June 29, 2008

My 5 years in veterinary medicine finally pay off.....

So when I was out in the Midwest visiting family I got to spend some great time with my goddaughter, LJ. She and I have a really special relationship. We are really close and I take my role as her aunt and godmother very seriously. Who knew it would someday require me to discuss with her the anatomy of female mammals, lactating ones to be specific?

When LJ first found out last summer we were trying to become parents she was a bit skeptical. She voiced her concerns that our time together would not be "just us" anymore and that she wouldn't get so much of our love and attention. Mr. Spicy and I assured her that she would always be very special to us, we would always have space and time for her, that we would make sure to get our one-on-one time with her even once we became parents. We even told her part of the reason we were so eager to become parents was because we loved our time with her so much and we hoped to have a child just like her one day. She took this all in, but she still had her reservations.

So this year, when we finally became pregnant and told her about it, we expected a lot of resistance. But she's eight years old now and MUCH more mature, don't you know? So, she checked in with us, reminded us that we promised to still make time for her and then she took it all in stride. Within a week or two she was negotiating babysitting fees for the summers when she comes to visit. She's offering us a week of babysitting of $10 - I think we'd better get that in writing!

Well, when we came to visit we found she was really taking this whole thing very seriously. She had gone to the library and found a book for kids that talked about pregnancy and babies. She was doing her research. I was so proud!

She took me upstairs to show me this book. It was a book about the human body and the human life cycle, illustrated and written for her age level. It was actually pretty cool.

She flipped immediately to the section on pregnancy. (I notice she skipped right over the "How babies are made" section - Thank God!) She showed me illustration after illustration of a baby growing in the belly of an increasingly pregnant mommy. She pointed and reminded me that this was what our baby looked like right now. She got through the part where the baby comes out and is born, and then....

LJ: But ewwww....this part is REALLY gross!

(I look down expecting to see the baby pooping or vomiting or something....but instead see a mother tenderly breastfeeding her newborn)

Me: That's how she feeds the baby, it's very natural.

LJ: No. It isn't. It's gross. Really really gross. And weird.

Me: But that's how mommy cows feed their babies, and horses, and dogs, and cats..... (she lives on a farm so I was trying to draw on something she might be familiar with)

LJ: Um. no. No they don't - they don't feed them with their boobies.

Me: Yes they do. Their "boobies" are just in a different place.

From the look on her face at that point, I am afraid I may have just scarred her for life.

June 27, 2008

Long time, no posting.....

I cannot believe it has been 2 weeks since my last post. Wow.

So if any of you are still out there and following this, I should probably explain why I have been such a spotty blogger. (hey, that could be a cool band name, "Spotty Blogger") Here's a taste of what my month has been like (fascinating, I know):

At the beginning of the month, there was the depression. Then the depression eased up and morning sickness took me out. Literally, I couldn't even stand looking at a computer screen any time after noon. Then the morning sickness began to ease up and this week I found myself knocked out by a nasty sinus infection. Totally kicked my ass. Sinus infections make morning sickness look like a good thing. I finally got some antibiotics on Wed. from my OB (Dr. Honey) and waking up this morning without feeling like someone was trying to smash my head in with a mallet was like Christmas morning, only twenty times better. Whew. The morning sickness is still threatening to come back, but seems like it isn't quite as overwhelming as before. So, yeah....physically I have been a bit occupied.

And it has also been just a full month logistically. Mr. Spicy has been out of town on two business trips, which always forces me to up my game a bit. He's been out of town this whole week, missing my festival of incredible pain, aka "the sinus infection saga". This has been good for him - he needs a break from me and my endless whining and neediness - heck, I could use a break from me. But it kinda sucks for me. Or it did this week. I forgot how completely lonely it feels to be sick and have no one coming home to help you. I cannot wait for him to get home!

