Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Mom Club

As news of my pregnancy spreads across my social circle, things are different. Being married for four years with no kids often left me feeling like I was missing out. Many of my friends who were the same age as me, or even a year or two younger were socializing and becoming close friends with other, older women. They'd meet together at MOPS, set play dates, talk preschools--and their only real connection was that they were all moms. When we were first married and I wasn't trying to get pregnant, I still felt like I was missing out, since none of these women wanted to be my friend. I didn't make much effort to join their groups, as I had no interest in peewee soccer or baby birthday parties, but it stung a little that they saw no value in me because I didn't have any children.

Once we were trying to conceive (and failing), it became worse. I wanted to talk peewee soccer and birthday parties--or at least diapers and nipple cream. But at the same time, I hated being around it. I avoided baby showers and ladies fellowship parties, knowing that it consisted mostly of "mom talk." It was too hard. I was realizing just how exclusive this mom club was, and I was trying to accept the fact that I may never be let in.

And then I got pregnant. Not a single person has suspected that it took us any longer than what we wanted. Everyone is assuming that this pregnancy was planned for this time (Oh a spring baby! How wonderful!). And everyone is excited for us. And you know what? It's fricken weird.

I told my volleyball team last Monday after practice. There were gasps and congratulations. I didn't know how they would respond. None of them are older than 16, and I haven't coached any of them for longer than two years. When I was their age, an adult's pregnancy announcement would have been met with a shrug of my shoulders and a, "That's cool." But they were all sweet. And at our game the next day, all of their parents congratulated me. So the news was passed on fairly quickly.

And here's the thing. Everyone has their own pregnancy story. They ask how I've been feeling, and then they share their experience. I don't mind, I like hearing it. But it's weird--I've instantly been accepted into Mom Club. They ask about my doctor, about my nursery plans, about waiting to find out the gender. Everyone wants to talk about my pregnancy all. the. time. It's not that interesting, I promise.

It looks like this:
Wake up to my alarm
Hit snooze, too tired to move
Hit snooze again
Drag myself out of bed 20 minutes before I need to be at work
Dry heave while brushing my teeth
Attempt to find pants that still button--give up and find a rubberband to hold them closed
Go to work
Try not to throw up
Try to stay awake
Keep shoving food in my face so I don't throw up
Throw up anyway
Go to volleyball practice
Sit on the floor and yell instructions
Go home
Lay on the couch while Bobby makes supper
If I'm in a really good mood, walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes
Lay on the couch until I can't keep my eyes open any more (approx. 8:30 p.m.)
Dry heave while brushing my teeth
Go to sleep

But here's the other thing. I've learned so much about so many other women--women at my church, my volleyball players' moms, people at work. I've learned that many of them had miscarriages. Many of them had multiple miscarriages. Or unplanned pregnancies. Or high-risk pregnancies.

But one of my player's mom's stories has stuck with me. We were chatting after a game while the girls changed in the locker room, and she actually mentioned Mom Club. She said, "Once you get pregnant, you realize there was this club that you were never a part of."

I sort of pondered that for a moment, realizing how true it was, but she went on, "Of course, we were infertility patients before we had Mary, so it took us a little longer. Not as long as many people, but it was still a little different for us..."

She may have said more, but my mind got stuck on that. I coached her daughter Mary for three years--she graduated last year. Her two younger sisters are on my current team, and there's one more sister in sixth grade. Obviously their infertility had been resolved. And they would have been infertility patients 20 years ago--there weren't nearly as many options back then, and certainly not as many studies and advancements. I wanted to ask if she was an early IVF patient, but obviously I kept my mouth shut. I thought about sharing my own fertility struggles, but what is there to say?: "We couldn't get pregnant for two years, and then all of sudden we did."

So...I don't think I make a very good Mom Club member. I think I'll be an okay parent, and eventually I'll figure out the mothering thing, but I don't think I'm ever going to be good at what everyone else expects a "Mom" to be. I don't like to carry Kleenex in my purse.

