Monday, December 7, 2009

An Overheard Moment

On Saturday night, as I was heading back into the living room where our friends were hanging out with my man J, I heard this conversation:

J's best friend (and current father of a 1-year old): Yeah, pregnancy can be pretty nervewracking.

J: You're telling me. If you had any idea the thoughts that go through my head every time I see [Babychaser's] name come up on the caller ID. . . .

I caught myself blinking back tears. J's awesome, and hilarious, and sarcastic, and I adore him. But he doesn't often talk about how he's feeling, and sometimes it's hard to have a serious conversation with him about this pregnancy. I had no idea he was as scared as I am. And knowing that he's as deep into this as I am really touched me.

Friday, December 4, 2009

My Babies Are Rock Stars

There are definite upsides to this whole pregnancy thing. This week I started feeling the babies kick. It’s not prominent enough to feel with my hand, so J hasn’t been able to feel it yet, but it’s definitely real. Such a cool feeling. Most people describe the early movements as a fluttering feeling, or like bubbles. I think if I felt that stuff I totally disregarded it. After all, there’s been an awful lot going on in my belly, what with muscles stretching and twitching, ligaments shifting, and my entire digestive system being bent out of shape (literally). These movements aren't fluttery; they actually feel like tiny fists punching out from the inside. I’m sure it will get annoying in a while, but for now it’s just so satisfying. On Wednesday I spent the day at a seminar at the Supreme Court—first we heard the arguments for that day (the property case on Florida’s beach restoration program, a fascinating case involving property law, constitutional law, and whether the Court should recognize a “judicial takings” doctrine), then we had several panel discussions with various experts on Supreme Court practice. (Coolest CLE ever.) I ended up totally spacing out about 10 minutes of one of these panels—on a really cool topic—because Baby A was kicking and I was entranced. So yeah, there’s definitely some falling in love going on.

Also, J and I had our 21-week sono today, and our babies are total rock stars. They’re big for their age—both are measuring at about 22 weeks, and both have strong heartbeats. (Watching a live heartbeat on a sono is incredibly cool—you can see all 4 chambers at work. Really amazing.) As usual, Baby A was vying for all the attention, waving his/her little fists around and wiggling all over the place. But J and I thought Baby B stole the show this time. I think it was the shot we got of the bottoms of his/her little feet, with all the tiny toes. And Baby B had the hiccups, which we could see, and then hear when we were listening to the heartbeat. Again, I’m sure this will annoy me when the babies are big enough for me to feel their hiccups, but at this point it was incredibly cute.

So while I’m definitely still suffering (add back/hip pain to the nighttime mix—sometimes it’s a relief when morning comes because trying to sleep is such a struggle), at least I know my babies are content, well-fed, and comfortable. Narcissistic little monsters.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Can I Bitch?

Can I take a moment to bitch about my pregnancy? Is it all right, after all these years of trying to get here, for me to mark my halfway point by complaining about how hard this is?

Pregnancy is really kicking my ass. In some ways, it isn’t as hard as I imagined. Given my history of back problems and miscarriages, I thought it was possible that pregnancy would turn me into a true invalid. (It still might, but it’s looking like, if that happens, it will be in the later stages.) And I still remain fairly functional and somewhat active.

But in many ways pregnancy is much harder than I thought it would be. All of the symptoms are totally tolerable—for a week or two. But to feel like crap day after day, with no end in sight, is exhausting. And having to maintain the same level of competence at work while my body is in full revolt is daunting.

Here’s my list of lovely symptoms:

Nausea. That’s right, I’m 20 weeks pregnant and still getting nauseous. No, wait, that’s not quite accurate. I’m getting nauseous AGAIN. My doc says that this happens with a lot of women when they hit 28 weeks—it’s the pressure the baby is putting on the stomach. He thinks that it’s likely, with me carrying twins, this is what’s happening. And he’s right that it’s different from morning sickness. I now get sick after I eat, not before. So I feel ill before I eat because I’m hungry. And then I feel even worse after I eat. Actually, I’ve discovered that the only time I feel really good is while I’m eating and maybe five minutes afterward.

Heartburn. Probably higher on the list of annoyances than the nausea. Everything I eat turns to acid. And then it seems to crawl back up my throat. I’m constantly burping, and when I’m not upright I end up just regurgitating. Sorry if this seems disgusting. It is digusting. And painful. And annoying. I’m taking a zantac before every meal, which helps some, but it’s frustrating as hell.

Headaches. When I don’t eat and drink enough (such as when I’m nauseous or have hearburn), I get headaches. Ow.

Insomnia. Everything is conspiring against my ability to sleep. For starters, I can’t sleep for more than three hours without having to get up to eat. And the amount I eat seems to have little to do with this calculation. So I can’t eat twice as much and sleep twice as long. It just doesn’t work that way. And then, of course, after I eat I get the aforementioned heartburn/regurgitation, which has a way of keeping me awake. Also, lying on my side (which I now have to do) makes my hips and/or lower back hurt, which also keeps me awake. And sometimes, when I’m miraculously comfortable lying there, I STILL can’t sleep. For hours. No idea why. This generally is between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m., maybe later. I seem to do my best sleeping after 5:30 or 6:00 a.m, which really blows when I need to get up at 6:30 to go to work.

Paranoia. This coincides with the insomnia, as I am much more paranoid in those lonely hours in the middle of the night. I ended up with a surge of nausea and cramps last week, which made me so concerned that I called my doctor. He now wants me to push up my sono (scheduled for Friday) to Monday. (Which also sucks, as my fabulous OB’s office almost certainly will be booked and will try to push me off to Community Radiology again, which is where I had to go last month, and the sono tech couldn’t get the TV screen working and would barely turn her screen so I didn’t really get to see anything, and the equipment was crappy and I ended up with no pictures and I SWORE that this month’s sono was going to be in the nice place where I could actually see my babies! Grrr.) A few nights ago I was sure I felt the babies (Baby B, to be precise) kicking, though I’m still having trouble figuring out which abdominal sensations—and there are many—are the babies. Haven’t felt it since, so I spent all night last night wondering, again, if my babies had died. I tend to be a lot better about these thoughts in the light of day, at least.

Exhaustion. I do have bursts of energy occasionally, but they don’t come every day and they don’t last long. Mostly I’m just tired. A couple of weeks ago, when J was out of town, I finished my dinner and wondered whether it was too early to go to bed. I looked at the clock. It was 7:15.

I think I would tolerate these problems better if I didn’t have so long to go, and if I didn’t know it was just going to get harder. I’m feeling a little ripped off—where are the happy second-trimester hormones I was promised? Where is that “I can do anything” burst of energy I was supposed to get? Then again, I am getting two babies for the price of one, and that’s likely the reason I’m having such a hard time.

I know I shouldn’t complain. And I am so unbelievably relieved not to be trying to get pregnant anymore that I am, for the most part, handling this difficulty well enough. But occasionally—like the day before Thanksgiving when the headaches came to the cramps/nausea/heartburn party—I just break down and cry, because I have no idea how to take care of myself anymore. I’ve lost all control over my body, and my desperate attempts to keep myself in line (yoga, acupuncture, chiropractic, walking on treadmill) often seem futile in the face of this overwhelming change.

So lay it on me, folks. Am I the only one struggling through this?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Long-Awaited (and Just Plain Long) Post About My Mother

I’ve been promising to write about my mother for as long as I’ve been writing this blog—which is almost two years now. I never do it, though, mostly because it’s such a monumental undertaking. How do I describe the damage caused by the person who was, for most of formative years, the most influential person in my life? How can I keep this blog-length, while capturing the depth of my frustration at the fact that I can’t fully escape her? How can I show how hurt and angry I am that she emotionally abandoned me for her mental illness? And what does it say about me that I’m estranged from my father, and wish I could reach the same distance from my mother?

