Telling The Family

October 2016

There’s a reason this is a private blog that I haven’t told any family or friends about. I don’t want the thought of family or friends reading this to hinder my honesty and openness. So here’s what happened when I told my mother I was pregnant.

First I will briefly say that telling Beau’s family was easy. We shared the news at our nephew’s 7th birthday party because everyone was there. We didn’t want to steal the spotlight so we didn’t do any big announcement thing, we just showed his mom a picture of the first ultrasound on our phones while the kids were running around playing and Beau’s parents and brothers and sister were hanging around chatting. They were all very kind and excited for us.

My family is a completely different situation. I think I’ve already mentioned that I have a sordid relationship with my mom. One that I went to therapy because of for a number of years. Our relationship is better, but far from perfect. I still don’t know what I am going to get from her. BUT my relationship with my brother is very good. We are very close even though he lives a few states away. So one GREAT thing about the timing of our pregnancy is that my brother and dad had planned a visit in October and it turned out to be a good time for revealing my pregnancy to them in person. Had they not been coming, I probably would have told them sooner, but the chance to tell them in person was too exciting so I chose to wait.

It also gave me the chance to tell my mom and brother at the same time. Had they not been able to be here at the same time, I would have struggled with who to tell first. That may seem strange, but I knew there was potential for my mom to be competitive with getting to hear the news before my brother, but I also feared that if I told her she may tell my brother before I got the chance. Perhaps not, but I didn’t want to risk it and his coming to town made for the perfect solution.

He was bringing his wife and two kids (22 months and 3 months old). So I thought it would be cute to get them shirts that say “I’m going to be a big cousin.” Nothing elaborate but a fun way for them to find out. And it was. They were all surprised and happy and it was going great. Until I was clearing plates from the table and my mom cornered me in the kitchen to ask me if I was going to keep working and what our childcare plans were. This was followed by TELLING me that I didn’t have to go back to work (as if she knows our financial situation) and that I CAN’T leave our child with a stranger (as if I’m just going to put an add on Craigslist or something).

I had to set a boundary immediately before she got any big ideas, so I told her that we would figure it out and I did not want her to be our nanny. Ouch. I hit a sore spot with that one. She sulks back to the table, ignoring me and asking my sister-in-law if she’d be allowed to babysit her children. My poor SIL did not know what conversation I’d just had with my mom and was put in a very awkward situation. Beside the point that being a full-time, all day, everyday nanny is a much different scenario than occasionally babysitting for a few hours, which of course I’d let my mother do.

Ugh. My mother wouldn’t talk to me for two days. She finally made some comment to my brother in front of me about how I didn’t want her babysitting. So I was able to explain that babysitting and being the nanny are different. Once I explained that she’d have to come to my house before 8 am every day and stay until after 5 pm every night (because I wasn’t going to drive my baby all the way to her house when I work 5 minutes away from my own), and that I didn’t want to burn her out with childcare, she changed her tune a bit. She’s been fine since, but man oh man, my mother can be quite a lot to handle. I can only imagine what is going to happen once this baby arrives. Sometimes I am crippled with anxiety.

Anyone else out there whose been through this transition with their mothers that may have some tips? 

 

Advertisements

Morning Sickness

Sept-Nov 2016

Morning sickness is different for everyone. But those who get it know how terrible it can be. For me, it was constant nausea. I didn’t throw up but I was constantly nauseated, 24/7, no relief.

Image result for morning sickness

My first couple of weeks after finding out I was pregnant were strange. I had some boob soreness, but otherwise didn’t “feel” pregnant. This is not uncommon from what I hear. So I planned to go about my life as usual. This baby had other plans. My usual routine is to make a couple of meals on the weekend that Beau and I can eat throughout the week. I love cooking and it helps keep us healthy and on a budget. So I decided to try out a new slow cooker curry recipe. I love curry. At least I thought I loved curry. Then overnight my stomach turned on me. The smell of the curry made me gag. I didn’t even get a chance to eat it once!

