To Tell or Not to Tell…

Here I am, sitting on the brink of 33 weeks pregnant, and I’ve found myself in one of those situations again. Which many IVF mom’s know all too well. Do I act surprised and overwhelmed with joy that my fourth child ‘turned out’ to be a girl?!?!

I find myself to be a rather open book anyways, in all aspects of my life. I disclose too much at times, to a fault, but that is just my nature. I am the person who would shout from the rooftops that I did IVF and I got my girl!, however, it’s not really a subject matter you shout from the rooftops. And I’m found in that predicament of telling a stranger we did it, or not telling them. And strangely…while pregnant, in what seems like the longest 10 months of your life, this topic comes up more times than I actually gave any thought to until I had to field the question in my mind all the time.

At ultrasounds…do you know the sex of the baby? Yes, it’s a girl. Then baby girl pops up on the screen and theres the situation presented, yet again. The ultrasound technician says, yep, it’s a girl, here’s confirmation. Now, here, this is the point in which I have to make a decision…do I pretend I’m relieved because they could have made a mistake at the last ultrasound? Or do I tell this perfect stranger, there was no doubt it was a girl, because we went through IVF to get said girl? I’ve done both, and both give me a weird feeling inside. This last time I decided to pretend, and I said something like, oh thank god, since her room is already pink. And the tech said oooohhhh, are you just so excited to have a girl?!?! There it is right there…that question….’oh how lucky you are to have three boys and now have your girl’ or ‘how excited were you when they told you it was a girl?’…crickets…I play along, fake smile and mutter something about being SO excited…but it feels wrong. I’m lying. I’m excited, yes. I was excited, yes. But, I knew. I did it with purpose, intention. Faking that is exhausting. And that is with complete strangers…people I will more than likely never see again.

Then there’s the flip side to that…divulging too much info and making people feel uncomfortable or making yourself uncomfortable. Same instance, a medical professional is asking you a question and somehow it gets around to the gender of the baby and when they ask that very same question, that’s been asked 100 times before, I don’t lie. I tell them I did IVF to get a girl and yada yada yada. Some shake it off like you said nothing at all, and move on to the next thing…some say they had no idea you could do that, and others say how great it is. For whatever reason, this makes me feel weird too. I’m legit shocked how many people in the medical field know nothing about IVF, especially OB’s, and women’s health providers. Just yesterday I got an earful from a nurse who told me how great she thinks IVF is and how she doesn’t understand why people look down on it and all that goes with that topic, and I nod my head in agreement but feel strange inside. Should I have opened pandoras box with this stranger and told her that? Who do you tell? Who don’t you tell? I think it’s an age old question that only mothers of IVF treatments will understand.

I’m still left to try to dodge the awkward feeling and discomfort I feel when someone says those things to me. Maybe the age old question for me will never be answered. I’ll just have to wait until she’s born to start answering the question all over again when strangers see our family of 6, majority boys, with a little baby girl in the mix….and ask the very same thing.

My dreams will become a reality

For some people, things may come easy. For others, challenges and putting in the work make things happen. Joe and I made the decision almost 3 years ago, we were going to attempt a different way of creating life than we had before.

That’s when the planning and saving began. We forwent two years of family vacations and we saved and saved…annnnd saved in order to allow us to pay for this. I lost over 50 lbs in preparation for the mental and physical demands I would have to go through, and to get my mind in a ‘Rocky’ like state of mind; to feel like a warrior.  And that was what I told myself every single day during this process. Every poke, 170 of them to be exact. Every blood test, every surgery, every scary thought, every tear, “You are a warrior! You got this!” I found a new passion, working out, in the process…which has become pretty hard at the moment, but my desire and plans to continue where I left off, keep me excited.

Joe decided to take the journey with me and it was nothing short of amazing that I found a partner in life so willing to do anything to help my dreams come true. When I say anything, I mean, walking hand in hand with me, giving me every single shot, (sometimes up to 3 a day), listening to my fears, hearing me cry, going to my many procedures and holding my hand during the entire process. Watching me in pain probably wasn’t a walk in the park for him. But he did it, despite that. Building me up the whole time, telling me how great I’m doing. It hasn’t been easy. He’s had the faith everything would be fine, and I worry a bit too much, to a fault. But that strength is what helps keep me high, instead of falling too low.

