Monday, August 25, 2008

The other side

Our culture is full of subgroups and clubs. You're gay, left-handed, Asian, Muslim, from another country, into pony play, a Mac user, whatever. When you meet a like-minded person, you might find a connection that others lack.

That's how it works among infertiles, too. We bond -- especially online -- over the months of disappointment, the dashed hopes, the miscarriages, the insensitive comments of family members, the fights with insurance companies, the misery at others' baby showers. We use cryptic acronyms, mourn the arrival of Aunt Flo, and send sticky vibes to one another.

But then some of us -- too few, it seems -- graduate or evolve or escape or something -- from our in-group. It's not quite like Susie Bright turning semi-straight, or a Jew going for Jesus, but it sometimes feels in the same ballpark. We are, now, one more poke in the eye of a person trying and failing to get knocked up.

That's how I felt this weekend, when I ran into a friend who's been trying to get pregnant for probably as long as I did. There we were in the supermarket, me with my Baby in a Bjorn, her with her husband and a slim waistline, looking at each other with much left unsaid. We talked of having lunch. Perhaps we will and she'll ask me for tips, or maybe she'll find the whole prospect too difficult and won't call. Who could blame her?

I've realized that I'm now on the other side. I'm done with my infertility supplies -- my speculum, my copy of Taking Charge of Your Fertility (great book) and Fertility Wisdom (skip it), any ovulation predictor kits that may be lurking in the depths of the bathroom cabinet. That's because if I decide to have another kid -- and though I always wanted two, lately I look back at the two years of struggle and am tempted to quit while I'm ahead -- I'll go straight to IVF and skip all the tracking/IUI crap. I used to consider friends who'd had miscarriages and went on to have healthy children as a beacon of hope. Now somehow, improbably, I'm that person who struggled mightily to get and stay pregnant and went on to have, keninah horah, a healthy child.

So I'm in a new club -- the club of new moms. We get together and go for walks, talking about sleep training, vaccinations, breastfeeding. We complain about our weight and exchange tips on the best Mommy and Me yoga classes. We do not, however, discuss our antral follicle counts or FSH levels. In fact, we don't talk about getting pregnant at all. Maybe some of these women had trouble conceiving; statistically, that has to be true. Maybe they look at their babies with the same amount of awe and disbelief and wonder and humility that I have when I gaze at mine. Maybe, like me, they tell their babies how very wanted they were, sometimes with tears in their eyes. Either way, they seem to have quit the infertility club, and for now, I have, too.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Rejected Facebook status updates of a new mom

- 4 am AB's Baby slept 5 straight hours! Right on.
- 8 am AB is happy to have lost 3 pounds. Only 17 to go!
- 9 am AB, eying a sticky bun, wonders if how much her boobs weigh and if maybe she could get away with losing less than 17 pounds.
- 10 am AB is wondering if other parents find it odd to touch their children's genitals. Come on, has no one else felt this way?
- 11 am AB washed her hair two days in a row!
- Noon AB ate lunch standing up and walking around her house with Baby in a carrier, hoping the movement would keep him calm. Perhaps this is the secret to post-partum weight loss.
- 1 pm AB's Baby is on his third outfit of the day, owing to diaper malfunction compounded by user error.
- 2 pm AB tried and failed to run some errands, as Baby was more interested in screaming than in shopping.
- 3 pm: AB is trying to get Baby to nap.
- 4 pm: AB is in hour two of Project Sleeping Baby.
- 5 pm: AB is (sigh) still at it.
- 6 pm: AB has given up on the napping thing and wonders why motherhood doesn't come with its own personal bartender. Mojito, please.
- 8 pm AB remembers when she didn't wolf down every meal, hoping to finish eating before Baby cries.
- 9 pm AB, ever the partier, is heading to bed.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The swing of things

That's what we're getting into around here, it seems. The good news:
- Baby is gaining weight appropriately.
- Breastfeeding is going quite well, except for a possible plugged duct situation. Overall, I seem to be the Bellagio fountains of lactation, which provides for some entertainment in our household. I can't complain.
- Baby sleeps often but not for long periods of time, though we have had a few glorious stretches of four hours and, once, a six-hour stretch. Am hoping for more.
- I'm healed from the birth and am starting to move my body around again.
- Baby is beautiful and sweet, and he seems to be on the verge of smiling.

