The Fundamental Things Apply / As Time Goes By

We had our 20 week anatomy scan this morning. That’s the big one where they check all of the organs and can tell you the sex, if you want to know. We did want to know, even though it doesn’t make much of a difference. The things we want for our child (kindness, empathy, bravery, sense of humor) aren’t sex or gender specific.

When I was younger, I was adamant that I wanted a girl. “I don’t know anything about boys!” I’d wail. But my mistake there was to assume, despite my Women & Gender Studies degree, that females have innate traits that I would have an automatic connection with, and that males have innate traits I would not understand. Such silliness. I would like a child that I can snuggle with, and read books with, and cook with. Tammy would like a child that will play outside with her, go camping with her, and swim in the ocean with her. But you know what? A child of any sex or gender combination will not guarantee us a child that enjoys any or all of those things. Our first lesson in parenting is to accept our child for who they are, regardless of what is between their legs and in their heart. What we ultimately want is for our child(ren) to find what brings them joy.

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At the perinatal clinic (with the high res ultrasound machines), I asked the receptionist if I need a full or empty bladder for my 20 week anatomy scan. She assured me it didn’t matter, so I went to relieve myself, glad I wouldn’t have to spend an uncomfortable hour being prodded in the (full) bladder. When I came out of the bathroom, an Asian gentleman with a heavy accent started scolding me (that much was clear from his tone) but I had no freaking clue what he was trying to say. Tammy read my blank look, and interpreted that I shouldn’t have gone pee, that he needed my bladder full to check my cervix. I told the ultrasound tech that the receptionist told me it was OK (I’m such a tattle-tale) and he stormed off to scold her.

Unfortunately, his accent did not improve while he did the scan. He muttered to himself, ignoring us most of the time when we asked questions, occasionally including “good, good, look fine, eveyting look fine”. My first clue that there might be a problem was when we were measuring the “alus” (“the what?” “the alus…you know…baby poo poo” “oh, the aNus. Gotcha”) and I saw these dark circles in the lower abdomen.

“What are those dark circles?” I asked, three times. He finally responded, “I take picture, review after.” But then he told us the sex, and I sort of forgot about those circles.

It’s a girl. Whatever that means, in all its glory.

After he finished taking his pictures, he told us he was going to go review and would be back in later. We waited around 20 minutes and then a doctor came in. She told us that the tech had trouble getting one or two shots of the brain that she would try to get (she did successfully), but also that she wanted to review one of the pictures he did get of the abdomen. All of a sudden, I remembered those dark circles and got nervous.

It turns out that either the baby has enlarged bowels or cysts on her ovaries. Apparently it’s difficult to tell at this point of fetal development exactly what these fluid filled spaces are. We need to come back in two weeks to see if the spots have gotten bigger or smaller. It’s entirely possible that, whatever the issue is, it will resolve itself. If the spots are not gone, the perinatologist will refer us to have an MRI, which will give us an even more detailed look than the high-resolution scan at the perinatology center (and those scans are crazy detailed).

From my googling this morning, I’ve determined that fetal ovarian cysts are often a result of the large amounts of hormones circulating in MY body. Which makes me feel insanely guilty, and does inject the worry that I’ve harmed our daughters future fertility, should she want to have kids at some point. Most fetal ovarian cysts resolve themselves before birth or shortly after.

Enlarged bowels can be a sign of blockages in the intestines. AKA, my baby is already full of shit (if I don’t laugh, I’ll cry. Work with me here). I ALSO feel guilty about this, like I’ve given my daughter my own screwed up bowels (chronic constipation, etc). Again, these often work themselves out before birth or shortly after.

Worst case for both scenarios would mean regular ultrasounds leading up to the birth, possible induction, and ultrasounds for the baby after birth. Worst WORST case scenario would mean surgery shortly after the baby is born to either remove the cysts or blockages.