In addition to Mr. Spicy's trips, we took a short but very full trip together, a couple weeks ago, out to the Midwest to visit my family. We got to visit with my Grandma Penny, who is living in an assisted living home for Alzheimer's patients. It is a really nice facility, and I think she likes it overall. But I know the loss of freedom and independence is really really hard on her. She cracked us up by telling us she liked it there, the nurses were nice to her, but also, "they are all bitches". She certainly has kept her feisty spirit! She was very lucid and alert when we arrived, she knew who we are, that we are expecting a baby, and engaged in lots of conversation with us. More of my family arrived, my aunts and my uncle, two of my cousins, my mom and her fiance.... It was so good to see everyone and Gramma seemed to really enjoy all the attention. But it wore her out after a couple of hours, and that's when it became most evident how much things have changed. The more exhausted she got, the more confused she became. My heart just wanted to reach out and hold her like a child (not that she would tolerate that necessarily) - I just felt so tender towards her. It is hard to see her so frail.

Also on this trip we attended my niece (and goddaughter) and my nephew's dance recital. Again,most of the family showed up and we had a great time being entertained by dancing children of all ages. And what is more darling than precious young girls twirling in tutus? I was all weepy (I blame the hormones) and both my niece and nephew did really well. Although, I should make the disclaimer that my nephew is 3 years old and his performance consisted of wearing a Spiderman costume and tumbling across mats. He was ADORABLE!!!! My niece is eight and essentially had a ballet solo all by herself. I was so proud of them both. I got some video I need to put on to YouTube. Maybe I will post it later. It was really precious.

We got to have some fun meals with family, laughing, catching up and sharing stories and advice. It was so good seeing everyone. We stayed with my youngest sister and her family so I got some really nice one-on-one time with her, which I haven't had much of before. It is wild to now be relating to my "baby sister" about pregnancy and parenting....but she's a great mom and she has a really great perspective on most things. Where I am the person who stresses and over thinks things to death, she is really good at just putting that one foot in front of the other and living life day to day. We had some good late-night talks that helped put my mind at ease about a lot of things.

Overall, it was a great trip - but it was completely fast and furious and FULL!!! It took me a couple days to just recover from it all.

I also had my meet and greet and then my first official appt with Dr. Honey, my new OB. I like her. She is down-to-earth and really kind and approachable. She squeezed in a short ultrasound even though they usually wouldn't give me another one until 20 weeks. Everything looked great. I got to do a heartbeat check this week as well when I went in for the sinus infection and the Poblano's heartbeat was round 160 bpm, right where it should be. So far so good. And I think after coming to the office three times now, I finally am starting to accept that I belong there. At first it was just such a shock sitting in a waiting room full of very pregnant women. I actually felt anxious....like I would get caught for somehow sneaking in the wrong door. But no, I am one of "them" now - and I will just have to get used to it.

And so..... (if you have made it this far dear reader - I owe you a candy bar) - speaking of getting "used to it".....being pregnant that is......that is probably the biggest single reason I haven't been posting.

Right now, and for weeks, my head and heart have been so full of questions, fears, thoughts, ponderings, and realizations - that I simply haven't been able to even fathom getting it out into words. I still can't really. I think the weight, the responsibility, the reality of becoming a mom has just begun to sink in and in my usual fashion I am taking it all in, looking at it from every angle, probably over-thinking it a bit, feeling it all, and slowly slowly digesting it. Being pregnant, knowing I am a mother now, brings up so many things for me, childhood issues, questions of identity, issues of security, family junk, questions about spirituality and faith, fears (so many fears), hopes, and an overall sense of "How in the world am I going to know how to do this?". But I am processing it all, turning it over and over in my heart and in my head, and knowing this is work that needs to be done. And so, I am doing it. Bit by bit by bit, I am doing it. Or at least trying to.

And thankfully, I am not alone in it. I have wise and loving friends and family, a wise and loving counselor, wise and witty blog readers, and a wise and weary husband. I am not alone, even when I feel that way at times. And I am so grateful for that.

