Friday, April 25, 2014

(Bitter)sweet 16!

It has been an emotional week.  At first it was just pregnancy hormones...crying-over-spilt-milk-kind-of-stuff. For example, I was killing two birds with one stone one night...brushing my teeth and peeing at the same time.  Meanwhile, my husband was also brushing his teeth or washing his hands or something (we only have the one bathroom right now).  When he finished up he decided to splash cold water in my face (because apparently he never got the 5th grade memo that you don't have to bug the girl you like to get her attention).  Anyway, I got grumpy, obviously.  He thought that was funny... my grumpy, pouting face and inability to retaliate because I was sitting on the toilet, pants around ankles.  AND I couldn't yell at him either because of the toothbrush in my mouth.  So he starts laughing and I make an even grumpier face which causes toothpaste to ooze out of my mouth.  So he laughs harder.   Then I start laughing which makes me choke on toothpaste.  So he laughs even harder.  Which of course makes me cry.  And then I get really hysterical...sputtering toothpaste, crying, laughing?, choking...all the while resentment rising because he just can't stop laughing and grab me a frickin' trash can to spit in.  I was a basket case the rest of the night... 

So, those were the emotions one might expect with pregnancy, but Monday it got evidenced here.  And the remainder of the week followed suit.  It was tough trying to act normal enough to make it through each day at work and also be sensitive to the way the kids and everyone else (self included) in the building was feeling. 

Actually the kids seemed "okay-ish" because I think many of them don't really comprehend entirely what happened.  But they are dealing with it in their own way...they've been highly distractible and irritable since they found out.  And it is hard to figure out how to leave room for that kind of behavior when it is not typically tolerated.  I mean, it still wasn't really tolerated, but it had to be dealt with differently.

It's just been weird.

"Weird" is the best way for me to describe the week.  Weird because I want/need to grieve but haven't really found the time or space to.  Weird because I wanted nothing to do with work.  Weird because I had to be there.  Weird because surrounded by the weight of death, I feel this bizarre juxtaposition of life....which I am sooo grateful for!! 

But it's weird.  

So, that's why this is (bitter)sweet 16.  I am now 16 weeks 1 day pregnant and I thrilled to be able to experience each day of this pregnancy.  Some highlights of the week were hearing the heartbeat (136, mind you), having more people notice/comment on my protruding belly, and having one friend mention how she could "see those hooters coming a mile away!"  (I am really digging the bigger boobs).

And that's about as good of an ending as I can think of. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Reason

The content of this post has been swirling around in my head for awhile now.  And, being the non-confrontational person that I am, I wasn't willing to post it so as not to offend.  But, after the abrupt passing of a colleague yesterday, I think I'm ready.  And honestly, the following are just my musings.  You can agree or disagree, read or not read...
Our staff found out that C had cancer the same day I found out I was pregnant.  I think she only knew days, maybe weeks, before we did (although she had been feeling  crummy for awhile). 

Instantly, I think we all went back to a year and a half ago when we lost another staff member to her battle with cancer.  J taught second grade next door to me.  The year she joined our staff she was pregnant with her first son.  She had him in January of that year.  Seven months later she discovered she had a very rare and aggressive form of uterine cancer (that may have been triggered/started growing during her pregnancy).  Two years later, after the most courageous fight I've ever witnessed, our staff was invited into her house as she lay dying.  The events of that week, and of the years leading up to it, taught me so many lessons that I would rather have learned some other way.  She was 34 when she died.  I was blessed to know her for a brief portion of that all-to-brief life.

So, like I said, when we heard about C, I think many of us flashed back to J and thought, "No.  Not again."  I know I for one was thinking C would beat this.  Lots of people get cancer.  Lots survive...many don't...and many more survive for quite some time before cancer finally wins.  I was kind of refusing to believe that it could be as bad as it was.  And I, selfishly I admit,  was also in my own little happy pregnancy bubble...trying not to let anything get me down.  See, our staff seems to be plagued with one tragedy after another...and C's cancer was yet another blow.  After awhile you get fatigued by all the bad news...and maybe a little desensitized.  When I got the phone call yesterday I was taken completely by surprise.  I didn't see it coming...or at least thought there was more time.  How much more of this kind of news could we receive?  When would we get a break?  Why was something terrible happening again to our little family?  And to C's family?  Why her? Why now? WHY???

I don't know the answer to any of those questions.  And frankly no one does.  But it seems like whenever life presents a challenge (no matter how great or how small), people are searching for THE REASON.  Why??

