Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Curiouser and Curiouser

Well, folks, I am still pregnant. I must say I can hardly believe it and I feel almost giddy with relief. I took myself out for a big egg-on-a-bagel sandwich afterwards (because I am queasy unless I am eating or unless I have just thrown up, a spectacular event that occurs 2 to 3 times a day) and as I sat there in the window of the Dunkin Donuts listening to canned Christmas carols, I thought my heart would just well over. The fetus (it's now a fetus!) measured 10 weeks 2 days, just perfect and was 3.6 cm crown to rump. I am floored to realize that that's about an inch and a half. I know you will laugh, but I can hardly believe that there's a miniature person that big lodged inside my body. Somehow, I've continued to think of this baby as a few hundred cells-- cute on the ultrasound, sure, but still way too small to see with the naked eye. I go for a nuchal translucency screening next week. That too will be an emotional event. With my second pregnancy, I was only getting standard once-a-month monitoring. We had a heartbeat at 8 weeks, then I went till 12 1/2 weeks, when the ultrasound at the nuchal screen revealed that fetal demise had occurred at around 9 weeks... Even my RE seemed in disbelief today, "But, but, we haven't done anything differently," she said. She's transferring me to my regular OB, but made me promise to call her the minute my appointment is over next week. I think she too mistrusts this strange change of luck and wonders how long it can last. So hang onto your hats, folks.

Thank you so much for your fabulous comments. They made me laugh and cry by turns. Maya likes how "clean" my blog is. Is she referring to the utter absence of links or illustrations of any kind (the result of my technical incompetence)? Or does she mean that there's nary a mention of sex (that would be due to the tragic imposition of "pelvic rest," a medical order that has my husband and me feeling like frustrated fifteen-year olds!)? To Jeanne and Lisa, and all the other hopefuls waiting on tenterhooks, you know I know exactly how you feel. V's Herbie: you're female! I was never sure. Glad to know more about you & to have a reader from the cool coast. Also glad to know I'm being read by a few true-blue folks from the true North--Anne and JMW. To Lisa P. and Sonya, I feel such solidarity with my fellow recurrent miscarriers. To think that my attempt to heal myself is making things a little better for anyone else really means the world to me. Thalia, I know just what you mean about "finding a real home." Thanks to all of you for the safe haven.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Tick Tock, Tick Tock

Hi, everyone. Just checking in. I’m not feeling very articulate. Mostly I am vomiting and sleeping. And holding my breath for next Tuesday. I have to say, I have no script at all for what it would mean to be an actual pregnant person, someone for whom the puking and napping ends with entrance into the second trimester, rather than thanks to all the nice anti-nausea meds they give you with the D&C. At the same time, ever since I went NPO to my appointment last week, I’ve stopped being on every-single-second high alert for the miscarriage. If I do have one now, it’s really going to take my breath away. I don’t know how to go forward without believing it could work. I feel like if I don’t think positive, I’ll blame myself later for somehow contributing to disaster. But, at the same time, optimism itself seems frightening and foolhardy. Mostly I wish I could just just stay asleep till this is over, one way or the other.

Help me pass the time here people. Tell me something about you. Tell me anything you’d like. Below are a few suggestions of things I’d like to know:

1. How did you find the world of IF blogs? What was the first blog you read? What was your situation at the time that you found it?

2. How did you find my blog specifically? What do you like about it? What would you change?

3. Are you currently trying to have a child? Why or why not? Has the decision been a difficult one? What factors have you considered? If you’re trying, how long have you been at it? If it’s been a while, do you think of yourself as infertile?

4. Where are you located? How old are you? Be as vague or specific as you like on those…

5. Feel free to ask me questions in return. I would love to hear from you, even if you usually “just lurk.”

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Third Thanksgiving

Well, I have to tell you, I could not have been more nervous than I was this morning. In fact, I was so overwrought I called my husband at work and asked him if he thought I could still count as NPO today even though I had a few sips of water upon waking. For anyone reading this who has not had the pleasure of multiple D&C's, "NPO" means "nil per os," or "nothing by mouth," the condition you have to be in if you're going to undergo anesthesia. He wasn't sure, but didn't think that the water would count against me. So even though I was ravenous with hunger/ tipsy with nausea, I went to my ultrasound appointment this morning on an empty stomach. Just, you know, to be prepared.

And in fact, to break out a better-loved acronym, NBHHY. The baby measured 9 weeks 1 day with a continued strong heartbeat. There was some concern about the rate of uterine expansion as well as an on-the-shorter-side cervix. I may need to go back for another scan in a few days, because the cervix at any rate could be supported with cerclage if necessary. (Not sure if “cerclage” is spelled right; spell-check suggests “corkage” as an alternative, which I suppose does get the point across!) Still, all things considered, it was the best scan I could have hoped for, certainly the best scan I personally have ever seen at 9 weeks.

