Wednesday, December 31, 2008

How do I measure a year?

I dragged myself to the gym a couple days ago and forced myself to walk on a treadmill. I felt husky as I crawled along at a snail's pace in order to maintain any sense of a reasonable amount of breath, but oh well. At least I was there.

I read for a while as I walked and then flipped through my Ipod for a bit, trying to find a song that would make the time pass more quickly. I settled on one and enjoyed the few minutes until it faded out. And then "Seasons of Love" came on. And out of nowhere, I was totally and completely overwhelmed by what this year has brought me. Like tears streaming down my face while walking to nowhere. Like trying really hard to keep from shifting into "the ugly cry". Luckily I go to this new and oddly trendy gym (in my defense, it's close to my house). In their trendiness, it's really dark in there so I don't think anyone knew I was a wreck. Also and on a complete sidenote, there's loud techno music playing all.the.time.

So why was I crying? Because it suddenly hit me all at once how much has happened in a year. This is the year that the elephant called infertility meandered into my living room with a surprising quietness, settling down next to me until I eventually noticed him. The year when my gyno checked the box "infertility" under reason for visit. The year of Clomid tears. The year when so many people I love got pregnant when I could not and I felt jealousy and even resentment at times. The year of waiting and waiting and checking and checking for my period. The year I was labeled PCOS. The year of the nearly season long cycle. The year I had to let go of the notion of conceiving a child in our bed. The year of often shutting people out. The year of needing my husband's hugs more than ever before. The year of spending a lot of time on my couch. The year that my husband jabbed me with needles repeatedly. The year when nurses jabbed me with needles repeatedly. The year when sometimes people said the completely wrong thing to me about my infertility. The year when some people said just the right thing about my infertility. The year of seeing one pink line. The year of endless doctor's office copays. The year I questioned if I am meant to be a mom. The year of shedding tears of self pity. The year of often feeling like a failure. The year I met so many of my wonderful, infertile sisters who bless my life in ways they don't even know. The year of shedding tears for those infertile sisters' struggles and losses.

But this is also the year my husband and I battled our way through infertility. The year when I saw two pink lines and was so baffled I didn't even celebrate. The year that I got to videotape the moment my husband saw 10 pink lines, 2 for each of the 5 tests all lined up, and did celebrate. The year I had searing hyperstimulation pains that I was sure were a miscarriage. The year the hyperstimulation resulted in 3 weeks of bedrest. The year I struggled to find my niche among other women with my new label of infertile but pregnant. The year I cried tears of joy as many of my infertile sisters climbed over the invisible infertility wall with me. The year I got the bag of samples for the mommies-to-be. The year my body seems to be changing at the speed of light. The year we rushed to the ER when I was bleeding. The year we got the call that there was a problem with our ultrasound. The year that we got the news that we're having a boy. The year that my son is kicking me from me the inside out. The year that my husband got to feel the baby kick. The year that we became a mom and a dad. This is the year we made it to the other side and, honestly, after more than 21 weeks on the other side, it still often does seem real to me.

This was my year...of infertility and so much more. What a year it's been.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

I'm halfway there

140 days to go! Actually, if you want to get really technical, I'm only 19 weeks and 6 days in this shot, but I'm figuring you'll let me slide. I've gotten quite a bit larger since the 17 week pic. And most of that growing happened in the span of one night. One morning shortly after I took the pic, I woke up and realized I had grown overnight. My boobs got bigger, my bump got bigger. It literally happened overnight. It was bizarre.

This is me earlier in the day.....

And this is me later that same night. I grow so much as the day goes on. That's another part of pregnancy that I find so odd. You wake up kinda small and you go to bed quite large and then (except for that one night where I magically grew a lot) you wake up smaller again.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Best Christmas gift ever!