I got a congratulations text from a friend today that made me cringe. It contained one of my least favorite phrases that I hear all the time from moms: "Having kids was the best thing I've done in my life." I disagree wholeheartedly with this. I have a semi-important job that helps a lot of people. I've experienced some life-changing moments while coaching. I've accomplished some things I'm really proud of--both professionally and personally. I got pregnant by dumb luck. Maybe this is a horrible thing to say, but I don't think having kids is going to be the best or most important thing I'll ever do in my life.

I think my Mom Club membership is about to be revoked.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Where we left off

Well that was terrifying.

I continued with the brown spotting (only on the toilet paper, not heavy) throughout the day yesterday. My appointment was at 3:45, so my day at work was totally unproductive and incredibly long.

I didn't tell Bobby about the spotting until I called him while I was waiting in the parking lot at the clinic. He was going to join me for the appointment and I wanted to see how soon he would be there. He asked me if I was excited, and I told him I was nervous.

He's already been telling me that I'm thinking too negatively, I just need to relax. Of course, that's easy for him to say, he doesn't have to analyze every single twinge, cramp, muscle stretch, ache, pain, discharge, and feeling that's happening to his body. So yeah...it's pretty easy for him to just relax and trust me to take care of this pregnancy.

Of course, the moment the nurse called my name, he grabbed my hand and looked into my eyes: No matter what, he whispered into my ear and kissed the side of my head. That's been our theme this pregnancy. No matter what, we're still a team and we're going to be fine. No matter if the pregnancy test was a false positive. No matter if the 7 week ultrasound showed an empty sac. No matter if this appointment revealed the spotting to be bad, and the doctor couldn't find the heartbeat. No matter what. 

And we almost had our moment. I told Dr. G. about the spotting, and he told me that if I were 8 weeks, they'd do an ultrasound. But since I'm 12 weeks, if he picked up a heartbeat with the doppler, then I wouldn't need an ultrasound and shouldn't worry about it. It was probably just the placenta "digging roots."

I lay on the table, and he spread the gel on my stomach and began moving the doppler. I could hear all sorts of wooshing and whirring, but nothing that sounded like a heartbeat. I stared at Dr. G.'s face, afraid to look at Bobby because I knew Bobby was studying me. He moved the doppler higher and I finally heard a heartbeat, but it was much too slow. I knew it was mine. Dr. G. started over--moving the wand back to the far left of my stomach and scanning to the right again. Finally, right beneath my belly button, I heard a racing heartbeat--at least 2 beats per second that I knew belonged to a tiny baby. Dr. G. breathed a sigh of relief and faced the doppler screen toward me. "175. That's your baby." We listened to it for a minute or so, and I could finally breathe again. "I could only find the heartbeat when you exhaled." Oops. I may have been holding my breath the entire time before he found it.

He pushed around on my belly and said my uterus wasn't protruding yet. He didn't comment either way about whether that was good or bad. He said the spotting probably wasn't much to worry about, I could take it easy if I was worried, but he never really puts restrictions on his patients for rest. He said no sex for a few days to keep from aggravating the cervix, but to be honest, between the nausea, puking, and pooping, sex has already dropped pretty significantly around here. He also gave me the Rhogam shot since I'm O- and I guess they do it early if there's any spotting or bleeding. Just an FYI - Rhogam is a giant needle and it goes in your butt. So that was a fun surprise. Dr. G.'s nurse was supposed to give it to me, but she came back with another nurse, saying she'd never given this shot before, so she was just going to observe and let this other, more experienced nurse do it. The new nurse promised she'd done it thousands of times. It actually didn't hurt that much, but I was leaning against the exam table, looking at Bobby sitting in the patient chair while he watched two nurses shoot up my butt. He enjoyed it waaaay too much.

I'm only up 1.5 pounds but Dr. G. still lectured me about not gaining too much weight--especially in the first trimester. I didn't think that was fair, since that morning when I weighed myself at home I was actually down 2 pounds, so the "gain" was just normal fluctuation. He promised that the baby will "eat first," so even if I skip a meal or two, I'm not going to starve the baby. Apparently I look like I need to skip a meal or two. Thanks, Dr. G. I do really appreciate him. He always reminds me that I can call or text his cell phone at anytime with questions.

