Oh man, I’m going to be the mother of a BOY. After having a girl it’s hard for me to imagine knowing how to parent a boy, but it’s super exciting that I get to raise a good man. And my blood test results were all normal. It’s beyond crazy to me that with this new test (I did the Pan.orama) they can know so much so early. It would have been awesome to have been spared the anxiety I went through for close to 20 weeks last time around, so it’s nice to be able to breathe a little easier so much earlier. I wavered on not finding out the sex, but honestly this pregnancy still feels so unreal to me that I almost had to know, just to have something tangible to hold on to. And now there’s no point in hanging on to all those girl clothes (some pangs of sadness there, for sure). It’s also weird to think that my little girl won’t have a sister (for sure this is our last child) but I think she’s going to be an awesome big sister either way.
This week’s ultrasound showed a perfectly sized embryo with a beating heart. 145 bpm. I saw it as soon as she inserted Wandy and I felt a rush of relief and got teary-eyed. Despite my detachment, I guess there’s some emotion about this one underneath all the exhaustion from toddler wrangling and nagging fear of loss. As if there was any doubt. but it still feels so different to the first time round. I remember cooing and aahing over every grainy ultrasound pic last time. This one got shoved to the bottom of my purse where I kind of forgot about until my husband asked to see it when he got home hours later. It feels like this developing little one is getting short-changed a bit, and I feel a little guilty about it. Actually I don’t know what to feel. It’s just a confusing jumble of things. I’m still having a hard time imagining loving another like I love my little Sophie, but everyone says that the love is there, and it’s just as strong. So I’ll just keep moving along and try to stay aware of all these confusing feelings one day at a time.
That’s kind of how I feel about this pregnancy. I want to be excited about it, but I’m also not ready to invest emotionally. And it’s different to last time. Yes, I spent my whole pregnancy floating in and out of an anxious state that something terrible was going to happen, but I was 100% invested in it. I was living as if my life depended on it working out. This is very different. Don’t get me wrong, now that we’re here, I want another child very badly, and I’d like it to be the one that’s currently growing in my belly. But at the same time, everything just feels a little muted. I have a lively feisty toddler demanding my attention and the stakes don’t feel quite as high. I’ll still have her, no matter what happens. The weird thing is that physically, this one is a lot harder so far. Where I had no nausea last time, this time I’m waking up feeling queasy every morning. Not enough to throw up, but enough to make me want to throw the covers back over my head and hide. I didn’t even ask my husband to go with me to the first ultrasound earlier this week. He has a crazy work schedule right now and I knew it would be hugely inconvenient for him. I also knew that no matter what happened, I could handle it.
It’s a weird place to be. I want to just enjoy this and feel excited about it. But I can’t. Not yet.
I think what’s making this a little harder, and maybe a little weirder, is that a good friend who has a baby 4 months younger than mine is also pregnant, and just one week behind me. She’s one of those people that got pregnant the first time they really tried, and now even this time, not trying at all. Okay, neither were we, but whatever. My point is that pregnancy comes easily to her and the pessimist in me can see this playing out in a torturous fashion. I lose my baby and then have to experience her pregnancy while our toddlers play together. Urgh. That would be hard. Despite my stated lack of emotional investment right now.
Anyway, so some updates and details. I had an ultrasound two days ago at 6 weeks 1 day. Even though the tech assured me that they were not expecting to see a heartbeat, I was hoping of course that they would. They didn’t. What they did see was an appropriately sized gestational sac, yolk sac and fetal pole. She said everything looks good and it’s normal for the heartbeat to not be showing up yet. I remembered we saw one at 6 weeks 4 days last time but that was a Clomid cycle. On those I always ovulated on day 14 but left to its own devices my ovaries prefer to ovulate around day 18. So it’s all perfectly plausible that we didn’t see it, but I’m still cautious and preparing myself for the worst.
Another scan next week, so until then.