The best part was seeing the "baby" (all 2 millimeters or so) moving in there. It seemed to be head butting the uterine wall, or maybe even kissing it-- to me it looked like a gentle motion. It was a wild, wild sight, something I've never been able to see before. I'm feeling teary just writing about it. The fact remains that I may not have much longer with this baby. And I really am near the end of my rope pregnancy and miscarriage wise. So I'm doing the best I can to appreciate what I have.

Amazing, but this is the third Thanksgiving in a row that I will spend pregnant. In spite of everything, I do feel grateful right now. And I plan to be TPO (that would be Turkey Per Os) come Thursday.

As I give thanks this year, I will be thinking of all of you lovely loyal friends in the computer, strangers who have given so much of yourselves and helped me so much in the last months and years. I tend to find both Christmas and Easter, with their child-centered traditions and their origins in fertility festivals, incredibly depressing. But Thanksgiving is one holiday that infertility hasn't ruined for me (yet). I hope it will be a good one for all of you, no matter where you are on the road to parenthood.


I woke up this morning with new spotting (haven't had any since Friday 11/11). My appointment is in a few hours. God only knows what this portends.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Takes a Lickin' and Keeps on Tickin'

First of all, you guys are great. I cannot tell you how much it means to me to know you're out there pulling for me, especially now as I open the window of time in which my prior losses have occurred. I swear this blog and all your comments are some of the main things keeping me semi-sane.

So, today's checkup was basically good. The embryo has grown an amazing 11 days worth in seven days and is therefore now measuring one day ahead: 8 weeks, 2 days today. The heartbeat is a little on the high side, but still within range: 178 beats/min. Meanwhile, there was evidence of a new (but now inactive) uterine bleed, which could be the source of the panic-inducing spotting I had late last week.

In most cases, a heartbeat at 8 weeks is a very good sign. But what you really need to know, to understand the extent of my hope, anxiety, and dread, is that with my last 2 losses I had a heartbeat at 8 weeks. And in fact, by eerie coincidence, in my most most recent loss, the last time I saw the heartbeat was at--you guessed it-- exactly 8 weeks and 2 days (at which point the embryo was also one day ahead). By 9 weeks 1 day, it was gone. Soo, I really don't know just how I'm going to get through the next week.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Queasy, Grumpy, and Sleepy

Kath very kindly asks how I'm doing. Well, aside from the visit by the three pregnancy stooges, aside from the minor little matter of the abnormal pap smear result (remember that Halloween pap?) and aside from the sudden onset of cramping and spotting on Friday (which resolved as quickly as it arrived), I've been just dandy. I have my weekly ultrasound appointment (the sole perk of being a habitual you-know-what) tomorrow and I promise to report back.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Chants, Charms, and Talismans

I'm carrying around a cobalt blue plastic Turkish God's Eye keychain in my purse right now. I'm not Turkish. Or Muslim. I'm a bit alarmed by the kitschy commodification of religion. Still, I keep the God's Eye in my change purse compartment. And I reach in and run my fingers over it every time I feel spooked by the looming specter of another miscarriage.

Modern medicine pretends to be rationally based, empirically sound, and scientifically certain. But the experience of undergoing unexplained recurrent miscarriage can easily lead to a crisis of doubt. When you’ve been through a fathomless series of blood-draws and surgical procedures, medical histories and physical examinations, to check out the possibility of hormonal imbalances, clotting disorders, autoimmune issues, infection factors, genetic abnormalities, and anatomical anomalies, come back negative for everything, and come up with nothing, you can reach a point where making wishes every time a clock shows quadruple digits seems like a sound treatment strategy.

People started offering me “lucky objects” as soon as they heard about my first miscarriage. One girlhood friend of mine packaged up a beaded amber bracelet said to promote fertility through the power of crystal healing. Someone had given it to her after she had a miscarriage; to send it to me she’d had to steal it out of her three-year old’s jewelry box. Clearly the bracelet conferred powerful properties.

I wore it for a single afternoon. Then I decided I couldn’t stand the way it marked me as an infertility convict, sentenced to walk the streets with my prisoner ID bracelet on prominent display. So I took it off and left it on my nightstand, where I could gaze at it respectfully, every now and then.

At the amber bracelet stage I still thought that a couple of quick medical tests would soon set me straight. In the early days of miscarriage your main focus is on solving the problem, moving forward, and forgetting the unfortunate incident as quickly as possible. And I had more than just M.D.s on my side. I had the amazing positive prophesies of everyone I met. Everyone who looked at me just “knew,” just “had a feeling,” that the next pregnancy was going to be a good one.

With the second miscarriage, the magic materials started pouring in. There was the amaryllis bulb my grandmother gave me to force into bloom on a sunny winter windowsill, sure symbol of renewal and the promise of spring. Lance Armstrong’s Tour de France victory loomed large in the popular mind at that time and everyone from my doctor to the guy at the deli counter was sporting those “Live Strong” bracelets. I received three from various well-wishers.