Joe and I returned from our Level II ultrasound with amazing news! Not only were there no other abnormalities found, but the cyst disappeared! We are very surprised that it's gone but thrilled with the news of a completely normal ultrasound of a healthy baby! Thank you for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers....we appreciate it more than we can ever express in words.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

So this is where parenthood starts to get scary

Early last week, we got a stressful voicemail on my cell phone. It went something like this:

"Hi Jacki. This is Dr. Bumble (the OB). I need you to call me back today about your ultrasound. I will also try to reach you at work, but I know you said it's hard to reach you there. When you get this message, call me back. If I'm not available, I will be sure to leave your file with the nurses."

Sound the alarm! Emergency! Red alert! There's a problem with the ultrasound! I had called the week before to check on my ultrasound report at which point a nurse told me their office hadn't received it yet and they would only call me if something was wrong. She was very emphatic about the fact that they would only pick up the phone if there was a problem. Now, a week later, I had settled comfortably into the idea that there were no problems. And then this stupid message arrives in my voice mailbox.

In a panic, I immediately call the OB's office to receive this message: "Our office is closed for the day. Please call back during our normal office hourse." Are you ready for this? The office had closed 18 minutes ago. Now what? Do I call the on-call doc? No, he won't have my file at home. But what if it's Dr. Bumble on call? She would probably remember what's wrong with the ultrasound. What if someone is still at the office, finishing up paperwork and they could check my file? Hell, the night time janitor can tell me the problem, so long as someone tells me the problem tonight! Waiting until tomorrow is not an option I can fathom.

Thank God for an amazing on-call service. I have to say that I love my OB office. You often wait forever for your appointments, but they are such a wonderful staff and so supportive, especially of their pregnant patients. I big pink puffy heart them. So I call the on-call service. I open with, "I'm sorry if I am blatantly abusing the on-call service but I am freaking out and don't want to wait until morning." I explain the situation and he's so kind. He tells me he will send a message to the office with the hope that someone is still there as well as let the on-call doctor know about the situation to see if there is anything that can be done. We hang up and I wait. And wait. And wait. I guess there is nothing that can be done.

I sit in a chair for a while staring at a wall. I can't spend the entire night like this, thinking the worst when I'm not even exactly sure what the worst could be. I think back to the ultrasound. There was no moment when I saw the ultrasound tech with a traumatized face and she never gasped in horror, at least not in front of me. I take these as good signs. She had admired the great shot she got of the four chambers of his heart. Also good. So what? What could it be?

I'll call Booth Radiology! They did the ultrasound. Maybe someone can check it over and tell me what's wrong. A woman answers, I explain and she pulls up my report. She sees no notes stating that I have to come back, she makes no horrified sounds in response to my report but then states that she can't read me my report over the phone for privacy reasons. I have to come pick it up. Joe and I hop in the car, race to the radiology department and I dash in for the report. I look it over......normal...normal....normal...choroid plexus cyst on his brain....what?

As we drive home, I ponder this development. Oddly, I'm relieved even though I have no idea what a choroid plexus cyst is. Still, an answer, a name, a label is better than none. We head home and I assume my position at the computer as webMD, Google extraordinaire, Dr. Jaguar. The white lab coat and stethoscope casually thrown around my neck make the whole thing much more official.

The first article I click on allays most of my fears. A choroid plexus cyst is a cyst on the baby's brain that usually appears during the second trimester and goes away on its own during the third trimester, causing no harm to the baby. It's like a little visitor, hanging out for a while and then leaving. These cysts are discovered in 1-3% of all pregnancies.

Little visitor...okay, I can deal with that. Granted, you weren't invited so I find you terribly rude, but whatever. However, there is one risk to the baby that increases with the discovery of the cyst: Trisomy 18. My risk for trisomy 18 prior to finding the cyst was 1 in 3,000. Now it is 1 in 300. Still really solid odds in my opinion. 300 marbles in a bag, only 1 labeled Trisomy 18 and I only have to pick one marble from the bag. I'm a mathematical person by nature. Can you tell? The logical part of my brain is fine with this idea. Still, the emotional side is not. I don't want to think about this for our baby. I really preferred the heavier bag with all 3,000 marbles.

