She arrived last thursday, 5 days after my due date, 7 lb and 13 oz. Sleepless and overwhelmed with joy. This journey cannot be summarized in words right now. I am just soaking in every moment.
I can’t believe how time has flown. The first trimester felt so long and tentative and these last two feel like I’ve hit fast forward. After being in the first trimester of egg shell walking and anxious/cautious optimism it feels almost unfair to have to zip through what has really been the best part, actually being able to enjoy the pregnancy. For years I assumed pregnancy would suck considering what I’d been through. I could not have been more wrong. I can honestly say I’ve never been happier. There is something so amazing about having a little one on the inside everywhere you go, alive and kicking. I never anticipated so much movement. It’s like she has a personality already. I assumed I’d be on pins and needles until the day our baby arrived, but I feel like once I got the confirmation from my OB back in week 17 that she was really coming and this was really happening I just embraced it. Once we crossed clearly into second trimester territory I felt like I was in a whole new place, unlike any of my previous experiences. Each doctor’s visit was actually ending in good news, even just a lack of bad news was a gift. Everything is confirmed “normal” and with that I feel like a new person back in the regular world. Lucky number seven is expected on June 7 and all signs point to her arriving with no major complications at a healthy 6-7 lbs. It’s hard to describe what it’s like to be here after my journey of 5+ years and 6 losses. And it is still a mystery exactly what is different this time, what worked that hadn’t worked before. Maybe it was the gluten-free/dairy-free diet, maybe the Vitamin D supplements, maybe the immunology treatments (doubtful!), maybe it was just time. As they say, even a broken clock is right twice a day.
24 weeks. Unbelievable. I am so thrilled to be crossing into the 6 month zone! Mathematically it is the third trimester, but I noticed several books count that one starting at 28 weeks. Either way, for me it’s a HUGE milestone. Never made it this far and feeling thoroughly pregnant on all fronts.
I feel like I turned the corner to embracing this pregnancy (as I mentioned in the last post some weeks ago) and for the first time really want it to just slow down. Now that I am in a “safe” zone I am actually enjoying this. I thought i never would or could, but I just feel like this time will never be again and so I need to be in the moment as much as possible. This is such a total 360 from the days when I would watch the calendar wishing it would move faster to get the next day, the next appointment, the next test, etc. Distraction and avoidance were my two best friends for this journey until now. Unable to jump on hope I found I was disconnecting from myself, always focused on the future, on the next goal and without much pleasure in the present moment.
Last week I felt movement for the first time in there and it was amazing. Actual physical proof that there really is a little one in there. At first I questioned if it was baby movement or just common gas from digesting. But as I sat there in bed it happened again and again until there was quite a strong sudden push. It was so surprising at first I actually screamed outloud Then I laughed at myself for screaming because she could probably hear me scream at her. I can’t feel if it is a kick or a punch going on in there. My guess is its more twisting and rolling around. It’s a totally new sensation that is both weird and awesome.
One of my books I’ve been reading said “you probably wish your pregnancy was moving along faster already”. I couldn’t disagree more. After years of wondering if this was ever going to happen, now that it is happening I want to enjoy every minute. In fact I wish I could just press pause and stretch it out even longer. After years of being on the first trimester failure wagon it’s amazing to make it solidly past the second and now even be in the third. While the first trimester of all my pregnancies have felt so long and slow, this part of the pregnancy is going by almost too fast which seems almost unfair because it’s finally the good part!
When the baby arrives I suspect that things will start to move even faster (notice I said when instead of if) and I will be busy and sleep deprived. In this moment in this pregnancy I just feel grateful to be here.
Last week I finally made it over the hump. The week began with me completely freaking out about another loss. It started with my advanced pregnancy scan which was a huge relief in most ways. The baby looks normal and I am SO thrilled, relieved, overjoyed about that. However, at the end the maternal fetal medicine specialist mentioned that because of the position of the placenta (low placenta) that we should schedule another ultrasound with her in six weeks. What triggered my concern was her comment, “I don’t think you need to avoid sexual activity or go on bed rest YET”. That last word “yet” was the thing that haunted at me. Even though everything looks totally fine down there, her commend triggered my looming fear that my body would manage to fail yet again. So the next day when I was having pelvic pains my mind jumped to assuming the worst, like I maybe this means I have incompetent cervix and should be worried now about a second trimester loss. When I scanned the internet for information it only made me feel worse. According to Web MD there is a higher risk of incompetent cervix in women who have had medical procedures in that area, including D & C’s. “Damn! I’ve had 5 of those!” is what went through my head. In a fit of worry I gave my health insurance nurse hotline a call and she calmed me down saying it was likely normal ligament pain, suggesting that we abstain and just talk to our OB who we were scheduled to see in a week.
