Sometimes you need time, the ability to inject yourself with oodles of hormones, a lot of patience and an unexpected reminder from a social platform of how far you’ve come.
Sometimes you need time, the ability to inject yourself with oodles of hormones, a lot of patience and an unexpected reminder from a social platform of how far you’ve come.
Eliza Jayne made her debut on February 10, 2019 at 11:42am, weighing 7 pounds 5 ounces and 20 inches long.
Her birth story to follow soon!
Considering the incredibly difficult time we had getting to this point, I have officially shifted to being over pregnancy. I’m so thankful to have had a fairly uneventful pregnancy, please don’t get me wrong. That I’m not classified as high-risk is a feat.
My first trimester was not without the extreme fatigue, but my nausea was manageable with the exception of a few bad spells. Plus, it abated fairly quickly around week 10 or 11. I was very lucky.
My second trimester was as advertised. Physically I felt much better and I had some stamina back. After crossing the midway point my brain settled down, too, and the anxiety lessened.
The hip pain began in earnest in the third trimester and, as I’d heard, it became more difficult to sleep. My hips particularly ache at night. As I’ve gotten bigger changing positions in my sleep to ease the hip pain cannot be easily accomplished without completely waking myself up. I’ve also had a chronically stuffy nose this trimester, which only got worse following my third cold of my pregnancy. That is just annoying AF.
In the last few weeks I’ve experienced what has to be my absolute faaaavorite side effect of pregnancy: “lightning crotch.” Unfamiliar with the vulgar term? It is some serious pelvic pain. The nickname is apt. It feels like my pelvic floor is on fire. Constantly. Going from sitting down to standing up is particularly unpleasant.
The lightning crotch has been the turning point. As that has intensified the more ready I am to serve up an eviction notice.
Uncomfortable last days aside, I am so ready to meet this Little Wookiee. I’m excited and nervous and just ready to be LW’s mama.
As I mentioned, last week was a week, man. Here’s Monday.
On Wednesday, my team at work hosted a lovely surprise baby shower for me. I knew it was coming, but I had yet to figure out when (I may have stalked people’s calendars for inconsistencies because I can be a crazy person… ahem). They genuinely surprised me and it was really special. Everyone (or nearly everyone) knows my infertility story (to varying degrees of detail), so I feel grateful that they wanted to shower my long-awaited Little Wookiee with love. The support was palpable.
Within an hour of the shower, I felt a dampness down under. I was wear a dress and tights, sans underwear (because I never really found any that fit me after they kept falling down like my jeans), so the dampness was probably especially noticeable. So here’s the thing, I’ve peed myself plenty of times during this pregnancy (I’ve had three colds and sneezing nearly always resulted in something). This felt different (it also didn’t smell like urine).
I waited maybe another 30 minutes… more dampness (this time on a pad because I got smart). At 36 weeks, 5 days pregnant, I naturally thought that my water was breaking, albeit slowly. I’d been saying consistently for more than a few weeks that LW was coming early. People dismissed me with “oh, first babies are usually late!” I was vindicated! Also, that “first babies” thing is purely anecdotal there’s no actual data proving that to be true (80% of women deliver between 37-42 weeks).
I walked next door to my coworker/friend who is a mom and said hey… my water might be breaking? While it wasn’t what she’d experienced, Dr. Google said a slow leak is totally a thing and I should call my OB practice. I’d tested positive for Group B Strep earlier in my pregnancy, so while many soon-to-be mamas can wait out early labor at home, the antibiotics I’ll need to keep from passing an infection to LW mean my practice wants me to come into the hospital relatively quickly when my water has broken.
I texted my husband to ask if he could answer the phone. I gave him roughly 37 seconds to reply before calling the OB. Since it was the middle of the day and I knew the office was open, I went directly to the front desk and told them my water may have broken and … tell me exactly what to do. A nurse gets on the line, asks me a few questions and says “well, normally we’d have you come into the office to confirm but we quite literally have no doctor or midwife to see you.” They had four other women from the practice in labor (one in an emergency cesarean), so they were canceling as many office appointments the rest of the day as they could since practically everyone was at the hospital already.
Off to the OBED!
The drive from my office to home thinking I might be going into labor was the strangest, most surreal experience. Since I wasn’t having contractions, I wasn’t fearful to drive, but my mind certainly strayed from the road.
I met my husband at home, threw a few toiletries into our hospital bag and we left. We live just a few minutes from the hospital, but the car ride was quiet but thick with both excitement and anxiety.
My OB practice was not the only one hopping that day, apparently. As soon as the ED nurse hooked me and LW up to the monitors, she told us that she’d admitted every single patient she’d seen that day so buckle up because I was probably going to have my baby. Those words were so strange. But then my mind quickly wandered to being annoyed that the robe I’d ordered for the hospital stay hadn’t yet arrived and I would be stuck in those crap hospital gowns the whole time I was there. I was, one might say, unreasonably annoyed at this prospect considering my nurse was speculating that I was about to have a baby.
