….minus 29…..and counting……

The sun didn’t shine today –  metaphorically and in actual fact.  There hasn’t been a lot in the way of mood swings so far so maybe this is just playing catch-up – I’ve been on such a high, for so long, that the odd day of feeling depressed does stand out. I’ve been weepy or on the verge of tears all day and with not a whole lot of reason. I suppose, the thing is, that when the happy hormonal bubble that I’ve been encased in for at least the last 5 months shifts for a moment then I can see what’s underneath, which is that I’m on my own, and scared.

Why am I feeling scared? It seems so dumb because I have a lot invested in being, as well as seeming, bulletproof at the moment. I relish the fact that I can still walk for an hour or so (okay, with frequent breaks) without falling apart, that I can still swim the usual number of laps, that I feel so well nearly all of the time that I can forget I’m eight months pregnant, and that I don’t *need* anyone to cook me dinner, or sort out the baby clothes for me, or rub my back when it’s sore. The baby’s growing fine and is clearly not too big, and is very properly head down and low, the blood pressure’s fine and the cankles aren’t too fat. When people ask how I am, I can say with perfect truth that I’m great. When they tell me I look relaxed and healthy I can smile, and say thankyou. I am superwoman! I can do it all by self! (as my little niece used to say when you tried to help her with something).

Like everything though, that’s not perhaps the entire truth.

I don’t need anyone to live with me and cook for me when I’m tired and lazy, but that doesn’t mean I’m cooking industriously for myself – my guilty secret for today that I will share is that after a very late breakfast (toast and honey, and a berry-watermelon smoothie and a piece of cheese) the culinary wheels fell off, and I dined on some rubbery old dumplings at 4pm for lunch, had a dark chocolate bunny and milk at 5.30 and napped from 6 until 9, when I dined like a king on two gingerbread biscuits while watching Chariots of Fire and weeping copiously. Not exactly Superwoman. And I certainly can’t put the baby’s room together all by self – I had two lots of friends come over last weekend (Butches With Drills) to assemble the EXPEDIT and the STUVA and the Tripp Trapp and put hooks on the walls – stuff I just can’t do and won’t even try. Not exactly Amazon Woman. And while I don’t need anyone to rub my back or my belly and feel the baby moving around and tell me I’m loved, god knows I would love to have it.

It’s that which scares me at the moment – I have so many people around in my life who can, and do, help in so many ways, but I’m frightened it won’t be enough, because in the end there’s no-one here who loves me more than anyone else, who has to be there (at the birth) and afterwards. (My doula/acupuncturist is going away on holiday for 2 weeks on Saturday, and I am honestly terrified that the baby will come early while she’s around. In the absence of a partner, I really really need her to be there). The dads will be around afterwards and will love the baby as much as I will, but then they’ll never have the same sort of tender feelings for me, and never will (nor would I want or expect that). I know I’m not the first woman who’s almost about to give birth on her own, and all those other SMCs and abandoned or bereaved women do it every day and do it fine. But. Underneath my superwoman persona I need stuff from other people and I don’t know if I’m going to be able to ask for and get what I need.

So that’s the state of emotional play right now. Here’s what I did today  on minus 29 – I got up late, organised a handyman to come over on Saturday and hopefully finish the stuff that the Butches couldn’t do, caught the tram into the city for acupuncture and then went to my gym for a 1km swim, then back home via the dumpling shop for a very inadequate lunch (see above). Then snack, long nap, snack and film. Not tired enough to go to sleep yet. I’m going to have to control my napping a bit better, I think!

…One month left….and counting

Well one month minus a day, but who’s counting?

Probably a good time to take stock of the situation as it stands, with only four or five piddly little weeks to go before my life….changes completely into something that is, at this moment, unrecognisable.  I started maternity leave nearly two weeks ago, at exactly 34w…a bit early, particularly considering the undemanding nature of my work (sit on arse all day behind ‘scope and ‘puter, with frequent breaks for lunch and coffee and OB and acu ppointments whenever I feel like it) and the easy-ness of this pregnancy. But whatever. I didn’t really want to come back to work after the long Easter break for only a few days, and I can always request another month off at the other end, so I thought what the hell.

