Saturday, December 30, 2006

Friday, December 29, 2006

Symptom Recital

OK, so I am still alive. The flight home was MUCH better then the flight down. There was barely any turbulence and I even lifted up the shade and peeked out the windows somewhere around the Carolina coast. After the plane touched down, I felt a little silly, as usual, for this crazy fear, but I still think our next vacation is still going to be something that we can drive to.

On Sunday, I am 16 weeks. Four months. I can’t believe it. If it weren’t for the fact that I feel pregnant, I would believe I made this all up I my own head. My pants are really tight; tight enough to cause pain when I sit down. And I can’t really sleep on my stomach anymore. I try to, because I absolutely hate sleeping on my side, even with pillows, but it just feels too uncomfortable. It hurts like it does when you eat too much food. My stomach feels hard, and while I can’t exactly feel where my uterus begins and ends (shouldn’t I be able to do this by now?) it seems like it is way over my belly button. I get up every hour and a half to pee so a good night’s sleep is just a fond memory at this point. Bleeding gums. Voracious appetite. Heartburn every now and then. Weight gain. And, last but not least, I have pain in my back, and after ruling out kidney infection, and assuming this was a sign of impending m/c (this almost sent me to the hospital while on vacation), I settled on it just being another pregnancy ailment.

Now that I am safe on the ground, my thoughts return to Constant Fear About Unborn Babies. I am still worried about a m/c. Or is it stillbirth at this point? I know that the chances of this happening drop after the first trimester, but I am still fuzzy on when the second trimester begins. Some say at 13 weeks, other say at 14 weeks. My last ob/gyn appointment was at 13w1d, and at that point everything appeared to be okay. (Though one heart rate looked a little slow, but my doctor says it “seems fine.”)

Needless to say, my next appointment is scary to me, because it is officially full-on in the second trimester and it has been three weeks since my last peek inside. But who am I kidding? I can concoct a reason to fear each appointment on this (hopefully) 40-week track of hurdles. I will still check my toilet paper for blood. I will stil hyper-analyze every twinge. I will still spend most of my awake hours googling for answers to questions that I haven't even formulated yet.

So five more sleeps (ha) till my next ob/gyn appointment and just less than two weeks till the all-important Level II ultrasound, where we will find out if these babies are looking healthy. And if there are still two, if any, babies.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Bumpy Ride

I made it…but it was rough. It was one of the roughest flights I have ever been on. It started with the pilot telling us there was a “maintenance issue” and that we would be airborne soon. That, of course, was enough o scare me into not staying on this flight. I made Nicole check with the flight attendant about turbulence (can you believe this?) and he assured her that the pilot would find a smooth spot for the ride down. Not quite. The turbulence started almost right away and didn’t end till we touched down in torrential rain in tornado-ridden, storm-riddled Florida.

I feel awful because I took an Ambien (on an empty stomach…one of the first times in my pregnancy that I haven’t felt ravenous) to help me relax. (But I will try Sophia’s suggestions for the trip back.) My doctor said it was okay for an emergency situation like this, but not to do it more than once or twice this pregnancy. I realize that another doctor might say something entirely different. Nicole researched it online and determined it was acceptable to take during pregnancy, but not regularly. Even still, I felt awful that I was subjecting these unborn babies to the Ambien-induced amnesia, craziness and lethargy and am haunted by the fact that there is maybe a tiny possibility that I took it at such a critical time that it causes damages to the babies. If the are still alive in there. Yet it seems like the stress I was under was worse than anything Ambien can do.

Seven long days till my next doctor appointment. It seems like forever away. We are going back to Northampton for New Year’s Eve, like we did last year and staying at the Northampton Inn, just like last year. And just like last year, I am pregnant. I was six weeks then, and already I was feeling ectopic pains. I remember hobbling around the hotel room, complaining about this pressure I felt that we chalked up to pregnancy. I was having difficulties sitting down and getting up, but we chalked it up to pregnancy pains as well. Now I look at that hotel and remember all that. Nicole thinks going there will create new and better memories. I hope she’s right. But I wonder…this pregnancy is filled with (pardon the bad analogy) its own turbulence. And sometimes I feel too distracted and too on edge to create new memories.