Again, because my practice was so busy that day, one of the hospital’s on-call docs came in to examine me and assess if my water had, indeed, broken. He was very pleasant to the eye, but his bedside manner could use some work. I explained what I’d experienced and, as he’s gathering the materials needed for my internal exam, he says, “well that isn’t very convincing…” Huh?
He does his thing. I am not dilated. Check. He proceeds to the quick pH test and that is inconclusive. He says — my legs still spread, speculum still inside — “oh, well I wasn’t expecting that!” Maybe you should be a little less dismissive then, doc… So irritating.
He then takes a sample (of something?) to run a more definitive test in the lab. Spoiler alert: it comes back negative. My water hasn’t/wasn’t broken/breaking. The dismissive doctor gave me no explanation or information other than to say I peed myself. Cool, thanks, dude… you’ve been super helpful.
The nurse, thankfully, was much more informative. She said that it likely was a small piece of my mucus plug (aren’t pregnancy terms just delightful?), which would account for it both feeling and smelling different than just straight-up urine. She told me that I did the right thing by calling and coming in to be checked out, etc. etc. I liked her very much. Not to mention I was the lucky winner… I was the one person she got to discharge all day.
So, yeah… last week was a bit of a week.
Also, my robe arrived two days later so I’m much less annoyed and more ready now. Ahem.
First, my sincere apologies for the long-delayed update. I can chalk it up to, primarily, two things — 1. Life has gotten a bit hectic and 2. While there have been things I may have wanted to share in the last few months, I think I’ve experienced a bit of the survivors guilt phenomenon. Coming from such a tumultuous place of infertility and failure, a part of me had/has a hard time accepting success and that I’ve had a rather uneventful pregnancy. It can all feel very complicated. Have you been in my shoes and experienced this, too?
I’m now 37 weeks in and officially full-term. I doubt I will ever completely wrap my head around that, given how I got here. But last week was especially crazy in both a hectic and mindf*ck sort of way.
Monday was the first false alarm. It’s first worth noting that I have an anterior placenta, and given that placement, I felt Little Wookiee move much later than expected (as in true movements, not just the “that could be something but…”). I was far into my second trimester before movement became regular and noticeable to me. In the last month or so, though, LW has been particularly active at night, usually around 8pm. At my last OB appointment we’d talked about kick counts and how I didn’t do them, really, because given the placenta placement there were only a handful of times per day that I could feel LW and I didn’t want to freak myself out. Well. Famous last words.
Monday night I settled into bed to read or watch TV for a bit before going to sleep, about 8:15, as is our usual. No doubt that might seem crazy early to most people but I rely on as much routine at home as possible, particularly since third trimester sleep has been spotty at best. Anyway, I expected to be feeling LW punch my bladder within a few minutes. Nope.
By 9:00 or so I’m poking around my belly trying to get a reaction. Nothing. I grab a lollipop. Sugar usually does it. Not this time. Around 10 my husband says, “stay calm, she’s just sleeping. You should try it, too.” Not interested. But he was, so I said sure, you go ahead, and I’ll try. By 10:45 or so I had sort of fallen asleep.
12:30am: My dog wakes me up to take him out. As I’m walking down and then back up our three flights of stairs I’m simultaneously willing LW to wake up and reassuring myself that everything is totally fine and I should just go back to sleep as quickly as possible.
3:00am: I’m wide awake and trying to determine the last time I felt movement. Was it just after dinner? No, that can’t be right… that’s like eight hours? I poke some more. I wait. And wait. I Google, but very carefully. Because there are really terrifying things on the internet at 3am when looking for solutions for “decreased fetal movement 36 weeks.” Bad. Things.
4:00am: The dark thoughts roll in. Dark. All logic is out the window. I want to call the doctor but the idea of confirming the dark thoughts is not something I’m able to fully grasp. I keep poking and waiting and worrying that my healthy Little Wookiee isn’t so anymore.
4:30am: I walk into the nursery, with a death grip on my phone, and make the call to the doctor’s answering service. I explain. I’m told I’ll receive a call back within 30 minutes. I hang up and pace.
4:35am: The on-call midwife calls. I explain. She tells me I did the right thing by calling. Suggests I drink a very large glass of ice water and wait a few minutes. If I still don’t feel 10 kicks in the next 30 minutes it’s time to go into the OBED for a non-stress test. I drink so much water. I wait.
4:45am: I got back upstairs, wake my husband and tell him we need to go to the hospital because I did all the things and nothing. I go back downstairs for more water. Drink. Back upstairs to get dressed.