It did feel surreal to leave work for (at least) a year, though. It’s not like I’m leaving to go on a long overseas trip, or something else that’s just lots of fun. I know that soon I might really long for my fairly easy, sometimes boring routine of work-home-social life with friends and family, and I don’t look on the idea of having a baby as some sort of ‘time out’ from an otherwise stressful life. And although I didn’t really think it would happen, it does feel slightly strange not to be one of the professional working women of the world. It’s been part of my identity for as long as I’ve been a grownup, if you don’t count the studying years. But I’m not yet a mum, much less that slightly hideous acronym, a SAHM.

But those feelings, sad to say, did not last long. Since my leave started properly, after everyone else went back to work and I didn’t, it’s been such a guilty pleasure. I’m getting time at last to get all sorts of jobs done – just a few each day, but getting there! And the weather is still really nice, mostly – and most days I’m able to drift along and do whatever I feel like doing….visit a friend, go for a swim, duck into a cafe for a latte and some sweet treat (thanks be to the goddess I didn’t get GD), waft into any shop without feeling the usual pressure of obligations on my time, and then back home for a long, indulgent nap. After which, instead of waking up feeling cross and guilty for wasting time, I can smugly tell myself that it’s good for the baby. This bit, I have to say, is the bomb.

I don’t feel 8 months pregnant, and I’m not sure entirely that I look it either – the bump is fairly modest so I think I’ll be having a titch. My prediction one month out…..I think I’m having a girl, and she’ll weigh about 7 lbs 5 oz. Maybe a bit less. It’s funny, I always assumed that I would have big babies, probably because my sister had two chunks, and I’m not exactly what you call small – fairly tall, broad shouldered and wide-hipped, that’s me. But this baby isn’t going to be a 9 pounder, that’s for sure. The other thing I always assumed is that I’d go over my due date….and I really hope that assumption still turns out to be correct because believe me, I’m in no hurry for this baby to arrive early!

Tomorrow, if my modem permits, I plan to do Bionic Mama’s pregnancy meme. Maybe a bit early, but it’s dawned on me how very little I’ve actually written down about this pregnancy and I don’t want to forget it.

Thoughts at 21 weeks, 1.35am.

Crap. Turning into a human ticking timebomb means that I instantly know exactly how long it’s been since I posted last….11 weeks.  As one sometime reader said, most bloggers seem to slow down as soon as their babies arrive; I’m just getting ahead of the game. Precocious, that’s me.   I intend to post some belly shots soonish…of course that may well be in another 11 weeks, but I’m not doing much tomorrow beyond shopping for something to wear on the lower half of my body that goes with T-shirts and other summer garments, and perhaps an outfit that doesn’t make me feel too frumpy, so there may well be time for posting photos.

So – not for any other reason apart from trying to remember some of this stuff for later –

THINGS I DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT PREGNANCY BEFORE I GOT PREGNANT

1. The mutability of the belly. I really thought that your tummy grew very slowly and regularly until ultimate ripeness, like fruit, but in reality it seems to get big all of a sudden, then shrink back again, then stay the same for a while, then grow back to its previous size, then shrink again but not shrink as much as it did before, so that the new baseline is a little bit bigger than before. Two steps forward, one step back, two steps forward again. Which means that sometimes I feel utterly huge, measuring much larger than dates, and sometimes (at this stage) I barely look pregnant at all. And of course, it all depends on what I’m wearing as well. So it’s kind of a schizophrenic time, being mid-trimester. When I flew to the UK at 17 weeks, I was still definitely in that Is she fat or Is she pregnant? phase, and when I checked in to fly back, the girl at the desk asked me for a doctor’s cert to prove I wasn’t over 26 weeks. Which was kind of bold of her, I reckon. Because I still could just have been fat.

2. Foetal movements don’t feel like butterfly wings, or someone blowing bubbles in your belly, or gentle waves, or any of that rubbish. They feel like a small baby kicking your uterine walls from within. Funny, that. I started feeling them at 17 weeks, on the plane somewhere over Turkmenistan, while I was listening to Handel’s Messiah on my iPod. As Bionic Mama says, it’s the Second Coming! Hallelujah! Anyway, foetal movements were definitely a bit weird at first, but now I really love feeling them. I especially like it when I’m at work, reporting in my office, alone with the door shut…it makes me feel less lonely.