And often times people try to give answers to these questions that are so far beyond us:

It was God's time...
Her time here was done, God needed her in heaven...
She's in a better place now...
There is a reason for everything...
God works in mysterious ways...

Ummm, I'm sorry, but what gives you the authority to speak for the universe?  C was older than J, but still's doesn't make it any better.  She had two boys in their 20s and a grandchild.  Her mom came to see her this Easter weekend; no mom should have to say goodbye to her baby, whether the baby is 50-something or a 5 week-old embryo.  What's this business about there being some magical clock that is ticking away for us all?

While in the midst of infertility, I heard many things that drove me crazy.  I know all those in the IF camp can relate and spout off some of the most common obnoxious lines...
Maybe if you just relax...
Trust me, you don't want kids...
You've got plenty of time...
And on and on the list goes.  For me, it was all grating on the nerves, but the comments that probably drove me craziest of all were the supposedly religious/faith-centered ones...
It's just not God's time yet...
God has a plan for you...
The Lord works in mysterious ways...
There is a REASON for everything...
and...brace yourself...Maybe God is testing your faith...
Look familiar?

What is it about?  Why do people do that??  Feel like they have to justify why something terrible happens?

I guess I don't blame them really...I mean, sometimes there are just not adequate words.  And we grasp for anything that seems helpful.

Heck, I've probably done it myself in some capacity... 

But, soooo many people say stuff like that when life presents a challenge!!!  They say it to themselves.  They say it to those they are trying to support.  Do they believe it???  I mean really deep-down in their bones believe it??  Or is it calming to think that God planned for you to experience the misery??  That God has some masterful lesson to teach you...and he wants you to learn the hard way?  Does believing there is a reason for everything somehow lessen the weight of the crummy stuff in life?
For me, it doesn't.  I can't wrap my head around it.   I can't believe in a God who would plan for so many willing and capable parents to traverse IF, while planning that other, less willing (perhaps less capable) couples seem to have trouble avoiding pregnancy.  I can't believe in a God who says, "I am taking this 34-year-old mother and teacher after her horrific fight with cancer (it's her time, you know...she's been here long enough)...meanwhile, I think this child molester should get off the hook because of a mistrial." 

 I'm sorry folks, but I just don't buy it.  Not for a minute. Does not compute.  I do not see God there.  Perhaps that is me trying to reason with things I cannot comprehend.   
There is that saying, "Bad things happen to good people,"  but truly...bad things happen to all people.  And good things happen to all people.  And sometimes the ratio of good things to bad things seems completely out of whack.
But here's my take: that's life.  It is chaotic.  It is wonderful.  It is tough.  It is inspiring.
With comments like the ones above, I think some people try to force faith and reason to be on the same plane.  Like, "If I don't believe that God has a reason for what is happening in my life, than I am not being faithful."   
I don't think it has to be that way though.  I think faith goes beyond reason.  I think faith is saying, "I don't get it...and it totally bites, but I'm trusting that somehow, something will see me through." 
I don't think God's hand is in the tragedies and misery of life...I think it is in the response to tragedy and misery.  I think His hand is in the friend that gives you a hug, the coworker that passes a Kleenex, the husband that kisses your forehead.  I think it is in the perspective you gain and the lessons you learn as you trudge through the yuck of life.
I learned many lessons dealing with IF and feel like I am a different and maybe better person for it.  And for that I can be grateful now.  But I don't think that any of those things are the reason I faced IF...I don't think my life would have been incomplete or less full had I been able to surpass those lessons.  And on the flip side...I don't think there is any incredible reason I am pregnant now...I just got plain lucky and I am soooo thankful!  Does that make sense?
I think what I am trying to say is I don't believe that things happen for a reason (short of luck or biology or something).  I don't believe they happen as part of some grand cosmic scheme.  I DO believe we can find reasons to be thankful/grateful for the way life unfolds, trials and all.  If we look hard enough.  That's where God is...that's where faith is...that's where growth lives.
For example, I can find NO REASON C and J left this life so soon, but I am grateful and blessed for knowing them.
Rest in Peace C, and keep an eye on all those little kindergarten babies that have no good reason to be with you right now. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Add this to the list...

