Happy Mother’s Day

I don’t even know how to begin this post. I honestly didn’t anticipate writing this one for a long time, possibly ever, but here I am trying to think of a cutesy way to announce something I’ve wanting to scream from the rooftops since the wee early morning hours of April 10th.

So I’ll just say it: I’m pregnant.

Why is that sentence not littered with exclamation marks? I think I’m still in shock. You’d think a month would be enough time to process that I’m actually pregnant, but it really is just starting to sink in now that I had my first ultrasound.

After my appointment with Dr. Tarantino on April 8th, I would classify myself as a hot mess.

Later that same day Dr. Tarantino discussed IVF with me, I had to go to my brother and sister-in-laws gender reveal party. While extremely happy for them, a large part of me was a bitter wreck, and that part of me tore through four glasses of Merlot. My sister Heather looked at me and said “I really don’t think you should be drinking.” I, being the crazy pregnancy tester that I was, had taken one of the digital early pregnancy tests before leaving for the party and still had the image of ‘Not Pregnant’ burned into my brain. So I didn’t really care what she thought, because I knew better.

(Sheepishly looking at the ground right now)
Tuesday night, as I backed my car out to head to my first infertility support group meeting, a very pregnant woman walked behind my car and was all I could see in my rear-view mirror. At this point I was pretty convinced the universe was out to get me. Luckily, I had a chance to decompress with others at the infertility support group, where I could laugh at the absurdities of the entire infertility situation. By the time I left there that night, I was actually feeling pretty good. I guess subconsciously though I realized something was up because on the way home I stopped and bought another box of pregnancy tests.

I woke up sometime Wednesday morning around one and just felt like something was off. I needed to take a pregnancy test.

And there it was: A plus sign.

It was faint. So faint I was pretty sure I had messed the test up somehow, or that it was defective, and so I ended up examining the second test in the box and using that next. Again, a really faint plus sign. I stumbled out of the bedroom to show John because I knew for sure I was seeing shit and there was no plus and I was actually in the midst of a psychotic break. Only he saw it too.

Just to err on the side of caution, I jumped in the car at two in the morning and drove to Walmart to buy one of the fancy ‘Pregnant’ ‘Not Pregnant’ digital displays, you know, the one a little over a day earlier said ‘Not Pregnant’. As you can guess, ‘Pregnant’ appeared.

In the weeks that followed, despite all the blood work and doubling numbers, I still was afraid to get excited about being pregnant. All that nursing school knowledge I’ve obtained told me everything that could go wrong: ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy, missed miscarriage. I was sure that when I went in for my ultrasound on May 8th, they would tell me nothing had grown, or that it had stopped growing at week six, and that I’d have to try all over again.

Only the little guy/girl is right on track. I could see little arm and leg buds, and a great heart rate of 163. Everything is perfect for eight weeks.

I’m still trying to get out of the infertility mindset. I defined myself as struggling with infertility for so long that it’s hard for me to let go, and accept the happy. I’m working on it, and seeing the picture of that little raspberry-sized baby has started to make my heart melt.

Our baby

Happy Mother’s Day to you, and Happy Mother’s Day to me!

Taking a break

I have to say, it is very weird to not be taking any fertility medications, but at the same time, it’s amazing how much better I feel without them. Femara made me feel awful the entire time I would take it and Clomid wasn’t exactly a walk in the park. I had gotten so used to feeling like crap that I forgot how wonderful it feels to not be suffering through God-awful side-effects like joint pain, mood swings, or constipation.

Not actively trying to get pregnant this month is weird. It was an all-consuming thought for so long that I almost forgot who I was without obsessing over infertility. When I worked on the psych unit, I would always tell my patients that they were so much more than their mental illness. Well, I forgot that I am so much more than my infertility. I’m a person who likes dogs and cats, going to the casino, and reading Stephen King novels. I like crying over Hallmark commercials, and the end of the movie ‘Rudy’, and reciting the dialogue to ‘Steel Magnolias’. I’m essentially a mush, and a nerd, and a happy person who is going to work really hard at maintaining my optimism for whatever the future holds.

I’m also going to finish my homework for the week tonight. See that’s optimism right there. Eh, more likely delusional thinking.