But first, I need to make it on the flight back to New York City on Friday…

Sunday, December 24, 2006

It's All About Me

For the first time, I am not worried about the babies at all. I am worried about me.

I don’t know where this came from, but I have developed a ridiculous, insane fear of flying. Not the garden variety fear, but the full-on pre-flight breakdown, cry during turbulence, what-was-that-noise? variety. Where this came from, I don’t know. Maybe a little 9.11. Maybe just getting older. Maybe it is a control-freak thing. All I know is not five years ago, I flew halfway across the world on my own to join Nicole on a business trip with absolutely no issues. I used to look forward to flying. I’d fly anywhere, with a little trepidation, perhaps, but in general, very content, with my books, magazines, music, and computer to entertain me between bad airline food and trips to the bathroom, where I would wonder if was really true that some woman had her intestines sucked out because she flushed the toilet while sitting on it.

This fear is compounded by the fact that there appears to be a very large storm across Florida and said storm doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. There are thunderstorms and rain expected, which will make for a bumpy ride, I’m afraid. And we all know that weather is unpredictable. So this storm can take a bad turn while we are in it, perhaps. Part of me has actually considered just not going.

And the worst part is I can’t really take anything to take the edge off. During recent flights I have anesthetized myself with ambien or xanax. That really helped to take the edge off (by putting me to sleep!). Now I can take a Benadryl, and I feel guilty even doing that. Maybe I will stay up all night tonight so I will just sleep on the plane.

At least we had a nice day. We had our traditional Christmas Eve lunch at Tea & Sympathy. Then went to my brother’s house for dinner. Dinner was lovely, but sickness was in the air. My niece threw up three times and my nephew appears to have ringworm. My brother told Leif that means he has a little snake in his head and now little Leif is worried about that. (“Where are its eyes?” he asked) So on top of this flying/fear thing, I am googling ringworm and comptemplating my chances of getting whatever awful virus that Skye has, and wondering what long-term psychological damage Leif will suffer from in thinking there are snakes in his head.

Off to bed…so much for staying up all night and sleeping on the plane.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Photo Test!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

2006…The Year That Was

My own little breakdown of one of the not-so-good years of my life:

January: Started out pregnant, but quickly slid into Miscarriage No. 2. Had a D&C mid-month. The doctor also turned up some precancerous cells on my cervix, so I had to have a biopsy (luckily, negative).

February: Excruciating pain finally convinces my doctor (who is, for obvious reason, no longer my doctor) to do a few tests and Baby No. 2…the twin to the last pregnancy…is found in my tube. Three months after conception. Not a good day.

March: Cycle returns, but take the month off. Discuss future options; decide on IVF.

April: IVF No. 1. Full of optimism and hope! 3 blasts transferred; chemical pregnancy.

May: Waiting for my cycle to return….Pass due date of Baby No. 1. Misery.

June: IVF No. 2! Full of optimism and hope! 4 blasts transferred; BFN.

July: The Dark Days. Turn 34. Wait for cycle to return. Switch RE practices. Decide that I will be a stay-at-home girlfriend and concentrate on getting pregnant only (not too much pressure…)

August: Start Pill to regulate my cycle.

September: Pass due date for Babies 2&3. More misery. IVF No. 3. Filled with pessimism and dismay. Unbelievably, BFP.

October: The month of weekly sonograms/hurdles

November: More sonograms/hurdles…and release to OB.

December: And here we are. Cautiously optimistic. I was pregnant last December, too. And we know how that turned out.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Teacup and Sympathy

This morning, Nicole and I went downtown to The Pink Teacup for breakfast. We debated going, since I was so tired, as usual, and couldn’t imagine hauling myself all the way down there, even though they have the best scrambled eggs and home fries in the city. But we did.

Part of the charm of the Teacup—and its downfall, perhaps—is that fact that it is very small. The tables are tiny and stacked right on top of each other. You are sitting elbow-to-elbow with complete strangers. Not nearly as bad as Tea and Sympathy—another favorite haunt—but cramped just the same. If you have to sit on the inside row of chairs, you need to suck your stomach in to prevent yourself from knocking over your new neighbor’s coffee cup or orange juice as you oh-so-delicately tuck yourself into your seat.