Apparently crazy dreams are a common symptom of pregnancy. 
Well, I think I can officially add that to my list of symptoms...I've always been a dreamer and have always had unusual dreams.  Although, I kind of think dreams are naturally unusual, right?  I mean...they feel totally believable while you're sleeping, but when you wake up and think it through they more often than not are completely ridiculous.
Anyhow, I have been dreaming a lot more than usual and the dreams are a lot...different...than usual.  I won't share them all here, but here's what happened in sleepy theater last night...
I was absolutely hysterical.  Like off-my-rocker emotional basket case.  You see, I had delivered our baby and it (or I guess she) was a doll.  In fact, she looked exactly like this doll my little sister had growing up that she had named "Julie."  Julie wasn't the cutest doll...she had long brown hair and sticky-out bangs and her eyes never seemed to both close at the same time and she wore this sailor-inspired white dress with a navy blue bow. (CORRECTION: my sister found a picture of the doll on ebay or somewhere, and it was a red bow with some blue ribbon detail).

Behold Julie:
Yikes, right???  Talk about a face only a mother could love...

Anyway, I'm not sure what our baby's name let's continue to call her "Julie."  Now, rather than being upset that I had a doll for a baby, I was an absolute wreck because a.) I lost Julie, and b.) I had forgotten to feed her for the entire first day of her life.
I was frantically searching the house carrying on about what a terrible mother I was already because I hadn't even fed the kid once...but how could I have known because she never even cried (I mean, she was a doll, remember?). 
Eventually I found her stashed away with some toys.  Somebody thought she was a toy and so they put her away....because she was a doll!  I quickly tried to feed her...but the darn little thing wouldn't latch because SHE WAS A DOLL, so I lost it all over again.
I'm not sure what that was all about, but I do know that I will not be naming any child of mine "Julie."   
The end.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Week-By-Week, Day-By-Day

WARNING: It's a long one.

So the other day...can't remember why, I was thinking about Dot's heartbeat.  And I realized I couldn't exactly remember what it was.  The number 157 rings a bell...and I know the first time it was 118.  But I couldn't remember EXACTLY.

See, I can't seem to remember lots of things without writing them down.  And it freaked me out that I had already sort of forgotten one of the most amazing moments of this pregnancy to date!!!


So, I decided I best start documenting this pregnancy a little better so I can remember it, darn it!

I am already a little over 15 weeks...which is nuts to me!  And I haven't really written much about...well...anything.  So, in an effort to  have a better record for myself, I will update you (to the best of my limited ability) on things I can recall and roughly when they happened in a very un-ceremonious list...

Weeks 1-2: Obviously wasn't pregnant yet.  Didn't have any inkling that I would be pregnant...let alone ovulate.  In fact, I was sick and, to be honest, pretty depressed.  I was on a physical break from Clomid, no charting, no temping, no interest in sex for any reason.  It also may have been the first cycle in close to two years where I didn't go into it thinking, "This is it.  This is the one!"  Though I was on a physical break, I couldn't ever get my mind off of infertility.  I immersed myself in people's stories via blogs and you tube.  I watched several documentaries about adoption.  I watched too many Brene Brown videos to count...I was grieving and gearing up for the long road.

Weeks 3-4: For a very, very brief window of time in January I didn't feel sick.  Like, I think maybe 48 hours.  And had the Seahawks not beat the Saints that very same weekend, I can guarantee I would not be typing any of this. 


TMI?  Oh well...just saying.  I don't think I believe in stars aligning or any of that business...but if this kid is a boy, I might just have to name him Russell, or Marshawn, or Richard. 

Anyhow, within hours of that game/celebration I was sick again...but this was different than before.  My eyes were leaking and red and I ended up going to urgent care the next day and then took three days of work off because whatever virus I had had, had moved up into my eyes/ears. (Don't think I've ever used "had" three times in a row before...but I think it totally works there).  It was gross.  It was miserable. I was gross and miserable.  And I spent those four days laying around doing nothing but feeling sorry for myself.  I didn't take antibiotics because the doctor was certain my symptoms were viral and not bacterial.  Blessing in disguise maybe??

When I finally was well enough to go back to work I was completely sick of feeling sick and miserable.  So I forced myself to rearrange my outlook.  I was still depressed.  I was still sick.  But I was determined to find a way to be happier....even if it meant totally faking it.  Toward the end of "week 4" I focused the energy I was spending on "infertility despair" toward prepping and planning for my next move.  Like so many good infertile women before me...and so many now...and so many to come, I brushed myself off and was getting ready to jump back in the saddle.  

Week 5-7: Perhaps the best weeks of my life.  I had a couple appointments with my OB-GYN to check on the status of my cyst and to meet/plan with my doctor about what to do next: more Clomid? New protocol with the Clomid?  Referral to an RE?

At the first appointment I found out I had ovulated.  I was so proud of my right ovary!  I was over the moon.  About an egg.