I have to say, though, that I couldn’t quite see the point. The babies were the ones that needed help living strong and frankly those yellow rubber rings were much too big for the average embryo. In fact, they were much too big for me to wear round my petite wrists. So the ‘Live Strong” bracelets (which really look like they could be put to better use binding together a bunch of broccoli) were left to languish beside the amber beads.

After the third miscarriage, most people just began to shake their heads. They seemed to be saying, “the dark death force of your womb is too much for our minor white magic. Go and seek your future elsewhere.”

It’s just at this point that I myself, having pretty well run through the available arsenal of academically approved medical options, began to understand just how hard it is to force a flower to bloom. It gradually began to seem to me that magic might be the best thing to add to my apothecary. Still, it wasn’t until I was out shopping and spied a tiny wooden pair of antique children’s shoe forms (suitable for a cobbler to use in draping leather to shape a miniature boot) that I just couldn’t put down, that it hit me. I realized I had made the leap into the realm of magical thinking. At the time I claimed I was purchasing the shoe forms as a gift for a friend who is a new mother—what a unique and special memento! But, in fact, I couldn’t stop caressing those wooden forms in my hand. I walked through the store rubbing the slightly rough surface of the raised old wood grain against the ticklish part of my palm. And I clutched them all the way home in the car. By then I knew that they were for me. I decided to display them high on a door frame over my head, the symbol of both a goal out reach and of a doorway I’m determined to pass through.

So, when a Turkish friend of my mother’s--master of the mysterious meanings to be found in the swirled dregs of coffee grounds, a woman who claims to have foretold the plane crash that would have killed her sister had she not missed the flight--pressed the keychain into my hand and said with a confident, conspiratorial nod, “take this,” I did. Now more than ever, I’m counting on its wonderous spiritual powers.

Let me hear your stories. What magic materials have people forced on you? What have you found for yourself? Do you discard these things as fast as you get them? Is there one that you'd swear, in spite of good sense, really does work?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

And Now Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Program

Well, I went for another sonogram today and the news is still not bad. The embryo is still behind by dates, but it has grown a week in a week. Meanwhile, the spotting has stopped. So, as Getup Grrl used to say, NBHHY: Nothing Bad Has Happened Yet.

This is actually where I expected to be six months ago, the reason I started this blog. I never expected the months of frustration trying to conceive much less the insane roller-coaster start of this pregnancy. All of my prior pregnancies have started smoothly with textbook numbers; all of my losses have been between 8 and 12 weeks. So I wanted this blog to get me through the waiting period, from the first sight of the heartbeat through (hopefully through) the end of the first trimester.

I'm just 7 weeks 1 day today. So, you see, we're really just getting started here.

And another thing: I wrote my "in love" piece tongue firmly in cheek, though most of you seem to have taken it straight. In fact, I AM trying to bond with this baby, something I have never tried to do before. It seems so hokey. The thing is that much as I deeply want a child I have mostly hated being pregnant. But I am trying to "appreciate" it this time. Because, one way or another, I'm not going to be playing this game too much longer. As I may have mentioned, my "wall" grows ever higher; cradling a living child is becoming much more important to me than carrying one.

That said, I am trying to enter whole-heartedly into this unlikely pregnancy, even though getting my hopes up only gives me further to fall. I hope you'll all stick with me now. Because this is the really hard part. Thanks.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Baby Bigelow: Uterine Gigolo

I am in the midst of an intense love affair with a babe who everyone tells me is no good. It began, of course, nearly three weeks ago on the Sunday night when I first saw that flash of pink--such a romantic color. Everyone said, "Watch out, this love is not for real." But I have been caught in a whirlwind romance ever since.

You know you're smitten when you can't get the love songs out of your head. Here I am still humming the Zodiacs to myself, begging this baby to stay.

The doctors all said, "This one's no good. Better hide your heart girl." They said I'd be left flat, that they could already hear the sound of the door slamming. I believed them completely, but I still could not stop myself from dreaming. Morning after morning alone, I kept listening for that knock on the door.

This week, it came. On Monday, the babe showed up in style. We were together again, and I had a beautiful heart-shaped bouquet to make up for all the lonely nights.

But the sweet love of reunion turns sour the fastest. By Wednesday the babe was again threatening to take off. As I bled with sorrow, the doctors said, "What did we tell you? We said this wasn't the one." Out of sympathy they sent me off to Bigelow Chemists, the oldest "apothecary" in New York City, where (for $75 cash and a winning smile) you can still get your progesterone suppositories custom-mixed to order within the hour. [www.bigelowchemists.com]

And that, my friends, is how Baby Bigelow got his name. No one thinks he'll stick around. But for now he's still here and I'm still crazy in love.