So what now? We wait until tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. Tomorrow is the big day when we go to the Perinatology department (yikes!) at the local hospital, the hospital where we plan to deliver our son, for our Level II ultrasound. A perinatologist will do the ultrasound himself and we will hear the results right then. The ultrasound was scheduled a week and a half ago and it's been impossible not to do a lot of thinking during that time. About how one ultrasound can affect a baby's entire life. About how dreams can quickly change from watching your child grow into a healthy adult to just having an opportunity to meet him and hear his little cry, watch his little chest rise and fall. And while I know all of the odds are still immensely in our favor, that one little marble out of 300 scares me in ways I can't ever begin to explain.

And so my Christmas wish is simple: that a cyst is just a cyst, nothing more. If you can spare a prayer, a positive thought or some good juju, we could use it tomorrow and would greatly appreciate it.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Kiss of the bumblebee

I can't believe I never posted about this. I really have been so awful about blogging, it's not even funny. And have you noticed how I cheat with the dates? Because I don't want my blog to look like I post five things in one day (which is what I'm doing right now), so I tweak the dates. Tweak is a nice way to say I lie. I backdate the posts so I look like a much more diligent blogger than I really am, at least lately anyway.

Waaaaaaay back on Halloween, I spent the day trying to crush children's extreme levels of hyperactivity. My co-teacher, unbless her heart, decided to call out on one of the most stressful days to be a teacher to attend the parade celebrating the Phillies World Series win. This left me, with 27 students, attempting to teach on the day when, really, I'm just hoping the students don't burn the building down. I prayed to God several times that day to just get me past lunch time.

Here's the thing about Halloween: as stressful and exhausting as it is, it is one of my favorite days of the year, a day that I most love being a teacher. Why? Because of the Halloween parade. Because at 2:10, my students return from lunch, grab their costumes and dash to get changed. Two classes worth of girls cram into one classroom, the boys head to another and the madness begins. Some girls aren't bashful at all and in their excitement yank their outfits off and climb into their costumes. Others sheepishly hide themselves behind closet doors while I hold a coat up to block the view after swearing up and down that I won't look. There are feathers, wigs, makeup, stockings and 8 billion things that need to be tied. And the cameras. Someone is always taking a picture of someone who's all ready to go while a half-dressed 10 year old shouts that she had better not be in that shot!

From there, we head out for the parade. It never fails that I become teary eyed as I watch them walk the giant loop on display for all the parents with their cameras and camcorders lined up like paparazzi. Everyone is having so much fun, myself included. And for that little bit, they're not my students, they're just my kids. No schoolwork to do. No tests to prepare for. I love this day and wouldn't trade it for anything.

This year, I realized that a costume presented an interesting challenge. I had a very small collection of maternity wear and couldn't fit into most other stuff. What would I be? I'm one of a handful of teachers who dress up for Halloween and I was not planning on skipping it this year. So I settled on a black maternity shirt and black maternity pants. Now what? Hmmm.....I would be a road! The black would be the asphalt, masking tape would be the painted lines of the road (hence the Dollar Store theft incident) and I could use stickers for the rest. I found fire engines, construction vehicles, cars, trains, traffic signs, even little orange cones. I set to work with the road beginning at the neckline of my shirt and running all the way down to my feet. The stickers were attached. There was a full blown construction site (my husband even thought to "knock" over one of the orange cones because they're never all standing upright) and train tracks crossing over with the barrier coming down across the road. For a maternity costume, it wasn't too shabby.

Teachers with small children often bring in their own kids to walk in the parade with their class. Enter Anna, our 5th grade math teacher's kindergartener. She is adorable on a regular day, but as a bumblebee, her cuteness is unparalleled. I've only met her once or twice before and it was never for any really length of time, just a quick hello. As I leaned down to admire her costume and tell her how much I liked it, she reached for my belly and asked how the baby was. At only 13 weeks, she was one of the first to really touch my belly and acknowledge the baby in there. We chatted for a minute about how I didn't know if it was a boy or a girl and that, when I found out, I'd let her know. The whole time, she gently pet my belly, staring intently at it as though she might be able to see the baby if she looked hard enough. Then we had to separate to get to the parade.

