Friday, March 29, 2013

Friday follow-up

Thank you to all of you who took the time to comment on my last post and to send me emails.  Your support and understanding really mean a lot to me.

I was a little hesitant to share my feelings here because I realize there are likely some of you reading who would love to find yourselves unexpectedly pregnant, either with a first child or another child, and I know that, for someone in that place, a post like the one I shared yesterday would probably be difficult to read.  I do apologize to anyone who fits that description who may have been offended.

I woke up this morning with some mild nausea and smell aversion.  Probably a reassuring sign in relation to increasing hormone levels but also an unpleasant harbinger of what's to come.

Thus far, I have had no other symptoms indicating that I am either pregnant or miscarrying.  I have been tired, but I am often tired.  I've had no spotting, no cramps, nothing noteworthy.  Even with the minor symptoms this morning, if I didn't know I was pregnant, I probably would have assumed that I'd eaten something yesterday that disagreed with me or that I was getting a migraine (mine are often, though not always, accompanied by nausea).

We shall see what will happen.  I am doing my best not to think too much about what is going on in my uterus, and truth be told, as busy as I am these days, it's pretty easy to forgot about.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

It's complicated


I went to the OB's office this morning and saw two of the nurse practitioners.  They did an ultrasound and confirmed that there is a single yolk sac in my uterus.  Which is good for two reasons: one, I'm not having an ectopic pregnancy, and two, there is only ONE yolk sac = one embryo.

After years of infertility, it would never have occurred to me that seeing a second line on a HPT would ever induce any feelings in me but happiness and excitement.  Those feelings aren't what I've been experiencing over the past 24 hours, though.  My feelings have been quite a bit more complicated.

My first, and still my chief, feeling has been surprise/disbelief.  I have long thought that the odds of our ever conceiving naturally were extremely low and getting lower every month.  I mean, why else would we have used fertility treatment, donor eggs in fact, to achieve pregnancy?

A quick internet search will tell you that the "average" 42-year-old woman has about a 3% chance of conception each month. . . and even that chance would be premised on the notion that she actually had sex during the "fertile window" of her cycle.  The NP at my OB's office confirmed that the odds of conception for a woman my age are 2-3% and agreed with me that those odds are likely even lower for someone like me with a history of three years of unsuccessful TTC.

Since our sons were born, MM and I have been lucky if we have s.e.x once a month some months.  Two or three times in a month would be a banner month for us.  What are the odds that one of these rare episodes that always occur on weekends (which is the only time we have both the time and energy) would fall on a fertile day?

Frankly, I'm also a little annoyed.  I mean, MM and I resorted to EXTREME measures to become parents.  We spent over $30K over three years before finally having AJ and MJ via donor egg IVF.  If we had had even an INKLING that there was even a HOPE of ever achieving pregnancy on our own, would we have gone to the lengths we did?  Maybe we just needed to keeping TTC for five years instead of three?

Of course, we did not have a crystal ball and had no way of knowing that sometime down the road something like this could happen.  Now that we have AJ and MJ, of course we cannot ever regret the measures that brought them into our lives, whatever the cost.  We love our boys for the unique people they are. . . people they wouldn't be if they had been conceived in some other fashion.

I also feel embarrassed.  In my mind, unplanned pregnancy is generally something that happens to women who are immature and irresponsible (apologies to my readers who have had an unplanned pregnancy).  Neither MM nor I is either immature or irresponsible.  We simply felt that, if the odds of a pregnancy happening through intercourse were probably 2% or less, that meant that there was a 98+% chance that it wouldn't happen.  I think (thought) those were good odds. . . more effective than most forms of birth control claim.

Since my sons were born, I have told everyone who has ever asked whether we would ever have another child that I would never, ever go through another pregnancy.  I meant that.  The thought of enduring another pregnancy fills me with dread and, honestly, fear.

I have some very real concerns, both about my own health and about the health of the potential future baby.  My previous pregnancy was far from uncomplicated.  In addition to the "inconveniences" of extreme fatigue, all-day nausea for the first two trimesters, constant heartburn and the like, I also developed life-threatening complications.  I delivered pre-term.  I had a very significant post-c-section hemorrhage.  I literally could have died.

