a thing as the numbing medicine and spinal went in, and as they moved me onto the table I waited with dread for it to take effect.

You know how I always worry about the thing that, it turns out, is not the thing that I should actually worry about?

I did it again.

The spinal, for me, turned out to be nothing. I felt a warm, tingly feeling move up my legs, and that was it. I could still wiggle my toes and it was nothing like being paralyzed, but the doctor's pinch test proved that it was working beautifully. Before I had a chance to process this, the surgery had begun. And I was okay at that point – my husband even says I was smiling when he came in – but I felt just inches away from panic, barely hanging on.

Here’s what I should have worried about: The smell of my skin burning filled the air as they made their way inside of me. A few minutes later, when the doctors practically crawled inside of me trying to pull the baby out of me – both of them standing on their tiptoes and tugging, making me feel I was being torn in half. Then, the strong shift in pressure as soon as the baby was out that sent all the blood rushing to my head. This was it: I panicked. I began to insist that I was going to pass out, and despite the doctors' reassurances that this was impossible, the sick feeling was too much for me, both physically and mentally. This is the moment I regret most, that I was unable to just take a deep breath, will away the dizziness and focus on the baby that was being tended to by the nurses; that, instead, the anesthesiologist had to give me an anti-anxiety drug that put a hazy ring around the memory of seeing my son for the first time.

I didn't even realize this had happened until I reached the recovery room and began to feel jittery and agitated as the medicine wore off and a nurse verified that I'd been given something to bring me back from the ledge. A few minutes later I got the full-on shakes, which apparently are common postpartum – something about the hormones leveling out -- regardless of how you deliver, but caught me off-guard and, combined with the nausea and jittery feeling left in the medicine's wake, made me wish someone would shoot me on the spot. It was not exactly the post-delivery glow I’d had in mind.

All of these things have added up to this: I do not remember whole chunks of my baby’s arrival. I am not even sure that I remember when I first saw him. In the recovery room, as I tried to stop shaking and to concentrate on not vomiting, I actually asked the nurse to take my newborn son for a few minutes as I feared I would drop him in my loopy state.

In the days that have passed since, I have tried to stem the tears of disappointment over this by concentrating on these thoughts: That my son doesn’t know any different. That my husband says he walked him over to me and I smiled and stroked his cheek and acted not terribly unlike what I would have sans anxiety or drugs. That I have pictures in which my son, just minutes old and fully alert, is looking right up at me from the crook of my arm; I look exhausted but totally in love. That I breastfed him in the recovery room and he latched right on as if we’d been nursing together our whole lives. And that in the hours and days following his birth I held him skin to skin and nursed him and did all the things I’d wanted to do to foster bonding. And that I had a delivery at all – I had a healthy baby that made me feel true bliss when I held him to me.

These are the important things, I know. And as I spend 24 sleep-deprived hours a day tending to this demanding, screeching little being, I am ever aware of how perfectly lucky I am to call him my son, despite the imperfect circumstances surrounding his arrival. I look at him and ask him if he’s real, tell him he’s a miracle. I am as effusive in my love for him as I am critical of myself and how I handled his delivery. I figure that no matter how many mistakes I make as a mother, the one thing I know how to do is show him love. Because I do love him, with a force that I never could have imagined.

This post has been long, and I appreciate your sticking with it. Appreciate your sticking with me while I found and hatched this good egg.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

He's Here

I thought I would be the kind of blogger who posted the birth announcement as soon as the baby was out (I thought a lot of things about childbirth and parenting a newborn that have proven to be unrealistic). I keep starting to write about my birth experience and getting stuck or needing to nurse or being otherwise distracted. So before his first birthday comes and goes without my reporting on his arrival, I'll tell you this:

He arrived on Tuesday, February 2 at 2:40 p.m. by c-section. Eight pounds, nine ounces, 21 inches of gorgeous baby boy.

I am getting precious little sleep, and the days blur into one another. I still need to figure out how to blog about him (do I use his name? Post photos?), and to tell you about his arrival, which was not exactly the birth experience of my dreams. But for now I will say this much: It was worth the wait.

I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him.

-1 Samuel 1:27

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Plan Stands

We're sticking with the plan, with one modification.