At the very end of the day, I was walking down the hall, completely exhausted. Thanking God for a great day. Thanking God that I survived it. Thanking God for the weekend to recover from it. And who should turn the corner, but Anna the Bumblebee. Her mom and I said hello, wished each other a good weekend and continued on our paths.

Anna, however? She paused, walked over to me, ever so gently kissed my belly, looked intently up into my eyes and then rushed to catch up with her mommy. Me? I happily cried my eyes out.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Finally a belly pic

I know, I've been horrible with posting pictures of my expanding waistline. In my defense, I had some from 12 weeks on saved on my camera and somehow, when Joe downloaded a bunch of the pics to the computer, several didn't make it including all of the belly pics. I'm disappointed because it had my Halloween picture as well as the first day I was wearing both a maternity shirt and maternity pants, but I'm slowly picking up the pieces and moving on.

So here you go, me at 17 weeks sans makeup and hair products, but whatever. I never promised either of those.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


I tried to pay the Dollar Tree back the $1.07 I owe them for the masking tape I stole in my morning sickness, sleep deprived hysteria. The cashier's response?

"I don't care if you owe the store a dollar!"

Okay then. So, in an effort to make things right with the universe, I will donate a couple extra bucks when the next charitable opportunity presents itself.

Can you hear me, universe? I'm trying to right my wrong!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A bad day gone good

Two Saturdays ago, at 16 weeks pregnant, I started bleeding again. I went to the bathroom and when I wiped, there it was: bright, red blood and a lot of it. What scared me the most was that there were bits of something in it which I was terrified were some kind of tissue from the baby or something the baby needed. Two more wipes worth of a fair amount of blood and it's safe to say that I was completely freaking out.

I called the on-call doctor and waited for the call back, trying to settle myself enough to be able to speak coherently when he returned my call. A few minutes later when my phone rang, I was able to talk normally though in what I'm sure was an extremely stressed out tone. The doctor told me I had to go to the ER so they could be sure I wasn't dilated. Yeah, dilated. That's the part where I freaked out again sobbing.

I grabbed my husband from the yard and quick got dressed and headed to the ER. Did I mention that this was the day we were also supposed to be celebrating Thanksgiving with my family? Yeah, that would have to wait. Instead, we spent five hours at the ER. It would have been much longer but a wonderful triage nurse (who also happened to struggle with infertility) got us back into a bed. After the ups and downs of hearing various test results, the answer was that our son was fine. That's right, our son! The ultrasound tech asked if I wanted to know but I wouldn't let her tell me because Joe wasn't allowed to go into the ultrasound with me. Instead, she whispered it to the nurse who arrived to bring me back to my room so that Joe and I could hear the news together.

I left that emergency room exhausted from the stress of the day and all cried out, but grateful for the knowledge that we had our healthy, baby boy. Happy Thanksgiving to for the bleeding, the ER docs had no idea what was up with that and were just glad that it stopped.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

I just found this!

I competely forgot that we took this picture. This is Joe and I at our IUI...the day the baby was conceived! I had to lay there for 10 minutes afterwards so Joe and I were in the room by ourselves taking pictures and laughing our heads off because our camera was so loud in the quiet office. We were sure the office staff could hear us through the door and were wondering what kind of pornographic things we were doing with a camera when I wasn't wearing any pants. I'm so happy to have this picture...what a gift that only infertility could give me.

Friday, December 5, 2008

All I want for Christmas.....

is a commode so I won't have to walk so far to pee in the middle of the night. Do you think Santa would bring me one? I'm even willing to go sit on his lap in the mall and ask for it oh so politely if it means there is even a remote possibility that I will find one by my tree on Christmas day.