Knowing how taboo the subject matter is, and how people really don’t talk about it, left me sometimes feeling very alone. I shared what was going on with a circle of people who helped build me up and give me the encouragement I needed. They were there to share in the excitement (and some got to hear my fears…a lot) along my journey. Those friends and family have been so supportive in our journey and so loving and non-judgmental. Most didn’t know anything about the process or what I went through and it was a learning for everyone. I also blogged the entire experience, so that I could help other people going through the same thing. It’s been cathartic for me, as a release to this rollercoaster journey, since the ups and downs aren’t easy. About half way through the process, I was inspired to keep everything to photograph it, so this is only about half of what was used…and it barely fit in the vase.

18 Weeks along and it feels like forever

Well, here I am, on the eve of the brink of my 18th week. It’s been quite the journey now, since I’ve been sick with some sort of illness ever since my egg transfer. First a cough that gave tuberculosis a run for it’s money, then a runny nose, a sore throat, the stomach flu, a urinary infection, a yeast infection and topping it all off with what I thought was the scary flu, with full on fever. How in the world does one person manage to get that sick in merely 18 weeks you may ask? I’m thinking the exact same thing. To add to that, I’m still on this rollercoaster of pregnancy. Feeling scared at any given moment for anything really. My doctor did say that because of the IVF, this pregnancy is going to feel like it’s a year long. And when I stopped to think about it, it will be a year since we started the journey when we deliver and almost a year from when we started the shots. Crazy!

The plus side of being so sick is that I’ve been going to my doctor once a week and I get to hear her magnificent heartbeat. Which in itself can be daunting, because of my low hanging abdominal wall (or what I affectionately call “my ledge”) (c-section moms know what the ledge is, lol). The doctors, bless their hearts, try hearing the heartbeat on my ledge and that is fat, people!…like a flap of fat!…there’s no heartbeat in there!…so they move it around and try a different spot, that is still on the ledge, and…nothing. Now I’m tense, even though this has happened at least three times now. Then, as horrifying as it is, I lift the ledge up, mortified, and they move it directly over my c-section scar, and there it is, clear as day, a strong beautiful heartbeat. 145 bpm. Lovely.

I’m tired, a lot, and my hopes and ambitions leave more desire in my dreams than in real life. Baby girl’s room is going to be what is currently my art studio. It is packed to the brim with stuff. My stuff, my plans for selling toys, everything is in here since it has turned into somewhat of a junk room. I try selling toys every time I get a chance, but some things just aren’t moving, leaving an array of crap in this space. What I decided to do was install a closet system in our master closet, in a space we didn’t use, so my husband ripped down the old shelf and clothes rail and patched and painted the wall. I installed the system last night and began transferring things from my studio to this system. I feel like a poured a thimble of water on an out of control fire. But, little by little, I know it will get done.

My middle child had major surgery a few days ago and it is challenging with him being so needy. He has casts on both of his legs and has to be in a wheelchair for about 6 weeks. I am trying to get so much done around the house while I’m home this week with him but it’s a challenge.

Work has been rough, because my job, which can be pretty physical, has been changing lately. And now, my boss is requiring my team to help do receiving in the mornings if they need help. Which is basically a lot of bending, twisting, lifting heavy things to stock the shelves. I helped the first day and I tweaked my back, it hurt bad ever since. Like so bad that I would get home from work and lay flat in bed because it hurt to breath. I finally got to see my massage therapist and she helped me tremendously, I also asked my husband to help massage the knots out and he did a pretty good job. Nonetheless, my back is still hurting a lot. One of the things they don’t tell you about IVF is that I have been experiencing nerve damage in my lower back from all the shots. It causes twinges and twitches that run down my legs uncontrollably, it causes spasms directly on those spots that are reminiscent of those dozens and dozens of prickly pokes. I feel like those are things that will never go away, things that seem permanent. The two-inch circles plotted on my backside are tender and painful to touch. When will that go away? I can’t imagine women who go through multiple rounds of IVF, poking and poking the exact spots constantly. Warriors, I tell you, warriors.