4:50am: I feel something. And then another something. I tell my husband LW is on the move. There are tears behind my eyes but I can’t cry. Within another few minutes LW gets sassy and gives two very powerful kicks. I count 25 kicks in that 30 minutes since I spoke to the midwife. I’m breathing normally again.
5:00am: I call the midwife again to confirm I don’t need to go into the OBED. Thank her profusely for her patience.
Ice water is my best friend.
Alternately titled: I outgrew my underwear but my maternity jeans don’t stay up
Here’s a statement that surely has never been uttered before: Pregnancy is so weird.
I’ve just passed the 21 week mark, and my body has entered that stage of looking pregnant with the bump shape (I’d consider myself Stage 3.25, according to Pregnant Chicken. Which is just about the realest pregnancy site ever and worth peeing yourself a little bit because it will make you laugh for sure). I’d transitioned to mostly maternity clothes (excluding a few tops from pre-weight loss) mid-week 19, with the hold out being one pair of jeans that still fit. Those no longer do as of last week.
I’ve tried on (at home because I don’t do fitting rooms or even much shopping outside the internet) at least ten pairs of maternity jeans to find one pair that met my criteria: 1. comfortable but structured (jeggings aren’t flattering for a woman of my ample booty and thighs), 2. still in my pre-pregnancy style (I like me a good skinny jean, but I am short and generally unwilling to have things hemmed because I am also lazy) and 3. cost less than my mortgage payment. I tried side panel, demi-panel, full panel… all of ’em. They. Don’t. Stay. Up. I even tried several with the belly band as an added makeshift belt. Nope. I’m apparently too early in the bump stage before my belly actually holds up my jeans, but still big enough that I’ve outgrown my underwear. It is a physically strange place to live in maternity wear.
Yesterday I finally started to feel like this family of three thing could actually stick.
We had our mid-pregnancy ultrasound / anatomy scan and got to see the Little Wookiee in all the glory. A few pregnant or new mom friends had told me about how incredible this ultrasound would be, and I wasn’t disappointed. I didn’t know most of what I was looking at, but seeing sections of LW’s brain, blood flow into the umbilical cord… it is remarkable the detail made possible by technology.
Watching LW flip around, albeit being pretty uncooperative to the tech, I was smitten. Grown from the 5BB embaby into this real thing. Squirming around at pressure of the ultrasound wand.
It was a little mind-blowing, though, to watch the flipping on the screen — and know that movement in happening inside of me — and not be able to feel it yet. I think I’ve felt LW once or twice to date — just a brief twinge like some of the books describe — but nothing more definitive yet. Seeing it happen was pretty crazy.
We got a great report on LW’s growth, thankfully. I’d started to get a little more comfortable, and a little less anxious, when my belly started to pop about a week and a half ago. I was ready to pick out the nursery paint. I was spending more than half my time in maternity clothes. But not knowing what was really happening in there was still intimidating. I felt like I was standing on the line of a safe zone to just peer over it, but I wouldn’t step. It was unknown territory.
My husband and I had a conversation just this past weekend about expanding the bubble of people who know we’re expecting. We haven’t been keeping it quiet necessarily, but we weren’t eagerly awaiting a magic date to post it to Facebook either (I kind of have my own internal issues about why and how people share things on Facebook anyway, not to take away from anyone who does choose to make that sort of announcement. I’m just on the fence about it). When pressed by family about such an announcement I’d said, “just let us get through the anatomy scan first.” To me, it felt like a necessary step. Another box to check. A little bit closer to viability. To becoming a family of three.
My husband saw the scan as a formality. Another box, sure, but another chance to see LW. Because things are okay. Everything is okay now, he’d say.
I didn’t disagree, really. In my gut, anyway. But I needed the reassurance of a doctor saying, “it’s all good.” When I heard that, I mentally checked the box and felt better.
(It’s worth noting here that when the doctor came into the room, he didn’t immediately put me at ease. He opened with “As you know, PGS testing isn’t foolproof…” My eyes widened and panic rose. He’d said several more sentences before he registered my reaction and knew to say, “I really should have led with everything looks great…” Sweet jesus. He was a lovely doctor, though.)
Last night, following the ultrasound, my husband checked with me before expanding the bubble. I said okay. It felt like a big deal for me. I’m getting there. To a see a family of three. Us.
One trimester down. Today I’m 16 weeks and 2 days.
Every passing week the idea of the baby becomes more real. I let go of a little bit more of the anxiety. That feels good. I still — absolutely — get stuck in my head, where it can be a dark place. I’m trying harder to talk through those moments, rather than keeping the fears to myself. In the better moments, I’m relaxing and letting myself feel excited about the life I’m growing.