But I’ve been thinking about this all day, so I’m going to at least give it a start:

My mom is nuts. Maybe not to the casual observer, definitely not on first acquaintance. But she’s crazy. Definitely bipolar. With an edge of paranoid schizophrenia. She’s functional—sort of. A few years ago she found another man sucker enough to marry her and take care of her so she could retire. And you can bet that she hides most of her crazy from him (she can be very practical that way). A few years ago she told me that she never told him that she channels, or anything about that side of her. And all I could think was why the hell she couldn’t do the same thing for me?

I’m doing a shit job of describing this. Here’s the thing. My dad left when I was four. And my stepdad, who came along when I was seven and stuck for 11 years, was such a non-entity in my life that I never even think about him. As parents went, it was all my mom.

And she was the BEST. Or at least that’s what I thought most of the time. We were so close, like two peas in a pod. She cultivated me to think I was just like her, and I thrived on her love and attention. (What this all did to my big sister, “F,” who was classified by my mom as more like my dad, is another horrifying story. I try not to feel guilty—I was younger and didn’t know—but it still bothers me sometimes.)

I always knew that mom was kind of nutty, but I always figured her as eccentric, kooky, a bit of a free spirit. Because that’s the way she described herself, and I was just a kid, so what was I going to believe? And then she went over the edge. Maybe it was the move to Pakistan that did it. That’s right—my mom and stepdad’s bright idea was to move to Pakistan my senior year of high school to teach at an American school there. (The reason? To escape a judgment of back child support against my stepdad. Lovely, no?) Me and my much younger little brother (child of my stepdad) went with them. I was young, eager for adventure, and such a flaming liberal that I had some great vision of going and learning from this unique culture, blah, blah, blah. And I thought for sure I could get into any college if I was applying from there.

I lasted all of three weeks in Pakistan before I bailed out and my mom agreed to let me go back home to Utah to finish out high school. Three days later I was halfway around the world with $500 in my pocket to buy a car, no definite place to live (they just figured I could live with a friend), no one knowing I was coming.

Does this sound normal to you? Because at the time I didn’t know how fucked up that was.

I think going to Pakistan pushed mom over the edge. Actually, I think she was well on her way there before then—she’d been like a zombie the whole summer before. But she went truly nuts there, determined that the cook was trying to poison her, performing “water rituals” (don’t even ask—it’s just stupid and embarrassing), and channeling her spirit guide, who just happened to be Jesus Christ. Not that she was any kind of born-again Christian or anything. She was just putting herself in a trance and hearing voices. (Later—and for a long time—John Denver joined the mix.)

All of this came to a head the next year—my freshman year of college. First the Gulf War broke out and they sent everyone home from Pakistan. And no sooner did they return a couple of months later but my mom went on a full-fledged manic episode. I think she got hospitalized there, but I don’t really know, because all I ever heard was her side of the story, which (again in retrospect) is hard to believe.

But when they brought her home in March of my freshman year, I did believe. I believed everything she told me. I believed that she had found this new, new-agey religion. I believed that her trances were a way to heal her from the abuse she had suffered as a child (now I don’t even know if that abuse happened). I believed that she was fine, not crazy at all. And when my stepdad and aunt tried to put mom in the hospital I stood up to them and prevented it from happening. And when, a few months later, she was found up roaming the streets of DC without her purse or coat and ended up hospitalized (I later learned she had gone to DC in search of John Denver, who was talking to her telepathically to try to meet her, but was thwarted by these other, devil voices that were mixing up his messages), I talked her doctor into releasing her if I took her home to Utah for outpatient treatment, and I flew down to DC from NY, and flew her back to Utah. I was nineteen.

Fast forward several years—years with her ups and downs, years in which she attempted suicide a couple of times (which she would promptly tell me about), years when she quit jobs she had just started because her boss was “out to get her,” years when she tossed her oldest and closest friends aside. For most of this I stood by her. My sister F bailed out early—back when mom first came home from Pakistan—but I defended her.

I don’t think my mom ever forgave me for growing up. I think she liked it when I was young and looked up to her and was “just like” her. I think, as much as she “wept” when I told her I was being treated for depression in my mid-20s, that it made her love me that much more, because it made me more hers. It was the things about me that were adult, competent, controlled that she didn’t like. She wanted to teach me to channel, so I could talk to my own spirit guide, and she wanted to hypnotize me; she was disappointed when I was unwilling. And she hated the fact that I wanted some emotional boundaries between us; I remember her telling me that I was being “cold,” just like F. (My sister, by the way, is perhaps the best thing in my life besides my husband; she’s not cold, she’s just grown up.) Mom wanted me to be a “free spirit,” and she never could accept the side of me that I’ve grown to like the best—the organized, practical, driven, self-sufficient side. She was ridiculously proud of me for being a lawyer, but I don’t think she ever got why I’m good at it.

I know this post is long on generalities, but lacking in anything concrete. But there’s no time, no space, to get into all of that. I can tell you that about 10 years ago I had an epiphany. By that time mom was a problem, and I knew she was a bit of a mess, but I was still in her camp, ready to talk to her when she was depressed, and willing to see her when she wanted. So I agreed to go with her and her best friend on a trip to the Outer Banks. The trip was a fucking disaster. Mom wanted to listen to Air Supply in the car so we could sing to it just like when I was a teenager, but she’d picked up some Air Supply CD I’d never heard (who knew Air Supply kept writing after the 80s?), and then she was mad at me when I wouldn’t sing. We were driving through North Carolina when she realized that she had the directions, lost the name of the hotel, even lost the name of the town we were going to. And at some point, when we were leaving a hotel, she drove over her own suitcase. She was in bad, bad shape. And when we got to the hotel, I learned that she had downgraded the 3-bedroom bungalow she told me about and had rented one hotel room for the three of us. (This when I was going to bed at midnight and they were going to bed at 9 or 10.) The room only had a microwave, but mom and her friend planned to “cook” all their meals in their hotel room (all three of us were really broke at the time—I’d been counting on a kitchen). And mom was pissed off that I ended up eating most of my meals at the restaurant—she said I was acting like I was too good for them. Really I was just hungry. I was 28 years old, and mom clearly wanted me to be 8 years old again.

It was during that trip that I realized that my mom wasn’t just mentally ill—she was toxic. I realized that it had never been about me. Even when she was doting-all-over-me full of love, it was still all about her. And I realized that she had no idea who I had become as an adult. And when she was lucid enough to see the adult in me, she didn’t like it. (When I told all this to F on my return, she said with a wry smile, “I don’t mean to be flip, but welcome to my life.” It was an epiphany for me.)

Fast-forward again, several more years. Years of me trying to distance myself from mom, years involving some horrifying letters from her vilifying me, telling me that she had never leaned on me, telling me that she had only pretended to need me to satisfy my co-dependent need for self-congratulation. And then one evening after she had decided to move here to DC to be close to us, when we tried to tell her she wouldn’t do so well here, an unbelievable knock-down, drag-out fight in my sister’s house that I can barely remember. The “conversation” lasted 2 hours, and I can’t remember the things she said. All I can remember is that they’re the kinds of things a parent should never, ever say to her child, under any circumstances. (My MIL says maybe it’s a good thing that I can’t remember, but I wish I could. Because sometimes I feel like I’m making this all up, like I’m just a bad daughter. Knowing exactly what mom has said and done would help.)