It was so bad I had to go outside while my husband ate it. I couldn’t even open the fridge because of the smell of the leftovers. And it wasn’t just the curry. Pretty much any food that had a smell was intolerable. So thus started my diet of crackers, cold cereal, and toast. Bland, white flour, carbs. Not how I had envisioned my pregnancy diet. I had high hopes of eating all organic, naturally healthy foods to have the best health for myself and the new little one growing in my belly. I still cannot completely understand the evolutionary benefits to morning sickness and how they wreak havoc on an otherwise healthy, well-rounded diet. But here’s my best guess:

Back when we all lived in caves and wilderness, life was a lot more stressful and harrowing. We as a species may also have not been able to tell that we were pregnant in that first trimester. Due to our lifestyle and activity, it would seem doubtful that we were tracking our menstrual cycles and would have realized a late period -which is often our first clue nowadays. So perhaps feeling suddenly ill was a good sign to ourselves and our tribes that we might be with child. At the very least, it might have forced us to take it easy and take care of ourselves for those first few weeks until we realized that we were carrying another life around. That is the ONLY thing that makes sense. Being sick may have kept us from putting our lives in the everyday dangers and kept us back at the cave with some of the other more frail members of the tribe to help care for us. The fact that eating made it feel a little better makes sense that we would be encouraged to keep eating and to eat a bit more than normal to keep ourselves nourished for carrying a baby. This is really the only thing that makes sense to me. Otherwise it’s pretty counter intuitive!

Things that helped:

  • Eating a small amount all the time (as mentioned before)
  • Sour things (no idea why, but lemon in my water, sour patch kids, Preggie Pops)
  • Ginger Tea
  • Ginger Chews
  • Being Asleep

Eventually I saw my doctor for a first Pregnancy checkup. I was probably 8 weeks in by that time. Thank goodness my husband was with me. I was under the delusion that because I wasn’t throwing up that my morning sickness was not that bad, so when the doctor asked, I downplayed it. Beau corrected me and told the doctor that I was pretty nauseated even though I wasn’t throwing up, and that I’d barely eat, or even be around, real food. The doctor suggested Diclegis. Thank God for Diclegis. It was a miracle drug for me. Slowly I was able to tolerate more and more foods. I know there are other drugs available as well. If you have morning sickness there are options! Don’t hesitate to tell your doctor. You do not need to suffer!

 

Anyone else out there have tips on dealing with morning sickness?

Transitions

August 2016

I forgot to mention that before I had the laparoscopy, I met with a Naturopath. Like I’ve mentioned previously, I am not one to wait around for things to happen. I wanted to meet with someone who may have alternate insights and suggestions about infertility. She asked me lots and lots of questions and really took her time getting to know me and my medical history. I really appreciated that. One thing that came up that I hadn’t really thought about was that a couple years back I was diagnosed with Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). Getting to that diagnosis is a long story for another day. All I will say is that, at the time, I was pretty done with doctors and tests. So when I got the diagnosis I was somewhat relieved to have some answer to my odd symptoms and did the treatment (which was a round of heavy duty antibiotics) and never looked back. I never did any follow up to be sure that this had cleared up and I was done with it.

So the Naturopath suggested I get re-tested for that just to be sure I wasn’t still dealing with it and then we’d go from there. Well, I was a little caught up with my surgery and just wanted to do one thing at a time. So I waited until after the laparoscopy and then scheduled my SIBO test for a month later, August 22nd.

I didn’t give it much thought because I was super busy the beginning of August. I was finishing up my awesome vacation back east to Charleston, and then when we returned we spent a  long weekend at a nearby lake with Beau’s family. Lot’s of R and R.

The week after we finished our lake trip was my birthday week. We didn’t do a big party that week because another one of my friend’s with an August birthday was already having a big bash and I didn’t want to conflict with hers. Which was nice to not have to plan for a bunch of people over to our house or anything big. On my actual birthday Beau and I just went out to dinner and drinks and it was perfect.

