Skunks and headaches

Many apologies for the radio silence, gang… do you bloggers ever get into this weird mode where you feel the need to ignore the Interwebs for a while, until you reach the next “thing” (CD1, NT scan, WTF appt, etc.)? I kind of get like that sometimes, including in pregnancy, so while on the one hand I’m thrilled to be 14 weeks, on the other, I’m desperate to hit the next mark, 16 weeks, when we get results on bloodwork. So I’ve kind of ignored this space. On top of this, there’s been a wave of bad news recently… it felt for a while like there was suddenly BFP after BFP, but just as quickly I started to read of failed IVFs and miscarriages amongst some of my favourite bloggers and it was so upsetting. I can’t stop thinking about all these women going through a stage of infertility that I never had to deal with, and feeling like there’s nothing I can say to help them. Shoot, and isn’t it NIAW this week? Way to drop the ball, Me.

Anyway, I’ve also been sick (great excuse, totally using that) and busy (even better — not unoriginal in the least). We’ve decided to renovate our bathroom, which is all happening in June but requires immediate purchasing of tub, shower fixtures, floor tiles, etc. I will show you guys the before and after shots because I promise you they will be AMAZING and totes worthy of an HGTV special. Also, my cat Weeps got sprayed right in the face by a skunk recently, so much of my free time has been spent attacking her with watered-down ketchup (organic!), soapy de-skunking solution, and baking soda. Has it worked? Erm, not so much, but at least her eyes are looking better:

Skunky

Look at that face! So smooshable!

In pregnancy-related updates, there ain’t much to report, other than the fact that I endured my first headache sans Advil. I actually cannot remember the last time I didn’t pop an ibuprofen when my head was pounding, so this was a bit scary. I wasn’t sure just how bad it would get, how far it would progress. I’ve never had migraines, but my eyeballs were really aching this time and I couldn’t really eat anything without feeling sick. I knew I could probably run out and buy some Tylenol, which is safe to take while preggo, but it’s never really worked for me before. Instead, I took my beloved grain-filled Sac Magique:

magique

I warmed it up to super-duper hot, wrapped it around the back of my head, chugged some tea, lay in bed with all the lights off and slept for 12 hours. Success! Although to be honest, I’ll probably try some Tylenol next time anyway.

In the mean time, I’m feeling and looking the exact same — ie. no symptoms, not showing. This makes it all the more bizarre when I’m, say, asking a masseuse not to push on my belly “because I’m pregnant” (he was looking at me like, “She’s probably lying to cover up a weird psychological issue with people touching her stomach”), or accepting congratulations and answering questions about my pregnancy from acquaintances who’ve just found out or even strangers at a party who overheard me say something. I just get this sense that people automatically look at my belly and think, “Um, where is it?” I also find it strange to gush about my pregnancy in a group setting with other women in their 30s — I automatically start doing mental calculations to figure out the chances at least one of them is going through or has endured infertility, and usually try to change the subject after five minutes. Recently, this happened at book club, where I was getting excitedly questioned by a couple of women, but the whole time I just kept thinking about the one friend at the table who was living child-free (by choice), the other who was in her late 30s and also living child-free (less by choice), and another who had gotten pregnant at the exact same time as me and then found out she lost the baby at 8 weeks. I don’t know if this is an infertility-survivor thing, per se, but I will always be very conscious, when conversation turns to babies, that not everyone wants to talk about this for hours on end. And frankly, that includes me (seriously, I don’t need sleep-training advice just yet, but thanks!).

So — any ideas for how to smoothly segue from pregnancy talk to, say, anything else? Like, “Oh, speaking of diaper brands, I was just going to ask you about… loss of bladder control in adulthood?” Surely you guys can come up with something better than this!

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To OB or not to OB?

(Trailer for BBC show Call The Midwife, which I totally want to see, even though we aren’t using one. Any of my British readers seen this yet?)

I’m not sure how it goes in other places around the world, but here in Ontario, the moment you get pregnant you have to decide whether you want an OB or a midwife to deliver your baby. Thanks to our public healthcare system, both of these options are 100% free, but you can’t have both. I must say, I’ve generally heard that having a midwife makes the entire experience much more enjoyable. You get a lot more attention, they’ll come to your house and take time to explain things to you, and there’s much more offered in the way of post-partum care, like help with breastfeeding. Having said this, all the doctors I know who’ve had babies have opted for an OB. Maybe this is because they don’t need all that extra hand-holding, or perhaps it’s because they know something I don’t about the treatment you receive in hospital when you’re registered with an OB rather than a midwife. I’m not totally sure, but ultimately, hubs and I decided to go with an OB.