What was that line about it taking a village?

June 12, 2008

Delayed Reactions.....

Morning Sickness.....aka "all day sickness" and "kicks your ass in the afternoon sickness".

Well, I have been mildly to moderately queasy for weeks. I have had an mild aversion to all things edible but was pushing through and thought I had seen the worst of it. Not so.

This week morning sickness, which for me is really more afternoon to evening sickness, has hit with a vengeance. Whoa. I am still not throwing up but I am having a really hard time eating - nothing tastes appealing except maybe lemonade and 7-up. My body "threatens" to throw up throughout the evening and I feel like I have the worst sea-sickness of my life.

So I am learning to try to do as much as I can in the morning while I still feel somewhat stable. Because once afternoon hits I am pretty much an invalid. So fun for hubby, let me tell you!

O-well. I guess this is a good sign, right? It is weird though, I am weaning off my progesterone supplements (we call them the "hoo-ha pills" around these parts) so I would think I would feel better, not worse - but it seems to be working just the opposite!


Joy.....pure, unadulterated joy!

Well, one thing does seem to be happening as I near the ten week mark and as the supplements decrease - my moods are sooooo much better.

I can still occasionally feel that darkness just around the edges threatening to creep in - but it isn't as overwhelming. And I still feel incredibly fragile and sensitive, which I guess is normal.

But overall? So so so much better. (although I feel I should whisper that so as not to tempt fate)

This week I have finally felt what I had expected to be feeling all along, tiny moments of pure, tingling, sparkling joy that fills my whole being up. They are still small little moments, but they feel absolutely huge!

Although I still often feel doubts about myself and my ability to mother, those doubts aren't as powerful now. They don't steal away my ability to enjoy this pregnancy and my ability to be in awe of what an incredible gift this baby is. I am truly amazed that this is happening, inside of my body no less! Wow.

I know I will probably find myself in periods of darkness again on and off throughout this pregnancy - and even as I become a mother.....but for now the darkness is abated and the sunlight feels so good!


Ultrasound pictures!!!!

We had another ultrasound at 8weeks 6days - on Monday. It has taken me this long to post them because I could not get the room to stop spinning and have only been online in short spurts this whole week.

Anyway. Our Poblano baby is absolutely gorgeous if I do say so myself! His/her heart rate was 171 bpm which is great and s/he was moving a little, waving his/her arms and legs at us like s/he was dancing. (on a side note - I cannot wait for the "big" ultrasound so I can stop using all these gender neutral double pronouns) My husband and I both love dancing so this was quite a delight for us to see!

And s/he finally looks like a BABY!!!!!

There were no tears of joy this time (well, maybe from Mr. Spicy) - just huge beaming smiles that filled our whole faces - and a big huge EXHALE!!!!

I feel like I can finally, finally, finally believe this is happening - and it feels as though I am being hit with a big giant wave of emotions....mostly though I feel complete awe and joy.

And I feel so so lucky. I hope I never ever forget just how lucky and blessed we are to be here. I know at any point it could have gone (and truthfully, still could go) many different ways. I know there is nothing we could have done or accomplished to deserve this or to make this happen. This is pure grace. Completely.

And have I mentioned, "Wow!" ?

Anyway, here's the poblano - it's not a great scan but believe me when I say in the actual picture s/he looks like a chubby little cherubic baby.
and apparently I need to clean my scanner.....

OB appointment!!!

I was officially "released" from CCRM this week - which was, for me, a bittersweet moment. I have honestly had a really good experience with my doctor and the nurses who have worked with me over the last many months. When we were still doing IUIs I never connected as much with them - but once we started IVF they were there for me every step of the way and I will miss them. They know me, they know my craziness, and they "get" me. And they have all been so excited and celebratory for us, from the nurse who draws my blood, to the nurse who does our ultrasounds, to our IVF nurse, all the way up to the doctor herself. It has really been a supportive and positive place for me and it was a little sad to walk out for the last time.