3.  Dressing oneself when visibly gravid is actually hard. I used to look at pregnant women, trying not to stare and trying not to loathe them on sight, thinking how gorgeous they looked, and how a sweet round little belly was just the bee’s knees and the ultimate addition to any wardrobe.  But now I’m wondering how everyone else manages to look so nice, and even though I think I look okay in the nuddy, as soon as I put clothes on it all goes pear shaped. I think one of my problems has been trying to mainly buy and wear normal clothes that are loose fitting, instead of biting the bullet and getting actual maternity wear. Which means that most of the time I look like a moving tent, which is not perhaps the most flattering. And things are in a constant rotation between stuff that fits, stuff that just fits and stuff that either doesn’t fit or looks terrible, and these qualities change day by day, so my normally very long getting ready time in the morning before work is stretching out even longer.

4. It’s nice. It’s actually really, really nice being pregnant. I hesitate to say this on even such an ill-frequented blog as this one, and if I read it while wanting desperately to be preggo/having a horrendous pregnancy, I would hate me. But I really love it and I didn’t expect that I would, even while I wanted so much to be it. I’ve seen so many friends really looking forward to being pregnant and finding that the reality was actually pretty miserable, so I just assumed I would be the same. And the rollcall of possible and probable vile symptoms of pregnancy is, of course, legion.  But so far, touch wood, I think I’ve been particularly lucky. Yes, I had morning sickness and it wasn’t fun, but it was only ‘bad’ for a couple of weeks, with about 3 weeks of nausea on either side of the bad period, and by the time I hit 13 or 14 weeks it was completely gone. My appetite came back and my tiredness eased off so gradually that I wasn’t really aware of it. What do I have now? Um……a bit of dry skin, maybe? Bio-Oil rubbed into the belly is the bomb for that. A twinge of mild heartburn perhaps, maybe once a fortnight? (I have some right now, which is why i’m thinking of it, but it’s the first time in weeks, since having a glass of red wine in London, if memory serves).  Oh yeah, I have had the odd leg cramp that’s woken me up at night – OW that hurts when that happens, but it always eases off after a few seconds so it’s hardly the worst thing ever. A bit of back stiffness when I wake up in the morning. I know, I’m really lucky. Hate me.

THINGS I KNOW ABOUT MY BABY SO FAR

1. (I just typed, and deleted, and typed again, the word ‘my’ instead of ‘the’ in the title above. Old habits die hard).

2. Her nickname, at the moment, is Immy – short for Immaculata.

3. She may or may not be a girl, but after the 20w scan on Tuesday, at least I know that she’s one or the other. Which flavour it is, I have no idea. But I do have a bit of a feeling it’s a girl, based on…not a lot really, except that she’s measuring about average in size rather than the heifer I always thought I’d have, and she’s not as active perhaps as a boy would be. But I’ve got nothing to compare to, obviously.

4. She likes Handel.

5. She’s most active in the evening, once I’m lying down – more so than the morning, when I felt most movement after I first started feeling them.

6. She has a beautifully shaped head, and what looks to me like a small, pretty nose. Hoo-fucking-ray.

That’s about it, really. It’s pitifully little, so far, isn’t it? I just can’t imagine what she’ll be like, once she’s here, even though I keep trying. But at least now it’s dawned on me that there is another entity there inside me….it’s seeming a lot more real now.

Quickie

This will be too quick, since I haven’t posted for a month, but I just need to say that I attempted to upload a very creepy pregnancy ticker, at right (thanks Pomegranate!) and it reminds me of nothing more than Right to Life propaganda.

Also, things are still going very well round these parts. Still sick (but I think it peaked at about 8w), still tired, and maybe slightly rounder about the belly region, but otherwise all good!