Obviously this is not all about me, but I don't want to die or become disabled because of an accidental pregnancy.  I have two young children already whose needs I must consider, and more than anything, they need a mother who is present and healthy.

I wasn't in prime physical condition when I embarked on my last pregnancy, but I had lost some weight and spent a couple of months getting in better shape before our cycle. Now, in addition to being two years older, my body is shot.  I live with some kind of pain somewhere daily.  I still get charley-horse-type cramps in my right lower abdomen on occasion, so I know that my abdominal muscles are not normal post-twin-pregnancy and post-c-section.  I don't have half the muscle tone generally or the cardiovascular endurance I had before getting pregnant with my sons.

There is also a real risk of miscarriage: 50% at my age.  I am only about 5 weeks pregnant, give or take, so it is very early, and there are no guarantees.

The odds of chromosomal abnormalities are higher for a baby conceived via 42-year-old eggs.  Plus there is a real risk that I will once again deliver pre-term, and depending upon how pre-term that happens, even a healthy, normal child could end up with long-term problems as a result of premature birth.  These things concern me greatly.  As much as I find it hard to wrap my mind around the idea of adding a third, healthy child to our family, I think it would be doable.  Difficult but doable.  A child with significant health challenges?  I honestly don't know how we would do it.

These thoughts don't even approach the topic of adding a third child to our family.  Honestly, my mind hasn't really gone to that topic much yet.  If this pregnancy continued to term, AJ and MJ would be only 22 months old when the baby is born.  I have posted often here about how overwhelmed I have felt juggling work and home life with young twins, and I have mentioned the strain that having two young children has placed on our marriage.  At this point, I really can't fathom how we will possibly manage having a third child.  Anyone can also imagine the financial and logistical challenges that would stem from having three children under 2 instead of two.

Anyway. . . I know I sound like a real Debbie Downer here, but that's where I'm at.  I am not assuming that this pregnancy is going to continue, because whether or not it will is basically the flip of a coin.  I am trying not to dwell on the risks and challenges that lie ahead if it does continue.

Given that my main focuses are the notion that I may miscarry at any time and the potential difficulties I will face if I don't, I guess it's not too surprising that I'm not feeling excited or happy yet.

I will be going back to the OB in a little less than three weeks for another ultrasound, and if the pregnancy is then still progressing, I will have a consultation with the high-risk OB group who followed me during my last pregnancy and delivery to get some more concrete information about the risks are in continuing this pregnancy.  Although I can't control much of what will happen, I want to be as well-informed as possible.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Friday, March 22, 2013

So. . . .

I use the "iPeriod" app on my phone to keep track of when my period is due, and I remembered seeing that I was supposed to have it over my birthday this month.  So when I realized this morning that my birthday had come and gone with no period, I checked iPeriod and found this:

Yes, I am apparently four days late.  Funny how, in years past, something like this would have gotten me very hopeful and rushing for the HPTs and now it wasn't even on my radar until I opened the iPeriod app.

Thinking back over the past month, we did have unprotected s.e.x on at least one theoretically fertile day, at least according to iPeriod.  (Honestly, we never bother with protection anymore because (1) we don't have s.e.x that often these days and (2) it seems a bit unnecessary to us.)  I say "theoretically fertile" because really?  After 40 cycles of TTC with and without medical intervention with only one chemical pregnancy to show for our efforts, I doubt that any of these "fertile" days are truly "fertile" for us anyway.

I did mention this to MM, and (in character for him) he is now mildly concerned about it.  Honestly, I would think it is far more likely that I am in peri-menopause than that I am actually pregnant, naturally, at 42, with my own egg.  But stranger things have happened, I guess.