Changing the game

Today I went to see Dr. Tarantino, my reproductive specialist. It’s the appointment that I’ve dreaded: the “easy” methods to make a baby weren’t working and it was time to tinker with the treatments. I knew what he would suggest before I even scheduled the appointment. I could have saved myself some money in retrospect, but at this point I’ve spent so much, I don’t even blink when I hand over my debit card. I do hear little cash register noises in my head though.

In a nutshell the oral medications aren’t working. He suggested using either injectable medications with an IUI (Intrauterine Insemination), or going straight to IVF (In Vitro Fertilization).

I didn’t want it to get to this point. I don’t want to end up a Kate Gosselin or an ‘Octomom’ and have more kids than I have selected baby names. I fooled myself into thinking I would just need a little help. I really wanted this to just be something that could be overcome after a few rounds of pills. At least then I wouldn’t feel like such a complete and utter failure. Every month my optimism was chipped away and now I’m just defeated.

It is currently 3:30 in the morning, and I’m up surrounded by a pile of information on injectable medications with IUI and IVF. As much as it pains me to do, I am sitting out the next month and not taking any medications treatment to get my head straight. I need to figure out what I’m going to do, and fast. Yes, IVF is way, way, way more expensive than just the injectable meds with an IUI, but it also has a higher success rate- an estimated 70% of women will have a successful pregnancy within three attempts. Continuing on with the injectables and IUI has just a smidge higher success rate than oral medications and IUI, which obviously didn’t work, but is at least $10,000 less a month.

Oh, and because it inevitably always comes up, I want to say that I’m all for open conversation about infertility, and I would love to hear about anyone’s road to being a parent. I don’t even mind receiving advice, but please know that I have probably done/tried most of homeopathic ways people have been suggesting.

For example, here are some of the not-so-scientific ways I’ve tried to help myself conceive a baby:

  • Legs in the air (and waving like I just don’t care) with a pillow under the hips after have “relations” with the hubby
  • Meditation while listening to New Age music on Pandora (does it count if I just end up falling asleep)
  • Used the power of positive thinking a la “If you visualize a baby it will grow” (Not only guys dig Field of Dreams)
  • Asked for prayer and prayed even though I have no idea where I stand spiritually
  • I ate healthier, lost weight and cut back on caffeine and take vitamins
  • Had a few glasses of wine and got frisky with my husband (Because nothing seems to knock up teenagers more than getting plastered; I thought this was a sure bet)
  • Oh, and yes I’ve tried to RELAX!

 

Doing all of that, while taking medication, still resulted in no baby. It’s obviously not just going to happen for me.

So please keep me in your thoughts, prayers, cross your fingers, burn a candle- whatever you do when you are wishing good on someone- while I ponder what to do next.

Not an OB nurse

Starting tonight I work three twelve’s in a row. It may be exhausting, but I love being a nurse. Despite a brief stint in high school where I wanted to be a psychotherapist, and a desire to one day write a book described as an American treasure (my fantasies are modest, aren’t they) I’ve always wanted to be a nurse. My first attempt at college was an epic crash-and-burn resulting in an estimated GPA of .83. . Back then I dreamed of working as an OB nurse, but I also dreamed of binge drinking and staying out all night partying, so needless to say, nursing school was a no go for quite a while.

Some who know me have probably heard me vocalize my “disgust” at OB because I “hate vaginas”. It generates a lot of laughs, hell, it even makes me laugh- and would be perfectly hysterical if it were entirely true. I’m not saying I love vaginas, but I don’t hate the idea of them so much that I couldn’t work in a particular field of nursing. Any nurse will tell you, you’re still going to see lots of private parts in no matter what field you’re in. The truth is the thought of being an OB nurse started to sour after my diagnosis with PCOS. To steal from my ‘About the blogger’ section:

PCOS is characterized by a bunch of fun things like insulin resistance (fancy way of saying possible type two-diabetes diagnosis), and lack ovulation. Basically, instead of ovulating each month like all the fertile-myrtle’s in the world, my body starts to mature the eggs but halfway through says “F-this, I’m done” and that unfinished egg will line the wall of my ovary. For more information please go to: http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/polycystic-ovary-syndrome.html

The thought of being the nurse that was sending so many people home with babies was exciting, because I love happy endings, but at the same time that same thought would gnaw at my soul and deepest insecurity that it would never happen for me.