6w1d

  • Nausea kicked up a gear yesterday, right on cue. Bleeeugh. Counting myself lucky because I haven’t hurled yet, but my god it’s been a close thing a couple of times. Especially at work… my new workplace is a teeny tiny lab in an old converted warehouse, pretty much open plan, with one (count ’em) ONE unisex bathroom. Which happens to share a wall with my senior colleague. It’s not going to take an awful lot of heaving sounds and rapid transits between my office (on one side) to the bathroom (right down the other end) to clue people in. So, have laid in a stock of dry ginger ale and a variety of dry crackery type foodstuffs and Chupa-Chups to try and avert disaster.
  • Dreams!! The most vivid dreams. Not nightmares, just dreams that seem so real that they wake me up from sleep, with my heart pounding. I’m enjoying these enormously, I hardly watch any TV, so it’s like seeing all these fantastic movies every night, starring yours truly. Although, I’ve slept really really well the last couple of nights, and I don’t remember those dreams as well.
  • Knackered. Well and truly. Was forced to nap in the car with the driver’s seat cranked right down on Sunday, outside the pub where I was meeting friends, just so I could make it through another couple of hours. Today being my day off, it was easy to convince myself that my body just needed the entire day in bed. Not sure this is a reliable symptom as I did that a fair few times when not pregnant, as well. Still, I slept in until about 8, had another nap from 1 until 3, and feeling pretty desperate f0r sleep again now at 10pm.  How are you supposed to get all the millions of things done that need to be done if you’re conked out every spare moment?
  • Big boobs. Undeniably. Okay, my bras all still fit perfectly but it’s certainly possible they were a bit big beforehand. Loving this. And they’re always sore. A couple of weeks ago I was obsessively prodding them, all times of the day and night, and now I don’t need to – they’re just THERE.
  • I caved and POAnotherS a couple of days ago, knowing it was stupid, but just needing the reassurance. The control line barely showed, the test line was so dark. This reassures me. Somewhat.

First ultrasound is on Friday (three more sleeps to go). I feel all kinds of strange about it. On the one hand, I feel *fairly* confident that it’ll be all right. On the other hand, not being a total innocent, I’ve known numerous people who’ve had strong symptoms and total lack of spotting or cramping, who’ve been devastated by seeing a blighted ovum when they expected to see a heartbeat. So I know that it’s still a possibility, and I need to try and prepare for it. But how do you do that – I just don’t know, none of what I’ve been through so far prepares you for something like that.

So, until then, I wait.

17DPO

And today?

I’m only POAS every second day (although still fixated on the thermometer), but yesterday, that second line was definitely much darker than the control line. I’m not getting any more betas done (have had to sit on my hands to stop myself ringing for another form, but we’ll keep that a secret between ourselves), so the plan at the moment is just to wait the ETERNITY between now and 6.5 weeks when I have an early ultrasound booked. I don’t actually think that getting even perfect betas with perfect doubling times will make an eventual miscarriage, or any other flavour of horror, any less likely. Last time I had textbook doubling times of 33 hours between each beta, so I feel fairly cynical about them, especially after seeing people with low betas and shitful doubling times go on to have successful pregnancies. And still other more unlucky folks with good high early betas who go on to have undiagnosable molar pregnancies that drag on for months and months and months. Anything can happen, regardless of the numbers, from here on in. So why worry?

Well, of course I’ll *worry*. I haven’t had a brain transplant. But I’ll try and trust what’s happening so far and revel in the unusual feeling I have at the moment, that all’s right with the world. I know, hubris. But I can’t help it. I just feel…….I don’t know, what is this strange feeling?…….HAPPY?

I’ve read, over and over again, that infertility doesn’t mean that getting knocked up automatically changes your life for the better. But to be honest I don’t feel like an infertile person who lucked out, any more, although I did with the last pregnancy. That time, when things were going pear-shaped, the most unbearable part of it was the thought of what came next, like a huge dark mountain of shit ready to tumble on my head. I couldn’t tell myself, then, that I could “just try again” and maybe the next pregnancy would work out better. I knew – god, oh how I knew – how long and hard the road had been to get even that far. But now I have to adjust to a new explanation of myself. I hesitate even to write this, knowing so well what it feels like to read happy posts on TTC blogs when you have been in That Bad Place for what seems like, or actually has been, years. But I went from using the most hi-tech reproductive interventions money and generous government subsidies can buy, with little success, to using a 5ml syringe and some free fresh sperm from a different guy, and got knocked up on the second try. What does this mean? Am I actually a fertile person? Does it matter? Of course not, not as long as a healthy baby is the end result. But you make explanations of the events that happen to you, don’t you, you tell your story to yourself to try to make sense of it all, and the story I’ve been telling myself even since the first IVF/ICSI failed, with further embellishments as the shit rained down, is that I’m broken and defective and looking down the barrel of childlessness.