Obviously, I wish the scan had gone perfectly and shown no problems. But I’m surprised at how well I’m taking the news. I’m trying to be fair and reasonable when describing this to my parents (“the doctor wasn’t what I would call ‘concerned’, but she does want to monitor it”) and not wallow in melodrama, as is so often my want. I’ve done a little bit of googling, but I’ve tried to skim-without-really-reading the posts where women say “my baby had this and it meant X number of surgeries” or “my baby had this and it was a sign of cystic fibrosis” or “my baby had this and we had to remove her ovaries” or “my baby had this and then she died”. Wow, guess I read more of those than I thought, huh?

Aaaaaaaaanyway, I’m doing reasonably well, for me. I’m trying to focus on her sweet arms and legs kicking me, and my happy laugh as I got to see visual evidence of what I’ve been feeling for weeks (side note to my daughter: no wonder my bladder hurts every time I stand up. You’re doing a straight up goal scoring kick into it!) with regard to movement. I got to see Tammy’s face as we looked at our daughter’s profile, her yawning mouth, and her little fingers giving us the “here’s looking at you, kid.” Maybe we should name her Ingrid?

Here's Looking at You, Kid 3

Here’s looking at you, kid. We are in awe of how marvelous you are.

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Ramblings

Tammy did not get that job that would have required us to move, after three rounds of interviews. On one hand, I’m incredibly relieved that moving is no longer on the table (for now), especially because my parents are closing on a house in our neighborhood on Friday. On the other hand, I had worked myself around to a place where I could view moving as an adventure and an opportunity for us, and a chance for me to stay at home with the baby in January.

Tammy’s getting more and more excited about having a baby. As she puts it “my excitement is directly proportional to the size of your belly”. Even I can’t deny that I have a distinct bump that can only mean one thing. Random people have been more comfortable coming right out and asking me if I am pregnant, which is oddly discomforting. Saying yes feels almost…embarrassing, like I’ve been caught with my hand in the cookie jar. Or like a teenager caught smoking or something.The flip side to this embarrassment is that I’ve become much more comfortable talking about the work it took for us to get pregnant. I drop IVF and frozen embryos into discussions of pregnancy and siblings like it’s no big deal at all. Look at me, normalizing IF and shit.

Speaking of normalizing, I’ve been working on acting like a normal pregnant lady who’s relatively assured of a baby at the end of this process. Tammy’s been painting the baby room, and we’re planning what furniture to buy. I’ve been researching day care options (OMFG expensive). I’m planning meals to make and freeze for the early days after the baby’s born and I even made my first one: tomato soup from Smitten Kitchen. I’ve made the recipe a few times before, but this was my first time making it with fresh tomatoes from my mom’s garden. I did the whole blanch and shock thing to get the skins off easily, which worked like a charm. The fresh tomatoes (as opposed to canned) made the soup taste much more…tomato-y, if you know what I mean. Not a bad thing, just an observation.

I’m planning to make a few more soups (potato, broccoli cheese) and casserole type things (lasagna (don’t have a link to the vegan recipe I use), chicken pot pie (again, don’t have a link but it’s from here, which I highly, highly recommend). Any other suggestions, especially healthy suggestions (note my decidedly unhealthy options above) for freezer meals? Keep in mind that I’m vegetarian and Tammy’s vegan, but I’m pretty good at veganizing recipes (i.e. subbing veggies stock for chicken stock, faux meet for real meet, almond/soy/rice/etc milk for cow’s milk, etc).

I have a few posts rattling around in my brain but the biggest one is about religion and faith*. So, obviously a very light post that is a breeze to write. Another one is my struggle to be sensitive to people trying so hard to get pregnant while celebrating my own pregnancy. So, also quite fun and light. Slightly less heavy is the post on the second parent adoption proceedings that Tammy will go through after the baby is born.

Happy Fall, everybody.

*Working title: “On Why I Burst Into Tears When Discussing God and Death, or Spiritual Malaise”

Comments

I got my first less-than-supportive comment.

When I started blogging, I expected that I would get comments that would regularly require a tough skin and a stern self talking-to (“you CHOSE to blog”). But I found you lovely people, and I’ve been impressed with the kindness you extended to me, a virtual (see what I did there?) stranger, coming over to emote in your corner of the internet.

