Reality Check

I’m hooked up to the milking machine and hubs is in the other room holding the boy, so now seems about as good a time for an update as any.

Here’s the update: this shit is hard.

Let me back up a little. R stayed in the NICU the whole time we were in the hospital. This basically made breastfeeding impossible, and so I’ve unwillingly become an exclusive pumper, which is its own special kind of hell. I’m only pumping 7 times a day, and still it seems impossible to pump, change and feed and burp my son, clean the bottles and supplies, while leaving time to feed and clean myself. Case in point: my husband was supposed to go back to work today, but I called him at noon in tears because for the brief hour break I tried to schedule R wouldn’t sleep.

I have no idea how much of this is sleep deprivation, how much of it postpartum depression. I started crying uncontrollably about 9 days after R was born. Just when I feel like it’s getting better, it happens again.

It’s been three weeks, and it doesn’t feel like it’s getting any easier. I keep thinking there is something wrong with me. Why can’t I handle this? We’ve hired some postpartum doulas to help, and they make me feel like shit. I hate watching them feed my son while I sit strapped to this goddamn pump. I think I am leaning toward formula, at this point.

And I haven’t even mentioned recovering from the c-section! It actually hasn’t been too bad, but I’m definitely still sore and my back is killing me from my lack of core muscles.

I feel like a dick complaining. I’ve wanted this for so long, and there are so many people I know who are still waiting. But I can’t help it. I’m really, really struggling.

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He’s Here!

Rhys (pronounced Reese). Born yesterday morning at 10:44am. 6lbs 10oz. He’s in the special care unit, as his lungs weren’t quite fully mature (despite the fact that I was almost 38 weeks!). Hopefully he will join us in the room today. Hopefully I’ll get up and walk around today!

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One Week to Go

Bubs will be delivered via c-section next Tuesday! I’ll be almost 38 weeks by then (37 weeks, 5 days). We decided not to wait longer because I’ve been having lots of contractions the past couple of weeks. They are Braxton Hicks, but they have been out of control a few times (like 13 an hour!), and because of my myomectomy it isn’t safe for me to go into actual labor. I knew from the beginning that I would have to have a c-section, but I’m still a little bummed. I don’t love the idea of Bubs getting yanked out of the womb with no warning. I keep telling him what’s happening, in the hopes that he’ll somehow understand.

So, it’s been forever since I’ve posted. Aside from the contractions, the third trimester has been fairly predictable. Acid reflux is my main symptom. I’ve also had trouble sleeping. I wake up to pee several times a night, and often I wake up with reflux and have to sit up for a while.

I still can’t believe this is happening. I still can’t believe he’s almost here. I still can’t believe how ridiculously lucky we are, and I’m terrified that it’s all going to be taken away. Anyone else constantly barraged by irrational fears? And rational fears? I’m amazed at how little my anxiety has changed from the IVF process to the pregnancy. I used to think that at some point I’d feel I’d “made it”–not so. Infertility and pregnancy loss has only served as a reminder for how fragile life is. I suppose, in a way, that’s a gift. I may always be afraid of losing my son, but I’ll also always be aware of how lucky I am to have him.  I just hope I can parent more often from a place of joy than from a place of worry. Guess we’ll find out soon…

 

28 Weeks

I haven’t been posting much, and there are a few reasons why. One is that my book is being published! It will come out in spring 2015. I am over the moon, but it’s a lot of work on top of moving into a new house and trying to prepare for parenthood. Another reason I haven’t been posting is that I still feel superstitious. Like I can’t believe this is happening. Like if I talk about it or think about it or get too invested something will go wrong. I am trying to plow through as if everything will be fine–I have a nursery full of crap as proof–but there you have it. I’m still terrified. And probably the last reason is that I’m all over the place with thoughts and emotions. One day I am fine and the next I am a fucking basket case. I feel like I can’t complain–I am so, so, so grateful to be where I am. Down-on-my-knees-kissing-the-ground-grateful. But I’m having some difficulties as I enter the third trimester, and I’m struggling. Sleep is elusive, despite the fact that I’m exhausted. The past few days have been a digestive nightmare. I’m going to call my OB tomorrow to make sure that all this gas/bloating/pain/diarrhea is nothing serious. I suspect that it’s just a day in the life of a pregnant lady with IBS and gastroparesis, but of course I always fear the worst.

You guys, the second trimester was so good–I think I got spoiled.

So there you have it. The closer we get to due date the more nervous I become. I had really hoped it would be the other way around! I’m trying to keep a regular meditation practice to help me through and just do the best I can to take care of myself physically. I’ll try to check in more often here, and share some of the good stuff.

The Roller Coaster Continues

It feels like it has been forever since I’ve posted. I’m now 22 weeks, and I’ve had some good stretches. Overall I have felt better in the second trimester: more energy, less nausea; I’ve even had increased libido, which has been super fun. But I’ve also had a couple of brain boiling headaches (having one today), and the past week I’ve had more gas than I’ve ever had before, which, considering that I have IBS and gastroparesis, is saying a lot.