This morning, the Teacup was busy and seating options for us were limited. There were a couple of tables available, and for some reason, I chose a table right up front, despite the fact that I don’t really like to sit near the door. Nicole kept pushing for the back table, but I insisted on the front one. Then came the tricky part: Now that I am beginning to feel bigger, I am a little apprehensive about putting myself into tight places. Nicole hates squeezing in more than I do, so I figured I might as well take off my coat and suck in my stomach and wedge myself into the seat.

I made some comment about my stomach and tight jeans to Nicole and the woman seated at the table next to us, reading her paper and eating her eggs and grits, asked me how far along I was. Now this took me aback: I am a pretty forward and open person, but I am not one to insinuate myself into other’s conversations nor am I one to boldly ask someone how many weeks they are. How could she know I was pregnant? I could just be gaining weight. This made me feel warm and fuzzy for a minute because I imagined that maybe just maybe I looked pregnant and not fat (which is how I feel).

I told her (14 weeks today), and a whole conversation ensued. So much for the newspaper we brought to peruse! Turns out this woman was a labor and delivery nurse for 30 years. She had lots of good advice and reassuring words for a paranoid pregnant person such as myself. After rattling off another list of complaints, I told her that I was grateful to be feeling all of this, as it has been a long and rocky road and it took a lot to get here. I told her I had the miscarriages and the ectopic and that I knew I was lucky and shouldn’t complain.

She got it. She didn’t brush it aside, or ignore it or gloss over it. I told her how in my journal that I am diligently trying to keep, I couldn’t fill in the blank for the line that said “Is this your first baby?” I couldn’t write it was my first and second, because they aren't. But I couldn’t handle writing it was my fourth and fifth because it is too sad. I don’t like to touch grief.

She told a sad story of how she had to bury her first child, a son. She had tears in her eyes as she explained how she finally came to peace with it. She said when he died, she buried him and all of the feeling about him and this tragedy with him. It took her decades to (metaphorically) unbury him and deal with the feelings and emotions. She reminded me that we all go through such challenges, and come through to the other side, even if it takes us 20 years.

With that, all of us with tears in our eyes, she got her stuff together to leave. Before she left, she leaned over to give me a hug (and a kiss on my neck and shoulder, which made me a tad uncomfortable, though I knew she meant nothing untoward as she asked earlier if Nicole was my girlfriend!). And then she was off into the unseasonally warm winter's day.

At this point, Nicole was upset in her stoic little way. She couldn’t finish her breakfast because she was upset and her eggs were too runny. (I finished the potatoes, though). It was just such a surreal experience. Nicole said that it was clear that I was drawn to that table and that seat next to her. And it’s kinda true, since there were other better seating options. It’s like we were fated to meet this woman. And to hear her story, and for her to hear ours. To remember that we all go through unspeakable horrors that we hide from the world day-to-day. And to remember that we are so lucky to have these two babies. And not to forget those who we lost.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Life is Butter Dream

My nephew is now interpreting lyrics. Leif was belting out at the top of his little lungs “Row Row Row Your Boat” as we walked to the food store to buy him strawberry ice cream for dessert, much to the delight/annoyance of onlookers (the singing also involved a special dance-walk that I think Leif choreographed himself). The sugar anticipation got him in a singing/dancing/chereographing kind of mood. Bt when he got to the end, he just repeated that sweetly-mangled refrain over and over again, in this bizarre little barbershop-quartet-esque voice. It was very cute. But after hearing “Life is butter dream” for the fifth time, I wondered if there was some sort of message in his little song. Perhaps even a double entendre? I’m sure I could take this to existential dimensions, but right now I am too tired to do that.

Today I felt an teensy bit pregnant because my stomach is distended in a not-very-flattering way. I still think it is my constant need to eat (and then eating with wild abandon) that is causing this change. Where does fat end and pregnancy begin?