And after that, after mom had found her new husband and moved with him and his money back to Utah, I had some peace. My sister—who had produced her first and only grandchild—was suddenly the favorite. Which was just fine with me. I would still hear mom’s voice in my head sometimes, and I would still have her stay with me for a night or two when she came to visit. (Visits that were preceded by panic attacks and survived through liberal doses of xanax.)

And then, when my nephew was three and I had been trying to conceive for almost a year, my sister had a miscarriage. F had been four months pregnant, so her loss was pretty public. And devastating. I know mom was upset, but she still managed to make it all about her, not about my grieving sister. Mom told her own sisters (who she’s been competing with her whole life), and her sisters sent F flowers, and then mom spent two days calling to make sure the flowers got there. And then, two weeks after F lost her baby, mom sent her a vicious e-mail chiding her for not sending a thank you note for the flowers. Seriously. I’m not making this up.

A week after my sister’s miscarriage I learned I was pregnant for the first time. Two weeks later I miscarried. Not telling mom was a no-brainer.

That fall, mom came out for her annual visit. She spent the week babysitting my nephew at F’s house, and working on her new book on F’s computer. (Mom fancies herself a novelist. She actually has some talent, but she tries to write these deep, philosophical books—this one was sci-fi I think—that are full of numerology and bits and pieces of trendy philosophy and religion and are basically unreadable.) That Friday, J and I were going to F’s house for dinner, and we were taking mom home with us for the weekend before she flew back home.

I had been in the house less than a minute—J had gone back into the kitchen to help my sister cook, leaving me alone with mom—when she dropped the bomb:

“I was working on my book on F’s computer,” she said, “and I was trying to save and I accidentally clicked on something and this document just popped right open.”

I knew this couldn’t be going anywhere good. My heart started to race.

She went on: “I started to read it and I realized that it was some sort of diary. F had written all about her feelings about her miscarriage.”

I started to feel sick, tried not to hyperventilate.

“And that’s how I learned about YOUR miscarriage,” she said. “Oh honey, you must have been devastated.”

I don’t remember what I said next. Something inane, something about how it was okay, really, I was glad she knew. Which was a total fucking lie, but she’d caught me flatfooted.

As mom kept on talking about F’s diary, and I realized two things. One: mom hadn’t just glanced at this document and closed it when she realized what it was. She had pored over it closely, probably several times. And two: mom’s issue with the diary wasn’t about F’s heartbreak over her loss, or about my loss. It was about what F had written about mom.

You see, F had written some unkind things about mom. (Astonishing, no?) And mom was upset about that. I remember at some point she said “I know, people who eavesdrop should never expect to hear nice things,” and I was shouting in my head that this wasn’t like eavesdropping because F had never SAID that stuff to ANYONE. It was in her PRIVATE diary.

The rest of the weekend was a blur. I know that I told mom in no uncertain terms that she should never, ever, in her entire life, let F know that she had read her diary, and that I would carry the secret to the grave. (This meant that I was going to have to tell F that I had decided to tell mom about my own miscarriage, because I knew it would come up at some point—I think this was the worst violation, having to tell my sister that I had chosen to reveal a secret that had been ripped out of me.) I know that mom at one point—when she realized I was mad—asked me in a plaintive voice “well, after it just popped open, what was I supposed to do?” and I manage to say through gritted teeth: “CLOSE IT”.

Oh, and I remember a conversation in the car on the way back from F’s house, when mom glibly told me that my infertility must come from my father’s side of the family. Even that part of me was something she couldn’t own.

Later that week, mom wrote F a 12-page, single-spaced letter telling her she had read her diary. I don’t know what the letter said, exactly, but F told me that the only reason she read the whole thing was to see if there was an apology anywhere in it. There wasn’t. It was all about the nasty things F had said—in her own diary—about mom. It was bitter and brutal.

F and I came to an agreement that day. No more secrets, for any reason. Not even to protect each other. We are a united front. Forever.

About a month later, mom sent us both a letter. It said that she wasn’t going to visit us anymore, because she was “no good” for us anymore. There was a lot more crap in there, like how she grieved over us as if we had died, and how our father had never loved us (something she’s been telling me since I was a little kid), and god only knows what else. I read it quickly and set it aside. As far as I was concerned, the only thing that mattered was that she wasn’t going to visit anymore. And thank god for that.

But then, a few months later, she started wheedling her way back into my life. I guess I’m the favorite again, right? Every few months I would call her, or would pick up when she called me (mostly I just screen), and we’d chat about mundane stuff. I talked to her just enough to keep her from realizing I was avoiding her. I didn’t want things to fester and get ugly again. Sometimes she would write to me, letters filled with code and innuendo about how F was like my father (code for cold, unfeeling, pretentious), or how she wanted to come visit me, but she couldn’t see F because she had to “protect her from being two people”—one who is nice to mom’s face and one who writes bad things behind her back. And in these same letters she would fawn all over me, like a lovesick teenager. I think her love for me is creepier and more offensive that her hatred of my sister. Neither is deserved or based on anything real. Mom has no idea who I am. And the parts of me that are really ME she doesn’t like.

For the past five or six years, all I have wanted to do was tell her to go fuck herself, now and forever. My MIL would say “it’s not her, it’s that she’s mentally ill.” But I say fuck that. Mental illness doesn’t excuse a person from hurting your children the way she’s hurt us. And if she really wanted to be better she’d see a decent doctor and stay on her medication.

And frankly I don’t care what’s causing her to be the way she is. She’s a snake. She’ll spend years wiggling into your most sensitive parts, then strike out at you when she doesn’t get her way, or when she’s bored, or when it’s winter and she’s depressed. Who cares why? All I care about is protecting myself and the people I love.

But you can’t just write off a bi-polar family member. I haven’t had a real fight with her since that two-hour debacle in my sister’s house 7 years ago. I learned then that it isn’t worth it. She doesn’t hear what I’m saying; all getting angry does is escalate the problem. If I tried to tell her that we’re through, she might go away for a while, but sooner or later she’d be back. Maybe on the phone, maybe in letters, maybe on my doorstep. Maybe on my doorstep with her wrists slit open just enough to make me think she meant it.

So until I’m ready to get a restraining order and make her a ward of the state if necessary, she remains my mom. (And I do consider that a possibility in the long run. But I’m not there yet.) I try to keep up as many barriers between us as possible. Enough to protect me and my family, but not quite enough for her to notice. My goal with her is not to achieve love, or reconciliation. My goal is to achieve total ambivalence, to the point where nothing she says or does can hurt me. (A lot of this is about privacy. For example, she knows nothing about my later IF treatment, nothing about my surgery, nothing about my other miscarriages.)

I did tell her, about two years ago when she was threatening to visit again, that J and I were undergoing “advanced fertility treatment” and that we were not having any visitors until it was over, which could take more than a year. It was a calculated risk—I decided to give up some of my privacy to keep her away. And it worked.

And then I got pregnant. Can I tell you how badly I wanted not to tell her about this? Most people are scared to tell their boss, their co-workers, maybe an IF friend. I was terrified about telling my mother. And not because I was afraid she’d be cold or cruel. But because I knew she’d be thrilled, ecstatic. Especially about the twins. I knew she’d be over the moon. Finally something to lord over her sisters, who have only managed to eke out one grandchild so far. And I knew that, just like snapping my fingers, she’d be back in my life as if nothing had ever happened.