Then the weekend rolled around and I knew Saturday night would be full of drinking for my friend’s party, Sunday was recovery day and Monday I had my SIBO test. It occurred to me that I could be pregnant. And if I was, then I wouldn’t be able to take the standard treatment for SIBO if I tested positive, since most antibiotics are a no-no when preggers. I planned to take a test Sunday morning (yes, after my night drinking with friends for birthday celebrations).

So Sunday morning(ish) I woke up and took a test, just like I had done on many other occasions over the last year. I was tired and groggy from the night of drinking, and thought my eyes were playing tricks on me.  Could it be true? Two little lines? Was I REALLY PREGNANT?!?!

I didn’t believe it. I had to go and get Beau. I must have had a look on my face. He asked if I tested, and I said yes. And he asked what it said and I said “I don’t know. I think I might be pregnant. It’s too early in the morning… I can’t tell if I am reading it right. Will you come and look.” He looked. “Oh my God, I think you’re pregnant babe!” was his response. I was a bit in shock, he was ecstatic. I really didn’t think it would happen so soon after the surgery! After all, during my “fertile time” that month I didn’t feel fully healed from the surgery. So many emotions were flooding me I didn’t know what to think. I was happy, scared, nervous, excited, confused. Amazed. This was the beginning of our greatest journey. We officially were transitioned from the TTC part of our journey to the Pregnancy part of our journey!

 

Clomid and Second Opinions

May-July 2016

So I started on the Clomid in April of 2016 and didn’t have any luck that month, so I decided I needed a second opinion about the endometriosis. I scheduled an appointment for May with an old OB/GYN that I had gone to for many years and only stopped going to when my insurance changed.

Most of what this second OB said was the same as the fertility specialist, with one exception. He would DEFINITELY do the laparoscopy on me before jumping to IVF. He said he’s had success with others in the past. Still was great news! Though for some reason I wanted to give it just a little more time before I decided on the surgery. (Now I am questioning why I was hesitant! Still I had two conflicting recommendations from different providers. So I had a lot to think about).

May was also our anniversary month and it just happened that our anniversary fell on the same weekend that I would be most fertile. So we decided to give ourselves the best chance possible and booked a romantic weekend at a hotel away from home. I was on round two of the Clomid and thought “this is it! this is the best chance we’ve given ourselves so far!” I really thought this would be our moment. We had also vowed to take it easy and stress free for the rest of the month during the dreaded Two Week Wait (TWW).

It is just not in my nature to sit around and wait for things to happen, so I started researching endometriosis and infertility. I work in research, so I only wanted to get information from reputable sources and scientific evidence. I started scouring the NIH research studies on the topic and found some great support for laparoscopy and increased fertility. So, when AF showed up in June after our anniversary getaway I was crushed, but I had a plan of action. I called my old OB and scheduled my laparoscopy for July 14th  – Just two weeks before our planned trip to Charleston to visit my half brother and half sister and their families.

We had to stop “trying” while leading up to my surgery, which was a bit of a nice respite actually. No roller coaster of hope and waiting and disappointment to look forward to. So there’s not much to say about the time between, but the surgery went well though apparently my endometriosis was worse than they thought. I was back at work in four days but certainly did not feel fully healed by then! We were also put on a two week “no sex” restriction right after surgery to let my body heal.

Two weeks later AF showed up right on time. I met with the OB for a follow-up and he said everything was healing nicely and I was allowed to have sex again, haha. He also said he expected me to be pregnant within 3 months. After everything else I couldn’t quite believe him, even though I wanted to. Two days after that appointment we flew to Charleston. It was drearily hot (I do not recommend Charleston in July!) and I still felt like I wasn’t fully healed from the surgery, I couldn’t lift and carry my adorable nephews. Still, I will take vacation over work any day! It was just what I needed.

 

 

 

 

Getting Desperate

Feb-March 2016

By February I was getting desperate for answers. I had all of my testing coming up but I am not the type to wait around for doctor appointments and test results. So I kept searching for things that may help my situation. I started meditating every day. I bought a book called “Sit Like A Buddha: A Pocket Guide to Meditation” and each morning I would read a small segment and then meditate for 7 minutes before getting ready for the rest of my day.