We went in yesterday for a non-stress test in MFM, and I had a nurse I've never had before. Something about her manner made me roll with it when she tilted the chair back (I usually request that they not do this, as reclining is not my friend these days), and it seems the boy didn't like it either. He had smaller accelerations and I could tell he was a little sluggish. The nurse also rushed to judgment a bit; others may have given me an extra 10-15 minutes but she took the paper right to the doctor, who ordered me upstairs to my OB's office for an ultrasound. Which turned out to be a blessing as I got to see my doctor and discuss my concerns face-to-face (thank you, pushy nurse).

The ultrasound looked perfect – fluid was good, and the boy was practice breathing (a concept that still baffles us), dancing around and generally looking perfectly comfortable in there, which is probably why my cervix remains closed. My OB was unconcerned about the NST.

We then discussed both the induction timing and treatment plan, and she made it quite easy for me. She said that yes, Sunday may seem a bit arbitrary, but when MFM says don't push past 41 weeks (which is Tuesday), she's inclined to take it literally. She definitely made it sound like it was in the baby's best interests to get this going on Sunday, so that – combined with the NST being less than stellar for the first time ever – answered that.

She also said that although there is absolutely no way to predict, she would think that I would deliver sometime overnight into Tuesday. Which would be good, because the potentially birthday-sharing mother is, unsurprisingly, driving me bonkers. I told her that the plan was to have my husband call them when the baby arrived, and let them know when they should come to the hospital. That I would need a bit of time to recover before having visitors. Most people, you'd think, would respond in the affirmative – yes, absolutely, whatever you want and need is just fine with us. Not my mother. What she said to me instead was, but we're not just anyone, and don't you actually want us to be sitting out in the waiting room the entire time? She also informed me that she's not familiar with the hospital where we're delivering. Because immediately after I've pushed a human out of my girl parts, I'm sure the #1 thing I'll think sounds like a good time is to go give a tour to my apparently map-illiterate parents who are unfamiliar with the concept of asking the front desk where the maternity floor is. HUGE, sarcastic sigh.

That off my chest (thank you), back to the plan. Regarding the drugs, my OB heard my concerns (she totally called me on google searching) and said that while she does feel the miso works slightly more effectively than the cervidil, the difference is not significant, and since half her colleagues prefer cervidil anyway she has absolutely no issue starting me on that. No more hand-wringing required on my part.

So (barring the onset of labor today, which I'm not banking on) we're definitely going in tomorrow night to start the process. I am thinking a lot of thoughts, but mostly trying to ignore all of them except this one: soon I will meet my baby.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Here's the plan. If no labor before Sunday night, I will go into the hospital to begin an induction. Because my cervix is not at all dilated, we'll begin by "ripening" it, then hopefully move on to pitocin to bring on true labor.

I have some concerns. Shocker.

First, one of the medical variety. Those who have been following along at home will recall a terribly unpleasant encounter I had with the drug misoprostol while trying to resolve my ill-fated first pregnancy (it really ruined my holidays). I did not realize until now that that is one of two drugs they also administer to achieve said cervical ripening. I explained my concerns to my doctor, who said that this is a completely different situation; she said she does prefer misoprostol but will go with cervidil, the other drug, if that is my preference.

I am not sure what to do; this is one of those times in which I struggle with the desire to let go and trust those who are actually trained in medicine to do the medicine, versus heeding the worried voice in the back of my head. I did some googling (I know, I know – never a good plan) and it seems like there are some lingering concerns about miso's safety that do not apply to the cervidil, but that the miso may be more effective at getting the job done. So, do I keep hand-wringing or trust my doctor and go with the surer bet? I'm talking with her tomorrow and hope to have a better gut feeling on this after that conversation (any input appreciated).

My second concern is a much more trivial one. My doctor is in on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. On Monday she is on call for 24 hours, so more likely to be around when things start moving for me. This is why she actually did some wrangling (the L&D floor was pretty booked) to get me in on Sunday night.

But my mother's birthday is on Monday.

Again, those following along at home may recall that my relationship with my mother is not ideal. It's complex and full of angst. It's trying. She can be manipulative and I worry that this is something she could use to "lord over" the baby somehow. It's hard to describe without explaining a lot about her personality and our relationship dynamics (and I pay someone a lot of money to suffer through that kind of detail). Also, I generally would prefer that the baby not have to share his birthday with anyone. It should be his special day.

On the other hand. An induction, particularly a two-step induction as I am having, can literally take days. There is no way of knowing when the baby will actually get here. The doctors seem to agree I shouldn't go past 41 weeks, which is Tuesday (although the MFM doc wanted to do another u/s on Monday, which would mean going in Monday or Tuesday would be okay in her book). I would prefer my own doctor, which would mean waiting until Tuesday night so she is there on Wednesday when things start moving.