Every time I go to the doctor they ask if I’ve felt the baby yet…they say since I’ve been pregnant, usually I would notice it sooner than new moms. Well, nothing. Not one flutter, not one kick. Until a couple days ago. When I’m pretty sure I felt something. A little something, small but something. I wish it would have been sooner, but, I’ll take it.

So, here I am, listening to my middle child act belligerent because he’s on narcotics and I’m trying to get some sort of peace to complete this evening. Lord help me.

Today was graduation day and I graduated!

Well, the build up for this day was bigger than it was and I have a slew of mixed emotions about it. I knew today was going to be my last visit with the IVF doctor, since I ended my meds last Sunday, but I didn’t know I’d feel funny about it.

Last Thursday I got to half my meds, so 1ml of progesterone per day, 2 estrogen pills a day, no more estrogen patch. It was exciting. My husband kept prompting, ‘isn’t is exciting babe? You only have a few more days of being poked!’. While that part was exciting, there is so much more to be fearful of. My body will be left on it’s own to see if it can handle baby girl without meds. I had no idea what was going to happen. So, that’s what we did, we halved the meds, then Sunday came rolling around, and the last dose of everything, last shot, last pills, and it felt surreal. I mean, I’ve been following this routine for 10 weeks now. Strange how something becomes such a part of you. In all, said and done, I was poked 170 times. Including, blood tests, blood test vein misses, IV’s, and of course, the dreaded shots. When it was all over, I didn’t actually feel any different. Still had nausea every day, still have issues with gagging every time I cough. I felt fearful for the future and read some things on line about still borns in IVF patients and it made my fears grow wider. I called the doctor because I couldn’t get it out of my head and the nurse told me she’d never heard of that. It wasn’t the nurse I trust, so I put it out of my head, but knew I was going to ask the doctor when I saw him again.

Mid-way thru the week, I noticed a yeast infection going on in the nether regions, and might I add I noticed something odd about 7 weeks ago, but didn’t know what it was and never had the typical symptoms, so I brushed it off as nothing. Now I know for sure it’s a yeast infection and man is it gross. I’ve only ever had two of these in my life and not so fun. So, I didn’t know who I should call, my OB/GYN or my IVF doc…so I waited to see my IVF doc today and he told me to just get something over the counter…that wouldn’t harm baby. At least I feel better knowing that’ll be taken care of soon.

So, today…my last day seeing that office, seeing those receptionists, seeing those nurses, seeing that doctor. It’s bittersweet. I’ve spent so much time there, gotten to know the staff. I’ve talked to them, heard their stories, one is newly pregnant as well. So many have gone through IVF and can offer sympathy because they know. I went in the room and asked my onslaught of questions for my doctor and he answered each and every one. Then the ultrasound, seeing baby girl dance around in there is the best. I really wish I could watch it all day long. We got a good view of her wiggling back and forth and a nice profile of her face. She looks like the man in the moon currently, here’s to hoping she gets a little better looking in there…lol. She was moving so much my doctor couldn’t get a good read on her measurement, so hoping she’s still on target.

He told me my placenta is anterior and it’s partially covering the cervix. I got a bit freaked out about that and asked the nurse for more info when it was just her and I. She told me it’s barely touching and as my uterus grows, the placenta will most likely move up with it, not only moving away from the cervix, but also freeing up the space near where my c-section will be. I was kind of bummed to hear my placenta was in the front because it softens the blows when baby moves, which was the most amazing part of my last pregnancy, getting to see the backflips and front flips baby does in there.