Why? Well, a few reasons:

1. We both come from families of doctors, who all advocate this choice; also, we can always turn to our parents/siblings if we need medical advice at 11 p.m. on a Sunday, so the “availability” factor isn’t really an issue.

2. I don’t think doing infertility treatments necessarily means your pregnancy is “high risk” but I have high blood pressure and I’m worried it will come into play later on. I want an OB to take responsibility for identifying and treating pre-eclampsia, not a midwife.

3. Thanks to a few good connections, we managed to get paired up with the head of obstetrics at the best hospital in Toronto, a 10-minute drive away. He gets rave reviews. We are not about to turn this opportunity down.

Having said all this, I might very well switch to a midwife if/when we end up getting pregnant for a second time. So far, our experience in the “traditional” system has been a bit confusing — there is no one to really guide us through everything, nobody telling us what information we need to bring in order to get ultrasounds done, nobody informing us which part of which building we should be going to afterwards to make an appointment with the OB, no explanation of how these pee sticks work and what bloodwork should or shouldn’t be done. It’s all on us to keep asking questions and demanding to be seen by someone, which is a bit frustrating. But at least we’re type A and can deal with it.

I also think it’s interesting how worked up people will get talking about care providers. The debate somehow gets watered down into polarized sides — you’re either in the “natural” camp or the “medicalized” one, which drives me crazy. Newsflash: Just because you choose to go with an OB, doesn’t mean you sign on to induced labour and epidurals and all these other drugs. You can still voice your opinion on what you do and do not want, and you can be in and out of that hospital in under 24 hours if you play it right. I don’t buy into theories that doctors are out to make money on their patients (certainly not in this country) or would put their own interests above that of a mother and baby in labour.

Anyway, that’s our plan… and our reasoning. I think if we really want to indulge, we may look into hiring a post-partum doula to help with the craziness of having a newborn, but that’s still under consideration. So tell me: Who did you choose — or who would you choose — for your care provider, and why? And do you pay any attention to friends or family members who don’t agree with your decision?

NT scan

Remember how, for my 8-week scan, I was feeling pretty optimistic going into it because I woke up and it was sunny outside? Well, today, we had a freak spring-time storm in which the sky began raining ice shards (even the Weather app on my iPhone showed little triangles falling from a cloud, so as to denote the shard-like nature of these stupid things). So yeah — because I always look for signs from a God I don’t really believe in, I started to panic. I kept taking deep breaths and repeating my mantra, “Don’t borrow problems from the future”, except then my stupid brain would retort, “BUT THE FUTURE IS NOW!”

Anyway, we get in the car, drive through the shards, and arrive at the waiting room of our new “regular person” clinic. You’d think I’d be excited to be free of the infertility waiting room, but hells to the no, my friends — I would much rather be surrounded by pleasing colour schemes, a plasma TV and flat-bellied people who are all in a similar state of nervousness than fluorescent lights and a million women with basketball bellies wearing yoga pants. Seriously, I was THE ONLY chick in there wearing skinny jeans and this made me all the more paranoid that nothing, in fact, was growing inside me. Deep breaths.

Finally we were called in. So this is how it works, at our particular clinic: I lie on a bed, next to the ultrasound tech, meaning I can’t see the screen. However, my husband sits on a chair at the foot of the bed and he CAN see the screen. At this point, I was cursing myself for not giving my hubs a more thorough rundown of what, precisely, he needs to be looking for. I was trying to stare at him in a way that telepathically communicated “LOOK FOR THE FLASHING THING IN THE CHEST AND THEN LOOK AT THE FLUID BEHIND THE NECK AND TELL ME EVERYTHING YOU SEE IMMEDIATELY!”

Fortunately, I married a superstar who once wrote an academic paper on empathy, so he not only knew what to look for but managed to tell me everything with a combination of sign language, lip-reading and, of course, moments of sudden jaw-drops and huge smiles. It was pretty adorable when he tried to mimic “kicking” with his hands.

Oh, another weird thing: The ultrasound gel is warmed up before it gets squirted onto your stomach. This actually kind of creeped me out because it felt a little… erm… like another substance, if you get my x-rated drift. I’d rather deal with momentary cold, thanks.