And I also experienced a moment of pregnancy excitement today when I saw a woman at Borders with a small stack of pregnancy books. I wanted to rush up to her and say “That’s me, too!” and swap war stories (assuming she has one, which chances are she doesn’t) and ask all sorts of Exclusive Pregnant Society questions that I now so amazingly have a right to ask. Is she worried that her baby is dead too? Probably not. Is she concerned that even if she does go full term that the baby will be still born? Doubt it. even after the baby is born and appears healthy, is she worried that some chromosomal abnormality will manifest itself a year down the road? My morbid mutterings might likely cause her to call over a manger and get me barred from the store. Bottom line is I still feel like I don’t fit in with the Exclusive Pregnant Society, and maybe I never will.

This is only the beginning of my pregnancy woes, but I feel like I don’t have the right to complain. This is what I wanted; and I am so grateful to be here. But there is only so much gratefulness I can exude when my clothes are uncomfortably tight, I am exhausted beyond belief, and the nausea that I though was supposed to go away a couple of weeks ago still lingers, and sometimes with a vengeance, and I am constantly worried about the well-being of these tiny beings.

And I am dizzy. At least I have an excuse: low blood pressure. Make that extremely low blood pressure. My blood pressure measured at 80/50 for the second appointment in a row. At first, I thought this was something to be proud of: My faulty logic was high blood pressure is bad, so the lower the blood pressure, the better. Not so. My doctor says that I don’t have to worry unless I am symptomatic. I felt fast relief, as I am not suffering from anything other than typical pregnancy ailments. But I asked her just to be safe what symptoms could she possible mean? Dizzy? Check. Blackouts? Check. Cold? Check check check. Did I mention I also run into walls and even lose my balance while I am sitting sometimes? Turns out I am symptomatic. What does this mean right now? Nothing. Another thing we are going to “keep an eye on.” When do all of these things we are Keeping An Eye On become Something To Be Concerned About?

Today, my body reminded me that it was in charge (most definitely a benevolent dictator). It wanted salt and vinegar chips, so I got them. I think my body craved it because it knew it had to bring up my blood pressure to something on the other end of the near-coma scale and it figured salt was the way to go. I steadily ate through most of the bag (the big bag, not the snack-size, .99 cents bag), even though there were clear “Stop! Enough!” signals being sent to my brain. I even tried to show moderation: I ate one bowlful at a time, making the trek into the kitchen to replenish the bowl instead of just eating it out of the bag (my first instinct). Yet I finished three bowls, which equates to let’s just say a lot of the bag. The result is more nausea and queasiness and a general feeling of yuck. I felt too sick to eat anything else all day, which only made things worse. Hopefully, the babies were able to live off my various fat stores today. At night, I toyed with the idea of making a Billy’s Cupcake run for a dozen delicious cupcakes and a slice of Icebox Cake (more healthy foods). But in the battle of hunger/cravings vs. lethargy, lethargy always wins. I haven’t ruled out a morning run, though.

Right now the babies are about the size of a sign language “C”, which, conveniently, is formed by forming your thumb and pointer finger into the letter “C”. It’s a nice, rounded curve with the fingers (about three inches), not a wide, stretched-out version. I find it hard to believe—almost impossible—that there are two of these little babies inside of me, with hearts beating and teeth forming and intestines pushing through umbilical cords to their tiny tummies. Thinking about it too much almost hurts because I am convinced it will all be taken away from me. As much as you protect yourself and swear that you are not going to get attached, you do. Let’s face it, I fell in love with the embryo picture. It was all downhill from there.

Stolen from Another Blog

This was too good to ignore. I'd post the link only, but I think this is wrth repeating. (Here's the link:

The difference between fertile women and women who struggle to conceive:

Faint line at 11dpo
Fertile Woman: “I’m pregnant!” (tells friends, family and sticks a pregnancy ticker in her emails)
IF Woman: “It’s probably a false positive….”