I wasn’t wrong. When I called her and told her she was practically speechless with shock. (Which led me to wonder—was the reason I had managed to escape her so almost completely because she had given up on me giving her a grandchild? Had she lost interest in me?) And then two days later I got a letter full of excited gibbering, talking about how she kept bursting out in song and how every time she thought about twins she started giggling. She talked about “twinspeak” and shit like that. I had made it clear on the phone that she could visit during the summer, not when the babies came in the spring, and that she could not stay in our house. “No room,” I said, which is true (but we will squeeze in our friends who are coming to help soon after the babies come). In her letter, she talked about how she was going to try to find a hotel close by so she could walk there early in the mornings so she could be with me for nighttime help. (This is SO not going to happen. By the time she comes I’ll be handling the nighttime on my own. And I don’t think having her there to help will make me sleep any better. And I assure you, that woman will never be alone with my kids.)

It’s been like that ever since. She’s tried to call every two weeks. (Which also is not happening. I’ll talk to her once a month, maybe. No more than that.) And when we do talk, she tells me that every time she sees a baby or a toddler now she pictures another one next to it. That she’s “always wanted [me] to have twins.” (Why? Why me? What does that mean?) That she loves to picture the twins in their high chairs next to each other banging away, talking twinspeak to each other.

I knew that if I got pregnant she would be back in my life. And I knew that the twin thing was going to make her feel extra-special. But this is distressing and revolting at the same time. I feel like, before my babies are even born, they already are not people. They already are in that special category—twins. Special by virtue of their birth, not because of who they are or will be. For me, they’re just two babies that I happen to be having at the same time. And they’ll grow up to be siblings that happen to be the same age. And yeah, I do hope that they like each other and are close, but I’m not counting on it. But for mom the twin thing makes me, or maybe just my children, celebrities in our family, worthy of adulation. It’s creepy.

I realized several years ago that, until she dies (and believe me, that woman is healthy as a horse), mom is going to be in our lives. Sometimes she’ll adore me, sometimes she’ll hate me, and I honestly don’t know which is worse. (F says being hated is worse. And she’s been on that side a lot more than I have.) But my mother will never actually know me. And she’ll never actually know my children (she’s completely thrown my now-7-year-old nephew away).

And as the years go by she’ll keep getting crazier, and she’ll keep coming back to take it out on me and my sister. (For some reason my little brother gets a free pass. I think it’s because he’s a boy.) All I can do is try to maintain my barriers, my distance. And pray for ambivalence.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Miscarriage Dreams

WARNING: This post is pretty graphic. Appropriate for Halloween maybe, but consider yourself warned.

For months I’ve been having miscarriage dreams. They show up about once a week, and always leave me completely freaked out. Up until last night, they’ve been pretty much the same. I’m in the middle of an otherwise ordinary dream—no reason for me to suspect I’m dreaming—and I go to pee and find blood on the toilet paper. At first just a little bit, then a few drops more, and then the cramps start to kick in.

It used to take me a minute to realize that this was bad. After all, it’s been a pretty frequent occurrence for me for the past 25 years or so—it’s strange NOT to be bleeding for so long. But then, as realization dawned, I would have that “oh no” moment. I remember the first such dream vividly, rocking back and forth on the toilet saying, “No, no, no, no, no” until J finally heard me and woke me up. And it’s getting harder for me to wake myself up from these dreams as well. A few weeks ago, I had a whole conversation with myself—in my dream—about how this time I wasn’t dreaming and it was real. I actually pulled the oldest cliché in the book—while still dreaming, I pinched myself over and over again to prove I wasn’t dreaming, which eventually managed to wake me up.

Last night my brain decided to raise the stakes, and I dreamed that I had the whole miscarriage. Not the way it would actually be, of course, because it didn’t take more than a minute and didn’t hurt much. It started the same way, some blood in the toilet. But then there was a gush, like when you’re passing a big blood clot, and my babies fell out into the toilet, one right after the other. Luckily for my sanity, they didn’t look like babies—they were just bundled packages that I knew had my babies inside.

It happened so fast—I knew my pregnancy had ended but just couldn’t wrap my brain around it. It was like those dreams (if you have them you’ll understand) where you’ve done something incredibly stupid, like drive off a ledge, and now you’re falling and you know you’re going to die and you know that there’s nothing you can do about it. You’ve passed the point of no return, and it’s just . . . over.

And with this dream, like all of the others before it, as soon as it happened there was a voice inside my head saying, “but of course, here’s the miscarriage—knew it was going to happen sooner or later.” Of all the things about these dreams that scare me, I think this sense of resignation over the miscarriage, the sense that it was inevitable, is the most disturbing.

I’m not big into dream analysis. I pretty much subscribe to the theory that my brain does a lot of random dicking around while I sleep. But it doesn’t take a genius to figure what these dreams mean.

I definitely have had my worry-dream phases before. When I left home for college I went through a phase where I kept dreaming about bad things happening to my little brother. And when I first adopted kittens I dreamed about some catastrophe happening and not knowing what to do to save them. I suspect that when I actually have the kids I’ll have dreams about bad things happening to them, too.

But I wonder—do women who haven’t struggled to get pregnant have these dreams? Do women who’ve never lost a pregnancy have them? And if not, what do they dream about?

And I’m curious—as the fertility drugs and pregnancy hormones zip around through your bodies, what are you all dreaming about?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Precariousness of Pregnancy

One of my good friends—who is about 5 weeks behind me in her pregnancy—just found out that she had a miscarriage. Her baby died about two weeks ago. She managed to stay on the phone long enough to tell me what happened, then said she was sure I understood that she was in no condition to talk. All I could say was “of course,” and “I’m so sorry,” and “call me when you need me.”

How fucking inadequate. And don’t get me wrong—I’m not getting down on myself for not knowing what to say. It’s that I know there’s nothing I can say or do that will ease her pain. I’m helpless in the face that that she-bitch Fate, who seems to steal babies at will, just because.

I was so excited for her. Pregnant on her first IUI, and all I could think of was “thank god.” Because the last thing you want to see is a friend starting to follow in your IF footsteps. And because we could be pregnant together and have our babies together and have play dates and I wouldn’t be alone (as I am, with most of my friends already raising toddlers). And now she’s crushed. And I’m crushed too. And she’s sad and alone. And I’m pregnant and alone.

That is, if I’m still pregnant. Because it’s shit like this that reminds me (as I try to hard to forget), that pregnancy is a precarious state. Any minute it can be snatched away. And why does it seem so much more cruel that you might not even know? You might be rubbing your belly and talking to your baby and planning your nursery and not even know that your baby has died, that all you’re carrying around is a memory of what might have been.

And maybe that’s me. I probably should have rented one of those dopplers, but they were so expensive (and with twins you need the fancy kind so you can differentiate the heartbeats). And besides, I thought there were some things I should maybe try to take on faith—like that my babies will still be alive at my next sono.

I just want to put my head in my hands and cry. For my friend, who is right now discussing with her doctor how to get her child out of her uterus. For my sister, who lost her baby at 4 months in much the same way three years ago. And for all of you out there who’ve had this happen, who’ve had their dreams ripped out of their bodies and tossed to the side for no reason other than it just wasn’t right this time.

And for me, who just wants to feel safe in my pregnancy. But can’t.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Is This That Thing Called "Happy"?

I’m going to say this right from the start—pregnant blogging makes me feel strange. It’s not just that it’s hard to get a handle on how I’m feeling, when it changes every five minutes. It’s that I don’t want to upset anyone. Believe me, I didn’t give a fuck about upsetting anyone before—I figured life had shat on me one too many times, and I was entitled to bitch about it to my heart’s content. Who was going to begrudge me a rant about the unfairness of life?