It’s not even that the comment was so bad, but it did make me wince a little. It was on my post about sharing pregnancy news on fac.ebook:

“Popping out of lurking to say I can see why oyu are in a tough position. But to think you don’t have the email, or phone number, of your ‘less close’ friends’? So why bother telling them? If FB crashed tomorrow…oh me, oh my…you wouldn’t have ANY way to communicate with said friends? That’s weird to me. FB is your ONLY means of communication. With a potential move coming up, you may want to I don’t know, try to form more meaningful relationships, than just ‘liking’ something here or there. Just my 2cents.”

Before anyone jumps all over me, please know that I would have emailed her directly if she had left an email address or blog site. But she didn’t.

And before anyone jumps all over her, she does partially have a point and I DID ask for comments.

Before I decided to update my status about the pregnancy, I did think about why I should bother telling people who I’m not that close to. Why does it matter if they know that I’m pregnant? Here’s what I came up with:

1) We’re a lesbian couple, and I’m working hard to spread the idea that gay people having kids is normal and blase. Studies show that when people know someone who is gay, they become more accepting and tolerant. It suddenly is less of an abstract concept and more about someone’s life. Same idea with gay people having kids. I’m trying to up the tally for ‘acceptance’ in the ‘parents who are gay’ category.

2) There’s been so much about this process that has been hard, and I’ve so often felt isolated and alone. It’s a large part of the reason I started this blog. I didn’t know anyone IRL that was struggling to get or stay pregnant. I was desperate to talk to someone (other than Tammy and my mom) about it. Since getting and staying pregnant, I’ve longed for a return to some kind of normalcy. The scars that I have from this process (both physical and emotional) continue to haunt me. I wanted (for once!) to not feel weird. I wanted to be a normal person announcing a normal pregnancy. I wanted to bask in the happiness of my friends, even my ‘less close’ friends. I wanted the community affirmation, that this was a GOOD thing, and it was OK to be HAPPY.

But then on to the ‘ouch’ part of Kate’s comment:

“With a potential move coming up, you may want to I don’t know, try to form more meaningful relationships, than just ‘liking’ something here or there.”

Like I said, ouch. That comment hit a little close to home. It’s something I struggle with, maintaining friendships. I’m an introvert, but I also struggle with anxiety, often manifesting in social anxiety. I also struggle with depression. The infertility process has made both my anxiety and depression much harder to deal with.

I have people who I enjoy spending time with; friends from college, friends from work. But it’s HARD for me to maintain those relationships. I work at it, and I try, and sometimes I do better and sometimes I do worse. Since getting pregnant, I’ve been working hard on getting out of the house more, half for my sake and half for Tammy’s. She’s much more social than I am, and she’s often home with me more than she would like. We’re working on trying to find a balance.

But that comment also stung because she hit on the context of a potential move. It’s one of the things that scares me about a move; having to meet new people. I wouldn’t have the natural environment of work to socialize, and I would have to force myself to push out of my comfort zone and talk to people I don’t know (gasp!).

I have met with a psychologist off and on for years (since college). Sometimes I see her very frequently and sometimes a year or more goes by between sessions. But I’m aware that this is an issue for me to work on, and I’m aware it’s not something I will ever be “cured” of. It’s something I’ll have to fight against for the rest of my life. I know that.

Kate, if you’re still out there does this answer your question? Please don’t take this as an attack on you. Like I said, I asked for comments and you gave it to me. It’s highly probably that I’m extra sensitive about the topic given my history. It’s also likely that I over react to things. So no hard feelings?

Nuchal Translucency and Facebook

We had our nuchal translucency scan this morning, and it went swimmingly. The neck measured at 1.something, which is good (they want to see less than 3, although the tech told us most Down’s babies measure closer to 6). We saw the nasal bone (also good because Down’s babies often don’t have a nasal bone at this point). The abdominal organs are almost all in the abdomen now, having migrated from the umbilical cord. The heart was beating at 161. We saw two hemispheres of the brain. Saw a genital nub, but it’s too early to tell if it will grow larger into a penis or shrink into a clitoris. We saw little webbed hands, and wee tiny feet that waved and kicked.