I’m not saying that I’m finding it hard, to reassess my view of myself and my story, my god, no.  This requires not an ounce of sympathy from anyone. This is the sort of miracle that people dream about happening to them…..that *I* dreamed about happening to me. I had just resigned myself to the solid fact that stories like this just don’t happen to people like me, because life is not fair and things don’t happen the way they do in books.

But today, I’ve been feeling queasy on and off all day, but worse at breakfast time, the knockers are getting bigger and sorer than they ever were during the last unpregnancy, I’m getting heartburn if I eat too much, I get odd waves of fatigue that at the moment are pretty easy to push through, and I just had the sort of mood swing you could sell to science. Today, I feel great. I feel absolutely fucking fabulous. I’m going to quote the incomparable Corey and say, I’m a girl in trouble, y’all!

This story is the wrong way around!

So I’ve been charting my temperatures for the last three months, only at the behest of my acupuncturist, because I’ve been down the temping path before and it only ever led to madness and sorrow. The first month, the cycle after the disastrous IVF #3 fail when I had nothing to transfer, we inseminated twice, once just before ovulation and once afterwards. Timing not bad but the chart was unsatisfactory – follicular phase temps too high and static, weak ovulation, luteal phase temps too low and artifically pumped up with prog bullets, but with the extra progesterone I had all sorts of exciting symptoms that gave me irrational hope for success. Hope denied.

The next month, we didn’t insem because D was overseas, but I’d decided a break was in order anyway (since February, it’s been FET #1 – chemical pregnancy – IVF#2 – BFP – missed miscarriage – IVF#3 – epic fail – IVI#1 with progesterone supplements – BFN). And my temp chart was really wonky. No definite temp shift, so not even sure if I ovulated, and I had about 3 days of intense right sided pelvic pain around midcycle, worse than anything I’ve ever had, where I was barely able to stand up straight at work, which I think in retrospect was probably a bursting follicular cyst.  A Hobbesian cycle which was nasty and brutish but mercifully short.

This month was my first unmedicated insemination cycle since December 2007. This month felt different from the start, and for that reason among others I mistrusted it.  It felt different because everything seemed to be going……perfectly. The hell? This was my 50th cycle on MFFF since I began charting, and it started looking like an illustration out of a textbook, certainly nothing like any cycle I’ve ever charted before. All my follicular phase temps were nice and low and fluctuating normally. And I kept seeing omens in the first half – the sort of thing that is incredibly meaningful in your first few months TTC but you pretty much ignore by cycle…50, say. Still, these images just kept intruding on my consciousness, no matter how I tried to block them. I would see pregnant strangers, in my yoga class for example, and not feel an instant wave of envy and dislike. I dreamed about shooting stars one night, and another night I dreamed that I was about 30 weeks pregnant, and went to hospital where they said I had meconium aspiration (or the baby did), and the next thing I knew my belly was empty and flaccid and the baby was gone. Oh, and I kept seeing spiders everywhere! Like EVERYWHERE. Every day I saw a spider, for about a week. I don’t know what that means, but it was unusual and seemed to mean something.