Anyway.  I imagine my period will make its appearance here in the next day or two and put an end to this momentary diversion.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me

I have been even busier than usual of late.  In addition to the typical stuff that fills my time, we were dealing with a leak under the kitchen sink last week which resulted in three plumbers' visits and (later) my spending nearly four hours (with some help from MM) replacing our kitchen faucet. . . in my spare time, LOL.  I have also taken on a few new cases at work, so the combination of busier-than-usual at home plus busier-than-usual at work has left me with no time to post here.

I have also been waking up with pretty bad pain in my lower back every morning.  The pain persists throughout the day, although it usually lessens as I'm up and about, but I try to avoid sitting in the evenings because I spend way too many hours sitting as it is, and I'm sure that isn't helping the situation.

Anyway. . . .

Today is my 42nd birthday.  Apart from my back pain making me miserable, I don't feel that old.  We are going to have dinner out with the boys after work, and MM and I are going out to dinner with friends on Saturday night for an adult celebration after the boys are in bed.

AJ and MJ were 14 months old on Tuesday.  They are very busy, always go, go, go.  They love going to our neighborhood park and swinging in the swings.  They had a nasty cold last week but are well now, and AJ had his third ear infection at the end of the cold.  AJ taught himself to climb on the couch this month, and MJ taught himself a few days later after seeing his brother do it.  They both say "Mama" and "Dada" and "mum-mum," and MJ has said "hat" a couple of times and "monkey" once (and not repeated since).

They both wave bye-bye now and are learning to blow kisses.  AJ now signs "more" and "all done" while eating, too.  AJ taught himself to give people kisses at 9 or 10 months old, but when you ask MJ to give you a kiss, he turns his head and leans his cheek toward you.  (That'll tell you a little about the difference in their personalities.)  MJ loves it when MM tosses him in the air.  If AJ realizes that Dada's intent is to toss him in the air, he will grab onto his hands or wrists to prevent the toss and looks decidedly uncertain about the whole thing.

AJ still has no visible teeth, and MJ still has the same six teeth he's had for months.  I keep thinking that AJ will get some teeth any day now, and based on his chewing behavior, that MJ will get more, but no new teeth this month.

We took both boys to the local children's museum a few weeks ago, and they really enjoyed it.  We will definitely be going back.

Not much else new to report.  Neither of my job interviews resulted in job offers, and I've been about 90% compliant with my diet and lost a few pounds, despite still exercising very little (this week due to my back pain).

Gotta get to work. . . .

Monday, March 11, 2013

And here is the answer to my question. . . a few years late

Back in 2010, when we were taking a break from treatment and trying to decide whether we really wanted to be parents enough to gamble $30K on a donor egg IVF cycle that might give us a chance at it, or whether we should go the adoption route (despite MM's misgivings about that option at the time), or whether we should simply resign ourselves to a childless life, I did a lot of reading and thinking about why I wanted to be a parent.  Being a rational type, I wanted to make a well-thought-out and logical decision.  (I wrote a post here asking others to share their reasons, and one of the comments there from a dear friend of mine is one of the best I'd ever heard on the topic.)

Now this article appeared on NPR this morning, and this explains so much.  Wish I could have read this research a few years ago!  Not that it would have changed my decision, or the path we took, but I think it might have helped me to understood why finding clarity on this point was so difficult.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Random Friday Thoughts

I know I wrote in yesterday's 20 Questions post that Saturday is my favorite day of the week, and that's true, but I also quite like Fridays.  I get to dress in business casual most Fridays (barring court hearings or depositions), and that generally leads to a slightly more relaxed atmosphere around the office.  Although I am usually pretty tired by Friday, I am also in the downward slide into my weekend, and that's always a good thing.

During my law school days, I seldom had classes on Fridays, and during the two semesters when I did, I was always done by mid-to-late morning.  Those were the days!  One of the perks of the government job for which I was interviewed (and am still waiting to hear about. . . the wheels turn slowly) is the possibility of a flexible work schedule that could include working four 10-hour days and having Fridays off.  I have to admit that that would be a HUGE benefit to me, given my current life.  ;-)


A little Friday fill-in. . .