But on the other hand.....I am going to an OB!!!!! That means I am really pregnant! Wooohooo!

So. Today is my first "meet and greet" appointment with my Ob-to-be. There won't be any blood drawn or anything, this is just so I can drill her get to know her and feel comfortable with choosing her to oversee this pregnancy. I will, of course, have a slew of questions to ask her and I hope she will have some questions for me too. But really? I could just walk in and say, "Here's my hand, I will need you to hold it, non-stop, for the next 7 months." and that should pretty much sum it all up. That, and the fact that I will need her home number, and her personal cell phone number, and her address - just in case. Hello! High maintenance, party of one?

Just a side note.....she (my Ob-to-be) goes by the first name "Honey". Yeah. Honey.

I am imagining confusion in the delivery room as I call out to my husband...."Honey?" and my doctor answers instead. :)

June 06, 2008

Walk On

I woke up in a major cloud this morning. It was bad. I was dreading the day - figuring I was in for another hard one.

But then?

Well, I had plans with an old friend. I thought about canceling but it was a really good reason to shower and dress and leave the house - all things that can become seemingly impossible these days.

We met up in this cool neighborhood halfway between the both of us. The place we planned to meet was closed due to a kitchen fire. This was funny to us because every time we have tried meeting in this neighborhood our plans go awry. After grabbing a smoothie at a coffee shop nearby, waiting for another place to open only to find that it didn't have the kind of food we were craving, and finally getting a heads up on a good 'breakfast place" and walking several blocks to get there - we sat down to "breakfast" at noon. We had originally met at 10:30.

My friend is single and in her early 40s. I found during the years we were struggling with all the unknowns of infertility that my single friends could best identify with what I was feeling. We would sit and talk about our longing for something that felt so out of our control, the feelings of being judged by others around us as if us not having the thing we most desired was somehow our faults....there was a lot of common ground.

But now, I am pregnant. And I still love spending time with my single friends, but I worry and wonder if for them I represent one more person who has finally got what she was waiting for - while they still wait. And I feel so frustrated on their behalf. Some of my friends who are single long to be married and have families, some just want a committed companion. Whatever they want, there is so much uncertainty in their journey to find it, so much self-blame, doubt, loneliness, and feeling as if the rest of the world is moving on without them. Sounds so much like infertility doesn't it? Except....there are no specialists, no clinics, no adoption agencies to help them realize this dream. Sure, they can try online dating, matchmaking services, blind dates.....but in some ways it feels like it is still just a total crap shoot. Which I guess IF can be at times too, but at least I felt we had options, very real options, with percentages of success even. You can't really get that when you are looking for a partner. Heck, even when you find one....

Anyway.....spending time with this friend was so so good. As different as our situations are right now, there were still so many emotional places we could find common ground in. And being with her - being able to say all that I was thinking, being able to hear her, connecting - it completely changed my whole day. Being understood, being heard, it is seriously undervalued. This is the best medicine I could have asked for today. And I think it was probably really good for her as well. We both seemed lighter as we walked back to our cars and went on with our days.

I have always felt I could handle anything on my own if given enough time. I always approach stress and sadness in my life by hiding out and fighting it out on my own. And even though I have had amazing friends, amazing people in my life who have encouraged me to ask for help, to reach out, to need them - I have always always struggled to do this. Lately, I am consistently surprised how much it helps to connect with a friend, even just for a short conversation by phone. I am realizing I need these people, I need my community to keep me afloat.

But I still suck at reaching out, calling, and making plans. So - I had this idea today to set up regular times with several different friends, once a week or once every other week, to just go take a walk together. We can meet in the morning before they go to work, or on a lunch break, or whenever. But just knowing I have these times planned and getting out and moving while spending time with someone I care about seems like it would be really good for me right now. And, I love the idea of having "walked" through my pregnancy week by week, with people at my side who I love and care about. Rather than "walking" through it all on my own.