Because taking 6 HPTs wasn’t enough, I finally called a doctor who had been recommended to me a while back when I casually started to look and went in for a blood test at what I think is around 20 DPO. I know betas don’t really mean anything in isolation, and they seemed somewhat surprised that I wanted to do this, but I was mostly worried about progesterone and wanted to make sure that was where it should be. HCG was 2400 and progesterone was 24. The nurse said that was good for where I was and we scheduled an ultrasound for next week. This feels so crazy. I know I’m not out of the woods, but I guess the first hurdle has been cleared.
As with my last pregnancy, I am completely symptom free. Nursing feels a little weird, but honestly, nursing a toddler can be sort of acrobatic and uncomfortable in so many ways so I can’t really attribute it to being pregnant.
I really do. I haven’t blogged in forever. My “baby” just turned two. I guess I became one of those bloggers who really had no idea how to blog once the baby was on the other side. But I have been following your stories quietly.
I really do feel like an ass for coming back to this space to talk about the legacy of infertility and its aftermath, because I have been so very silent, but it feels good just to be here. I’m really not expecting anyone to even be reading anymore.
It’s been a weird year. I was pretty “one and done” for a long time. I hit the big 4-0 and decided that I just wasn’t going to stress about pursuing another pregnancy actively. But then. One pregnancy announcement after another after another in my “mommy circle” and I started to feel those familiar pangs of jealousy, failure, inadequacy and regret. And panic. So off I trudged three weeks ago to go and get my hormone levels checked, just out of curiosity. The new doctor I saw (my old OB retired at the end of last year) gave me a “just in case” prescription for Clomid, told me to wean before taking it (yep, STILL nursing) and ran some bloodwork. He called back a few days later to say that levels were okay, but AMH levels (first time I’d had those tested) were at the bottom end of the normal range. I didn’t really give it much thought. It seems that AMH numbers are more relevant in IVF cycles, as a predictor of how eggs might get retrieved. As long as you’re ovulating every month, it could be a good egg, or a bad one and that’s that (well we all know it’s so much more than that, but you get the idea). I did spend that day in a little bit of a funk. I hadn’t really been tracking my cycle that much and certainly hadn’t been trying too hard for a baby. But I hadn’t been preventing one either since getting my period back last summer. Getting this tangible evidence of my declining ovarian reserve was a little bit of a punch. Although really, it didn’t surprise me given my age. Normal 40 year old ovaries, right?
Imagine my surprise a few days ago, a few days late, to get a positive on an HPT. I don’t know what to say or do. I feel like I should go in for a Beta, but I don’t even have an RE anymore. I feel like I’m going to have a miscarriage. I feel totally ambivalent, yet completely thrilled. I look at my baby and can’t imagine that there could be another one. Could it be? Could I be this lucky? Something tells me no. But I guess I’m just gonna take it one day at a time.
Of course I’m very twingy on one side, which is immediately making me jump to the conclusion that I am having an ectopic pregnancy. When it comes to the roof of panic, I am really not good at ducking my head.
Happy 4th everyone!
Sophie is now more than 5 weeks old. I can’t believe it. But lets rewind a bit, shall we?
Nothing could have prepared me for that first night home. Crossing the threshold with that tiny little girl in her hospital hat, looking so miniature in her car seat, I was hit with an enormous wave of scary responsibility. It wasn’t a good feeling. I can’t believe that the first thing I did on bringing my longed-for baby girl home, was sit on the couch and cry. I’m chalking it up to the cumulative effects of sleep deprivation (I hadn’t really slept from the moment my water broke almost 4 days earlier), rough moments in the hospital where my colostrum didn’t seem to be satisfying her and she cried for what seemed like hours. Or when the lactation consultant (lovely as she was) seemed a little overbearing and “it’s my way or a big fat disaster on the breastfeeding freeway”. To top it off, my OB didn’t discharge me until 4pm which meant stupid godawful LA traffic all the way home. It wasn’t the happiest homecoming.