But then I saw something tonight about preemies in the NICU and it brought me back to reality a bit – I felt like a complete jackass for caring so much about a shared birthday. There was a time when I just wanted a baby, born in the heat of summer or dead of winter, on a boat or with a goat. And after the scares of this pregnancy, I am lucky that I am having a baby with a birthday at all.

Clearly, I don't want to do anything that could put his health in jeopardy. So I guess the only thing to do is to talk to the doctor about waiting a day or two and get her input. I do have a more legitimate reason to hold off, which is that I've started feeling more crampiness and I think I had genuine, honest-to-goodness contractions today. And it would be nice, after everything we've done to get to this point, to do this part with a little less intervention.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wrong Number

Someone just called from my RE's office and, sounding very official, asked to speak to me. Just to give you an idea of what a paranoid nutjob I am, my first thought was, "Oh no. They're going to tell me they realized they switched embryos at my transfer and I'm carrying someone else's baby."

My second thought was that they wanted me – having been such a model patient – to do a broadcast interview talking about how fabulous my doctor is, which I would gladly do (after my next highlight, of course).

It turned out to be a very odd mistake, though not of the switched-embryos magnitude. It was a coordinator of the IVF class calling to tell me that I was accepted and could sign up. I asked her if she was serious, told her I was due yesterday and could probably teach the class myself. Incidentally, this class was never offered to me before I actually went through IVF, and probably would have been useful while I was learning how to shoot myself up with various and sundry injectible medications.

What a bizarre phone call. What could it possibly be a sign of? Hopefully just serious disorganization on the part of that particular admin.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Today is my due date. The day that seemed like forever away when I sat in my RE's office for our last visit and she spun the wheel around and landed here. The day that seemed an abstract impossibility before that, when I struggled to even get a positive pregnancy test.

I feel all kinds of emotions. I have the kind of gratitude one can only have after going through a long battle with IF then reaching the finish line on a complicated pregnancy. I think back to the fear I had while lying in that hospital bed listening to the NICU doctor explain the challenges we'd face with a 28-week-old preemie, and I'm amazed and relieved that we made it beyond that point. I think of all the moments of fear I've had – some rational, some nowhere near it – since discovering I was pregnant and feel so proud of myself and my ability to forge through and keep this baby healthy.

On the other hand. I am human, and human women who reach 40 weeks pregnant are, shall we say, eager to get the show on the road. I learned at my ultrasound yesterday that this baby is approximately (understanding that the u/s can be wrong by as much as a pound either way) 8 lbs 15 oz, and frankly the idea of keeping him baking in me is becoming frightening. I want to meet this little guy before he's the size of a six-month-old.

So far, today has been uneventful. I know the baby descended because his head was directly on my cervix yesterday. So things are moving in the right direction. But for now I'm still watching and waiting, doing the gestational equivalent of twiddling my thumbs, until he makes his desire to emerge known.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Hurry up and Wait

Thirty-nine weeks today. There was a time before pregnancy when I thought I'd never be any-weeks pregnant, and certainly a time during the pregnancy when I never thought I'd see this milestone. But here I am, a week before my due date, wanting time to both hurry up and stand still.

I'm huge, uncomfortable, not sleeping and yes, whining about it (Note to my pre-pregnancy self, who is yelling from within to just shut up and be grateful I'm pregnant: I am grateful. And I can also whine about how uncomfortable I am. These thoughts are not mutually exclusive.). I feel like I've been pregnant my entire life. I don't even remember what it feels like to move freely, to sleep in any position I want or to exercise. I am, quite simply, so ready to move onto parenthood, to meet this baby who's made himself at home inside me for almost a year.

And yet. I am acutely aware of the unique magic of this time, this pre-baby period when we still have no idea what we're in for. When all we can do is imagine what our son will look like, be like, become. When his every move is still like a little secret between the two of us. I may never be pregnant again – and, at any rate, will never be pregnant again with this baby – and I want to do everything I can to hold onto it in ways that I will appreciate later.