So....we'll see how it goes....it's a simple idea....but I think it could be huge for me.

I am really grateful today for my friends, for those kind souls who continue to care about me, to hold me up, to celebrate with me, and to believe in me - even when I kind of suck.

And ohhhh it feels so good to feel GOOD today!!!!

June 04, 2008

Fierce with Reality

it's been awhile....this could get long....just warning ya.

Sometimes when I find a quote that speaks to me or makes me think, I copy it down and tape it to the mirror in my bathroom or a wall in my bedroom. I read it over and over and ponder it until some deeper meaning comes to me or it no longer speaks to where I am at, and then I take it down.

A few days ago, while flipping through one of my books by Sark, I found the following quote from Florida Scott Maxwell:

You need only claim the events of your life to make yourself yours. When you truly possess all you have been and done, which may take some time, you are fierce with reality.

As I read it day after day up on my wall the meaning evolved and grew. After a day or so I felt not only called to let go of others opinions and judgments and decisions but also, and more importantly, called to own the whole of my life. To truly own it, admit to it without shame or undue pride. To simply say, "This is mine. This is who I am. This is what I have done and who I have been."

Sometimes this is hard for me. My life has held incredible adventures and passions, and also terrible mistakes and regrets. I have done and been many many things and at times it is hard to reconcile them all into one - to believe and accept that they are all a part of me, the "good", and "the bad".

My tendency is to beat myself up pretty harshly for the things in my life I now wish I could go back and do differently. It is so difficult to believe that I can hold great light and great darkness all at once - and that this does not make me uniquely horrible or broken beyond repair, but rather simply human.

So, yesterday, as I was thinking about all of this, thinking about how to own my story and my choices without shame - I felt convicted. I felt convicted for how I have been handling something lately. There has been something I have struggled with for the last couple of weeks and I have felt such shame about it that I have retreated....I haven't written about it honestly, I have barely shared it with those in my life, I have had difficulty even admitting it to myself.

I have been struggling with depression.

And it sucks. It is not "severe". I am sleeping (although perhaps too much). I am eating. I am functioning. And it is even getting somewhat better as the amount of hormones I take decreases. It could be so much worse. But nonetheless. I have been depressed. And I have been too ashamed to admit that I couldn't simply will myself to feel better, that I couldn't just think myself or work myself out of it. I have been ashamed that I, who arguably has so little "right" to be depressed at this point, have been struck by the heavy weight of sadness sitting squarely upon my chest - filling me with sadness.

I mean really? I am pregnant for crying out loud! I am finally on the path to meeting the child I have dreamed of, hoped for, prayed over. I am incredibly blessed and lucky. I have a strong loving relationship with my wonderful husband. I have a great community of friends and family. And - I AM PREGNANT!!!!

I cannot tell you how guilty it has made me feel - each time I find myself crying for no apparent reason, wanting nothing more than to curl up in the fetal position on the couch for days, each time I feel that heavy weight on my chest and I find it difficult to breathe, each time I accomplish nothing with my day because I feel like I am literally moving through cement.

It is utterly confusing to feel as though you are grieving from the depths of your soul when you have so much to be celebrating for. It makes me feel so crazy. And more than once I have wished that someone was strong enough to come and lift the cloud up from on top of me so that I could breathe again - so that I could feel "normal" again.

Earlier this week I did begin to write about it and this is what came out:

"This is NOT how I want to feel! This is NOT what I want to be writing! I HATE feeling this. I HATE IT!!!"

And I do - I hate it. I hate that it steals me away from a time that should be joyful and filled with hope. I hate that it makes me feel like a broken, f*cked up loser who can't even properly celebrate her growing baby.

But, just to clarify, I am still celebrating for this life growing inside me. The depression, the sadness, the grieving, they have nothing to do with this baby. Somehow, I am able to feel grateful and delighted by this baby and I am able to dream about meeting our child and I am able to have moments where my breath is taken away at the thought of being able to hold him or her. I am immensely grateful for these feelings.