When I met with the fertility specialist she was very reassuring, and seemed so knowledgeable about my history (burst appendix at age 12) and what it might mean for fertility. She ordered Three tests:

  • Blood Test: I hate getting my blood drawn but of course I was going to comply with anything she asked. I passed out cold while they were taking the vials, but all the results came back normal.
  • Hysterosalpingogram (HSG): May be the most painful test I have ever endured. They basically inject dye into your cervix and then have you roll from side to side while they watch the dye under and x-ray to see if it flows feeling through your tubes. It is a test for blocked tubes. Something I was concerned about due to the appendectomy and the potential for scar tissue to be interfering. But I passed with flying colors. No blockages detected.
  • Ultrasound to check Ovarian Reserve: This one had to wait until my next period because it had to be performed between certain days in your cycle (I can’t quite remember when yet, but I think it’s been day 3 and 5). So when she showed up in early March I made the appointment. Ovarian reserve was good, but they did find an endometrioma!

It was a few more days before I had the follow-up with the fertility specialist. So of course I spent all of that time researching endometriosis and what it means for fertility. It was crazy because I didn’t even know I had endometriosis. I have had friends who have it and they have had HORRIBLE symptoms. So in some ways I consider myself lucky to not have all those terrible symptoms. But on the other hand, I didn’t know it was there and so didn’t do anything about it sooner.

In my random searches about the topic I stumbled on this amazing blog: The Secret Life of Emily Maine which I immediately fell in love with. She too had struggled with fertility (for longer than I had) and had even done multiple rounds of IVF without luck. But eventually she found a doctor who wanted to do a laparoscopy and test for endometriosis and once they had cleared that up she was able to get pregnant! This blog gave me so much hope in my most desperate time.

So when I met with the fertility specialist a few days later I was armed with Emily’s story and was sure she’d recommend surgery for me as well. However, I was wrong. She didn’t think my endometriosis was interfering, and besides “if we do IVF, we’d just bypass any endometriosis that was getting in the way anyway” were her words to me. And just like that I felt like IVF was my only option. I was crushed and scared and worried about the costs.

Luckily she didn’t want to start IVF right away (or else I may have done it). Instead she wanted to try a few months of Clomid (a drug that ensures ovulation) even though I was pretty damn confident that I was ovulating and that wasn’t my problem. But I was willing to try this before delving into the IVF stuff. I also wanted to do a bit more research on endometriosis and infertility….

Icing on the Cake

Let me back up a bit here…. I forgot to mention something that happened last December

Christmas 2015

Christmas Day last year my brother calls to let me know that they are expecting their second child! It’s been just over one year since their first child was born (her birthday is December 6th) and this one was a SURPRISE. Apparently my sweet sister in law did not think she could get pregnant while she was still breast feeding… Oops! Apparently she had suspected for a while she was pregnant, but didn’t tell my brother right away. She put a pregnancy test in his stocking for Christmas. Cute.

It’s difficult for me to explain my feeling about this. On one hand, I was happy for them. A baby is always exciting news. On the other, I was having my own struggles to get pregnant and to hear that someone got pregnant ‘accidentally’ was tough. On yet another hand (I had to grow a few extra hands for this scenario), aside from my own struggles with it, my brother was not exactly expecting to have another child so fast, and while he wasn’t upset, he was definitely stressed-out about finances and so I felt bad for him and this sudden unplanned pregnancy. On an additional hand, I thought my SIL was a bit of an idiot for believing that she couldn’t get pregnant, and I blamed her home-school education for her ignorance (though public school education is also severely lacking in sex-ed in a lot of places too). Also, part of  me was a bit suspicious that she wanted to get pregnant again so soon but knew my brother wouldn’t go for it, so perhaps this was a sneaky plot on her part more than a total accident. I also found it suspicious that when she told my brother on Christmas, she said that she had expected she might be pregnant for a while but wasn’t sure (turns out she was about 4 months in by then!!!!!). Wouldn’t you tell your husband if you thought you were pregnant for the last 4 months?? And wouldn’t you take a test immediately? It just didn’t totally make sense to me that this was a complete surprise.