The house is ready and I'm ready. The baby is full term, and now I can wish for him to come instead of doing everything I can to stay pregnant. Until then, I'm going to try and relish these last moments alone with this baby we fought so hard for.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Note to Self

Here is what not to do before an OB appointment when one is 38 weeks pregnant: Drink a cup of decaf coffee (after months of abstaining from any kind of near- or once-caffeinated beverage) without enough food. Wait too long to have lunch. Forget to drink water. Scarf down lunch right before leaving the house for the doctor's office. Feel buzzed from all of the above.

Because here is what happens: You get your blood pressure taken and suddenly realize that racing in your chest and head is going to register on the machine. It does. And all your explaining about it being an "off" day, the coffee, dehydration, etc. doesn't do a thing to convince your doctor that you're fine. So you get sent to the hospital where you have to pee in a cup (this is easier said than done with a gigantic bump blocking your view), get blood drawn, have a non-stress test (even though you've just had an ultrasound and the baby looked perfect) and wait for the test results. And although they're likely to be normal and you're likely to be sent home – as I was yesterday – it's all a big waste of time and an unnecessary anxiety-inducer.

They told me to drink 10-12 glasses of water per day, and now I'm going to listen.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Pregnancy Accoutrements - A Buyer's Guide

Many thanks for your comments on my deep ethical dilemma over hair highlighting. I kept my appointment and now will make every effort to turn off my brain until I leave the salon having reclaimed my rightful place in the world as a streaky blonde. Seriously, I really do appreciate your encouragement – it's sometimes hard to find perspective in my own, worried head and I needed your help on that one.

The highlights issue got me thinking about pregnancy-friendly beauty products I've discovered, and generally about what items have worked for me – and what I've found to be a waste of time and/or money – throughout these months. While I know that these things are quite subjective and for every rave review on something you might find three negatives, I thought I'd share my own experience and maybe get a conversation going (what have you loved? hated?) so the newly pregnant (ahem, Sprogblogger) and soon-to-be-pregnant can start stocking up on gear.

**So worth it**

-Basq Rebalancing Facial Cleanser – I'm always looking for new ways to deal with my combination skin, and pregnancy hasn't exactly been its BFF. So I tested this product at a local maternity shop (Basq is specifically for pregnant and new moms) and felt it was worth a try – it's designed for rebalancing oiliness and contains microbeads that gently exfoliate (many exfoliating cleansers contain harsher ingredients not ideal for pregnancy). And I'm seriously glad I did – it's made my skin look brighter and feel less oily, and may be something I keep in my product lineup indefinitely.

-Basq Cucumber Tea Eye Gel – Another one from Basq, this cooling eye gel feels fantastic on my puffy, overtired (sure to get even overtired-er in the weeks to come) eyes.

-Mamma Mio Tummy Rub Stretch Mark Butter – Okay, so I did not get off scot-free in this area. After bragging for months about no stretch marks, they finally appeared on the scene around my eighth or ninth month. I truly believe this had to do with my transverse baby – my belly was quite wide around and very oddly shaped for longer than normal and I think it stretched out the skin more than it otherwise would have (excuses, excuses). And I never have believed in topical "belly butters" anyway – stretch marks do not happen because one forgot to apply some lotion. But if you're going to use one (because, why not?), this one feels luxurious, smells fresh and is just generally pleasant to use.

-Karma Organic Spa Organic Nail Polish Remover – I can't stand the smell of regular nail polish remover normally, never mind while pregnant. And I hate how it strips and dries out your nails. Not only does this actually smell good (I got lavender), but it really works (took off my professionally manicured fortress of polish with the same number of swipes as regular remover) – and leaves your nails shiny, not stripped. Oh, and of course there's the benefit of knowing you're not pickling your unborn child while using it. The $12 price tag is steep compared with the drugstore variety but well worth it for the above reasons.

-Zoya Nail Polish – If you're looking for polish that's also free of all the yucky stuff that sounds scary when you're pregnant, this line is great and some regular salons now make it available. This was one area where I became really laid-back (seriously!) over the course of my pregnancy, but in the beginning I was paranoid about using the regular brands so it was nice to have this option.

-What to Expect When You're Expecting – I'd been warned by lots of people (including OBs) that this book was no good, that it dwelled on the bad things that can happen during pregnancy and frightened poor, unsuspecting newly pregnant girls. I found the opposite (and you know if there were fear to be found in it I would have found it). The scary parts are mostly in a separate chapter at the end, and the rest of it made me feel, surprisingly, normal and healthy. It's been my absolute pregnancy Bible.