After all that, I sat up and my doctor gave me a hug. After I talked with the nurse at length, I gave her a hug and said goodbye. It was a bittersweet moment, happy to graduate, but sad to not have the constant care and reassurance I was getting. So, come Monday, I will be calling my OB/GYN and getting my appointment in there as soon as possible. I know how excited she’ll be to see me again. I’ve had the same OB/GYN since I was 20 years old, so for 17 years now. She’s seen me through a marriage, a divorce, a remarriage, a miscarriage, three pregnancies, and she’s delivered two of my babies. We’ve been through a lot, her and I and I love her. She’s the best OB/GYN, and I’m lucky to have found her, so I really can’t wait to see her, now pregnant with my first girl. She’s going to be so excited!

So, I can file away my IVF folder, filled with info, and test results, and calendars, and bills, and receipts and hospital bracelets. I can safely move on to the next phase. 12 weeks today. On to the next chapter. The second trimester. Cheers.

Why am I not excited?

When I tell the people who know about our IVF journey, they are all soooo excited for me. Your girl!!! It’s happening! But…I’m not excited. Why? Why can’t I smile and be happy? Why do I feel like a total disaster on the inside? I feel so alone, like no one understands why I feel so depressed. I want to be excited, I want to go in her room to be and clean it out and organize it and plan it. But, I can’t. My house is a complete disaster and my husband is drowning with the three other boys and I can’t even get out of bed. I talked to my nurse about these feelings and she asked if I felt like I needed to talk to someone, I told her no, but I don’t know what’s going on. She mentioned it could be a combination of things going on currently.

1.) I’ve been sick with the plague from hell for 5 weeks now…(this persistent cough and running nose has gotten the best of me for sure).

2.) I’m constantly battling morning sickness…all goddamn day. Like, up and down and up and down…just feeling yucky all the time. When I move, when I lay down.

3.) The shots. The progesterone in oil not only is a hormone that could be unhelpful with these depressing thoughts…but also, I’m on day 57 of being poked. It’s not fun. At all.

4.) The fear something may go wrong because I had a bleeding scare isn’t helping. The constant checking and paranoia.

Those things combined are probably not aiding in the depression and she said once the shots are done, she was sure I would feel much better. On that note, I have a week from tomorrow and all my meds are done! The shots, the estrogen patches, the aspirin, the estrogen pills. All done. Which, again, should make me happy, but I’m nervous to stop everything as it’s been all I’ve know this entire pregnancy. I am 10 weeks today, and baby girl is measuring 4 days ahead of schedule. I’ve always had big babies and she will probably not be the exception. Her heart rate was great at 165 bpm. And when we saw her on the ultrasound, she was moving up a storm. I’m already in maternity clothes because I haven’t been able to work out (nor have I wanted to, since I almost throw up every time I climb the stairs, lol). I’m sure people are work are noticing my increasing size, in fact a couple rudies have come right out and asked if I’m pregnant. Which, to be clear, is never okay.

The thing that sucks, all the things I read said the progesterone in oil created lumps under the skin, and that’s what I imagined. Giant pimples under my skin, but that isn’t what they meant. What is actually happening is the oil has created a giant lump (that resembles a spare tire) on both sides of my backside. It jiggles when I walk and it sticks out past my behind. It looks like fat to the naked eye. It is not fat. It sucks. I told the nurse it feels like my skin is callused and she said it’s not, it’s just that the skin, muscle and tissue is so bruised it feels strange. I showed her the ‘lumps’ and she said sadly it wasn’t going to go anywhere until closer to the end of the pregnancy. It takes that long to be absorbed into the body. What a bitch of a drug. The shots aren’t really painful, I have figured out the ways to combat it. But they are wearing me down emotionally now. Being poked and some days they hurt more than others. Some days there is more blood, and it freaks me out to see it bubbling out of my skin. I’ve developed an unhealthy hatred for my husband because he is the giver of the shots. Even though he doesn’t want to give them to me and it’s not fun for him either. It’s a subconscious thing…I just find I’m getting  more mad at him quickly and I don’t trust he’s going to not hurt me. One week girl, just one more week.