But it’s different now. The thing is, pregnancy is kind of hard. I’m actually holding up pretty well—haven’t gotten terribly sick, seem to be on top of my back/hip pain much of the time, am surviving (though not thriving) at work. But even though I know a lot of women are a lot worse off than me, I find it exhausting to constantly feel a bit “off,” to constantly be thinking about where my next snack is going to come from, and to be completely incapable of finding maternity pants that fit right.

And yet this is not what I want to blog about. Because I know there are women out there that would amputate a body part to be in my shoes. Because I know what it feels like to read a blog like that.

On the flip side, it’s almost worse to be blogging about how happy I feel. How excited I am. The last thing I want to do is rub it in for those still in the depths of hell.

But I don’t want to lose the friends I’ve made because I’m afraid to be who--and what--I now am. So here we go:

I am really, really, really happy about these babies. Sure, I’ve had some freakout over the past couple of months, and it occasionally revisits me. At some point it just settled in that the twins are coming whether I’m ready or not, and whether I’m scared or excited makes no difference. So why be scared? Will being scared make me any more prepared for the backbreaking ordeal ... I mean exciting adventure yet to come? Will being scared make me more able to find affordable childcare, or make me heal faster from a c-section? So this week, at least, I’m going with excited. And why not? Being happy is a nice change of scenery for me.

It’s funny that what freaked me out so much at first was this sensation of being swept away by a current of events that I couldn’t control. Because the whole reason J and I have been pining for a child is our feeling that we live our lives in a meaningless rut. Some people have a fabulous childless life, but we don’t. We’re homebodies at heart, and our home has been too damn quiet and empty for too damn long. But when I first learned of the twins, there were times when I’d sit on my couch in my quiet, quiet house and think “what’s so wrong with this?”

But I’ve caught my breath and am ready to sit back and enjoy the ride. After all, I’m on it whether I like it or not.

Two weeks ago I “came out” in my office and to my family. (My sister and MIL already knew, as did my close friends.) One of the nice things about being so open with most people about my IF struggles has been their reaction to my pregnancy. (Of course, many of them don’t know that DS is responsible for our ultimate success.) So coming out to my friends in the office was pretty fun. Also, as unglamorous as having twins will be when I’m the size of a house, or when I’m trying to handle midnight feedings for two, it does make me kind of a celebrity among pregnant people. Everyone is just so damn excited about twins. It’s ridiculous. But I have to admit I’m enjoying the attention. (Not a big shock, if you know me at all.)

Coming out to my mother was a different story, and probablydeserves its own post. Suffice it to say that I’ve done a very nice job of keeping this toxic, bipolar, narcissistic, manipulative woman at the outskirts of my life for the past 5 years or so. And I knew damn well that telling her I was having a baby, let alone twins, was going to tear down my carefully constructed wall and have her crashing back into my world. Which it has. I’m sure I can handle it in the long run, but it was nicer before. (J’s suggestion was to just not tell her I was pregnant—he figured if she ever visited we’d just pass off the little ones as “neighbor kids.”) Anyway, subject for a whole new post.

I’m going to leave you with this, lest you aren’t grossed out enough by my happiness. This picture is going to be a mural on the wall of our already-painted-green nursery:

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Me and Mary Travers

Mary Travers died this week. And while I wasn’t terribly broken up over the news, it brought me back to my childhood music, played so often in both my parents’ houses: Peter, Paul, and Mary; John Denver; Simon and Garfunkel.

So a couple of nights ago—the day Mary died—I put on Peter, Paul, and Mary’s greatest hits while I cooked dinner. As I chopped the green beans I sang along a little bit to “Blowing in the Wind,” stopping when I realized I was getting choked up over the lyrics—pretty damn brilliant lyrics (that Dylan was quite a poet), so this seemed justified—and laughing at myself for being such a sap.

The next song started. I don’t know the title—the first line starts “I’ll walk in the rain by your side.” (Just looked it up. The title is “For Baby (For Bobbie).”) I hadn’t even realized it covered by Peter, Paul, and Mary. I know it a lot better as a John Denver song; it had always been one of my favorite John Denver songs. But as I tried to sing along I started to cry in earnest, tears pouring down my face onto the cutting board.

I cried like this for a couple of minutes, sort of standing outside of myself wondering where the hell this was coming from. And then it hit me: these are the songs my mom sang to me when I was a little girl (back when we were so so so close). And this song in particular, from the time I was just a kid myself, was one I always imagined singing to my own child someday. (The song is written as an adult-to-child song.)

I realized that all of these songs—the songs I was raised on—are the songs I’ll sing to my children. Children that I’m actually going to have. Children growing inside me right now, who could be listening to my voice right now. Do you know how long it’s been singe I’ve let myself picture my future children the way I used to, back when I was so innocent and naïve, when they were an inevitability rather than a fantasy?

And there’s a certain irony to the fact that this will be my kids’ bedtime soundtrack, given my complicated relationship with my mother (a charitable discription) and complete lack of relationship with my father. It’s not that I’ll sing these songs to them because they’re the best songs ever written, and it’s certainly not because this is the music I like the most. But they’re the songs I know—the songs I can sing when there’s no radio backing me up. And they’re pretty, child-friendly, bedtime songs. My family’s version of a lullabye. So I guess this one tiny piece of my heritage will be passed on.

Then “Puff the Magic Dragon” started playing. I kept crying. By then, I was keeping an eye around for J, who was in the next room talking to his BFF on the phone. Because I knew that if that man caught me weeping over “Puff” I’d would absolutely never hear the end of it. Pregnancy hormones be damned, there are limits to what you can get away with in this family. Hell, I was already making fun of myself.

I managed to dry up a few minutes before J got off the phone—he never was the wiser.

In some ways, pregnancy totally rocks.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Pregnant-Person Doctor

Yesterday we went to a pregnant-person doctor for the first time. The night before, I mentioned to J that “maybe he would clear us to start having sex again.”

“I don’t know,” he responded.

“What do you mean you 'don't know?' You don’t want to have sex with me?” I asked, somewhat suspicious at this change of heart.

“It just doesn’t seem right,” he admitted, “what with you carrying another man’s child.”

* * * * * * * *

Going to the pregnancy doctor was strange, very strange. There were all these pregnant women in the waiting room, and two of them had teeny tiny babies with them as well. Can you imagine? I mean, I know that women have back-to-back babies, but there was one woman with a baby that couldn’t have been older than two months. And if she’s already seeing the pregnancy doctor, you have to assume she’s at least a few weeks pregnant, right? How the hell did she manage that?

And I’ve discovered that I don’t like looking at hugely pregnant women. They totally freak me out. Is that going to happen to me? It’s one thing to want this in theory, and to know in my mind that I’m inevitably going to end up huge (no escaping it with twins). It’s quite another to realize that this actually is going to happen to my own body. You know, the body I live in? The one I have to live in all the time? It’s just freaky.

The bottom line is that everything looks good, and nothing I told the doc about my medical history (which is all pretty much pregnancy history) concerned him that much. He wasn’t even going to do a sono, but when I told him I really wanted to know the babies were still alive, he squeezed me in with the sono tech. Not much to show in the way of pictures, but two strong heartbeats had me grinning ear-to-ear.

My god, I think we’re really going to do this.

* * * * * * * *

Oh my god, I MUST clarify the opening comment. J was TOTALLY JOKING about the "carrying another man's child" thing. I posted it because he had me on the floor laughing after he said it.

I don't think he's having any trouble at all dealing with the donor situation. Both of us are just so thrilled to finally be on our way to parenthood.