1. I love the feeling of that first good stretch in the morning.

2. Seeing my sons always brightens my day.

3. The birth of my sons is what I will remember the most from 2012.

4. My favorite family recipe is roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.

5. When I want to spoil myself I have a full body massage.

6. Flipping Vegas is my favorite TV show.  (Currently.  This changes frequently, as I don't control the remote control in our house often.)

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to relaxing and making tacos for dinner, tomorrow my plans include morning session at The Lit.tle Gym, getting our tile grout deep cleaned and date night with MM and Sunday, I want to get outside with the boys if the weather permits!  (It's been beautiful here every day this week--sunny and in the high 70s/low 80s--and now today it's raining with a forecast high of 61 and rain expected through tomorrow at least.)


One last thought for the moms reading. . .Our sons are only 13 months, so needless to say, they still cry and fuss regularly, given that they can't fully communicate yet. That's totally developmentally appropriate for them and what we expect.  I don't think that AJ and MJ cry excessively or more than most other kiddos their age.

I was musing last night while I had a baby crying in each ear simultaneously for the third time that evening about when we might reasonably expect to get through our days with no crying. I'm sure this varies somewhat from child to child, but I'd be curious to hear other moms' experiences. At what age did your little one stop crying on a daily basis?

From polling friends, I've heard everything from "My little one hardly cried at all after about 18 months" to "My son is 6 and still cries almost every day over something."

I've had loads of experience with children before having my own, and I know from that experience that children obviously cry more than adults, for a few reasons.  Just wondering if there is any hope for tear-free days in our future.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

20 Questions

This post is part of a PAIL Bloggers feature you can find here.

1.  What was the last thing you threw in the garbage / recycling?  The backing from two pieces of fashion tape.

2.  What's the #1 most played song on your Ipod?  Hmm.  I am not sure where my iPod is currently, but I would guess it's one of the 25 songs on my workout play list.

3.  What is your favorite quote?  I have lots of quotes I love.  My current favorite is "Before you speak ask yourself: Is it kind, is it necessary, it is true, does it improve upon the silence?”― Shirdi Sai Baba

4.  What chore do you absolutely hate doing?  Cleaning the master bathroom shower.  I hate it because it's a glass-enclosed stall--will NEVER buy another house with one of those--and the bottom is a textured fiberglass that is nearly impossible to get looking absolutely clean.

5.  What is your favorite form of exercise?  Lifting free weights.  (Also a form of exercise I haven't done in over two years)

6.  What is your favorite time of day/day of week/month of the year?  Nowadays my favorite time of day is early morning, when I'm the only one awake.  My favorite day of the week is Saturday.  March is my favorite month of the year: my birthday, beautiful weather where I live, St. Patrick's Day, spring training and the NCAA basketball tournament.

7.  What is on your bedside table?  A book and my eyeglasses

8.  What is your favorite body part?  My head because I like my hair and my smile better than any of my other features.

9.  Would you use the power of invisibility for good or evil?  Probably both

10.  If you could choose to stay a certain age forever, what age would that be?  32.  Old enough to be taken seriously, but not "too" old.

11.  What is the first thing you would do if you won the lottery?  First thing I would do, after the initial shock and excitement wore off, is quit my job.  Then MM would invest a large portion of the winnings, gift some to friends, family and charity and go off the grid to avoid being hassled.

12.  What is your biggest pet peeve?  I can only pick one?  LOL.  Stupidity

13.  If you could know the answer to any question, what would it be?  What is my purpose?

14.  At what age did you become an adult?  23.

15.  Recommend a book, movie or television show in 3 sentences or less.  The first book I read after my sons were born was The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.  It is non-fiction and contains some scientific content but was still an easy and fascinating read.

16.  What did you do growing up that got you into trouble?  Oh wow.  The thing I got in the most trouble for growing up was talking back to, or sassing, my father.  I did do other things that were, ahem, questionable, but was never caught for most of them.