I am so tired all the time, I came home from work yesterday and took an hour and a half nap. Then went to bed at my normal time. I cannot get energy to save my life and I barely have enough energy to go to work. I have another ultrasound appointment with my doctor in two weeks from today, when I’m 12 weeks, then I graduate from the IVF Doctors to my OB/GYN, who doesn’t even know I’m pregnant yet. I’m excited for the next step in my heart, but terrified. New territory is always scary.

Week 7, Feeling Crappy

So, after all that, worrying for a week, checking my underwear and checking the toilet paper when I wipe, I finally had my first ultrasound. The ultrasound that has been torture waiting for. The one where we get to see if baby girl is in fact healthy and growing in there. Sometimes I wish we were some sort of sci-fi robot where we could press a button and see what our baby was doing in there any given moment. It would be an incredible app, you could see the heartbeat, fetal movements, what baby looks like…man a girl can dream right?!?!

There was one more episode of blood when I wiped last Friday, and I worried myself crazy, thinking it was the beginning of the end. I called the nurse and she told me to rest for the weekend. Which I took to mean, bed-rest for the weekend and I did very little. As the days passed and no more blood showed up, I became more and more relieved. But still not out of the woods until I see that flicker of light.

What really sucks is that I have had a horrendous cough for two weeks now, so I feel miserable from hacking so much. My neck hurts, my head hurts, my torso hurts…really everything is miserable. Nothing has helped it, and I would have probably gone to the doctor about it by now, but my dad has the exact same thing and they told him it was a virus…and there isn’t anything they can do. They won’t give me an x-ray because I’m pregnant, so, I’m toughing it out.

When the ultrasound appointment finally got here, I waited all day, since my appointment was in the evening and they are behind, so I’m in the waiting room tapping my feet, shaking from nerves. When they finally call me back, I get undressed and lay on the table trying to relax before my doctor comes in. He was speedy, because I had a moment and that was it. He came in and asked how I was doing, I told him I was soooooooo nervous, and he joked about ‘why would I be, it’s only the most important appointment thus far’. At least he knows and recognizes the nerves that go into this appointment. He had a woman with him, who I assume was being trained…he had her attempt to find baby. She stuck the ultrasound wand inside me and poked around. I saw nothing…at all. I began to get worried and my doctor was like, ‘here, you see, there’ and he pointed at the screen for her to see, then he kindly nudged her away and took over (thank God) and began pressing on the outside of my stomach kind of hard. It mildly hurt, but I really didn’t care, I just wanted to know the status of my baby. He said out loud ‘hi baby’, and I relaxed a little. I still didn’t see anything, but he said, your baby has a heartbeat, see right there. I saw nothing. I told him I couldn’t see anything and he zoomed in all the way for me. There she was, a round little sack, with a strong flickering light in the middle. He explained what we were looking at, and I started crying. Such relief. I sat up and the doctor gave me a hug. He was very confident that she is healthy looking from this scan, she measures 3.3 mm. He did tell me to stop the Lovenox injections at this point. Which I have mixed feelings about. On one hand, hooray, no more shots that cause horrible bruising on my stomach!, but on the other hand, I’ve grown accustomed to it and it’s part of a routine, and it makes me fearful something could go wrong by changing the formula for which this is working. He assured me that the Lovenox is only to help aid implantation and baby is already implanted. So, I have to trust doc and go with the flow. I do still have to continue the progesterone in oil shots, which are the ones that go in my backside muscle…and man am I sick of those. They don’t hurt while going in, the muscle hurts ALL.THE.TIME. But not enough to keep me from living my life, or changing the way I walk or sit or stand. But enough to be a reminder all day long of the pain I’m going through for this to work out.