So I didn’t become an OB nurse, which is okay. In the last fifteen years a lot happened in my life which has given me a desire to work in a bunch of different nursing fields. The death of my grandmother in 2010 not only motivated me to return to school, actually attend classes and maintain a stellar GPA (my penance for the embarrassing first college attempt), but it also made me develop a love for hospice nursing- which is my ultimate nursing career goal. I’ve worked as a psychiatric nurse on a crisis stabilization floor- there was never a dull moment in psych. I could probably start an entire blog about the stuff I saw and heard while working full-time in psych. I currently work nights in a Long-Term Acute Care hospital, which involves lots of ventilators and wound care, and it is hands down the most physically demanding job I’ve ever had.

I love this job. No matter how stressed I am about whatever stage of the month I am in, once I walk into work it all fades away. For twelve hours I don’t have time to think about how depressed I am or how there was another pregnancy announcement of my Facebook newsfeed. It puts things in perspective; it could be a lot worse. I still have the ability to stand, walk, talk, breathe on my own; hell, it can’t be a bad day if I can wipe my own butt!  Also, there is a certain kind of peace that comes when you’re able to just hold a patients hand and reassure them that, at least for the moment, everything is going to be okay.

Hopefully one day I’ll have a baby. Maybe one day I can give OB nursing a shot, or maybe I won’t. I will say it’s liberating to not hold to the lie about OB nursing anymore.

The rush and the wait

Well hello there, thanks for stopping in and reading! This is my first attempt at a blog post, it’s a little long, but hopefully you enjoy!

I had, shall I say, weird choices when it came to television viewing in my youth.  My eight-year-old self would compulsive watch the true-story melodrama that was ‘Baby M’. How is this relevant? It’s not, and it is. The movie coincidentally deals with a married couple, and the wife, for medical reasons, cannot give birth to her own child and enlists the help of surrogate. No, I’m not using a surrogate. I probably won’t ever use a surrogate, which I can blame directly on the Baby M case. Not familiar? Please go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baby_M

I digress.

What is relevant, and permanently ingrained in my brain after binge watching this movie on VHS an estimated two-hundred times, is a quote from the movie. “It’s always the same thing: you rush, rush, rush and then you got a wait, wait, wait.”

I think about that quote every day in the context of how hard I work at this baby-making business at the beginning of every cycle: rushing from the reproductive doctor for my ultrasound within the first three days of my period, then to the pharmacy to pick up one script, only having to come back the next day to get the ovulation trigger shot because its a “special order”. There is a slight reprieve from the doctor for the week I take the oral medications. Then it’s back for another ultrasound, where an always polite woman tells you when you can have sex with your husband, when to take the shot, and if you collect your husband’s sperm at home, that you have to rush to make it to the office within an hour or else the sample won’t work for your IUI.

So me, in my ever present paranoia of running late anywhere- let alone a semen collection- will make my husband do his business at the doctor’s office, where a different but equally-nice woman says I can help but to remember “Hand help only, no oral”. Well that really puts a damper on the sexy atmosphere, doesn’t it? Secretly I worry that they might think we are taking to long to get the collection and I find becoming inpatient and trying to rush through it.  Last time I became so frazzled I spilled coffee all over the floor of the collection room.

This is where the waiting begins. The sperm wash takes almost an hour, and I begin to panic, fearful they might have forgotten to pick up the cup with the stuff and it’s just sitting there rotting away.  I’m near full-fledged anxiety attack when they call me back. The insemination takes only seconds. I have to stare at the ceiling for five to fifteen-minutes (there is no exact rhyme or reason as to how long they make you stay) and then I’m free to go home, where I wait more.  Two-weeks of waiting, acting as-if I were pregnant- per their rules, not any delusional state of my own- before I can take a pregnancy test. Two-weeks of no wine, no ibuprofen, a serious reduction in coffee intake (which is near impossible for this night-shifter nurse) and two-weeks of feelings of hope and despair that sometimes hit at the same time and I’ll cry, but I’m not sure if I’m crying out of loss of hope or expectant happiness.

This has happened every month, with minor variations, for the last six months. It’s like an awful version of ‘Groundhog Day’ without Bill Murray or that cute groundhog. Or even that episode of X-Files, ‘Monday’, which had Scully and Mulder relieving the worst day of their lives over and over and over again. Great stuff on TV, not so great in real life.

Now I’m smack in the middle of that two-week wait.  I think this moment I’m neither joyful or depressed.  Just keeping busy, starting a blog. Basically waiting.