The tech performing the NT scan was nice but didn’t really say much. I am assuming everything is OK because she didn’t “go get the doctor” and she printed out photos for us, but what worries me slightly is that she wasn’t able to get a very accurate measurement of the nuchal fluid because Right On Time Fetus decided it wanted to take a nap, and no amount of prodding, jiggling, coughing, laughing or shaking would make it roll over. We knew it was alive and well because the heart rate was 157 and it was kicking, but apparently 1 p.m. is nap time, and there is no arguing about this. I am trying REALLY hard not to bring up the “lazy” moniker again, I swear.

We also did some bloodwork, which along with whatever measurements she was able to get, should give us results in a week’s time as to whether we have anything to worry about in terms of abnormalities. That is also when I’ll be meeting our OB for the first time. And yes, we decided to go with an OB rather than a midwife (both are covered here in Ontario, but you have to choose one or the other) — that’s a whole other post.

Without further ado, then, here’s the photo of ROTF, measuring 12 weeks 4 days:

NTscanCrop

Predictions as to whether it’s a boy or girl? I’m still thinking boy. Also, does anything here look weird to any of you?? The dots by its mouth are its fingers, which explains that, but I’m not really an expert on analyzing ultrasound photos.

Good luck charm

On a completely unrelated note: Can I just say a big WTF to all the news about Halle Berry expecting her second child — her PR rep actually said, “This happened naturally — everyone is really happy.” And then, it comes out that she is “three months along” and “having a boy.” Um, EXCUSE ME?! She is 46!! This did SO NOT happen naturally, especially not if she already knows the gender. Ugh — we need more celebrities to be open about their methods of conception and not perpetuate this idea that you can naturally get knocked up at 46 for gawdsakes. OK, rant over.

My actual post for today, which is far nicer:

A little while back, one of my close friends — who was updated on our fertility struggles very early on — sent me this list of 18 words and terms that should never have become obsolete. One of them was a 1950s folk saying from the Ozarks; apparently, these crazy kids used to refer to the state of being pregnant as being “with squirrel”. On the one hand, it’s kind of adorable; on the other, it’s pretty creepy (as the Ozarks generally are). I joked to her at the time that, if I ever got up the nerve to make a Facebook pregnancy announcement, I’d deliberately confuse everyone by declaring myself “with squirrel”.

Recently, this same friend knew that I was getting increasingly worked up about our 12-week ultrasound, so she came by yesterday with a little token to keep my spirits up… kind of a good luck charm, almost. Check it out:

necklace

How sweet is this little guy? He came all the way from Scandinavia (which isn’t the most fertile region, but whatevs). Normally I don’t believe in the power of inanimate objects to help determine fate, but in the same way I used to bang my head against my textbooks in university, hoping the information would somehow seep into my brain, I’m keeping Mr. Squirrel close to my chest in hopes that he’ll ensure there’s a live, healthy “squirrel” inside me on Thursday. THREE MORE DAYS!

Reportedly, supposedly, allegedly 11 weeks

So technically, it seems that I might be 11 weeks pregnant. There is now just one week to go until our 12-week NT scan and while I’ve had a pretty decent run at being nonchalant this past little while, I am now really starting to freak out that something is wrong and I don’t yet know it. Like, seriously, at this point in the game, I should be feeling SOMETHING, right? Tightness in my uterus? A rounder belly? (Well, maybe not because I’m 5’11”.) Trouble sleeping? Constipation? Honestly, I would take ANYTHING just to reassure me that Right On Time Fetus hasn’t lost his heartbeat or stopped growing.

To distract myself, I bought a pregnancy book. Figured that would be a really awesome way to not think about this pregnancy too much. Anyway, it is my first baby-related purchase, and I’m starting to think publishers should make shorter, cheaper books that are strictly for women who’ve become pregnant after infertility and therefore already know how reproductive systems work and in fact have already gone through most of the first trimester because they were too terrified to jinx the pregnancy by purchasing a stupid book about it. THAT, I would buy. Instead, however, I opted to go with this one:

book

I very purposely did NOT give my hard-earned dollars to the already far-too-wealthy author who is bent on terrifying pregnant women everywhere with her book What To Expect When You’re Expecting. I really don’t need any extra fear in my life right now, thank you. Plus, this Mother of All Pregnancy Books got better reviews on Amazon, and it’s Canadian, so the references and resources actually make sense (because I really don’t need to learn about complicated insurance policies, thanks!).