So I stayed on pins and needles all week and felt very tentatively pregnant, even though we made it to the 20 week mark, really looking forward to some more information from the OB. I will call her now Dr. Awesome as she is the OB I switched to after my awful first experience with Dr. Jerk, the head of the Department. I’ve actually seen her for two of my previous pregnancies, so we go way back. So far back that I almost didn’t recognize her with her blond hair all turned grey. I guess she stopped coloring or time has been really rough on her, it’s only been 2-3 years. When we did finally see her, it was amazing. I had no idea what a thirty minute consultation could do. One by one she relieved each of my fears. I made the mistake of going with Dr. Jerk for our first visit because of his availability (it would have been at least 3 weeks later to see her) and because I thought with his years of experience he’d actually have more to offer. Clearly, not the case, I think it just gave him a big ego. Thank you to everyone for pushing me to switch! The clinic made it sound like we were committed to one person but when I begged to switch they were really accommodating in the end. The only bad thing is since it is all one clinic we’ll likely bump into him again. Whatever.
So Dr. Awesome totally got her name from this first face-to-face visit in years and our first visit for this pregnancy. This conversation is why:
Dr. Awesome: “No, you don’t have an incompetent cervix, it is CONFIRMED on the ultrasound. The D & C’s DON”T matter”.
Me: Wow! I had no idea you could even confirm this. What a giant weight lifted!
Dr. Awesome: “Your pains were actually small contractions brought on by sexual activity, namely orgasms and male semen. It is TOTALLY normal and actually good for you, esp. at the end of pregnancy for relaxing the cervix. 99% of pregnant couples are doing it too, so go for It!”
Me: Really? It’s a good thing? Who knew? (Mr. Star smiles). I guess we don’t need to abstain anymore…
Dr. Awesome: “Also, this is NOT a high risk pregnancy , even with your history of loss and your age”
“Yes, you don’t have asthma or heart problems or diabetes or major obesity or other physical complications. Seriously, there are high risk pregnancies out there, but this is not one of them”
Me: Wow, that is really, really great news! (disbelief now a giant leap of joy in my brain)
From there I had no big burning questions left. With my fears pushed aside the conversation turned and we started talking about birthing classes (apparently you have to sign up now as they fill up early), safe pre-natal exercises, even cord blood donation. My brain was in overload. This is happening! I left that day a different person. I was pregnant! I was not just pregnant but actually expecting, a word I had reserved for “real” pregnant people in the past.
That weekend the lights went on and I had the realization, “I am 20 weeks along, this is it, this my pregnancy. Enjoy the moment now! Get on board! ” Now embracing of the pregnancy I poured through the books and pamphlets from the OB office that had been tucked away and even picked up more books on the topic online. I signed us up for the recommended classes (child birth preparation, infant care, infant CPR, baby safety, etc.). I even went to my first pre-natal yoga class. I don’t have much of a bump, but i don’t care anymore, it just feels like the right thing now. We started brainstorming names we liked, something I hadn’t done since my naive times in my first pregnancy. Finally we started the task of preparing the house, actually mapping out where a crib would go and starting a list of stuff we need to get. When I had lunch a few days later with a friend who offered her maternity clothes I eagerly offered to pick them up. I was ready now!
So this is where I am. I still embrace my IF identity and even variously listen to the Bitter Infertile podcast regularly. And I will always be a hard-core RPL-er. But for now I do feel like I’ve landed on some solid ground and am welcoming this new unknown, this new start, and (fingers crossed), this new little life!
My 150th post!
We’ve made it to 18 1/2 weeks already. Yeah! Despite this huge milestone I find myself struggling to talk about the pregnancy. I am dragging my feet about telling people because I still don’t feel ready. I keep giving myself milestones to look forward to. This time it was the advanced ultrasound where they scan all the organs. I had heard so much about it. I told myself if it went ok, then we’d be on solid ground. Sure enough the scan came and went and I still find myself nervous. Just last night we were doing introductions in a new class I am taking and two people mentioned their pregnancies. Meanwhile I managed to clam up and skip that in my introduction.
For a while I told myself I’d wait until I was showing. Well, now I find myself being more and more creative with my clothes because I want to hide the bump and delay telling even more. I think that’s a sign that I should spill the beans and just come out already. I’ve told my inner circle, but I stil haven’t told the majority of our friends and I haven’t mentioned anything at work. I am a contractor and not an employee so I don’t get an official maternity leave, but I still should say something. Since I work from home I’ve enjoyed so much privacy, not worrying about showing. Tomorrow night we actually have a work event at the local bowling and arcade place. Since I rarely see most of these people it’s a great opportunity to socialize face to face, but I find myself obsessing about what to wear to hide the bump. When I have my 1-on-1 with my director in a week, maybe that will be a good time to tell. So far 1-on-1 is working out the best, big groups make me freeze.
Lately I’ve been fantasizing about 20 weeks. It’s the half way point, so that sounds safe, right? I think I am just fooling myself that some safe appropriate milestone will come up. As far as I know this is it. This is as safe as it gets, so I should just relax. But somehow I still struggle to make the transition. I cling to my infertility podcasts, more comfortable hearing about miscarriage and baby loss and more familiar with the emotions that go along with that. I feel excited, but almost detached from this pregnancy. I feel like I should have been crying tears of joy at our last exam seeing all those images of the baby and getting the official confirmation, It’s a girl! Instead I was focused on what is the next thing to worry about, in our case it is a fetal echo in 4 weeks to confirm a healthy heart (recommended for pregnancies from IVF).