But I just feel like I should be able to do it better. I should be able to conquer this.

Today I read a post on another blog that was also convicting. In it, the author was writing openly of her depression. Of her doubt. I saw words in her post that felt like they were coming directly from my heart. I saw someone who was not hiding.

She also quoted an author writing about depression who stated that the prenatal and postnatal periods are the periods of highest risk for depression in women.

I kind of know this. I also know that prolonged infertility and infertility treatments are risk factors for prenatal and post-partum depression. I also know that several people I know have experienced prenatal depression, from the mild to the severe. And I know it wasn't their faults. I know that their depression was not some reflection upon their inadequacies or failures. And I know that all of them have gone on to become really wonderful and loving mothers.

So why do I have such a hard time believing this for myself? That it is not my fault? That it is not some evidence of my badness or my inability to be a good mother? Why do I feel like such a failure?

I am trying very hard to do what I need to do in order to feel better. Even in little spurts, even for a few hours, or if I am lucky - a few days, at a time. Because I do feel that I owe this to our baby. I know I need to do everything in my power to be healthy and whole right now - as much as I can be.

And, I have found some things that have helped. Many of them I have found from sources sharing ways to prevent post-partum depression, others I just figured out as I went along. My nurse did offer me Zoloft last time I was in for blood work, even telling me that "a ton" of CCRM's patients are on Zoloft, both during treatments, and during pregnancy. This gives even more weight to the idea that infertility treatments can increase your risk of depression. But I didn't feel like what I was going through was severe enough for medication at this point, and I would really prefer not to take anti-depressants during pregnancy if I can avoid it. But ultimately, if it does get bad enough, I will honestly do whatever it takes to be the healthiest mama I could be for this child - whatever that takes. And if at some point that means medication, so be it. But if I go that route I will probably see a psychiatrist to manage my meds rather than an IVF nurse. Not that I doubt her sincerity and care, but I know that those meds can be tricky and I would want to be under the care of an expert.

But I digress......I wanted to share what has helped so far:

1. Meditation / Prayer - although not easy to do these days

2. 30 min of activity / exercise per day - again, really hard to do when I feel like crap, but it helps A TON.

3. At least an hour outside in the SUN every day - I try to pair this with my exercise by exercising outside.

4. Good music by familiar artists - I bought a bunch of used CDs recently and had one of the best days blasting this music throughout my house

5. Time and conversations with friends - This goes against my nature, when I am depressed I want to hide, hide, hide. But I have been amazed how much this has helped recently.

6. Eating well and eating often. AND taking my prenatal vitamin and fish oils (in capsules). the fish oils really make a noticeable difference in my moods and were suggested originally during IVF by my RE.

7. Avoiding anything sad or anything that "triggers" me: movies, TV shows, conflict, the news. - I literally cannot watch most of my favorite shows - anything much deeper than "Last Comic Standing" can be dangerous ground for me right now.

8. Getting busy and getting outside of myself - I have been talking with someone about doing some volunteer work for a non-profit this summer, and I am in the process of looking for some part-time work. Babysitting for one of my friends recently was a great escape from my own stuff and I loved spending time with her kids. We had so much fun. I am hoping to do more of that.

9. Counseling.

10. My husband. - Although this is taking such a toll on him. I am glad he is out of town for work this week, he really needs the break from me.

So that's it. I have been depressed. I am doing what I can to take care of myself in the midst of it. But it is hard, and it sucks and I hate it.

And I love this baby so much it hurts. And I desperately want to be better for him or her.

And I am claiming it all.

Claiming it all in the hopes of one day finding myself to be "fierce with reality".

Whatever that means.

A special someone sent me a link to this article that discusses emotions during pregnancy and it was really enlightening for me, so I am passing it along...