What I really want to talk about here is anxiety. I’ve had days, even weeks, when I felt calm and assured. I am, on a deep level, positive that this is my son, that this has always been my son, and that I will hold him safely in my arms this fall. And yet there are times when a crushing wave of fear breaks over me: what if I am wrong?

People keep telling me that this is normal. That every pregnant woman feels this way. And I think to some degree they do. But I also believe that those of us who have been through infertility, who have experienced multiple failed cycles and multiple pregnancy losses, have a harder time embracing the hope and joy on this part of the journey. It’s a real struggle to believe that success is possible.

While my husband and I were public with friends and family about the fact that we were doing IVF, and while we shared each step of that process, including sharing the news of pregnancies right away, we have been much more private about this pregnancy. I’m not posting weekly bump pictures on Facebook. I’m not sharing ultrasound photos. We did share the gender, but not until two months after we found out.

I’m struggling with buying things for the nursery. Last weekend we bought a minivan (we have a big dog), and I about hyperventilated. Is it too soon for this?  I am somehow convinced that we will jinx this if we go all out. I’m terrified that we will end up with a big empty house, a big empty car, and a big empty nursery.

I thought that feeling fetal movement would alleviate some of this fear. Turns out it only adds to it!  I’m not feeling movements regularly yet, which is terrifying. Yesterday he was bebopin’ and scattin’ all over the place. Today, not so much.

I don’t really know where I’m going with this post. I guess I just wanted to let everyone know that I am still here and that I’m just trying to experience all the highs and lows and twists and turns of the ride.

Other People’s Pain

One of my husband’s colleagues is in town for a conference, and last night he came over for dinner. We were having a normal kind of chat; you know, sex, politics, religion. Then the colleague asked if the station wagon in the driveway was mine. When we told him it was my husband’s, he looked confused. “I thought you had a boxster or something,” he said. We explained how I’d forced the hubs to trade in his sporty car for a dad mobile and the colleague laughed. He said the car he really wants only has two doors, and his wife won’t let him get it because they are trying to have kids.

I began salivating emotionally, like a lion who smells a wounded wildebeest.

Now, to be fair, I didn’t know the colleague was wounded. I only knew that he mentioned my favorite (or least favorite, or at least most consuming) subject of the last few years: trying to make another human being. The conversation was moving too quickly for me to zero in, so I waited until the next time my husband went to the kitchen before I pounced.

“So,” I said, you guys are trying to have kids?” My eyes were shining with enthusiasm. That’s so great! I wanted to say. That’s so exciting! I was so proud of myself. Finally, for the first time, I could be happy that someone was trying. Look at me not shying away from the subject! Look at me being NORMAL!

“Yeah,” he said, and he hesitated. Still I somehow suspected nothing. “We actually had our first setback recently. D was 16 weeks. It happened about 3 weeks ago.”

And all of a sudden I was the person I never want to be, the person I have come across so many times–the one poking directly into someone’s deepest wound. Fishing around for scraps of bone, breaking scabs, draining blood.

“Oh God,” I said. “I am so sorry.”

He was open to talking about it, a little. But as I was trying to listen and nod empathetically, I could only thing one thing: I’ll be 16 weeks on Thursday. 

What happened? I wanted to ask. Actually, I wanted to scream it hysterically. What happened? What went wrong?? What were the signs??? What should I look for???? What can I do?????

And: This isn’t supposed to happen. She was supposed to be past the point of danger. am supposed to be past the point of danger.

I was quick to tell the colleague our story: the losses, the years, the IVFs. I wanted him to know we weren’t just regular, fertile assholes. I wanted him to know that he wasn’t alone.

He said with a grimace, deep lines around his tired eyes, “Everyone has something.”

And I realized that he was alone, in the way we are all alone. In the way that our universal pain is always tinged with a personal flavor. Loss is loss. And our losses are our losses. It knits us together and keeps us apart.

Maybe one of the greatest gifts we can give another person is their suffering–without trying to fix it or make it go away.

Maybe it’s one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves.

Catching Up

Sorry guys, I know it has been a long time since my last post. A lot has happened, and my head is still spinning.

It took another week or so before Baby B’s heartbeat stopped. It was truly awful to see him on the monitor, a little blob lying still in the bottom of his sac while his brother wiggled around. They did ask if I wanted them to turn the screen, but I said no. I needed to see him. I needed to say goodbye.

I didn’t know at the time that I had two boys–I found out about a week later. One of my docs was kind enough to break protocol and share my PGD results.

Since then, Baby A has continued to grow and thrive. Last week we could even see his boy bits! He is very active every time I get an ultrasound–lots of kicking and punching and twisting. Man, I am in for it.

