July 21, 2007

Pregnant Infertile at Half Past

You know, sometimes I feel like I don't have much blogger street cred. I started my blog in February, and found out I was pregnant in March. I've now been a pregnant blogger for about five months, after just six weeks of blogging before that. It's amazing to me thinking back, because that first six weeks seemed to stretch on so much longer. The last five months have seriously flown by.

It's also very bizarre because of course I've been dealing with infertility for five years now, and compared to that this pregnancy feels like one amazingly lucky sliver of time in what still seems like an endless enternity of disappointment. The earliest years, around 2002 through 2005 were the hardest, when we were coming to terms with the fact that it wasn't going to happen the old fashioned way and still battling with hope and loss every month. I wish I had known about the blogosphere back then. I was so alone in dealing with it all. As we've all experienced, often the people closest to me who I tried to confide in were the ones who said the most (unintentionally) harmful things. My husband didn't understand. He tried, but most of you have had the same experience with boys just not processing things, especially in the beginning, in the same way. For years he maintained that it would just take time, and there was no one who seemed to understand the crushing loss I was dealing with.

By early 2007 though, we had thoroughly covered the five stages of grief that the loss of our fertility subjected us to, and arrived at the same point, both of us ready to try IVF. I had pretty much given up hoping anymore; it was just too hard. I blogged about how strange it felt to hand over the big IVF check for something that I didn't really believe in, because of course we would never just give away that kind of cash if we really thought we had no chance, but at the same time I simply could not imagine it working. Scarred Bellybutton recently blogged about the difficulty she had following her accupuncturist's instruction to visualize herself pregnant (she's starting IVF #1, go give her some love). She has the same defense mechanism many of us do. She's shut down that ability in order to protect herself.

Mine hasn't really come back on yet. At first I struggled with believing I was pregnant. I was certain everyone could clearly see that I was a fraud who did not belong sitting there in the waiting room of the perinatal doc, or shopping in maternity stores. Now that I'm definitely filling out the maternity mediums and the larges are starting to look more comfy, I feel a bit more entitled to be there. Now it's the baby stores, trying to navigate the stroller quagmire. Other pregnant women give me knowing looks and I can tell they think I'm part of their club but I'm not. I'm not all happy and excited and smiley and optimistic. I feel grateful and appreciative and lucky, but also guarded and wary. They shop for baby products with loving visions of their future children snuggled down in the various gear, and I sometimes wonder what I'm going to do with this stuff because I certainly can't envision a baby at the end of this story, despite the fact that I now feel something wiggling around in there every day.

I know a lot of other pregnant infertiles feel this too. Obviously what it took to get here has taken its toll on us, but also we just know too much. We see so much loss. We have studied all the things that can go wrong. As Kate said recently, any pregnant woman has fears and doubts and moments of disbelief, but it's different for an infertile. We still wear some of our protective armour. I still remember that for our particular situation, the IVF pregnancy rate was 15%, but the live birth rate was just 7%. Half didn't make it. At this point, there's every reason to believe we will and I no longer walk around in terror, but I'm wary.

So now I'm back to being in a weird place no seems to understand. Real life people are happy for me, but they want me to be smiley and happy and excited too. Usually the best I can manage is "So far, so good!" with a genuine smile, because that's what I'm comfortable smiling about. They roll their eyes a bit, understandably, or get all uncomfortable until I say something perky like "We painted the nursery!" Kind of like the dumb things I used to say to make people feel more comfortable if our childlessness came up and was met with a silent chill. Even some infertiles have suggested that perhaps I should just move on. Maybe I should. Maybe I shouldn't have been so quick to embrace the loss of hope that made it all so much more bearable and now makes it so unbelievable. But it was just what I needed to do to get through it.

And I'm still going through the process, just at a different point. Every week further along gets me closer to this actually being real. I do try to savor each new milestone becase it is going by so fast, but I'm also always looking forward to the next thing: When my husband can feel the kicks from the outside, then it will be real because I'll know I'm not imainging it, right? In same way I was always able to hold out much more hope for every other bloggers' cycle (sending hope your way, Sticky Bun), I am able to get much more excited about others' pregnancies (congratulations Adrienne!). I still feel much more at home with the bloggers than I do with that other club.

July 20, 2007

Fluff

I have all these thinky thoughts rolling around in my head but with everything that's been happening in the blogs lately I just don't feel I can do the big stuff justice right now. So here's a fluff post for a Friday afternoon...

The good pregnancy book (pictured) says things like "It's hard not to get big all over when you're growing another person. Try not to obsess if your butt gets big. What goes up will come down (in time)." Even if they're lying to me I'm fine with it.

The bad pregnancy book says things like: "Pregnant women should consume more phytochemicals by eating more fruit, doubling the normal serving of vegetables, and eating absurd quanitites of radishes, cucumbers, endive, cabbage, and onions. Otherwise you are a horrible parent already." Okay that last part is only implied, but still.

A quick update on Jack: we're still not sure what's going on with the systematic dying-off of his intestines and are still awaiting test results, but he is home with us and recovering well from the surgery. Thanks for all the thoughts and well-wishes.