-Baby Bargains – This is a must-have for navigating the intimidating world of baby gear. It breaks everything down for you, tells you what you realistically need and rates each item across multiple brands. Go to any BabiesRUs store and you'll find couples trolling the aisles with it. I'm sure I'll end up disagreeing with some of their recommendations, but I don't know what I would have done without it.

-Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy – This one tells you in plainer language the real deal on the stuff you don't want to ask your OB. Its author is a mother of four, so you figure if she doesn't know what it's really like, no one does.

-Belly Laughs – I didn't know I liked Jenny McCarthy until I read this book (in fact, I thought I strongly disliked her). It's just pure entertainment. I seriously laughed so hard at one of the chapters it concerned my husband. I also bought Baby Laughs, which I plan to read once the baby comes (in all my spare time) so I can relate.

-Waiting for Birdy Part memoir, part survival guide, this is one woman's truthfully funny, beautifully written, birds-eye view of pregnancy and parenthood. I'm holding onto my copy to read again when I have a toddler (her son's age).

Gap Maternity Pants – When I first grew out of my clothes (around 10 weeks) I tried going up a size in pants, which clearly didn't work. So I went to a maternity store and bought a pair of real maternity pants with the rollover belly panel. I thought they fit until I started walking and realized I didn't have enough of a belly to keep them up. I subsequently discovered through a lot of trial, error and frustration that Gap makes the best maternity pants, IMHO. I particularly like the "demi" panel pants, which lose the big panel in favor of smaller, stretchy waistband panel. This was all I needed for a good amount of the pregnancy, and continues to fit now (though eventually I got some full-panel pants as well).

-Maternity Underwear – I smugly thought for several months that I'd outsmarted the maternity manufacturing industry by avoiding maternity underwear. I bought one pack about midway through and didn't see a huge difference, so I figured I'd keep wearing mine for the duration. I was sorely mistaken on this one. What happens when your belly gets giant is that the top of your regular underwear won't stay up and starts to roll over. Which is very, very annoying. So spring for the maternity fit – they make all styles of these so it doesn't mean resorting to grannies.

-Motherhood Light Support Nursing Sleep Bra – So after my tirade over the nursing bra situation, I decided to order a bunch (mainly from Target, which someone recommended) in hopes that one or two would fit. I ordered two of these sleep bras from Motherhood, which have turned out to be quite comfortable, fit normally and keep the girls where they should be.

Citrucel – Okay, you know how much I love talking about what goes on in the bathroom so I'll make this quick. If you have any – ANY – signs of difficulty (Most pregnant girls do at one point or another, particularly if you're put on bed rest. I have had episodes that will never be recounted but would have you either laughing or crying on my behalf.) in this department, you must head them off at the pass. Run, don't walk, to your nearest pharmacy and pick something up. Some people swear by Colace but for me, Citrucel caplets (don't bother with the powder) twice a day have worked like a charm. This is not something to "wait out" in efforts to avoid taking anything, my friends. Trust me.

Snoogle – Despite a seriously unfortunate name, this full-body pregnancy pillow has been a constant companion for me these months. In the beginning, the bottom part (which fits nicely between your knees) alone noticeably helped the sciatica I developed in my hips. Now I fashion various formations using the whole thing as leverage on top of my existing pillows to keep my head propped and my hips somewhat comfortable. My husband calls this activity "roosting."

**Save your pennies**
-Palmer's Cocoa Butter – Not impressed. As I said above, I don't even necessarily believe in stretch mark-antidotes except as a way of making you feel action-oriented in combating them. So I think the experience of applying the lotion should be uplifting and luxurious. The Palmer's smell is just not olfactory friendly. It smells exactly like they tried to get a rich, tropical-esque scent into a drugstore-priced bottle. No thanks.

-Girlfriend's Guide to the First Year – As helpful as I found the pregnancy guide, I found this second book to be disappointing and depressing. Reading it, one begins to believe that the only emotion they will feel in the first several weeks of parenthood will be a strong urge to commit hara-kiri. I mean, I'm prepared for it to be hard (I'm even prepared that I have no idea now how hard it will be). But I want to try and be somewhat optimistic about my chances of emerging alive.

-Pregnancy Journals – I bought a pregnancy journal (which detailed what your fetus was doing every day) just after getting my BFP, and I think I looked at it for all of one afternoon. For me, blogging was my pregnancy journal and the once-weekly updates on fetal growth, etc. from What to Expect were more than enough for me. As excited as you are, especially in the beginning, there is only so much one can talk about what fruit one's fetus most resembles that day.