Oh, and the doctor said "not yet" to the sex thing. :-(

Friday, September 4, 2009

In the End, It’s All About Love

After I wrote my last post, I went back into my bedroom, sat on my bed, and cried for about 20 minutes. And not those pretty Demi Moore tears—I’m talking big heaving sobs, blotchy face, snot-everywhere crying. Then I cleaned myself up, had a snack, brushed my teeth, and went over to kiss J goodnight.

As soon as he saw my face, said “hey!,” stood up, and put his arms around me, I started to cry again. I told him how I felt I was being robbed, robbed of happiness because as a 37-year-old professional, I still couldn’t afford a family in this fucked-up, you’re-really-on-your-own country of ours. Then I dried my tears, kissed him goodnight, and went to bed.

Where I proceeded to start crying and shaking again. At this point a little light went on in my head. Hormones, I told myself. No worries, this too would pass. Eventually I slept.

Since then I’ve felt a lot better. I don’t know—maybe I just needed to have that complete breakdown, to acknowledge both mentally and physically that what is happening to me is totally insane, and that no one should be expected to take it calmly.

I also handed the day care hunt over to J. We have found that there are some “family” day care providers—women who take kids into their home—who are cheaper than regular day care. I had spoken to one, but was so freaked out by her not-so-bright reaction to me that I didn’t think this was an option for us. But J called me on Tuesday (day after my freakout) and said he’d talked to another woman who was amazing—exactly what we’re looking for. Odds are that she won’t have two openings when we need them, but just knowing someone out there like that existed went a long way to make me feel better.

Last night, after I changed out of my work clothes into my sweats and laid down on the bed with J for a pre-dinner chat, he said this: “So I was thinking about all this today. And I realized that, while what we’re about to do is incredibly, unbelievably, impossibly hard,” he paused and I gave him a wry smile, “there is nothing in this world that we will ever love more.”

And I cried again, a little bit. I’m blaming the hormones.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Money Blues

I’m having a lot of trouble getting into my pregnancy. So for those of you who can’t imagine anything other than joy at finally achieving a pregnancy—with twins no less—feel free to skip this post. Because I’m pregnant after four years of trying, and all I feel is scared, desperate, and as always, sick to my stomach.

This conversation is about money. So if you’re uncomfortable about that, oh well, this is my blog. Because right now all I can think about is money.

I grew up really fucking poor. Poor enough that ordering out for pizza was a luxury in my family, and I was forced to try to dress myself all through junior high and high school on practically nothing. (Thank god for goth and grunge!) I was flat broke in college, and even more so in law school. By the time I got out of law school I was $110,000 under on student loans, and another $20,000 under on my credit cards, with no full-time job in sight. And then J graduated from design school with another $65,000 in student loans and even worse earning potential.

Ten years later and we’re starting to see the light. We still owe more than $140,000 in student loans, but we own a house and have rehabilitated our credit. We go out to the movies when we feel like it and have HD TV without feeling guilty. We’ve even saved a little, enough that we’ve been able to afford three years of fertility treatment with only a $21,000 loan for the IVF flat rate.

And now that we’re here, now that we’ve reached our ultimate goal, all that is about to come crashing down upon our heads. Because in the next five years we’re probably going to pay more than $100,000 in child care. $100,000! Enough to put me through law school all over me again. Or, more accurately, to smother me with another life-sucking, panic-inducing, soul-crushing debt like my student loans. If I could even get that much of a loan. (Do they give out day care loans? How far will they extend my home equity line of credit—already under $21K for IVF—when home values have dropped so far?) How am I ever going to come up with this kind of money?

A day care center is pretty much out of the question. The going rate around here is $300 per kid per week. Which amounts to about $30,000 a year. Maybe a nanny would be cheaper—if somehow J can manage to be home most Mondays we could try to find a 4-day-a-week nanny for $400 a week or so. Sure, I could find a nanny for a bit less, but I’d be risking my career by hiring an illegal. There is a chance that we can find a “family day care provider,” a woman who takes up to 8 kids into her home at once. But the one person I called sounded so stupid on the phone she completely freaked me out. Even if we can find placement for two at a place like this, can I really trust one person taking care of 8 kids to handle my two small babies? And will we have to split them up into different homes to get them placed?

And for any of you who think I shouldn’t be thinking about this yet, guess what? The waiting list for day care for infants at most places is 12-18 months. At least. So I can’t afford to wait until I’m less freaked out about my pregnancy.

On top of all that, I keep hearing such terrifying things about a twin pregnancy. Leaving aside the specter of super-preemies, two people, one of them my nurse, have told me that there is no way I’ll be able to work the entire pregnancy. A woman in my chiropractor’s office told me that everyone she knew who was pregnant with twins had to stop working after 5 or 6 months. But I can’t stop working—I make somewhere between 2/3 and 3/4 of our entire household income! I don’t even have enough leave to pay for the maternity leave I plan on taking AFTER the babies are born. So how am I going to survive if I burn all me leave before they even get here? I can’t even think about how fast we’ll go into the hole if I have to take unpaid maternity leave. I’m sure I could work a few weeks from home at the very end, but if this turns into something more than that I’m fucked. So again, all I keep hearing about is ways in which I can’t afford this.

I want to be happy about this pregnancy. I want to just shrug my shoulders and say “oh well, these things will work themselves out.” But I’m not sure they will. Will I look back at these last few years as the only years of my life that I wasn’t living paycheck to paycheck, wondering if I can afford to go to the movies or buy myself a new pair of jeans? Did I dig myself out of a lifetime of poverty only to get sucked right back down into it?

I’m so jealous of people with money. Sometimes I’m just sick with envy. When I told my sister about my childcare concerns she wrote back that, yes, it’s really hard. That when she was paying for a nanny one day she reached into her account and there was no money left. And all I could think of was: what did you do then? You reached into that giant family trust fund your husband has. What am I going to do when the bank account runs dry? I have no trust fund. I have no parents who can bail me out. I have no backup.

I think some of this funk must be hormones, which are sloshing around in my body like crazy. And a lot of it is probably due to the fact that I’m exhausted and nauseous. I haven’t slept through the night in two weeks—I have to get up every 2-3 hours to eat something.

I want to be happy. I feel like there must be something wrong with me. Because I’m not happy right now. Oh, I’m not sorry we did this. I know it was what I wanted. But all I feel right now is scared.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


We went into yesterday’s sono expecting to check up on the little bleed in my uterus and maybe check the size of the embryos to see if they were still doing okay. I thought my RE had said that it would be too early to see the heartbeats. But the moment the dildocam honed in on the embryos, there it was. A little fuzzy ball of emptiness (which I’m told is amniotic fluid—eek!), with fuzzy little ball of substance in one corner (yolk sac), and a blinking fuzzy light in the center. Just winking away, like an old-fashioned Christmas tree light. And the moment the second, even fuzzier embryo came into sight, yet another blinking light. Two tiny heartbeats, blinking away on the screen at me. In these incredibly tiny creatures less than a centimeter long. Living inside me.

It took my breath away.

There was a new nurse working the cam and machine, so it took her awhile to take all the measurements and such. I just lay there, staring at the machine from my extreme angle, and watching J stare at the machine at almost as bad of an angle from the other side of the nurse and RE. I still didn’t know what to expect. But suddenly they turned the sound on, and I got really excited. I didn’t even know that sono machine—my old friend lo these many years—HAD sound capability.

The sound was mostly static and I didn’t think I’d be able to really hear much. I could see the soundline graphic jumping, so I knew she was recording the heartbeat. Then the nurse told me to hold my breath when she said to. And then she said “hold your breath now.”

And as I held my breath I heard the most amazing sound. Wump, wump, wump, wump, wump. The unmistakable, universally recognizable sound of a heartbeat. The sound of life. I almost gasped, which would have ruined their recording. And the moment she said I could breathe the words “oh my god” came out in a rush.