Luckily my husband had 3 weeks off so we had more than two weeks together after we got home. He was the best post-partum doula (as I called him) ever – he made sure I was hydrated, fed and would help check Sophie’s latch. He also did all the laundry, cooking, house pick-up, and errand running (including going out to buy several alternate swaddling devices once we established that our little Houdini could break out of any “standard” swaddle.) He was a star. We did pretty well those first few weeks. Yes, there were painful, aggravating bouts of cluster feeding (it was much easier to deal with once it had a name and I realized it was a “thing”) and many cranky cocktail hours (6:30 pm on the dot was the onset of witching hour every night – still is, but doesn’t last quite as long) but we went out on walks, visited our favorite coffee shop once or twice, and braved the traffic-y drive to her first pediatrician’s appointment. By the end of his time off, we had settled into a nice groove, and I was sad when it was over. But hey, my mom was arriving that same day! Reinforcements would be arriving and all would be good. Right? Wrong.
I realized less than 24 hours into my mother’s visit that I would have to adjust my expectations regarding how much help she would be. It hasn’t been all bad, lest I sound like a monstrous ingrate, but I’m realizing now that she’s visiting my sister in San Francisco for a week, how much EASIER it is to not have her anxiously hovering over me and the baby. That’s the killer. Her uncontrollable anxiety. My dad said that he talked to her before she left, urging her to not let it ruin the trip, or to feel like she had to express a contrary opinion on our parenting style. I guess he knows her better than anybody, but he must also know that some things just never change. I had prepared myself for every freeway lane change causing hissing from her post next to the baby in the back seat, or that she would have (and express) an opinion on everything from breastfeeding to swaddling (oh, she HATES the swaddle – too bad it’s so damn effective, and we will NOT STOP). What I hadn’t banked on was how nervous she would be. She doesn’t want to hold the baby unless she’s got her surrounded by a blanket (but not a swaddle, because that makes her claustrophobic – my mother, not the baby), so that pretty much eliminates any diaper changes or quick hand offs when I need to pee, or tie my shoes. She doesn’t trust her ability to carry a car seat, or familiarize herself with any of Sophie’s gear, like the stroller or swing, for example. And she will unpack the dishwasher or the draining rack, and not put anything away. Because she doesn’t know where anything goes. Leaving us with a bunch of dry dishes, glasses and cups creating clutter on our already limited counter space. She’s even apologetic and anxious about her cooking, something that she is actually quite good at.
The same woman who was so efficiently caring when she was here for my amnio seems to have aged dramatically overnight, and has no idea how to mother her daughter who is a first time mom. I would die if she were to read this, or to know that these thoughts were going through my head. She is such a giving, loving person. I think this is just a classic example of her anxiety taking complete control. And it’s hard to watch. Especially since I remember vividly how amazing she was years ago when my sister up north gave birth to her daughter. I suppose it’s the difference between a grandma in her early 50s and one who is 70. But for crying out loud, my mother just went hiking through Spain, and is really quite spry and fit. My husband and I can’t quite figure out what’s up. Like if there’s something else going on that she’s not telling us. I know that constantly going under general anesthesia to monitor her now-in-remission bladder cancer has taken its toll, as has a difficult situation my brother is experiencing with an ex-girlfriend with whom he has a child. But neither of these situations are new. The plus side is that this has all but completely squashed my own anxiety. When in the presence of someone so anxious, I really try and turn off my own. And now that I have a daughter of my own, I would like to break the cycle of anxious parenting. Trust me, I wasn’t happy during my first solo trip to the pediatrician that requires a trip on one of LA’s busiest freeways, but I was as cool as a cucumber. Maybe my mom should stay longer.
But other than that little excursion into mother-daughter difficulty, things are good. And Sophie and I are doing great. I feel incredibly lucky that we are a good breastfeeding match, and despite moments of doubt in the hospital, Sophie is thriving and gaining weight without any major glitches. Yes, it hurts sometimes, and I feel CHAINED to her most of the day, but at the same time it’s very rewarding and comforting. She can be a fussy feeder (think Shark Week) at times and I learned at a breastfeeding support group I attended just today that it could be a overactive let-down/abundant supply problem. I’m hoping that some of the tips I picked up, like letting gravity work for us rather than against us, and limiting feedings to one boob per side, will help. I also pumped for the first time yesterday and did it again today, so we have some bottles ready for daddy to get more involved. I do have an upcoming thing that will require me to be out of the house for a few hours so I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes.