For those who have asked, I'm not doing any prenatal scans, like the NT scan or quad scan. Any abnormalities will be discovered at my 20 week ultrasound. There's nothing that I would do with the information any earlier other than worry (and I'm doing PLENTY of that already), and at 20 weeks I would still have time to surround myself with the right doctors and hospital and NICU if anything bad is discovered.

Dr. G. mentioned he was feeling a little "off" during my appointment since he had a 20 week ultrasound for one of his patients that morning that received some not very good news. He got very quiet and blinked a few times. "I've been doing this for 30 years, but that's hard news to deliver that never gets any easier." I like that about him. He's willing to admit he's human and this still affects him.

Bobby was thrilled to hear the heartbeat. He's already telling most of his friends and people at work. I'm excited, but I'm having a hard time sharing the news. I don't know if it's because I know how much it can suck to hear other people's pregnancy announcements, or if I'm just still nervous this is all going to disappear.

Bobby and I had a long discussion last weekend about putting an announcement on Facebook (I'm against it - he wants to, though he said only ONE small update saying we're expecting, not weekly (or hourly) updates about every miniscule detail that no one cares about). It was an interesting conversation and it really revealed how infertility affected us differently. He insisted that "people like us" (infertiles) just get used to pregnancy announcements. Yeah, it sucks to not be pregnant, but other people's announcements don't make it worse. It just continues to suck equally. I disagreed, but I know many of you have suggested similar to Bobby. You're able to separate other people's pregnancies from your own infertility. I guess I'm not like that. I told him he could put something up if he wanted to, but I wasn't going to. I'm hardly on Facebook anyway, and I know he's just excited to share with everyone, so I'm probably going to lose this one.

I guess I can live with that, since I've won in not finding out the gender of the baby until birth. It's about time we do something the old fashioned way.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Code Brown and Panic

I have my 12-week appointment this afternoon, which I am both excited and nervous about. We decided that if everything went well--we heard a good, strong heartbeat, doctor says everything looks great--then we'd start telling people about the baby. Of course, I've had the natural amount of nervousness just hoping everything is progressing fine, since at this point I don't feel or look any different. I'm still nauseated all the time and my stomach is starting to pooch a little...but the pooch could easily be blamed on my overall laziness and less-than-great eating habits.

And then this morning, there was brown discharge when I wiped.

So far, I haven't had any sort of spotting except after my cervical exam. This came out of no where. It was definitely brown, not red, and you better believe I googled the crap out of it. It seems fairly common and like it shouldn't be a concern as long as it stays brown and there's no cramping. I felt some strong "pulling" (I guess) in my lower abdomen yesterday, which I'm led to believe is my uterus stretching, and I read that it can cause some bleeding when the ligaments stretch. It's definitely not as painful as menstrual cramps, but I wouldn't say it's exactly "painless" either. The next 5.75 hours could not possibly go any slower.

I'm not scheduled for an ultrasound today, as Dr. G. was only planning on listening to the heartbeat with a doppler. I suppose if the heartbeat is fine, he won't be worried, but I'm kind of hoping he'll give me an ultrasound anyway and maybe tell me where the bleeding is coming from--or if it's just cervical bleeding and no big deal. Or if the cyst he saw on my ovary in my 7 week ultrasound burst...or something else. Any kind of answer would be nice.

I haven't gone to the bathroom since this morning's incident. The irrational part of me wants to believe if I just don't see any more bleeding then I can pretend it's not happening. I wondered if I should call my doctor right away this morning, but I doubt I could get in any earlier than my already-scheduled appointment, so my only option would be the emergency room. And a little bit of brown spotting doesn't seem like an emergency room situation--especially since I'm seeing my doctor in a few hours anyway (5.5!).

How does anyone make it through this part of the pregnancy--where you can't see or feel your baby and have no idea what's going on inside of you!?! I'd just like a real growing bump that's more than last night's spaghetti. But that's still weeks away. Or some friendly kicks to let me know baby is still there. But that's still months away.

Am I ever going to be done WAITING for the next stage of my life!?