So needless to say I had a lot of weird feelings floating around about the whole thing. I really did want the best for them. It was just hard for me to not compare myself to my sister in law. For one, she is quite a bit younger than me. She was 25 and I was 31 at the time. Not a huge difference, but she still seemed pretty young while I felt like the clock was ticking. Also, she’s not a terribly healthy person. She is thin, but she never exercises. I don’t know what kind of diet she follows but I think she pretty much eats what she wants (though definitely not in excess). I consider myself to be a pretty healthy person. I exercise regularly and definitely pay attention to my eating (sometimes better than others, of course). So again, it wasn’t adding up to me that she should be able to get pregnant so easily and me not.

In fact, this was a thing that would bother me ever so often. I wasn’t always upset when I’d see that other people were pregnant. Seeing most other people pregnant did not bother me at all, and I seemed to be seeing them everywhere. What did sometimes bother me was when I’d see a visibly unhealthy person pregnant or with their newborn baby. I am sure you’ve seen them too: very overweight, baby in one arm and giant soda in the other. When I’d see those moms I would get a bit agitated. Why do unhealthy people get to have a child and I don’t! In some ways, it still doesn’t totally make sense to me. But I guess our evolution hasn’t caught up with modern day unhealthy lifestyles to prevent the ability to procreate in unhealthy individuals (not that I would wish infertility on anyone!). In fact, having extra body fat and a sedentary life was probably at one point in our evolution as humans considered to be more ideal for carrying a child.

My sister in law does not have extra body fat, she’s quite thin. But she definitely leads a sedentary life of little activity. So I didn’t know what to think as I was gaining weight from my lack of activity (with my foot injury) and worried that gaining too much would decrease my fertility. So what I learned is that things sometimes just don’t make any sense, and the more we try to control every little aspect of our lives, the less control we actually have.

I would definitely not recommend giving up exercise and activity as a means of boosting fertility. I am convinced that there is very little we can do to change our personal fertility. There are no magic supplements, or levels of activity, or lifestyles that have much effect on our fertility at all. If you are struggling with fertility, it is not your fault. There is not something more or less you need to be doing to change your circumstances. I tried all of them, and felt no change. My only advice would be to seek answers from professionals. Sometimes the answer is right in front of us and we just need the proper tools to find it. Not everyone who meets with a fertility specialist will get answers, but it’s probably more effective than trying to figure everything out and control it on your own.

The More I Try to Control…

The More I Try to Control, the less in control I feel…

January 2016 (WARNING: this post may contain TMI about menstrual cycles for some)

Happy New Year? Once the holidays had passed and all the stress that comes along with them, I was convinced that NOW I would be able to get pregnant. But just to ensure things a bit I started taking any and all action I thought would give me an extra little boost.

A friend had lent me her copy of “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” by Toni Weschler. “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” was originally written about twenty years ago and is chock full of information about how women’s fertility cycles work, and what may interfere. I started charting my temperatures religiously every morning at the same time and recorded them in the OvuView App  that I downloaded at the advice of the same friend.

After reading a bit about luteal phases (the time between ovulation and menstruation), I was convinced that mine was one the short side. The body needs enough time from releasing the egg to conceive with the sperm and implant into the uterine lining. At this point I knew that ovulation was occurring and Beau and I were timing our intercourse correctly, so implantation must have been the element that was impaired! Also, looking back on my cycles, I did notice that I would start spotting 3-4 days before I actually started bleeding, and indication that the luteal phase is too short. So I began using over-the-counter progesterone cream. Sure enough, once I started using that I stopped spotting prior to my period. I felt like things were finally starting to work!

But…just in case they didn’t, I scheduled an appointment with a fertility specialist. Originally I was going to wait until after my first cycle in January and see what happened before I scheduled it, but I am glad I didn’t wait because she was booked out over a month anyway so it would have been TWO months of waiting, since we all know by now that I did not get pregnant in January as I had hoped.