The challenges:
- Staying at home alone with Baby can be difficult when, say, I want to take a shower, eat something, or do something other than feed, change, or hold him. Since I'm a Type A personality who excels at multi-tasking, sitting around nursing and watching the TLC network can be frustrating in its lack of productivity. (Yeah, yeah, I know, I'm solely responsible for the survival of another human being, and doing that is the very definition of productive. I get that.)
- Baby is frequently gassy, poor thing. Even when I don't eat foods from the cabbage family. (I don't buy the whole, it's related to what you eat business. At least not yet.)
- Brain is feeling the effects of non-consecutive sleep, causing me to write sentences like this one.
- Need to lose 20 pounds, but want to bake cookies instead. Only maternity clothes fit, and I have three weddings to attend next month.

So far our favorite baby products are the Miracle swaddling blanket (our ticket to longer sleep stretches), the Aquarium bouncy seat (which I scoffed at, not wanting something so, well, bright in my living room, but it's my ticket to a shower most days), and Calmoseptine diaper cream (this stuff rocks).

Since I'm fanatical about keeping this an anonymous blog, I'm not going to post any photos here. Sorry. Picture a cute Caucasian newborn, with a nicely shaped head and perfect features where they're supposed to be, and that's our Baby.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Seeing is believing

It's a boy. He is fine, he is healthy, and we are perfect.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The big 4-0

And here we are. 40 weeks today.

Funny how the number 40 has so many different significant meanings -- the Jews wandered in the desert for 40 years, Noah's flood lasted 40 days and 40 nights, Ali Baba had 40 thieves, freed slaves were given 40 acres and a mule. Of course, it's all well and good to consider a pregnancy 40 weeks long, because the average human gestation is actually 41 weeks and a day. Though not everyone knows the date of conception as precisely as some of us. I know that 38 weeks today, 23 eggs were retrieved. Of those, 11 fertilized and two were good enough to transfer. I'm hoping to meet one of them in the next week or so.

After two failed pregnancies and way too many hours spent watching Discovery Channel shows about preterm labor, I'm not sure I ever thought I'd actually make it to 40 weeks. Yet here I am at the end of what's been a largely unremarkable, uneventful pregnancy. No preterm labor, no bedrest, no preeclampsia, no gestational diabetes.

The hospital where I'm delivering recommends induction at 41 weeks, because they feel the outcome of induction at 41 weeks is better than at 42 (read: fewer stillborns). Over the weekend we thought I was going into labor -- I was having what I called cramps and what others called contractions about every 3-5 minutes. But then things calmed down. Still, I'm getting anxious to meet this little person and find out if he or she is okay. So today I'm seeing an acupuncturist in the hopes she can get labor started sooner rather than later. Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Adventures in antenatal testing

Don't get me wrong: I have been, in many respects, fantastically lucky. At 38-plus weeks, I have managed to avoid all matters of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, bedrest, preterm labor, and other unpleasantries common to pregnant ladies of my advanced age.

That said, the last week has been full of surprises. First, there are the amniotic fluid index adventures. Each week, I go for a non-stress test, thanks to my status as an elderly IVF patient. The test measures two things: the baby's heart beat (always fine) and the level of amniotic fluid. The latter was deemed to be declining over the past few weeks, and last Friday the nurse decided the lowish level warranted a physician's opinion. Said physician eventually determined that a) the baby seemed fine, if on the smaller side; and b) if the fluid continued to decline, which she felt was likely, we were looking at an induction sooner rather than later. "You will not be two weeks late," she decreed.

In preparation for my next non-stress test, I hydrated the hell out of myself, and with good results: the fluid level rose. Higher fluid level = no cause for concern = no imminent induction. Good stuff.

Less good, though, was the double-header news that: a) I am positive for group-B strep, requiring me to take antibiotics during labor. I'm disturbed by this because I have a few antibiotic allergies. And b) I seem to be positive for tuberculosis. This news is rather flummoxing, given that I haven't traveled to many exotic locales since I was last tested nine years ago, and I haven't had any symptoms of consumption. Which, like, I think I would have noticed. The doctor now wants me to have a chest x-ray, but I'm not particularly eager to do that at nearly 39 weeks. Seems possible they'll put me on some crazy drug regime to treat what might be latent TB, but I don't really know.