Also, look how friendly this Ann Douglas lady looks!

douglas

Compare that to Heidi Murkoff, who has clearly had a little too much work done, which makes her totes untrustworthy in my opinion:

murkoff

Aaaaaanyway, so I’m now on page 259 because, like I said, the entire first part of the book was talking about, like, charting your temperature, which I am just laughably beyond at this point. So far, I’m enjoying the read overall, but I can’t say I’m really learning very much. Yeah yeah, no raw dairy or fish; yeah yeah, don’t smoke or drink; yeah yeah, these are the symptoms you may be feeling right now. If anything, I’m just feeling more anxious that I’m experiencing NONE of those symptoms. Part of me just wants to leap ahead to the What To Do If A Test Brings Bad News chapter or the When A Baby Dies chapter because that’s more where my mind is at. But I know that’s not going to ease my stress levels.

Have any of you guys read preggo books you’ve actually liked, and felt were worthwhile reading? I am still feeling horribly nervous about spending too much time “preparing” at this point, but I can appreciate good advice!

Yeah we’re 10 weeks along and so far no symptoms and can we talk about something else?

kick

As I’m sure all of you remember, there was a big hullaballoo in the ALI blogging community a little while back — I wasn’t too involved in it, but I know it involved some harsh words exchanged between infertiles who were still in the trenches and a handful of infertiles who had finally, after YEARS of trying, become pregnant. As it happened, these three were also the hosts of a podcast about infertility, so some people felt this was hypocritical and they should be replaced. I’m not going rehash the whole thing because in my opinion it was pretty ludicrous — the whole point of going through infertility treatments is to get knocked up, so it shouldn’t be a surprise when this actually happens, nor should it suddenly discredit all the pain and struggle a woman has previously endured, pain that often includes not just repeated BFNs but horrible shit like late-term baby loss.

ANYWAY, it was a stark reminder of the weirder aspects of this world, specifically how the way in which an infertile behaves (or blogs) once she becomes pregnant is suddenly put under intense scrutiny — is she going to “forget” all that she went through and indulge in bumpdates and annoying pregnancy memes that compare her baby to fruit? Or is she going to “take the higher road” and constantly edit herself to make sure she isn’t offending anyone with too much baby stuff, and put warnings before any photos of pregnant bellies or ultrasound pics? Or is she going to close up her blog altogether and maybe restart another blog that is more geared toward the PAIL (pregnancy after infertility and loss) segment of the Interwebs? Whatever she chooses, there is much judgement.

What I’m realizing now, however, is that whatever a blogger chooses to do, it’s less of a reflection of how deeply she’s been affected by infertility and more a reflection of… well, just her. Period. Someone like Mo, for instance (I’m not going to link to her current blog because she’s asked not to be dragged back into the ALI scene) is the type of girl who is sarcastic and unabashedly critical but also self-deprecating — so, obviously, she’s not the type to get all gushy and dorky about pregnancy. Then you have someone warm and positive like Lisa, who made a very eloquent case for why she chooses to compare her baby to fruit and go into detail about her symptoms, baby shower decorations, weight gain, etc. Both these ladies have been through INTENSE struggles, both will NEVER forget their infertility pain, and yet, because they’re different girls with different personalities, they’re going to have different blogs, and I am all for that.

To bring this back to me (because I MATTER THE MOST), I was basically as curious as anyone else about how I would end up changing — or not changing — after I got that BFP. And I’m referring both to blogging and how I act in real life. Part of me thought, “OK, if you really get excited about the fruit thing, don’t hold back, just write about it and who cares if you lose readers.” I also told myself, “Don’t apologize for blabbering on at length to your friends and family about this baby because you’ve spent two years trying to reach this point and you deserve to indulge in conversations about due dates and cravings.”

But 10 weeks in, I’ve realized that I get very sick of talking about my pregnancy after about five minutes. This is because I get sick of talking about myself — in any manner — after about five minutes. As I was explaining to a friend the other day, I’m starting to have deja vu back to when I was engaged and the only thing people would ever ask me about was how the wedding preparations were going. I was happy to give a few updates, share a few anecdotes, but after a while I wanted to holler, “THERE IS MORE TO MY LIFE THAN THE FACT I’M GETTING HITCHED!” Now, I’m realizing that despite my struggles with infertility and how crazy-elated I am to finally be pregnant, this will not alter a fundamental part of my personality that has little patience for talking at length about one very specific part of myself or my life (in this case, the contents of my uterus). On a sidenote, I believe this is mostly due to having British parents — the approach to child-rearing in the UK is largely centered around making sure you never feel too good about yourself.