Strong line at 15dpo
Fertile Woman: Picking names…
IF Woman: “I’m not pregnant until its official with a beta”

Beta #1 comes back great
Fertile Woman: “I’m sure its twins”
IF Woman: “I won’t consider myself pregnant until I see a doubling beta”

Beta doubles
Fertile Woman: Starts working on designs for the nursery
IF Woman: “I won’t consider myself pregnant until I see a heartbeat”

Fertile Woman: Starts shopping for martenity clothes…
IF Woman: “I won’t consider myself pregnant until I’m past the first trimester…”

End of First Trimester
Fertile Woman: “I can’t wait to know boy or girl already!”
IF Woman: “I won’t breathe a sigh of relief until my amnio comes back OK….”

End of Second Trimester
Fertile Woman: Has a baby shower
IF Woman: “I won’t breathe a sigh of relief till I’m clear for gestetional diabetes and Rh antibodies…”

Third Trimester
Fertile Woman: “Pregnancy sucks. I can’t wait till he/she is here already”
IF Woman: “Wow.. I actually may be pregnant..!”

Birth of the baby
Fertile Woman: “We have a baby!”
IF Woman: “We have a miracle!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Sobering Part

I forgot this, but how could I? Nicole’s mother and niece spent the night with us on Sunday, so they were our Special Guests at today’s early morning appointment. As Nicole and I were in the tiny room with the doctor setting up for the sonogram, Nicole asked if it was ok if her mom and niece came in to see too. “Of course,” the friendliest doctor in the universe replied. “But let’s make sure everything is ok before they come in.” See? Maybe it isn’t so crazy to think that awful things might happen at anytime.

It’s a Good Day...But a Long Month

They are still there, kicking their very tiny limbs, with very tiny pumping hearts. Nicole was there to witness this miracle. It is such a feeling of relief to see that they are still alive.

In other news, my cervix is nice and long, which apparently is a good thing. We need it to stay as long as possible for as long as possible. This will help ensure we avoid delivering way too early. I also asked my doctor if it is normal to think that the babies are gone in between all appointments. She smiled and said yes, though I think she was indulging me. After all, very few of my friends have admitted to this fear. Maybe they are putting up a brave front. Maybe they don’t Google as much as I do. Maybe they just don’t realize that there are a million things that can go wrong. Life gets complex (unbearable) when you keep looking up for a storm cloud. I’m trying to look for the sun breaking through, but that is so very hard.

Next appointment is 23 days away. 23. I don’t know how I can wait that long without dipping back into the well of fear. That week is also when we do Part 2 of the nuchal blood work. And 9 very l-o-n-g days after that is the anatomy screen. And that is when we will find out whether we have boys or girls or one of each and if they are developing properly. And we will get to watch the twins on the fancy Level 2 Ultrasound screen for almost a full hour. Must-see TV for us.

I’d like to think that the upcoming holidays will be a nice distraction from all this worry and fret, but I know myself better than that. It’s going to be an interminable 23/32 days.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Tags Stay On

I am officially 13W today, which means, I guess, that I am in the second trimester? I am still not sure. Perhaps I have to get through this week before it is official? Or maybe I am exactly at the demarcation line. Have I literally just crossed the border into the middle part of pregnancy? I just don’t know.

I can ask the doctor on Monday because I have another appointment, thank goodness. It’s been two weeks since my last, so—of course—I am back on the pessimistic side of the tracks. This pregnancy is like one awful, extended 2ww after another. My stomach is getting bigger for certain, but who can tell if it is nature or nachos? I lean toward the latter because my appetite has been insatiable lately, and I certainly am not going to stand in its way. This hunger can in itself can be either a side effect of being pregnant with twins or just nerves. I lean toward the latter again.

I did have a milestone this week, though. For the first time this pregnancy I made a trip down to Buy Buy Baby and I actually went in. The last time was there I had a breakdown in the furniture department. It was right after a D&C and I had to get someone a baby present. I should have known better than to venture forth alone into that universe of all things baby and nesting pregnant women who are registering, but I thought I could handle it. Ha!

This time, I went with defiance. I am pregnant, dammit, and I have a right to go. I was 12 weeks along, so it was time. As I rounded the corner, I felt a little giddy. I let myself pretend that everything was just fine (it might be) and that this pregnancy will have a happy ending (it could, right?).