And my boobs? Well, for a girl who has barely filled an A-cup most of her life, they are SPECTACULAR. I could do without all the veins and what look like broken blood vessels all over the place, but I suppose they are hard working boobs, and I should cut them some slack. Although hopefully slack is not where they are headed. And the leakiness is pretty ridiculous. I mean those Lansinoh things aren’t really cutting it. I’m hoping the constant dripping lets up soon once things get more established. But for now it’s pretty gross. I am constantly sporting a wet shirt front and I feel like I must smell, even though I don’t actually smell anything.
Now we’re just waiting patiently to hit 6 weeks when the fussy period (supposedly) lets up a bit. It has felt a little easier with my mom safely ensconced in someone else’s home. My husband has a respite from her worried glances at his calming techniques. (He is an avid subscriber of Dr. Harvey Karp’s 5 S’s, and will often try all of them at once.) And I don’t have to put up with her constantly asking me if I want her to take her. I mean, yes, sometimes I do, but when you ask me that EVERY time she cries, it feels undermining, and that you don’t trust my ability to calm my baby. And that each time you take her, you will either want to unswaddle her, or have me go and get another blanket for you to loosely wrap her in. Oops. Didn’t mean to head back into that topic again. Sorry.
But life is good. Very very good. I am in love with my baby and could look at her sweet little face for hours and hours. And listen to her adorable sneezes (newborn sneezes are the cutest thing ever) and grunts for ever. I suspect those grunts are linked to gas pain so I feel bad loving the way they sound, but one day she will outgrow her newborn noises and I will miss them so very much.
I feel like this is a rambly, all-over-the-place post, but if I don’t hit “Publish” now, I never will.
I really want to document this, just because it was something I spent so much time planning and thinking about how I wanted labor to go. And of course it went very differently. I always knew this might be the case, which is why I never had a detailed birth plan. I had a conversation with my OB about my preferences, but always let her know that I was open to the Plan B birth.
The weekend before my due date, I was feeling like things were definitely starting to happen. I was very uncomfortable and “waddly” and baby felt like she was vigorously head-butting my cervix. But I still thought I would go a few days past my due date, which was that Wednesday.
I was wrong. Monday I ran around all day taking care of last minute stuff that I knew would be a pain in the ass once I had a little sidekick. Boring stuff like taking my car to be serviced, or returning items I didn’t need/want to various stores. A few days prior I had also agreed to a new freelance project so was also trying to meet a deadline for that. “This is good,” I thought, “I’ll have this crazy day today, then I’ll have a few days to lie around on the couch and watch movies and read.” You know, before heading to the hospital a few days later for my entirely natural birth.
And here’s how everything went differently after that.
My water broke early the next morning at 1am. I had woken up about half an hour before drenched in sweat. It reminded me of the Clomid days and felt distinctly hormonal. I thought things might be shifting in my body, but didn’t think much of it beyond that. After dozing off for a bit, I had that distinct popping sensation others have described. A trip to the bathroom revealed that I had not in fact, peed myself, but that my water had broken. I didn’t feel the need to rush to the hospital, knowing that I had a bit of a window to get there safely, and there was nary a hint of a contraction. It also helped that things weren’t really gushing, just a steady stream that was tinged slightly pink (normal according to Dr. Google so I did not freak out). I woke my husband, told him things were starting to happen but that he could go back to sleep since I didn’t want to leave just yet. Of course he couldn’t sleep after that so while I showered, he got his bag ready, threw last minute items into my bag and made me some tea. After I got out of the shower, I still wasn’t feeling the need to rush, and sent off a file to my contact at my freelance job. Never in a million years did I imagine that scenario.