Again, don't get me wrong: I have been very lucky. The antibiotics thing will probably be fine, and the TB is most likely a fluke. Still, when did I become a magnet for infectious disease?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Suspension of disbelief

I am sitting in the nursery. In a beautiful glider intended for breastfeeding, next to a crib filled with blankets and stuffed animals and adorable bedding, across from a changing table filled with baby clothes. There are also strollers (yes, multiple ones, I regret to say), a carseat, a swing, a bouncy seat, and assorted other items on the premises. There's a breastpump, a set of BPA-free bottles, diapers, wipes, kid books, and baby first aid stuff. There are baby carriers, a breastfeeding pillow, and books on every table advising how to get through labor and get a baby to sleep properly.

There's also a creature in my uterus that's stirring around right now. S/he is quite active and seems to have a definite schedule.

All of this seems to point to an actual live human being entering my family in the next month or so. In fact, at nearly 37 weeks, the kid could arrive tomorrow and probably be just fine (but, note to kid: please don't come yet. The world is harsh and cruel, and you could probably stand to cook a little longer.).

But I still find all of this pretty impossible to imagine. Yesterday, a friend asked about setting up some of the baby gear, and -- partly in an effort to keep my living room looking normal for another few weeks, and partly out of a self-protection mechanism I'll get to in a sec -- I said no, let's wait. She laughed and said, wait until what, you're in labor? And I thought, yes, perhaps labor will be an excellent time to fuss with poorly written instructions for items made in China. Or maybe when we're home from the hospital, sore, and overwhelmed and exhausted? That sounds perfect.

Maybe if I knew the gender this would seem more real. Or maybe if I hadn't spent two and a half years trying to get to this point, agonizing over infertility and watching two pregnancies go down the drain, I'd actually feel able to really connect with the being inside of me. I haven't sung to it as I imagined, haven't played the music for the fetus as I always planned. (In fact, I don't like calling it a fetus at this point. Isn't it a baby by now, asked the staunchly pro-choice feminist as she cringed a little inside?) I talk to the baby sometimes, occasionally encouraging it not to head-butt my cervix and asking it to consider going to sleep when it's 11 pm and I'm tired of the constant fluttering. But I don't know that I've connected with this baby in the way that I imagine others must do with their children. Can it really be the case that I'm going to be a mother?

Last October, just after my IVF procedures, a friend asked, when will you know if it worked? And I answered, in about nine months. It's coming upon that time. Even though all evidence points to success, I will still believe it when I see it.

PS Some stats:
Number of pounds gained: 29
Number of sympathy seats provided to me on BART: 4
Number of sympathy seats provided to me on Muni: 0
Number of people who've said I look small or even "tiny" for where I am in the pregnancy: 10+
Number of times I've run into people I know in the last two weeks and have had to tell them I'm pregnant: 2
Weeks of gestation it took for a woman I see once a week to realize I'm pregnant: 36
Percent of gender-specific dreams I've had where the baby turned out to be a boy: 0
Share of close friends surveyed who think this baby a girl: 4/5
Weeks since the amnio that I've managed to not call the perinatologist to find out the gender: 20
Number of non-stress tests performed thus far: 4
Number passed: 4
Times I've had heartburn during this pregnancy: 0
Number of contractions I've felt: 0
Weeks the baby has been head-down: 8
Pairs of work-appropriate pants that I can comfortably wear all day: 2
Pairs of work-appropriate shoes I can tolerate wearing all day: 4
Percent of rings that no longer fit me: 100
Number of days officially left in this gestation: 24

Thursday, May 1, 2008


For the first time in the last three years, I've made it through April without the baby(ies) dying. Two years ago last Sunday I had my first miscarriage; a year ago today I had my second. But today is May 1, and this kid still has a heartbeat and is still moving around. I'm starting to believe this might actually happen.

Last week I bought things for the baby for the first time -- I spent a big 40 bucks on a crib sheet and blanket. It's not that I don't have anything; it's just that I'm hugely fortunate to have many generous friends and family members. I partly haven't bought things because so far I haven't needed to, and I partly haven't bought things because -- even though there's ton of baby stuff in my house right now, provided by others -- I'm a bit superstitious.

There are still tons of things to do -- figure out legal stuff, decide about cloth v. disposable, decide about circumcision in the hospital vs. a mohel (don't bother flaming me; comments are moderated for a reason), get the baby's room ready, maybe pick out a few names, find a daycare center. But things are progressing: we've taken our childbirth, newborn care, and breastfeeding classes. I've got a dresser full of gifted baby clothes and a closet full of receiving blankets. I've got a stroller, a crib, a glider on the way, and two slings. And that's before the two showers that incredibly lovely and generous people are throwing for us.