I'm hoping for good news from all of you in the 2ww or dealing with scary uncertainties. I'm hoping for peace and comfort to all those who have been dealt a horribly unfair hand. My thoughts are with you all.

July 14, 2007

My dog could be on House

So I've mentioned Jack is in the hospital. This is day 6 of his stay. They're still trying to figure out what's going on. You may be getting tired of hearing about this, but I'm just finding it kind of facinating.

First let me tell you this is not your usual vet. We got referred to a special vet hospital; I never even knew places like this existed. In the lobby(!) there's a board listing all the departments and specialists: Oncology - Drs. such-and-such and such-and-such. Radiology: Drs. so-on and so-on. It goes on like this for the better part of a wall, like those boards in medical center buildings. There must be a couple hundred people working there including all the techs and other staff. There are often 20 or more people in the waiting room; many waiting to get their pets into triage(!) so they can be admitted, others just visiting, like us.

Jack has a team of five doctors trying to figure out what his problem is. They called us yesterday after rounds(!). They gathered at his crate and discussed his symptoms and postulated theories. Because this is a teaching hospital(!), with a strong intern program(!), they are very excited to have a patient like Jack. They get to look into all sorts of weird and rare conditions that the interns aren't likely to see again in their training. One of the doctors on Jack's team did her internship on a fungal infection affecting the digestive tract and suspects this may be the cause. This would be fantastic news because it could be treated easily with a one-shot cure.

Other possibilities are inflamatory bowel disease, which could be either of a type treated primarily by a change in diet and a Pepcid a day for life, or of another type treated by a course of steroids for life. Either way, we're excited these possibilities include a "for the rest of his life" mention. A less likely cause is parasitic. When he was rescued almost four years ago we were told he was "full of worms." Of course he went through all the usual deworming before we adopted him and routinely since so this doesn't seem as likely, but it would be another easily resolved scenario. A dark horse possibility is Cancer, either lymphoma or carcinoma (will be goggling the difference), but since previous biopsies have found no evidence this is less likely.

The main thing is we're excited to have all these people looking into every possible cause so we can get him well and not have to do this again in another six months this time. We're pretty hopeful that the veterinary version of the Dr. House team will figure something out. In the meantime, he's still there because he still needs to be on an IV, but we're hoping to bring him home tonight or tomorrow. We'll probably still be waiting for answers into next week, but it will be so great to have him home. Thanks for all the well-wishes.

July 12, 2007

Nature in Balance?

Never underestimate the power of maternal instincts. USA Today is reporting this story of a dog who had such an intense hormonal reaction to an orphaned kitten in her home that she began producing milk and is nursing the kitten.

We infertiles are so accustomed to nature failing us in this department. It's nice to hear a story of the amazing power of those mysterious instincts when they actually work wonders. Cheers to everyone fighting so hard against infertility to fulfill those instincts. Have a great weekend!

Surprises and Well Wishes

Two friends had babies in the past week. My friend Holly delivered a gorgeous little boy on Friday. She was induced three days after her due date although to her I know it felt like YEARS since the doctor had been telling her for weeks it would probably be early. Now that's just mean. She looks amazing though!

The other was my husband's cousin, who delivered on Sunday. They were expecting a girl but got a surprise! I ran out and did way too much emergency boy shopping and can't wait to give them the outfits. Because they live in a small apartment in the city without a separate nursery, they probably don't really have TONS of inappropriately frilly pink things to return, so I don't think they'll be too bad off. Their main problem was coming up with a boy's name, which they'd tried to do all along as a back-up just in case, but never quite settled on.

In less happy but not entirely surprising hospital-related news, Jack ended up needing surgery a few days ago. Just like in February, they removed a section of necrotic (dead or dying off) tissue from his intestines and resectioned together the healthy parts. He's recovering well from the surgery but we still don't know the cause. The first time it could have just been a freak thing since nothing was found when the tissue was biopsied, but this reccurance points to either some sort of progressive disease like cancer, or perhaps some kind of treatable digestive condition. Of course we're hoping for the latter, but I guess we won't know for a few days. We're hoping to bring him home tonight but not sure yet. It's awfully quiet around here, and just not the same without his greetings at the door. There's nothing like the way your dog loves you. He's only five, and I'm hoping we get many more years of it.

July 9, 2007

Halfway

Yikes, I'm in trouble! I haven't been checking in for about a week and I have so many blogs to catch up on it's going to take me forever to get to them all. I'm looking forward to catching up with you all as soon as I can.

Last week my 5-year old neice came from Boston to stay with us. We had such a great time doing loads of fun stuff: minor league baseball game, the zoo, huge fourth of July family picnic, hanging at the pool, playdates, favorite restuarants, getting ice cream. It was a busy week and it sure feels quiet around here now. Not only is she back at home, but Jack (the dog) is back in the vet hospital, hopefully not for a repeat of his surgery in February, but it's looking kind of that way. Poor puppy!

Saturday was my halfway point, 20 weeks. I spent it riding the train with my neice to NYC where we met her mom, did some fun stuff around town, and then they drove off to Boston and I hopped the train back to DC. It was kind of a challenging day physically, and I can say for certain at halfway through, I sure do feel pregnant.