17.  What was the first album you bought with your own money?  Journey - Escape

18.  If someone wrote a book about you, what would be the title?  Gah, I have no idea

19.  What story do you wish your family would stop telling about you?  I really can't think of one.

20.  True or false:  The unicorn is the greatest mythical creature.  State your case.  False.  The main things unicorn has going for it are sparkles and a cool horn.  Sure, its blood and horn are supposed to have mystical healing powers, but many other mythical creatures have far greater and more varied powers.  I would submit that dragons, fairies and werewolves are much greater than unicorns, just to name a few other mythical creatures.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Migraines Suck

And that's all I have to say about that.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Sugar & Mood

(This post is off the topic of infertility.)

I have posted recently about how I have been feeling increasingly stressed, overwhelmed and anxious (I wrote about this topic in the most detail in this post).  Things got so unbearable for me that I have actually been to a couple of sessions with a counselor to try to deal with these feelings, which were physiological in addition to being psychological.

The middle of last week, I also started a very-low carb diet.  For about 8 days now, I have had no sugar or white flour whatsoever, no fruit, and actually very little whole grains either.  (I won't eat like this forever, but I'm in the introductory phase of this eating plan, and it requires eliminating these foods for a while.  I will eventually reintroduce whole grains and fruit, at least.)

Prior to starting this diet, my eating habits were not great but not terrible.  One of the worst habits I had developed was eating candy or other sweets at my desk during the day as a way to cope with my stress.  When you work in an office, these types of foods are all too readily available, and it's often a nice break to get away from your desk for a walk to the coffee shop downstairs to buy a caffe mocha and a scone or muffin.

About three or four days into this eating plan, I noticed that most of the physical symptoms of anxiety that I had previously described-- the tight feeling in my chest, racing heart, heartburn/indigestion, and feelings of impending doom--were gone.  Poof.  Just like that.  This realization came to me in the middle of a day when I was very busy at work (and thus would normally and rationally expect to feel stressed) and also simultaneously was dealing with a major problem in my personal life (something that, were I to choose to write about it, would need a post of its own to explain).

As I have continued to eat this way, not much has changed in my life--in fact, I think an argument could be made that a few areas have gotten worse, like work, where I have been even busier lately than usual--and yet my (physical) feelings of anxiety and stress seem to be gone!  Yes, I do believe that therapy can be helpful, but I will honestly say that I don't think that much can be accomplished in two sessions.  And I think that is especially true in this instance, where I know that I spent the first session with the counselor just laying out the problem and the second session talking mostly about a fight I'd had with my husband earlier that day.  There really is not any other logical explanation in my mind for the change except the drastic change in my eating habits.

This realization about the potential link between my diet and my moods led me to do a search on the topic, and guess what?  I guess I'm just an uninformed bonehead on this subject, because apparently others are well aware of this.  Check this out (I found this quote here).  I have bolded the symptoms I was experiencing.

Eating lots of sugar is going to give you sudden peaks and troughs in the amount of glucose in your blood; symptoms that this is going on include fatigue, irritability, dizziness, insomnia, excessive sweating (especially at night), poor concentration and forgetfulness, excessive thirst, depression and crying spells, digestive disturbances and blurred vision. Since the brain depends on an even supply of glucose it is no surprise to find that sugar has been implicated in aggressive behavior, anxiety, and depression, and fatigue.

Do I still sometimes feel overwhelmed?  Yes.  Do I still sometimes having racing thoughts, or feel tearful?  Yes.  But I believe I am doing a better job of managing these psychological symptoms without the physiological symptoms that previously accompanied them.  (Oh, and as an added benefit, I have lost a few pounds already, too.)

Meanwhile, I continue to work on the other things in my life that I think have been contributing to my stress.  My job search continues, MM and I are working our marriage, I have actually exercised twice this week, and I am procrastinating less at work (partly of necessity, as I have been extra busy).  I am making a conscious effort to spend time with friends I haven't seen for a while and to take time for myself when I can.

Knowing this makes me want to never eat sugar again, regardless of how much I love a good piece of chocolate cake (or brownie, or fudge, or quality dark chocolate, or. . . you get the idea).  I am just so glad to be feeling more normal again!