We finally left for the hospital at 5:45. On the way, we drove past our favorite bagel place (where the goods are baked on site) and decided to pull over and get some fresh out of the oven for the car ride, knowing that I would not be allowed to eat once I was admitted. (Again, never pictured running into Brooklyn bagel while in labor). On arrival at the hospital, it was inconclusive whether or not my water had broken so they had me hang out in the triage room before admitting me. This was annoying, especially when they were muttering about putting fluid on a slide under the microscope to check for ferning (or something like that) when just moments before I had splashed all over the floor en route to the bathroom. But another surprise – movies on demand! So hubs and I settled in to watch a trashy movie. Still no contractions and only 1 cm dilated.
I am finally admitted, but can’t go into our birthing “suite” until I am 4 cm or more. We finish the movie, I do some work. At the next check, I am still no more dilated than I was on arrival. My doctor arrives and advises that we start a low dose of Pitocin. I had not wanted to be induced but she assures me that this is not an induction. My labor had already begun and this was just going to speed things up. And since I hadn’t felt nary a contraction, just some very mild back pain, it was going to be a long day without some help. I agree.
They weren’t kidding about hitting the gas pedal. Less than two hours after getting the Pitocin, I am experiencing severe back pain and one hour into that I know I won’t be able to take much more, especially if I am still only 1cm dilated. I am actually now at 2cm and the nurse estimates my pain (back labor – lucky me) at about a 5 compared to what it will be once the contractions start getting stronger. I decide that I will take the epidural after all. The anesthesiologist arrives very quickly, is extremely good looking, and I decide that I might need to kiss him when it is all over. I go from a ball of tears and angst to a happy soul, eating an italian ice and watching “Despicable Me.” Life is good.
Finally we move into our suite. It is very plush with an amazing view. I feel like we just checked into a very nice hotel. The afternoon and early evening pass in a bit of a haze. We make phone calls, watch TV, I sleep, play on my iPhone and I’m starting to think that this is all going to be pretty uneventful.
Thanks to the epidural, I’m feeling no pain and am not paying attention to the monitors (another surprise). A nurse comes in and wants me to shift position because they are worried about the baby’s heart rate which keeps dropping each time I have a contraction. She seems mildly concerned but they are able to control the situation by having me move from one side to the other, and by giving me some oxygen. (The oxygen was annoying and claustrophobic and I hated it. I felt like I could breathe better without it.)
Finally, at about 8pm I am 10 cm and it’s time. The nurse gives me her quick and dirty pushing lesson. I push for about 15 minutes before my doctor arrives. She is unimpressed. She thinks my not being able to feel anything is hindering my ability to push effectively. She wants me to stop for a while, have the epidural turned off and then resume in an hour. I am actually delighted by this plan because not being able to feel a thing wasn’t working for me at all.
At around 9:20 we try again. I can feel a bit more now (no pain, just some intense pressure – kind of like you’re pooping after DAYS of constipation – I am no stranger to this feeling), but my pushing is still not moving the baby. My doctor issues an ultimatum. Because of the baby’s dropping heart rate, she’s giving me 45 minutes to get her before we go to a C-section.
I’m not sure what came over me at that point. Maybe because I work well under pressure, but something animal kicked in and I pushed like I’ve never pushed before. Suddenly there are more people in the room and everyone’s cheering me on. There’s a huge adrenaline rush with the knowledge that I am going to meet my baby soon and things really start happening. After what seemed like not much time at all, my husband tells me to put my hands on the baby’s head which is now clearly visible and in one final push, she’s out! And it’s a girl!!! Just what I secretly wanted. I also breathe a sigh of relief that we don’t have to worry about out of pocket circumcision costs with my OB. (Yes, this went through my mind as they handed me my baby). We had an hour of skin to skin time before they did anything, which was wonderful. And I will never forget the look on her little face as she peered out from under the blanket they covered her with. I still see that expression now, 5 weeks later, and I melt to mush every time.
So, in a nutshell, I got the Pitocin AND the epidural, and never felt real pushing pain but it was still exactly the birth I wanted. And I wouldn’t take any of it back.
Next up: Breastfeeding, boobies, and the first weeks.