I want to be able to enjoy the pregnancy and share it with others, but I am not there yet and I am not sure exactly why. Up until now we’ve told people that I am comfortable “untelling” (if it came to that) because of our good relationships. Now that I am going to the outer circles I am anxious about the questions and the expectations. I told someone last night who knew about my losses and he asked if we had a name already. Wow, that is SO not on my mind right now. It should be but it isn’t.
I am taking this mindfulness/stress reduction class as part of my Counseling Psychology degree and I think I need to just take some of that to heart. This is what we learned to say to ourselves: Be aware of and embrace your anxiety. Acknowledge it and let it go. It’s there and it will likely be there when you or someone else talks about pregnancy. It’s part of how you feel right now and that’s ok. It’s totally ok to be anxious. You don’t have to be this perfect happy pregnant person. You don’t have to be glowing with joy. Where you are is just fine. Embrace it.
I started spilling the beans a little this past weekend. It felt really scary at first, but then was like a weight lifted. I always pictured myself bursting into tears and gushing about all our troubles along the way. Instead I was able to tell some friends and my brother that we were expecting and they instantly responded with joy and excitement about us becoming parents. After telling some of our friends I actually had trouble sleeping that night, questioning if we made the right choice, if it was really “safe” yet. Even though there is no real “safe” time I feel like this is the closest we’ve ever been.
The following morning we went to a brunch party and I was totally set on making the announcement. There were plenty of quiet pauses in the table conversation to jump in, but I completely froze. I was a stressed mess thinking about if I should or shouldn’t and when and preparing myself for the response. Mr. Star kept giving me looks like, “say something” and I just shut down like I couldn’t do it. It just didn’t feel right somehow. I don’t think we were really ready for that level of attention. I have to just trust my gut that even though it sounded like a good idea, it just wasn’t the right time. If things continue they’ll find out eventually one way or another. Right?
Telling has been a different experience than it was in my fantasies. I have been able to say we are pregnant and at the same time keep the long process that got us here to myself. Somehow I worried that I’d have to have a full on conversation revealing the whole deal, all the losses, the IVF, the going to Mexico for LIT, the gluten-free diet and acupuncture. All the crazy shit I’ve been going through for the last 5 years. Instead it’s just “we are pregnant and due in June”, end of story. It’s almost like the other stuff never happened, at least as far as they know.
I find I have one leg still on infertility/pregnancy loss/grief island and the other in this new mainland of baby joy/parent joy. I go back and further and find myself right on the border. I feel the draw to join the mainland, but I don’t trust it, like the bridge that takes me there is going to bust at any moment or my passport will be rejected. It’s too good to be true, so I waver and I think that is what kept me from telling my friends at that brunch event. I just felt like if I made a big announcement it would all come crashing down. I am waiting for some official sign that everything is going to be ok and I can relax, but I am not there, and maybe I won’t be until baby Star actually arrives. For now, I am just going one step at a time, cautiously tip toeing forward, excited at each additional day that goes by taking us closer.
A problem I fantasized about having is finally here. Who do I tell and when? Since it took 5 years for us to graduate to the second trimester, I honestly wondered if this day would ever come. As a result I feel totally out of my element. Sure, I fantasized tons about the one day I could tell people that we are finally expecting. Until now I’ve told my close friends and family who have been supporting me through all those years of losses and infertility. Now I find myself lost in how to communicate this to the rest of the world, like that next level of friends and family. Since I work from home, I have the flexibility to hold it from co-workers until I am ready, or until we have an on site work event where it is going to be physically obvious.
There is a part of me that is perfectly content just keeping this information to myself for as long as I can. Afterall, I am not showing and we are only 14 weeks in. (Yes, 14 weeks tomorrow! I still can’t believe it). I am still superstitious and paranoid about going public, as if a miscarriage will be triggered immediately. I also worry about what questions are going to come out from people who have been kept out of the loop. How much do I have to explain? My friends who have supported me all along the way already know that week 14 is a huge deal for us. The rest of the world, however, is more likely to jump into questions about due dates, genders, names, day care plans and all sorts of things I am not even thinking about yet. Or even worse, questions about what the hell took us so long. Hopefully most people will be too shy ask about the second one, even if they are thinking it. I just don’t know how much I really want to go into that. Essentially if I wanted people to know our whole story, I would have already had shared it with them by now.
With Christmas coming up there will be a lot of opportunities to spill the beans. However, since I am not showing, and probably won’t for a while (given my long torso) it is totally optional. So it’s just a matter of when I want to tell. I am just not sure if I am ready. But then again, will I ever be ready? I know the normal route for folks with healthy pregnancy histories is to tell around 12 weeks, but what about for those of us with a shaky history? With a history or recurrent loss should you wait longer? Anyone have suggestions or experience here?