Because I’m still under 30, my risk of trisomies was low to begin with, but now it should be even lower with the reassuring scan.

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Most of us know how hard it is to be ambushed by Facebook announcements, especially as they seem to come in groups, just after your latest BFN or right around the due date of a miscarriage. Facebook has impeccably shitty timing.

For a long time I promised myself if I was ever lucky enough to get and stay pregnant, I would just skip the cutesy/smug Facebook brag. (And side note here, getting pregnant does not, at least for me, make me like the announcements any better. Seriously, y’all. You’re fecund. We get it. How marvelous for you, etc. Shut up with the beribboned, sparkly announcements)

But now I find myself trying to figure out how to let people know what’s going on in our world. We’ve told our families and close friends, but I do want some way to let less close friends know, many of whom are scattered around the world. I considered phoning (don’t have most people’s numbers, and hate talking on the phone) and email (ditto on not having many emails, and that seems kind of cold, no?) and have come full circle to Facebook. Dammit, Facebook is friggin convenient. How annoying.

But I need help figuring out what to say. I obviously want to be as sensitive as I can to those struggling, and I’d like to acknowledge our own struggle to get where we are. I’m considering the following, but would appreciate any insight, recommendations, edits, additions, etc.:

“Tammy and I are absolutely overjoyed to announce we are going to have a baby. We are so grateful to our doctors, nurses, and embryologist for helping us get this far. Below is a picture of our embryo at 5 days past fertilization, and our fetus at almost 13 weeks gestation. I am due in January, and we cannot wait to meet our little one.

And with the announcement, post a side by side picture of the day 5 blast with our most recent scan.

One final note, those friends/family members that I know would react to the announcement with complicated feelings have been told already, via the medium we thought would be easiest for them.

Thoughts? Skip the pictures? Or skip the embryo picture but include the fetal scan? What would you want to see, and not want to see if you were reading my page?

Insurance Can Kiss My Ass

I have no insurance coverage for infertility, other than an initial diagnostic appointment (that doesn’t include any, you know, diagnostic tests like blood work, HSG, ultrasound, etc., because that would be too fucking logical). Everything else was 100% out-of-pocket. I am so envious of those of you who a) live in states where there is mandatory coverage and b) can utilize those benefits. We used to live in a state where there was coverage, but HAHA SUCKERS it didn’t apply to us. It only applied to those individuals who used their husbands sperm. i.e. no lesbians or single women or hetero couples with severe MFI who decided to use a donor. Because obviously, those of us in the previously mentioned categories do not deserve to have children. Obviously.

ANYWAY, moving on swiftly. I had an experience today that reinforced my need for an insurance vendetta.

As I stated above, I have no insurance coverage for infertility; no monitoring, blood work, ultrasounds, procedures themselves (IUI or IVF) and definitely no prescription drug coverage. HOWEVER, once I got pregnant (ultrasound tomorrow to confirm that I am, in fact, actually still pregnant and not newly awakened from a month-long delusion/psychotic break) certain medications that I took for infertility (estrogen, progesterone) are now covered due to my pregnancy “status”. When I called to order more drugs after my BFP, I told the pharmacists my new “status” and asked joyfully what the co-pay was. The pharmacist responded that they needed to have my doctor’s office call my insurance company to confirm that I was, in fact, pregnant. This was a month and 3 refills ago. Each time the pharmacist tells me they’re going to call over to my doctor’s office and ask THEM to call my insurance company. Of course, they don’t fucking do that. Today I got a little royally pissed off vexed in a MOST ladylike way, and told them what was up.

30 minutes later, I got a call from someone at the pharmacy asking if I was pregnant. OMFG. I only told you all that a fucking MONTH ago. She promised that she would call over to my doctor’s office to have them confirm the dates of my pregnancy, so they could retroactively reimburse me for money paid out-of-pocket for the last 3 refills. An hour later I found out that my doctor’s office would only confirm my pregnancy as of May 29th, and I had called for a refill on May 28th. So that $400 haul of drugs won’t be covered.