-Maternity Tights/Hosiery – Unlike maternity underwear, these I found to be a complete waste of money. They're basically regular tights with a maternity label stamped on them. I found no discernible difference between these and regular hosiery.

-Belly Bands – I know these have their devotees, but I was not one of them – I found them to be far too constricting around my belly (which was still bloated from IVF meds and quickly getting bigger). What I did instead was MacGyver a bigger waistband on my pants using a hair elastic from the inside button of one side to the regular button on the other, and wore long tops. For me, this bridged those few weeks between regular clothes and the discovery of the wonderful Gap demi panel (which really can be worn from a few weeks on).

That's all I can think of at the moment, but I may do another future installment on pregnancy/new mom "stuff" as I think of things. Because, let's face it, you don't really feel pregnant until you buy something that says "maternity" and realize, with a start, that it's made for you.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

To Highlight or Not to Highlight?

Okay, blogger friends: tell me what you would do. I got permission from my doctor to let my husband drive me to the salon and sit there for services. So I made an appointment for next Wednesday, for a cut and long-awaited highlights (I'd planned to go the Saturday after "the incident" and bed rest orders, which obviously didn't happen). I've gotten numerous reassurances from my OB, close (smart) friends and even my RE way back when that it is safe (the baby is fully formed now and it's only highlights which don't even touch your scalp, etc.), they did it, etc. So there's no real reason not to do it. But despite these reassurances, I am still thinking about it, going back and forth with this persistent devil-angel argument in my head. I know it's silly, but here it is.

On the one hand, I hate my hair dark and don't even recognize myself in the mirror right now. Though it may sound ridiculous, these highlights would go a long way toward lifting my spirits. I've felt pretty unattractive these past months and this would help a lot. And you know what? I've worked really hard for this baby and don't want to look (and thus, feel) dowdy when I meet him and have photos taken with him.

On the other hand, I've worked really hard for this baby and don't want to do anything that might hurt him. Despite the opinion of my OB (and I think most OBs) – and even ACOG for Pete's sake – that it's fine, I can't get it out of my head that Something Bad could happen. And then I wonder, is it really worth it? It's just a few more weeks and then eventually I can get out and go to the salon. It seems petty to even think of doing it then.

But then again: I've spent this whole pregnancy worrying (one everyone might say obsessing) to the extreme, feeling like something I do might take it all away. It's mainly the legacy of infertility, I know, but I've wasted a lot of time on it when I know in my heart of hearts that so little of pregnancy is actually in your control. Part of me just doesn't want to look back on the photos and say there's one more instance of my fear overcoming my rational mind, medical science and the drive to make myself happy too.

So tell me, dear readers, what did/would you do?

Friday, January 08, 2010

No Rest for the Weary

I am huge – let's face it. I'm 37 weeks 3 days pregnant, and I'm supposed to be huge. But I am finding my size a bit startling nonetheless. None of my clothes fit properly anymore –not even the "just in case I get that big" maternity pieces I'd bought on sale. When I lie down, I can imagine it's exactly what a beached whale feels like – heavy and helpless. It's not a good feeling, my friends.

So what happens when I try to sleep is that I turn on one side and the enormous girth of my bump puts my hip to sleep and I wake up, moaning in pain. And then I turn to the other side, and it happens there too. And so it goes, back and forth, all night, until I usually give up and stand up – pausing to let the excruciating groin pain subside before I take a step – and take a break from all that exhausting "sleeping." Last night I took my break downstairs on the couch, because it was also about 200 degrees in my bedroom, and I was all sweaty on top of everything else and about to cry. I tossed and turned more on the couch and today am a rather useless zombie.

So it's making me a little bit insane that helpful people* keep telling me to "bank" my sleep now, as if I can go up to the teller and put 200 hours in savings, please, and then walk out with one of those sugary lollipops that you can only find at banks. When I hear this it makes me so tired I want to doze right on the spot (if I could). Because clearly they think that a) I'm sleeping like a baby all day and night right now, b) I'm so naive, I have no idea what I'm in for and newsflash! Babies wake up all through the night, am I sure I know this? Because if I didn't know this, then how sad for me when I'm up in the middle of the night all tired with a crying baby and don't say they didn't warn me. And c) they obviously think that I have no idea what it's like to not sleep, that there's never been a reason for me to have a lack of sleep before. Because my life never had any meaning before this – I was just a selfish fool with nothing notable to do that might take up a lot of time. How sad. But how happy to be in for no sleep soon when I pop out this baby, so I, too, can warn other unsuspecting pregnant girls who aren't sleeping all about banking their sleep!