I haven’t really succeeded in making a coherent point here, but I guess I’m trying to say that: 1. We should all be accepting of how other bloggers decide to write about their pregnancies after infertility, because, 2. This probably has less to do with how infertility has affected them than simply how they approach life in general. So all the more reason to NOT criticize, but rather let everyone be preggo in whatever way they want to be. Fruit or no fruit. Self-awareness or self-indulgence. Just do what feels right.

Gotta not have KD, if I can help it

oldKD

*Love this old packaging. “The special macaroni and the grated cheese”

A little note: This post is on a topic related to pregnancy; obviously I will continue to write about such things, but please know that my brain and soul are still very much affected by infertility, and there will plenty of other posts to come that reflect this. At the very least, you can rest assured that I won’t be indulging in any annoying pregnancy memes.

I kind of only half-believe in pregnancy cravings. On the one hand, I have a friend who was lactose intolerant and when she got pregnant, she had these intense cravings for cheese — and weirdly, the intolerance suddenly disappeared and she was able to eat dairy again. That seemed legit, for some reason. On the other hand, I see women going mental for pickles and ice cream during their pregnancies, blaming it on the fetus, and I think, “Girl, that is just the same old YOU wanting those things and giving yourself an excuse to actually have them now that you’re knocked up.”

As y’all know, I’ve had zero symptoms throughout this pregnancy, starting from the moment Right On Time Blastocyst was transferred into my ute up until today, when I’m nearing the 10-week mark (we think, we hope, knock on wood, please please please please), and that includes cravings. OK fine, I recently purchased an enormous bag of sour keys, but that’s a one-off thing. Anyway, the closest I’ve come to cravings is with two particular items: Kraft Dinner, and a McDonald’s cheeseburger.

Normally, I could care less about processed cheese. It’s vile, and basically made of plastic and MSG. But a few weeks ago, someone brought a bunch of McDonald’s cheeseburgers to a dinner party (sort of as a joke, but not really) and I decided to eat half of one, just for nostalgia’s sake. My husband glared at me, as if I was effectively poisoning our unborn child and guaranteeing some sort of birth defect or behavioural disorder. I didn’t care, though — it tasted SO effing amazing. It took all of my will power not to go in for a second helping. And now, I probably think about McDonald’s cheeseburgers once every day.

Then, the KD (known in the U.S. as Kraft Macaroni and Cheese) — like most Canadians, this was one of the first “meals” I learned how to cook, and it got me through my university years. Everyone has different (and very strong) opinions on how, exactly, it should be prepared and consumed, and my personal stance is that you need to use half of the pasta in the box but ALL of the cheese. Or rather, “cheese”. By doing so, it’s basically like eating a bowl of hot, gooey Cheetos (win!). Always use both milk AND butter to melt it. And then eat half of it just as it is, then the other half slathered in ketchup. Most importantly, never substitute with white cheddar KD, microwaveable KD or imitation KD.

Anyway, once again, this admittedly disgusting product hadn’t entered my mind for years, but then I started reading all these articles about Michael Moss’s new book, Salt Sugar Fat. He explains how companies like Kraft created processed foods decades ago with semi-decent intentions — usually to cut costs or help women prepare their meals faster, to free up more time for other pursuits (like, you know, careers). But using cheaper ingredients meant the stuff would taste gross unless they added tons of extra salt, sugar or fat. It got out of control, and now North Americans are so addicted to these specific flavours that any attempt to lessen the amount of crap in a product almost always fails.

You’d think I would read about all this and say to myself, “I’m so glad we don’t eat any processed foods now — thank god I gave up on KD years ago!” But instead, all I can think is, “Mmmmm…. Kraft Dinner…..” And, like, I think this thought ALL THE TIME.

Are these two horrible items, of all things, really going to turn into legitimate pregnancy cravings?! You would think that, as someone who consumed two glasses of wine each night with dinner, I might be missing alcohol. Or craving something more mainstream, like chocolate. Nope. It seems the girl who can usually be found baking kale chips or making quinoa salads is no longer. I’m too busy battling with my inner Honey Boo Boo. Or at least my inner 19-year-old. ANYONE HAVE ADVICE? PLEASE?

Footnote: I’m currently searching for someone to make a special pilgrimage with me to Illinois, to witness this holiest of holy structures. Please let me know if you’re that someone.