Four short days later I discovered I was pregnant when I was preparing for my consultation with my doctor.  By my calculations I was about 5.5 weeks.  In stead of discussing next moves I got to pee in a cup and have the results confirmed.  I got to schedule my first official prenatal appointment and early ultrasound.  We scheduled it for two weeks out which we thought we be 7.5 weeks but my little tube-baby ended up measuring at 6 weeks 5 days. 

If I'm being honest, that appointment wasn't as magical as I had dreamed it would be.  It was cool to see the baby's heart pumping and even better to see the look on my husband's face.  But I think I was still in denial.  The ultrasound showed something was obviously in there, but it wasn't registering that it was my baby.

In these very early weeks my disbelief was mixed with pure joy.  We bought a body pillow almost immediately because I am a stomach and back sleeper and wanted to train myself to sleep on my side.  And I told everybody...maybe too soon...but oh well.  I started noticing symptoms:
  • My boobs were definitely growing.  They didn't really hurt though...but I realized that they had been very tender a few weeks ago.
  • I was going to the bathroom much more frequently.  I could no longer make it from the beginning of the school day until lunch time.  I also was getting up more at night.  In no time at all my 1 nightly trip to the restroom turned into 2, then 3, then 4...
  • I didn't have cravings per say, but I did develop aversions.  I ate a lot of hard-boiled eggs in the form of egg-salad, but didn't like the thought of eggs prepared any other way.  The thought of Mexican food turned my stomach.  And I struggled through my salads every night.
  • I felt the evenings.  I didn't ever feel like I was going to vomit, but I had trouble deciding if I needed to eat or if I needed to steer clear of the kitchen altogether. 
  • I swore I was already showing...and I was, in a way.  I was showing a bloated belly thanks to another symptom that I won't go into detail about.  Use your imagination.
 Weeks 8-10: As my pregnancy progressed and my symptom list mounted, I still don't know if it really had set in.  I think it probably takes all nine months (and maybe then some) for it to REALLY sink in.  I thought about being pregnant constantly, but there would be moments where it would hit me that someone was busy growing inside of me...and it would blow my mind!  

My first real craving was around week 8, I think.  I mentioned it in my Bill Nye post.  I wanted a lemon pie...or key lime would have worked.  And after a week or so of thinking about it, I finally caved.  It was delicious!

My symptoms from the earlier weeks hung around, but were joined by dry skin, an aversion to any big piece of meat, fatigue, inflamed gums, and clumsiness. 

You know how people talk about that "pregnancy glow"?  I don't think I'm going to get it.  My skin has been a's VERY dry (like scaly), but also I am breaking out as much as when I was a teenager.  It got especially bad under my eyes...I felt reptilian.  At one point (later than 8-10 weeks I think) a coworker who was not aware I was pregnant earlier congratulated me when she finally heard the news.  Then she told me how she thought I'd been looking "putrid" for awhile.  Thanks.

The fatigue was not as much tiredness as it was exhaustion.  I just felt physically legs would get tired before my brain ever did.  And I was dropping and running into things left and right. 

Weeks 11-12:  Did I say weeks 5-7 were maybe the best of my life?  Because I think I want to change my mind.  Week 11 was even better.

I guess it was technically 10 weeks 5 days when I got to go in for another appointment and ultrasound. Lots of people were surprised I was getting another ultrasound, but I hadn't really though anything of it.  The office had requested one, they hadn't told me why, I assumed they knew what they were doing. 

Turns out the baby's heartbeat was a little low that first time around and they wanted to see it again.  Like 2 beats below what they like to see.  So really no big deal, but I'm glad they didn't tell me or I would have spent the whole month worried about it.  Also, they are keeping an eye on a fibroid tumor I have in my uterus and making sure it doesn't get out of hand.  I guess they are very common (and fibroids are benign), but have a tendency to grow during pregnancy.  I've been told not to worry about that I'm not (for now).

Anyhow, the second ultrasound was AMAZING.  It was all the magic I had expected from the first visit and then some.  It was so cool to see AND HEAR our baby looking like a little person in there at only 11 weeks!  That was the day I think I feel in love.  I mean, I always knew I loved or would love my baby...but that was the moment I felt the connection.

The rest of the appointment was pretty uneventful.  I remember being afraid that I would drop my urine sample because I seemed to be dropping lots of things.  And there was no lid on the cup, so that would have been a mess. 

I asked some questions and we chatted with our doctor, who is, by the way, a really nice guy.  I forgive him for all the miscommunications and frustrations I had with the office during the crazy Clomid days.