Maybe I'm just being sensitive – okay, I know I'm sensitive, because the other night I cried real tears when my husband said something to the cat when he was supposed to be listening to me – but I'm becoming more and more agitated when people tell me this. I would like to ask that they tell me how sleeping for a couple of hours at a time when I don't have a 7lb 6oz (ultrasound measurements this week, which I know are just an estimate) human being strapped in my middle will be any worse than what I'm doing now?

*(Please note: I promise that if you are my friend IRL and you are close enough to me to read this blog, I am not talking about you when I refer to comments I'm getting. From you I seriously want to know how it really will be, and I want to hear your thoughts because I know they come from a loving and helpful place, and you aren't just trying to scare me or demonstrate how little I know.)

Monday, January 04, 2010

Thank You, Baby

Okay, so a real-life friend and some blogger friends have talked me off the ledge a bit from my nursing-bra tirade. I now understand that the underwire thing, at least, is explainable medically and not just another plot by male product designers to drive us certifiably insane (like this one: those paper backings they put on panty liners that have no little raised edge or anything for you to pull to peel them off). It still doesn't explain why they fit so strangely or look so sorry, but I'm learning that this is not necessarily the place to invest my post-pregnancy dollars.

Meanwhile, I may be busting out of my existing bras like the Incredible Pregnant Hulk, but at least there was this today: an ultrasound confirming that the baby's head is now clearly low in my pelvis, ready to emerge at the designated time. Which means all that child's posing (have you ever seen a pregnant woman try to get in the knees-to-chest position? It's sort of, I would imagine, like watching an elephant sit down at a table for tea.) and playing of music low on my belly (mainly James Taylor; I wonder if I should let him know of this new use for his music) actually achieved its intended end. Or not – I completely accept that those techniques could be complete hogwash, that there was nothing I could have done and doing those things simply kept me from going insane. But no matter, because what we confirmed today also means that my c-section on 1/18 will be canceled in favor of the quaint-sounding plan of waiting to go into labor naturally.

I know I could have figured out a way to deal with the surgery, and I still will if I need to, if labor becomes complicated and the c-section becomes necessary as I know it sometimes does. But I was genuinely, intensely anxious about it, and I'm so relieved and grateful to turn my attention back to the excitement of welcoming this long-awaited baby. He's keeping us on our toes by doing things on his own time. But he's heading in the right direction now.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Good Bra Hunting

I have a bone to pick with – well, I don't really know with whom to pick it. The baby/mother industry? Designers? Manufacturers? Whomever. The bone is this: the sorry state of affairs when it comes to nursing bras.

Here's the thing, nursing bra makers. I'm having a baby. I've spent the past 9+ months feeling unattractive in all kinds of new and exciting ways, from breaking out to watching stretch marks creep across my swollen abdomen. I've watched as my once-compact and tidy breasts have ballooned into unrecognizable mammary freak shows. This will only get worse when my body recognizes that the baby is out and they become rock hard and painful as hell and start spraying milk every which way. I know this.

So what makes you think, after all of that, the thing I want most to put on is a suntan-pantyhose colored, shapeless, poor excuse for 'lingerie' bra that screams "I am a shadow of my former, feminine self?" Frankly, my boobs are not amused.

Let me start with the fact that it is inordinately challenging to find a nursing bra with underwire. Even in my 34B days, I never imagined buying a bra without it; in fact, I don't think I've worn one since my pre-pubescent training bra days. Sagging is never a good look, so why would I want to encourage it? And why, oh why, would I choose this moment in time – when my boobs need more support than ever – to decide to forgo that added bit of oomph? It truly baffles me. The only time I can imagine wearing a non-underwire bra while nursing is while I'm sleeping (Because yes, I will be wearing a bra to bed for the next several months. These boobs are not going down without a fight.), and even then I'm on the fence.