It took them longer to get a decent recording of Baby B. (Apparently Baby B is going to be both fuzzy and shy.) But I didn’t care. I just lay back on the table while a couple of tears leaked out the corners of my eyes. J looked at me, and I looked at him, both of us seeming to say to the other: well, this is it.

And then it was over and my RE was handing J a card with a high-risk OB’s number on the back and wishing us luck. And that was it. Released from IF care. Finito. Three years with this RE and I’m suddenly done (assuming nothing goes wrong).

I took some time saying goodbye to my nurses, the two women who’ve seen me through the most traumatic years of my life. One of them—who I’ve become particularly close to—was as close to tears as I was. And they both told me I had to come back and show them my big belly. And I told them I would. But I added to J as we walked out the door, “just not during morning monitoring. That’s just not fair to the other women.” I know. I’ve been there.

So now it’s on to a new doctor, one who treats pregnant women. I already feel like I don’t belong there. And my next appointment isn’t until September 11. That’s two and a half weeks away! I feel adrift, unmoored.

And then I spent the afternoon trying to research day care. (I was going to wait until the second trimester, but my sister—who’s always telling me not to worry about things—told me this was one thing I really needed to worry about NOW, especially with having to place two infants.) And then I spent the evening freaking out about the ridiculous impossibility of paying for daycare for two.

Welcome to a whole new world, Babychaser. Right?

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Whole New Roller Coaster

I am six weeks pregnant today, which means I’ve “made it” halfway through my first trimester. So I guess I’m supposed to feel all “whew, it’s halfway over, surely I can do that much again!” But of course this is a total joke, because I’ve been pregnant for less than 4 weeks and have only felt pregnant (and known I was pregnant) for two weeks, which means—wait, let me do the math—that I’ve really only made it 25% of the way through my first trimester.

However, I’ve hit a much more important milestone. I now have officially “made it” past the length of any of my other pregnancies. And given that much of our prior miscarriages primarily, we suspect, were due to wimpy sperm, and give the super high-charged professional sperm we used this time, both J and I are suddenly starting to feel like we’re going to end up actually having a baby or two.

So we’ve stepped up for a whole new roller coaster ride. Some of which is pretty cool, much of which is sucky, and all of which is scary as hell. Mind you, this roller coaster is WAY better than the crap-ass, rickety, piece-of-shit IF/ART roller coaster, and I’m oh-so-glad to be here. But it’s still a whole new ride.

To start with, there’s the physical. Every day I tell myself, “if this is as bad as my ‘morning’ (read: ‘any time of day’) sickness gets, I can totally survive this pregnancy.” And—with the exception of some random symptomless days—every day it gets a little bit worse. I have lowish blood sugar already, so I’m used to the frustration of having to constantly feed myself. But this is ridiculous. This morning I had a cup of 4% cottage cheese while I was making my lunch, then went to brush my teeth, and by the time I was back out in the kitchen gathering my stuff to leave for work the nausea/hunger was back, and even worse than before.

I took a couple of deep breaths, muttering something to myself about not really liking these kids growing inside me so much. Then I got out a yogurt and began to feed again. As my nausea rose up with the first bite, I had this image of my babies as petulant gods inhabiting my body. “Accept this offering,” I said aloud, breathing deep and taking another bite. “Please, just accept this offering and leave me be.”

It really could be much, much worse. As long as I keep eating, and eating, and eating, I seem to be able to keep the nausea at tolerable levels for fairly brief periods of time. And my energy levels, while low, are also acceptable. I’m still getting work done (for the most part) at work, which is the most important thing. As I said yesterday, if this doesn’t get much worse I’ll survive it okay. Then again, given that I’m only 20% into my first trimester, maybe I shouldn’t hold out too much hope that it won’t get worse. (I also know it’s folly to count on the “first trimester” lore, but I just can’t think of being sick an entire pregnancy right now.)

But even stranger is my topsy-turvy emotional state. This is where the roller coaster really gets moving. I’m up, I’m down, I’m sideways. I just don’t know what to think. On the one hand, I can’t help but start to get excited about finally having children. On the other hand, I feel like I should keep squashing those feelings down. Because what if this doesn’t work out? What if this beautiful glimmer of hope is snatched away from me, again? One of my friends (totally fertile mother of two) just told me she had a miscarriage last week. She was three months along, but was told by the sono tech that the embryo had died at about 6 weeks. (Can you imagine so little monitoring? Thank god for IF!) Six weeks, I thought to myself, that’s right now for me. What if my embryos just stop developing? What if their little hearts never start beating?

But despite the fear, last night J and I started talking about baby names. Not a serious, look at a list conversation. But, aside from his presumably facetious insistence on naming our baby “Jebediah,” J and I haven’t talked about baby names since our first miscarriage three and a half years ago. Some lessons are learned the hard way.

And it isn’t just an up and down roller coaster, because there’s also the twists, the curves, the g-forces taking my breath away. Because while in my head I know that I do want twins, my heart and soul are FREAKED AS HELL about it. High-risk pregnancy (or do I mean higher risk?), virtual guarantee of preemies, two infants to care for (while probably recovering from a c-section), and so so so much to pay for (like day care for two?). I wonder if I will even be able to bond with my babies if I’m stretched so thin?

My friends who know about this want me to be thrilled, but I find myself a bit shell-shocked instead. And I refuse to fake happiness. Any sane person would be frightened or at least seriously overwhelmed at the prospect of twins. I have every right to be freaked.

All this aside, last night I had an image of going on a family vacation with two kids (not babies), who could play together and talk to each other, and run around together and wear each other out, and I got a soft warm feeling deep in my heart.

I’m sure that happiness and hope are coming. Right now I’m just focusing on surviving the ride.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Double Your Freakout

It’s a good thing a picture’s worth a thousand words, because I’m finding myself speechless. Or at least as close to speechless as I ever get.

So . . . um . . . TWINS! This is good, right? This is what I wanted? We all sat down and agreed that twins was the best possible scenario—the only way I could get the two children I wanted.

So why do I keep shaking my head as if there’s something loose in there, and why is there one recurring thought looping around my brain: What the fuck have I done?

I’m sure I’m happy. Really. Somewhere inside me there is happy. And I’m definitely not sad or anything. Just completely freaked out. Seriously, what the hell was I thinking? What the fuck have I gone and done now?

I’m also a bit tense, as usual, about my health and the health of the pregnancy. My RE saw a “small bleed” in my uterus, and has given me strict instructions not to exercise for several days. (She wasn’t clear on how long, but I’m going to give it a week—we’re doing a check-on-the-bleed sono on Monday.) Also, my ovaries apparently are still enormous. So I’m worried that the bleed could get worse or my ovaries could freak out some more.

I’m also upset that I have to stop exercising again. I’m not exercising hard—just walking on the treadmill at a moderate pace for about 30-40 minutes a night. But that exercise is critical to the health of my lower back, which is FINALLY starting to feel better after weeks of stiffness and pain from the retrieval/transfer bed-rest time. My back just doesn’t do well with sitting around. It likes action.

If it’s just a week, I’ll survive. But I really need to be exercising to feel healthy and strong. And I really need to feel healthy and strong because holy fucking shit I have TWO embryos living inside me!

Like pregnancy with one wasn’t scary enough.