I went through the entire store. I realized just how little I know about what we will need to get, and feel very grateful to have a few people to help guide us. Yet there was still a detachment. I can look, but I can’t touch. But I did buy a little present for each baby to put in their optimistically-hung stockings. And I kinda felt like a mother as I left the store. But I kept the receipt, just in case, and the tags stay on until we are out of the woods (when the babies are 18).

Any maternal feelings I had after that experience were ripped away when I realized once again that I am unfit to stay alone in the middle of NYC in a doorman-protected apartment. Nicole was in San Francisco again this week (ridiculously for one night only), which meant I was checking behind the shower curtains, looking in the closets and obsessing all night over the potential of someone climbing up the fire escape and into our apartment. It was a windy, windy night. I heard strange noises coming from upstairs, which was unusual since there is no upstairs, as we are on the top floor. I was convinced I wouldn’t live to morning.

And all through it, I kept thinking what would I do if I had children? (I already do, in a way, right?) I thought about that house with all the windows that we looked at in Northampton, down the long, woodsy country-ish road, under a canopy of trees, with neighbors too far away to hear me scream. How could I ever be there alone? Especially with kids? Where is the old me, who used to sleep alone on a boat in a semi-empty marina or walk through the streets of New York at 4 a.m. and even flew on planes without needing Xanax and Ambien? I used to be fearless, assured and borderline cocky, which is exactly how I wish I were feeling right now. Instead, I have to settle for fearful, unsure and about as far from cocky as one can get.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Bad Math

I am well aware of the significance of making it out of the first trimester. This pregnancy—the first in which it seems getting through the first trimester is even a possibility—I had my mind focused on the magical 12-week target. Once I reach 12 weeks, my chances of m/c drop significantly and my chances of this pregnancy having a happy ending increase significantly.

Today I am exactly 12 weeks, and yet this isn’t the end of the first trimester. Just like that realization that a pregnancy last 10 months and not nine months, the first trimester doesn’t end when you hit 12 weeks. After all, that would imply that pregnancy is only 36 weeks long. And yet 40 weeks isn’t neatly divisible by three (13.333 isn’t neat to me). Pregnancy has its own rule book, and so now I find out I need to get to the 14th week, which means I have all of this week and all of week 13 before I can officially say good-bye to this trimester. And this seems very unfair, like someone moving the finish line just when I had it in sight.

I still haven’t signed up for the weekly email update. The pregnancy books I have are literally gathering dust on the shelf, as I never neither the inclination to read them nor the energy to dust and clean them. I haven’t stepped foot into Buy Buy Baby or any child section of a store. And though I have made a few forays online, I only allow myself a few moments to ponder high chairs before I think, “This can wait.”

I did have a baby moment though, which made me long for the chance to feel those moments all of the time. I was at Columbus Circle, which is bustling with holiday craziness and obnoxious shoppers. And the light show started, which basically consists of giant star-like objects lowering from the ceiling to the tune of Christmas carols. I watched it for about 20 seconds, which is uncharacteristic of me because (1) I don’t like to stop or slow down to smell any roses while I am on a mission and (2) it really is a boring little show, despite the potential and the stunning backdrop of five-story windows. But that day I found myself stopping and watching if only for a moment and then I found my hand touching my stomach, in that I’m Pregnant way, wondering if the babies were kicking around in there or if they were sleeping. It just felt so foreign and familiar at the same time.

And now it is the dreaded wait till the next appointment. I have another ob/gyn appointment on Monday, December 11th, which might as well be a year from now. I think about all the things that are going to happen before that appointment and I am overwhelmed. Nicole’s mom will come into town; I will have a presentation and the last meeting of one of my three classes this semester; Nicole will fly to San Francisco and fly back; I will student teach three days down in Chinatown; I will have my dreaded Fordham observation; I will have to figure out how to complete a rather complex section of my portfolio; Jennie will return from her week-long St. Maarten vacation; and then there is that long weekend before Monday to endure…all of these events must come to pass before I am back on that table in the little room at my doctor’s office. Once again, a test of my patience, faith and strength. I guess I keep getting these lessons thrown at me until I get it right.