My husband is beyond thrilled, and you can’t wipe the smile off his face. Me, on the other hand, am…guarded. Really really guarded. It’s weird how we do that to protect ourselves, yet any unhappy ending will devastate you no matter how excited you were or not. Why can’t I just let myself be happy? Do I feel like I don’t deserve it? Am I waiting for tragedy to strike? What is it? I feel mildly depressed and don’t really know how to get out of it. I’ll tell you what doesn’t help…it doesn’t help when people tell you to be happy, this is great news, it doesn’t help when people tell you that everything will be fine, it doesn’t help that I’m sick with this horrible cold/cough, it doesn’t help that my IBS is acting up something fierce causing me tremendous tummy aches and bathroom breaks, it doesn’t help that I feel nauseous around the clock and there’s nothing I can do about it. I’m hoping to snap out of it soon and be happy again, but the fear creeps in when you least expect it. For now though, little baby girl is a fighter, a strong woman, just like me (from what I’ve been told).

Fearful but Hopeful

Yesterday while I was working I crouched down to do a few things and I noticed a ‘bloody’ smell, similar to when I would wear a pad during my period. I thought it was odd, but convinced my brain it was just my imagination. Well, oddly enough, I didn’t use the restroom at work at all during the day and I knew I was meeting my mother in law to go pick out granite after work, so I ran in real quick on my way out to go. When I pulled my pants down I saw it immediately, staring back at me, stains in my underwear. I started freaking out, inspecting it. It looked like it had happened close to when I originally noticed it, probably right before noon. Because it looked dry and there wasn’t very much of it. It was brown in color and looked old. I wiped to inspect more and it just looked like old remnants from whatever was staring at me in my panties. Still silently freaking out, I realized it was 3:55 and my doctors office shuts their phone lines off at 4:00. I ran to a quiet place and called them up, trying not to cry. They got a nurse and she explained that it isn’t uncommon in IVF patients to see a bit of old blood like that come out. She said she doesn’t know why it happens but, in about 20-30% of patients they see it. I began having flashbacks to how my miscarriage started and this was it. All my hopes and dreams began feeling like a failure. I was so confused, how can this be? We did the special testing that put back a healthy baby girl, my numbers have been solid and great this entire time. They started at 166, then 414.1, then 1361. So, it shows she is progressing in there quite nicely. How can this be? How could I lose this baby now?

All I wanted to do was go home, but I still met my mother in law and we drove out and picked out granite. All I could think of was getting home and stripping down to check to see if there was more blood. I raced home when we were done and did just that. Inspecting the white toilet paper with every wipe. I saw a pinprick size of brighter pink-red blood and began to freak out. I called the after hours nurse crying and explained what I saw. I asked if they did more blood work could that tell them anything, she suggested I come in the next morning and get blood work done. She said that those colors can be normal too, but if I’m soaking a pad in an hour or there is a lot of bleeding to call back.

Well, I checked all night, over and over and over, and nothing. It seemed to stop. When I woke up, I checked again, nothing. Is it because I was horizontal all night and it will seep out during the day?

I got ready, my husband gave me the shots, which, today, the progesterone shot hurt, like enough to make me say outloud, ow ow ow ow ow. It hasn’t truly hurt until today. I hope that isn’t going to be a norm going forward. I drove to the doctors office and got my blood drawn. I told the nurse how confused I was given the situation, with the healthy embryo and the really good numbers. She said the likelihood of a loss now is slim given those things, but not impossible. So, not very reassuring, but nothing is. Nothing will be, until she is cradled in my arms sleeping soundly.

I patiently waited for the results and a different nurse called me back. She told me my numbers look great, at 12,000 and that I don’t need to come back for blood work. It sounded so nonchalant and she didn’t even address anything about why I came in in the first place, I said, do you know why I got the blood work today? and from her response I don’t think she did, because I said, I was bleeding and I was hoping those were good numbers, and she said they were and that was pretty much it. So I’m reassured for now. But I have to wait until a week from today and I can have my ultrasound to see her heartbeat. I keep checking the toilet paper when I use the bathroom and no more blood, so maybe it was a fluke.

The nurse told me that this has to be treated as an entirely different pregnancy than my last ones, because it is so different. I’m on all these hormones and it’s not the same. That is hard not to revert back to what you know from the previous ones and go, well, I didn’t have that in those pregnancies, so it must not be good. Also, seeing blood is never a good feeling when you’re pregnant. I still remain hopeful that we’ve made it this far, and she’s safe and sound in there.