I felt left-sided ovulation pains for several days leading up to ovulation, with no definite mittelschmerz, so I’m not sure of the exact moment. But I had a tiny streak of bright red spotting on the day I thought it was most likely, which I very rarely have, and seemed like a good sign. We started our insems on CD10, as per the SMEP (Sperm Meets Egg Plan – i know, i know. Nafforama. You don’t have to tell me.) Then again on CD12, 13, 14 and 15, all in the evenings. So the timing was faultless, I didn’t have to worry too much about which day I ovulated (I think it was early on day 15) because there was so much…um…coverage. If there was an egg there, it was going to get drenched in sperm regardless.  And it must be said here that I have the best donors ever. D was unfailingly obliging and pro-active, offering to do them daily for as long as I wanted, without me even having to ask, and he would even leave work early and taxi home to meet me for an insem. And A was so wonderful about having me over there all the time, doing the deed with D instead of himself, which must have felt  painful although he denied it strongly when I talked to him about it.

The inseminations were getting easier to handle, too, compared with the first one where most of it fell down my leg and decorated the boys’ bedroom carpet. (Not the first time their floor will have been spunked, and not the last, as I’ve been reminded). I had my ‘insemination kit’ (where do you find the little copyright symbol on a Mac keyboard? Darn.) all packed and ready in the car each morning – what did it contain, just in case there is a single bright eyed, bushy tailed TTC noob out there reading who wants to know? A couple of plastic pathology specimen jars, helpfully labelled with the name of the uber-Catholic health care service provider I work for, so I know my efforts had the imprimatur of the Pope and all the holy saints, a couple of 5ml* plastic syringes from the chemist, a vibrator, fully charged and ready to rumble, a Diva cup to catch all the jizz to avoid aforementioned carpetspunking, and an old towel, ditto. By the last insem the smell of the jizz wasn’t even making me wrinkle my nose. Then again, by insem #5, D was very shamefaced about the paltry 2mls he’d managed to squirt in there, but if there’s one thing I learned in all this time, it’s that volume means less than nothing when it comes to the White Stuff.

*5ml not my choice, as it felt way too short for my Bucket Fanny, as the Irish would say. 10ml more to my liking. And the 1ml transfer pipette I experimented with on insem #1 was a massive fail. Don’t recommend.

Once the deed was done, I assured the boys I would see them at the same time, same place next month, and tried, unsuccessfully as usual, to put the whole thing out of my mind. The only ‘symptoms’ I had early on, and I do know that they’re not symptoms of anything at all except rising natural progesterone, were vague headachyness on 3dpo, and little tiny cramps from about 4 or 5dpo onwards. I’d had those in all the previous cycles where I’d used supplemental progesterone, from the FET which led to a chemical, the BFP cycle, the failed no-transfer cycle, and the first insem cycle with D where I used vaginal prog. So, had them in cycles with both implantation, and no chance of implantation – so I knew it was a bogus symptom. At 9dpo I felt totally normal and unpregnant, apart from the nagging feelings I was having about all the good omens I was seeing, and the prettiness of my chart, which showed a good strong ovulation with a big temp rise, and high luteal phase temps. Which, by cycle 50, and what feels like a lifetime of chart stalking, you get to realise is nearly totally meaningless.

On 10dpo, I started feeling definite soreness when I poked at my boobs, which is not usually a PMS symptom of mine. Even during the last pregnancy, my boob soreness didn’t really kick in for a few weeks, and it fluctuated. It was the first tiny tendril of “…….could it be…?” that crept in. On the same day I had a single brief wave of mild, mild nausea. The very slightest, like “Oh. Actually don’t really feel like eating this” instead of the ravenous hunger of the previous week. And it was gone almost the next moment. The next day, my temp stayed up, my boobs stayed sore, and I started obsessively looking at pregnancy charts on MFFF. On 12DPO, I had a bit more of the mild nausea, boobs still sore, temp still up, and my obsessive chart comparisons were showing that about 50% of charts that looked like mine turned out to be BFP charts. That night, I found it so hard to get to sleep, I was tachycardic and overheated, and when I woke up in the middle of night having to throw off the second doona, I was pretty sure. Next morning it was 13dpo, and my temp took a big jump. But I was too scared to go and POAS. I can’t really explain it, except that I had been in this position (well, not with quite so many positive signs, but in the position where I felt pregnant) before, and even the agony of waiting to find out is better than the let-down of the blinding Arctic polar bear icecream white of that BFN stick.

But after a bit of persuasion, from friends who live inside my mobile phone, I did it. And it was two of the prettiest lines I ever did see.


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