Little Wookiee’s checkups have all gone well, but not without stress. At my 13 week appointment my midwife wasn’t able to find the heartbeat on the fetal doppler and I spent a few terrifying minutes thinking it was all over. She assured us that at week 13 it can still be difficult to pick up the heartbeat with the fetal doppler. The midwife was so understanding and very quickly found us a room with an ultrasound machine. Within seconds, we thankfully saw Little Wookiee wiggling around. We could breathe again.
Other than a nasty cold, the second trimester so far has been wonderfully uneventful, as advertised. I’m still tired, but overall feeling quite good. So far, I’m a fan.
I graduated from my fertility clinic on July 4. Independence Day. Fitting, right? The greatest nurse on the planet came in on her day off to share the last appointment with us. Although I felt guilty that she took time out of her far-too-few-days-off, I knew that she would, and I was so grateful to be able to look into her eyes as I said my final thank you. (Although it’s hardly a final thank you since I’ve invited her to be in the delivery room with us.)
After what we’ve been through, I don’t think I’ll ever walk into an ultrasound not feeling at least a little nervous. By then we’d already seen and heard Little Wookiee twice, and my nausea, fatigue and sore boobs told me that things were still moving along in there. But I never feel 100% certain. Although they’ve been stitched up and will some day heal enough to scar, the wounds of infertility are still ever-present.
Following the ultrasound, when the wand was put away, my doctor took my hands in his and told us how excited he was for us. He said that while he was writing an email to my OB giving him my background, it stung at how much disappointment we’d seen when boiled down to a few paragraphs.
“You never gave up.”
He was right; I didn’t. I was very close many, many times. But I kept pumping my body full of hormones and wiping away the tears.
But I don’t see this pregnancy, or Little Wookiee, as a reward for not giving up. This isn’t a lesson about going through really hard shit to get what you want. For me — for us — it’s just not that simple. I’m incredibly happy to be pregnant, of course, but it doesn’t negate what’s happened to bring us here.
We’ve graduated but have a long way to go.
On Friday, for the first time in the last five and a half harrowing years of infertility, I saw and heard the beating heart of my growing child. No matter the outcome of the next 33 weeks, that swish and flicker is cemented on my own heart.
The whole of last week my brain felt like it was on fire. As much as I was genuinely trying to visualize the outcome I want to see, I couldn’t push away the intense anxiety leading up to the first ultrasound. I’m not being dramatic in saying that it was one of the worst weeks of my life. Every tiny pinch or twinge or pseudo-pain my brain told me, this is it, you’re miscarrying. This is happening again. There’s, unfortunately, nowhere to hide from the negative thoughts in your own brain.
I don’t want this post to be overrun with my anxiety, but I write this to say to anyone else out there in a similar position: I hear you. It is so terrifying to wait while you feel like your mind in running full speed toward a cliff.
On the drive to the clinic, I was, as always, looking for signs, wearing my magic bracelet. Anything to help prepare me for what was to come. The previous night I’d had only bad dreams. I’d texted my best friend that I was sure it was my subconscious telling me it wasn’t going to be okay. She replied, “NOT THIS TIME.” I wanted to believe her. Then, on the radio in the car played the song that I walked down the aisle to at my wedding. It was the first time in at least a week I felt like there wasn’t a boulder resting on my chest.
Fast forward to the exam room. My husband and I didn’t really look at each other while we waited. I don’t think we could. I closed my eyes and silently asked all of the people in my life that I’ve loved who are now gone for this to be okay. Please, let this be okay.
When my doctor and the greatest nurse on the planet entered, the tension was palpable. My doctor asked how I was feeling and I eeked out something to the effect of, “I’m really scared.” He nodded, in his warm way, and said, “I’m terrified.” That actually gave me a lot of comfort. He’s so invested in our outcome.
It didn’t take very long after he’d started the ultrasound for me to see the flicker. I said, quietly, “… is that…?” And he nodded with a huge smile. Then all the tears. I reached for my husband’s hand. I looked at him, and he started to cry, too.
Again, I’ll pause my touching story (ahem) to say here that infertility is incredibly hard on relationships. All relationships, but particularly marriages (or partnerships). Sometimes you feel miles apart in the same room. This moment, watching my Alpha Male ex-cop shows no emotion husband cry at the sight of the ultrasound screen allowed me to reconnect with him, and our passion to have a child. I’m so grateful we could share this.
By this time the greatest nurse on the planet was also openly crying. My doc definitely had tears in his eyes, too. Then he turned on the sound and the swishing of the heartbeat brought on another wave of tears.
5BB is doing great right now. Heartbeat very strong at 123bpm. Measuring (then) at 6 weeks, 4 days, just one day behind my transfer timeline. All signs are positive. My husband has nicknamed the embaby Little Wookiee.