Also, apparently these misguided bra makers think that when the babies leave our bodies, they take with them any aesthetic drive as well. I suppose they think that by the time the baby is delivered, what with the several months of beauty-killing pregnancy side effects preceding, we will have thrown our hands up in disgust and surrender. That we'll take whatever we can get, so long as it's practical. Would it kill them to add a little lace or other cuteness to these things? I have found exactly two good-looking nursing bras so far: one of them is by Elle Macpherson and, shockingly, has no underwire (et tu, Elle?) and the other is $120. I'm sorry, but if I'm going to spend that much on a bra it better be wearable for more than a few months (and no, I don't intend to wear nursing bras when I'm not actually nursing) and have a fancy, European-sounding label inside.

The few that I've found that are passable, that don't make me look like a 1920s Sears catalog model when I put them on, somehow transport my boobs into odd locations, shapes and configurations on my chest. How and why they do this, I do not know, but I do know that my particular boobs were not meant to be stretched to opposite sides of my torso or to pop out, cone-like, a la Madonna's early 1990s Jean-Paul Gaultier moment.

You know, I hate to make this into this big, symbolic issue and go all soapboxy on you, but I really do resent this thing about mothers in our society. We poke fun at how drab moms become, how they lose their sense of self when they pop out the baby. We act like it's impossible that a woman who's given birth could simultaneously care about the baby enough to jump in front of a moving train for it and also happen to care that her hair is brushed, mascara applied and she's outfitted in something flattering. Witness the Saturday Night Live commercial parody hawking mom jeans. It's all very simple-minded and I think is a movement led by the same people who suggest that philanderers like Tiger Woods are biologically incapable of monogamy (don't even get me started on him).

I think these same people are getting messages to the bra makers, because they're making awful bras, and have I mentioned how unhappy this makes me? And please, oh please, do not use the "time" excuse for this. I've been told in many different ways now how little time I will have once my baby is here, how little time for showering and dressing and grooming and generally doing anything for myself – and how that won't even bother me. (I found this patronizing while going through infertility and I still find it patronizing now – another topic for another time.) I get that having another person to look after will take time. I know I'll be sleep deprived and covered in milk and spitup and generally feel pretty unlike myself. But it takes the same amount of time to put on an ugly bra as it would one that had a flattering fit, kept my boobs off my knees and looked pretty. After all, is there ever a time when a woman needs a little pretty in her life more?

PS If you've found something I've missed, do tell.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Counting Down

So here we are, one year later than – yet light years from – last year, when I rang out 2008 with a New Year's Eve D&E (because, really, who needs champagne when you can have Ver*sed?) to finally put an end (or so I thought) to the never-ending miscarriage. As I sat on the couch recovering that first day of 2009, mostly relieved to end the physical part of the process, I wished and prayed with all my will that this year would be different. And miraculously, it is. I am so absurdly grateful.

I've been hanging in there, these weeks of bed rest, and somehow the days have begun to fly by in rapid succession. Truly, bed rest is still not what you would imagine when you're running from one responsibility to the next and think a few weeks on the couch sound like a small slice of heaven. But of course you recognize, deeply, that there are worse positions in which you might find yourself as well. I mean yes, I have all those nesting urges and would like to be doing more to get organized and prepared for this baby. But it's also oddly liberating to accept that all that stuff will come, later. That for now I have little choice but to do a whole lot of nothing.

Had my 36-week appointment Wednesday, including nonstress and group B strep tests. While she was in there she checked my cervix (long and closed). Let me just throw my complaints in the ring when it comes to cervical checks. Because they really hurt. I'm sorry, but there's just no way to lie there and act normal when it's happening. I try not to writhe in pain or make noises or swear but it requires my full concentration. But this one was worth it because she thinks (the only way to know for sure will be through Monday's ultrasound) she felt the top of the baby's head while doing it. Which means all my attempts to contort my big-bellied self into child's pose and play music down near my pelvis (yes, I am a sucker for trying anything on this front) may have been successful. Here's hoping.

Either way, the countdown to 2010 is over and the countdown to baby is on. We're in the year and month of this baby's birth now, and it's beginning to feel real. We put him in there and now he has to come out, one way or another. I still can't begin to imagine how it will feel to look at this baby and know that he's mine.

Anyway, here I am – I've posted a photo, taken on Christmas Eve with my Christmas present, a digital SLR camera. I used to think that I would never do the photo thing, but I'm getting to the point now where I want to squeeze out everything that's left of this pregnancy. I want to remember how it feels, how it looks. It may be the one and only time I'm this pregnant, and I want to hold onto it. (Be gentle with any thoughts on my rotundness, please!)

Wherever you are in your quest for parenthood, may all of your wishes come true in this new year.