Reading over what I wrote, maybe I should be more irritated at the pharmacy and my doctor’s office, instead of the insurance company. And yes, the pharmacy definitely dropped the ball on this one. And I’m going to have a little chat with my doctor’s office tomorrow to see WHY they claim me pregnant on May 29th when I had my positive beta on the 24th. But you know what? All of this mess would have been avoided if I had coverage in the first damn place. God.

**UPDATE: I just got my meds delivered to my office building (damn right they deliver) and the workers in the mail room made many HILARIOUS jokes about my “drugs”. HA.HA. Hilarious. Lets talk a little louder about my DRUGS when the CEO is just down the hall! Fabulous idea.

It’s Aliiiiive

I just got a call with my second beta (that was done 4 days after my first beta, due to the long weekend).

First beta (at 10dp5dt): 372
Second beta (at 14dp5dt): 2032

That’s a doubling time of 39.19 hours.

The nurse that called me said this was “good.” My next appointment won’t be until I’m between 6 and 7 weeks pregnant (if I make it that far*) to see a heartbeat.

No more betas!?! No more appointments for over a week?! I feel adrift. Can I come in for blood draws for fun? What about visiting my old pal, Monsieur DildoCam? Or could I come in to breathe the heady, intoxicating scent of sadness and fear that permeates the waiting room? I’m still generating plenty of that pungent elixir to contribute. What if your stores are depleted without me around??

Another hurdle has been cleared. I keep trying to tell myself that I’m farther (further?) than I’ve ever gotten before. But poor Tammy had to talk me back from the ledge over and over this weekend, repeatedly fielding my teary questions of “what if it’s dead?” “what if it doesn’t double?” “what if I’m a fucking lunatic for hoping this would ever work?” (that last one was only in my head)

But so far**, my fears have been for naught. I am assured by What to Expect When You’re Trying to Freak Yourself the Fuck Out that our baby is the size of an orange seed right now. The heart is beginning to function at a rudimentary level, although it will be a few weeks until we can see it on an ultrasound if we get that far.***

Tammy and I also engaged in extremely risky behaviour this weekend: we looked at baby stuff while we were at Target, and talked about a possible/future/maybe nursery.

And THEN I held my friend’s baby for hours on Sunday, wiping her little teeny baby butt, kissing her baby toes, rocking her to sleep, and drinking in the perfect sweet/sour baby smell of her head.

Is it possible that I actually, maybe, possibly might end up with a baby of my own? Boggles the mind.

*I have GOT to stop doing that. Industrial strength asshole = me.
**That was the last one. Promise.
***Ugh. I’m the worst.

Heavenly Day

Heavenly Day
By Patty Griffin

Oh heavenly day, all the clouds blew away
Got no trouble today with anyone
The smile on your face I live only to see
It’s enough for me, baby, it’s enough for me
Oh, heavenly day, heavenly day, heavenly day

Tomorrow may rain with sorrow
Here’s a little time we can borrow
Forget all our troubles in these moments so few
All we’ve got right now, the only thing that
All we really have to do
Is have ourselves a heavenly day
Lay here and watch the trees sway
Oh, can’t see no other way, no way, no way
Heavenly day, heavenly day, heavenly day

No one at my shoulder bringing me fears
Got no clouds up above me bringing me tears
Got nothing to tell you, I’ve got nothing much to say
Only I’m glad to be here with you
On this heavenly, heavenly, heavenly, heavenly
Heavenly day, all the trouble’s gone away
Oh, for a while anyway, for a while anyway
Heavenly day, heavenly day, heavenly day

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The doctor called with my beta results. As of this morning, my hCG was 372. With my last pregnancy it was a 17. Obviously, this could mean absolutely nothing for the long-term. I could miscarry this baby just like the last one. But today, at least, I’m chosing happiness. I’m chosing joy. I’m chosing peace.

Stick around, little one. Your mamas can’t wait to meet you. We love you already.