I’ve been getting ultrasounds weekly, at this point. My OB said that is totally fine. She is more than willing for me to have extra monitoring after all the shit we have been through. But I think after my screen for tube defects next week I will only be getting doppler’s for a while. We’ll see what she says. Through all the spotting and cramping Baby A continues to thrive, and I want so badly to trust that he is going to come home in our arms, but it’s so hard. I was going to try and go sans ultrasound this week, just to see if I could, but I caved today and booked an appointment for Friday. Why fight it?

The emotions have been hard. I’ve had some other symptoms, too. The worst is that I can’t seem to do any physical activity without cramping and/or spotting. I walked a mile two days ago and am still having cramps. I can’t get a straight answer from the nurses. They’re all “I’m sure it’s nothing, but if it makes you feel better, take it easy.” Looking forward to my face-to-face with the doc next week to hash this out. If I can’t exercise, I can’t exercise–I’m fine with that. I just want to know what’s what, you know?

One of the other symptoms I’ve been struggling with is slow digestion. I’m already at a disadvantage with my preexisting digestive problems (IBS and gastroparesis), but around week 11 it’s like I hit a digestive brick wall. Water, veggies, and prune juice weren’t cutting it. I finally took a max dose of colace and seem to be doing better, but I have no idea if I need to continue on a low dose to keep from getting stopped up again or if I should be good without for a few days. Another question for the doctor, I suppose.

In the midst of all this: we’re moving! The first house we put an offer on fell through, but we managed to find another place. It’s bigger, but unfortunately more expensive. The Hubs swears we can afford it. I trust him, but it still makes me nervous. We finally got our closing date set (4/25), so we basically have this weekend and next week to pack. I can’t do much without getting crampy, so most of the work is going to fall to him. Sigh. I wish I could go out of town and come back to my new house, completely unpacked.

Phew! I’m exhausted just typing all this! I’ll check in again after the move 😀

Gratitude

Heartfelt thanks to everyone for your support, prayers, and well-wishes. It’s been a tough weekend with a lot of tears. I am anxious to go in tomorrow, hoping like crazy that baby A is still going strong. I imagine I will feel like this every second until s/he is in my arms. 

The support of this community means so much to me. I know a few people in person who have been through infertility, but they are all on the other side. Their children are happy, healthy elementary school students or teenagers. Most of the parents hardly remember all the rigamarole involved in their conception. It is nice to think that time may heal these present wounds. That there a chance the pain will fade enough to enjoy parenthood. But I hope I never forget this particular type of wanting. I hope that I can help others, if they find themselves in these cold, dark woods. 

Each one of you who reached out over the past few days has been a guidepost to a warmer, safer place. I may not be out of the woods yet, but I think I am on my way home.

Thank you.

Vanishing

I’m not really sure which blog to post this on, so I’ll probably just post to both. Today I found out that one of the twins has stopped growing, and his/her heartbeat is slowing. We were warned that this was a possibility (about 50%, my doc said), but I figured that having two genetically tested embryos growing in there meant that we would have two babies. I figured that everything I have been through meant that I deserved two babies. Certainly I would be exempt from further loss.

At this point, I give myself a gentle smile.

I know better than that. There is no limit to the amount of suffering we will experience in our lives. I am grateful that one twin remains and looks healthy. I am worried, of course, that I will lose him/her too. I am still trying to process that I am losing one of the lives inside of me. Still trying to figure out how to grieve. Still trying to understand that there is nothing I can do.

There is nothing I can do? It seems impossible to have so little control over something so intimately connected with my body.

And yet.

I don’t know how to finish this post, except to say that thoughts and prayers are appreciated. Right now we feel a little hopeless and broken. 

Welcome to Motherhood

First off, everything is okay. Both babies look fine, though B is still measuring small. When I explained to the ultrasound tech about the cramping and the spotting and how terrified I was, she laughed. “Welcome to motherhood,” she said.

Indeed.

In other news, life is complete chaos. Our landlords are terminating our lease at the end of April, and the house that we put an offer on a few weeks ago is turning out to be a nightmare. There are all kinds of structural issues, not to mention asbestos in the attic, old wiring and plumbing, lead paint, etc. We’re still on the fence about moving forward vs. giving up and trying to find another house. And, of course, we are running out of time! We’ve seen at least 20 houses over the past few weeks, and while there are a couple other houses that would work, this one just seems right (massive issues aside). Complicating matters is the fact that I am in no mental or physical shape to deal with all this. I am exhausted and nauseous and mostly brain dead. I ask my husband to bring me the dish towels, then I start the laundry before he does. I dump celery salt in my tuna salad. I swear up and down that there are 56 weeks in a year. I haven’t published a post on my “real” blog in a month. Writing? Photography? No thanks. I’ll be on the couch with a pillow between my knees watching Glee.

I don’t know how you ladies with 9-5 jobs do this.

Anyway, hopefully once we get the house issue settled (which means no more trips out to the burbs, no more all-day house hunting on the weekends, no more conference calls with real-estate agents and attorneys) I’ll have a little more energy and a little less stress.