My symptom list expanded to include a few emotions-out-of-proportion-to-situation moments and forgetfulness.  My aversions to meat, salad, and Mexican food remained.  Also, the smell of garlic became overwhelming.  Pretty much anything with lots of flavor was on the no list.  After fulfilling the craving for lemon pie, I had a little break from cravings.  There were moments when I might see something and think, "That looks amazing!  I want it right now!" but I think my next true craving was tartar sauce.  Not alone...on fries.  I think I made it 2 or 3 days before satisfying that craving, but it continued for a couple weeks.

Weeks 13-14:  Week 13 marked a dramatic shift. I thought it was graduation day into the second trimester...I figured I should have felt some weight release.  But at exactly 13 weeks I started getting stomach pains that started in the evening and lasted through the night.  They even woke me up a couple times and by 4:00am I couldn't sleep anymore.  Most of the time the pain was a dull ache...but it was high (between my belly button and rib cage).  At times it would grow sharper like a stabbing pain or intense cramp.  I went to work Friday morning thinking I could make it through the was only a half-day because it was the end of conference week and the beginning of spring break.  After an hour there I decided I couldn't do it...I needed to go home and lie down.  It hurt, I now had a headache too, and I was starting to get emotional and worried that something was going wrong.  So, right before the kids came in we ended up scrambling for a sub and I took off.  I called the doctor's office and spoke with a nice nurse who tried to calm me down.  She told me to take it easy,  take some Tums, and see if anything changed in an hour or so.  If not, I was supposed to call back.

Things did calm down a little...not sure if it was the Tums or the fact I was at home in bed.  The sharper pains had lessened, but the dull ache was still there.  It seemed like it had extended to lower than before...all around my belly button.  I fell asleep and woke up to a call from the nurse asking how I was doing.  I was really impressed that she had called back to check on me...major brownie points for her.  She thought maybe I had a little GI virus, but told me to call back if I was worried.

I spent most of that day and half of the next in bed.  But by Sunday it was like a whole new me.  A lot of my symptoms had disappeared, literally overnight.  Enough to make me wonder what the heck was going on.  But I never did have any spotting or anything...and I feel like I am getting bigger every day, so I'm rolling with it.

My energy level really picked up during week 13.  Or maybe that had something to do with Spring Break and beautiful weather.  I started exercising daily (prenatal yoga and a little bit of jogging/walking).  I didn't feel icky in the evenings anymore and fewer food items and smells repel me.  I can eat salad again without hating every minute of it as long as it is a very simple salad.  I can eat Mexican food and meat again.  I'm not real fond of avocados currently though. Eggs have been back on the safe list for awhile.  And cherry/pineapple popsicles have been a part of my daily routine for weeks now. And I certainly wouldn't turn down any soft-serve ice cream.  My sweet tooth sometimes gets me in trouble with my husband who is doing all he can to help me grow a healthy baby:/.  My only new symptom was/is occasional brief pains that I am assuming are attributed to round ligaments.

Week 14 I had to go back to work (boo!) and realized I didn't have as much energy as I just wasn't all being spent at work.  My kids found out almost immediately because I am definitely showing more than just bloat now.  One student greeted me Monday morning saying, "I know you're pregnant!!!"  And then she proceeded to whisper it around the room before I even had a chance to take attendance.  Another student gasped at my belly on Wednesday and said, "I can see the!!!  Oh, never mind."  I think she was trying to be polite, but I smiled and asked, "You can see the baby?" To which she sheepishly shook her head yes.  I told her that was okay...that the baby is growing and making me bigger.

I also started exercising with some teacher friends of mine after school.  My teaching partner bought T25, so we are doing that...and it is INTENSE!  I am totally modifying it and have stopped completely a time or two when I feel like I am running out of breath or my heart rate is getting too high.  I think I'll do that during the week (as long as it stays feasible) and do the prenatal yoga on weekends.  It feels good to exercise helps me stabilize my moods and reduce stress.

And the stress relief is very important because...

Week 15: has gotten off to a stressful and sad start.  Not for me, or for baby...but for daddy, which I guess makes it sad and stressful for me and baby because we are a package deal, this little family of ours.  Maybe I'll tell more later, but now doesn't feel like the right time.  We're all going to be okay...we are just bummed.   This week has been a reminder that things aren't always within our control and that life has this way of throwing you curves...and that all you can really do is take things day-by-day. 

On Monday I have another appointment, but no ultrasound.  I am hoping to hear a nice strong heartbeat with the Doppler and plan on recording it this time so I don't forget.