Finally, does anyone know what the odds are that both embryos will make it to “baby” stage? I have no idea, and didn’t want to ask my RE. (Seemed like a morbid question to be asking at this point in time, no?)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I Feel Nothing (But Fear)

Apparently I can't be appeased. Even though Eva’s beta-calculator made me feel a lot better about Friday's beta, between yesterday and today all of my pregnancy symptoms seem to have disappeared, including the need to eat every two hours. Paranoia still dwells deep in my heart--and now I am worried that even if the embryo HAS stopped developing, the sono won't show it. (Does anyone know about this? Can the doctor tell from the sono whether the embryo is still alive? I can’t imagine how.)

It doesn't help that for the past two nights in a row, I've had a dream where I went to the bathroom and discovered that I had started bleeding, just a little bit, just like the start of my period. In both dreams I totally lost it. Very upsetting.

I woke up this morning (after a really long night's sleep where I only had to get up once and eat a tortilla) convinced that the embryo already had died. I can understand the lack of nausea—that comes and goes. But where is the hunger? Can that just disappear for a day or two?

I'm feeling a bit less certain about a loss in the light of day, but I wouldn't mind some mad hunger or morning sickness to make me feel a bit more--pregnant.

It must be frustrating being my friend right now. You probably just want to shake me. I know I do.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Frustration Continues

Beta = 2024

Sigh. Why can't it be higher? By my calculations, this is just above 66%. Barely adequate.

When do I get to feel GOOD about this?
Going into the weekend a bit less confident. Sono on Monday.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sigh of Relief

Beta = 1219!

(For those of you who've lost track: Yes, that's more than double.)

One more blood test on Friday, just to be sure, then a sono on Monday to see what's in there.

Very relieved.

Don't have time to write, so wanted to pass along this article J sent me. He thinks we really missed a golden opportunity to pick our donor (he was leaning toward the young George Clooney):

Who's your daddy? A celebrity look-alike.

Personally, I think this feature is awesome!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Less Than Double—Why Can’t It Ever Be Right for a Change?

So my beta today was 584, not 652 like it should have been. My nurse was so chipper when she called with my “great” numbers that I had to call her back after I realized that wasn’t double. She said my RE “wasn’t worried about it,” and that we’d “just check one more time,” then schedule the sono.

I’m so confused. I’ve had a much higher beta—into the 2200s before it crashed—and they still were checking every two days. No one was even thinking about scheduling a sono. So why is everyone okay with this? Is it because my progesterone is high (70 on Saturday, 74 today)? Is it because it’s okay for the beta not to double the first time, but after that it has to double?

All I know is, last time they told me my beta hadn’t quite doubled, but not to freak out about it, I was in the hospital 24 hours later with an ectopic pregnancy and a broken heart.

My friend suggested that maybe there was more than one, but that one has stopped developing. Again, that makes sense to me but I don’t really know.

All I know is that before this, a doubling beta was essential. There was no wiggle room. And now everyone seems pleased with my less than double. I’m confused and scared. Do any of you understand how this works?

I can’t believe I have to go another two days before I can feel good about this. Fuck.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

4:47 A.M. (A Preview of Today's Attractions)

My plan had been to pee in a container this morning, refrigerate the pee until I went to the RE's office for bloodwork and my allergist for my shots, pick up a HPT on the way home and TEST. This plan would (1) allow me to not cry my way through my morning, and (2) give me a chance to pick up a HPT. (I didn't trust myself to buy one earlier in the week.)

But I woke up at 4:35 this morning with the thought: "Hey, do I still have a HPT from last year?" Guess what? I did.

Seriously, who expected me to resist?

The news is good, though I wish the line were darker. Silly, silly me.

I'm relieved, but so amped up/shaky I don't know how I'm going to get back to sleep.

A warning for all of you newish readers who are inclined to jump up and down and congratulate me: I'VE BEEN HERE FOUR TIMES. THIS IS GOOD NEWS, BUT IT'S JUST STEP ONE.

Beta later today. I'll post.

(You know what I love about this blog? You're finding out before J, who is blissfully sleeping away.)

* * * * * * * * * *

Update: BETA = 326!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Feeling Too Good to be Pregnant? (Oh, and I Might Lose My Job.)

I’ve done 5 ART cycles before (4 IVFs, one FET), and I’ve gotten pregnant three of those tries. And I have ALWAYS felt like crap. Crappy when I was pregnant. Crappy when I wasn’t. I’ve never kept a symptom log or anything like that, so I’m not really sure what symptoms came with what results. But I do know that sometimes my bad symptoms stopped abruptly, and it seemed that that corresponded with the decline of the embryo.

Here’s the thing: I feel really good. Not completely pain-free, mind you, I still have some cramps and twinges. But I feel strong, clear-headed, and energetic.

This worries me.

Here is a list of what I have always thought were my pregnancy symptoms:

Tender breasts

In fact, the insomnia and tender breasts have been my most reliable symptoms. After my FET last year, which was my last pregnancy, I had insomnia and very sore breasts for days. Then I tested positive, but it was a very faint line. I knew it might not last, but hoped for the best. Then one night, before I even had my beta, I slept like a baby, and when I woke up my breasts didn’t hurt (they always hurt the worst when I’m getting up after lying down for a long time). And I knew that my embryo probably had died. And I was right.

Now? No such symptoms. Nada. I’m a bit fussy at night, but I think it’s more due to stress and worrying than anything else. And I’m having some mild occasional cramping, but nothing serious. Even my lower back pain seems to have disappeared. But most upsetting—my boobs feel fine, normal, not a hint of soreness. (And yes, I’m constantly feeling myself up to check.)

Does this mean I’m not pregnant? Does it mean it didn’t work? Or were all those symptoms just symptoms of my impending PMS? Were they never pregnancy symptoms in the first place? Does a healthy pregnancy feel different from an unhealthy one?

Or maybe this is all just because I’m so much healthier than I was a year ago. Or maybe, though this seems a stretch, this is all because I did a cycle with lupron? Does lupron change things that much?

I’m not going to lie—I’m going to be pretty devastated if this didn’t work.

On a wholly unrelated note (related only in the sense of can-you-believe-this-fucking-timing?), I might lose my job before October. Our office is conducting massive layoffs—as many as 20 attorneys out of 200. And while I have put a lot of years into this job, I work in a very exclusive division in which I’m the baby. So odds are that if my division has to lose one position, it’s going to be me.

This is a threat that’s been hanging over my head for more than 6 months. It’s so upsetting to me that I haven’t even wanted to mention it to you. In May, our union voted to give up our 4% pay increases and 2% bonuses for next year to prevent them from laying off 12 attorneys. Now, just a few short months later, the government is back for more.

This is a shitty fucking time to be looking for a job. The only people in the area hiring are the Feds, and it can take more than a year to get into one of those jobs even after you’ve been selected (which takes forever too).

And this isn’t such a great time for me, either. Can you imaging job hunting pregnant? Losing all your saved-up maternity leave? Or going into a job knowing you need to do more IVF—with the inconsistent schedule, hormones, and everything else involved. The bottom line is that I feel ill-equipped to change positions now. I’m used to being able to come in late if I have doctor’s appointments, work from home if I need to. And I’m used to being able to wear sneakers all day (bad back), which I can’t do if I’m in a job where I’m in court all day. And I don’t want a high-stress job, but that seems to be all I’m qualified for.

On top of all that, it’s a real blow because I fucking LOVE my job. I had planned to stay in this job for the next 30 years, no joke. You give up a lot to work for the government—money, prestige, support staff, office supplies. The tradeoff is supposed to be job security.

So this sucks, big time.

But you see what I mean, right? This news alone should have me all physically fucked up—I don’t react well to stress, and this is as scary as it gets. But I feel okay. Calm. Capable. Energetic.

I’ll know about the pregnancy on Saturday.

I’ll know about the job by the end of the month.