Still: I'll believe it when I see it.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

75 percent

Many mazels to Nikole and John and Sara and Erin -- it's lovely to have read your blogs for so long and see the long-anticipated fruits of your labors. Congratulations!

I cannot believe that I may be next. I'm now 30 weeks pregnant. The baby moves often -- the other day I decided s/he will be a gymnast because of all the apparent somersaults -- which makes it pretty easy not to wonder if it's alive. Still I worry: just last night I dreamt I was bleeding and had to call the midwife at 4 am. But at some point in the last several months the anxiety changed: for a long time I worried I'd lose the pregnancy; now I worry about preterm labor.

But so far I've been incredibly fortunate. Placenta previa has been ruled out, thank God, and every doctor's appointment has been fine. Baby seems to be growing appropriately, my blood pressure hasn't gone through the roof (though, pessimist that I am, I still worry I'm doomed to preeclampsia), and I have felt either none or few contractions. I'm having a non-stress test in a couple of weeks -- a reward for being both old and an IVF patient. But beyond that, I'm free to do whatever activities I like, within reason. I've been incredibly lucky in terms of how I'm feeling: I'm tired, but I'm still exercising nearly every day (mostly walking and yoga, with the occasional half-mile swim), still moving around at mostly my normal pace. My goal is to continue that as long as possible.

I don't, however, always look pregnant -- even at 7 months someone yesterday said she wouldn't have known unless I'd told her. I haven't had a single stranger ask me when I'm due, something I always expected, and I think I've netted a total of two BART seats thanks to my 'condition.' It's definitely disappointing to have imagined looking big and pregnant, and instead to just look big and fat. I think it makes the weight gain (about 20 lbs so far, totally normal) a bit harder to stomach. My original goal was to gain no more than 25 lbs during this pregnancy, but now I'm trying to be comfortable with 30. Sure, you might say, that's totally fine and you're being all crazy paranoid obsessive-about-your-weight lady. Yup, you got it! But you may also recall that I lost 75 lbs about five years ago. I've medaled at gaining weight, and I want to make sure I can lose it again.

As I've written before, in 2006 and 2007 I began April pregnant and ended it with a miscarriage. Even though I generally like the month of April, it began to seem like the cruelest month, indeed, a while back. Here's hoping 2008 improves April's reputation.

Monday, March 24, 2008


This pregnancy is nicely arranged around the seasons. It began around the autumn equinox, and it's scheduled to end (allegedly) around the first day of summer. As I near the end of the second trimester, I've spent all of fall and winter pregnant.

Which brings us to spring, one of my favorite seasons. Love the flowers, the strawberries, the fava beans and asparagus. For the last three years, I've spent the beginning of spring pregnant. Last year April began with the news of my second pregnancy, and it ended with a D&C.

This year things are looking -- keninah horah (or however you spell that) -- different. So far, this baby has been deemed by all to be in fine shape. We passed the amnio, passed the 20-week ultrasound, passed the gestational diabetes test (phew!). It moves around a lot, especially at certain times, and I haven't used my fetal heart monitor in weeks, because I know from its movement that it's okay in there.

Apparently my 20-week ultrasound revealed what might be a low-lying placenta, so on Friday we're having an extra ultrasound to see if placenta previa (where the placenta lies very close to or on top of the cervix -- bad) is on the menu. Of course I did the research and found out you're at a greater risk for PP if you're over the age of 35 (check) and have had previous uterine surgery -- like, say, a D&C or two (check). The nurse at my midwife's office has assured me the chances are slight, even with my history, so I'm trying to be optimistic. Especially because placenta previa would severely interfere with some upcoming travel plans. Cross your fingers.

Beyond that, though, I have few complaints. I'm able to exercise without a problem, I'm sleeping adequately, and while I feel giant, I'm still moving around at a good clip. Even though I've put on nearly 20 pounds, and even though I'm six months pregnant, few people seem to look at me and see that I'm expecting. I have one maternity dress that's gotten me a seat on BART a couple of times, but that's it. Even old friends, colleagues, etc., seem to think I'm just getting fatter. I certainly don't look the way I'd hoped at this stage, but given how the last two springs have begun, I'm beyond thrilled and exceedingly grateful to be beginning this part of 2008 with a well-established munchkin in my uterus. As long as I know it's in there, we're good.