Friday, February 27, 2015
After what seemed to be a long but completely normal ultrasound on Tuesday morning to check baby's overall size and weight, we had been relieved at the time to hear his weight was in the normal range - 69th percentile. There had been some concern because I am measuring quite large for my gestation, so the ultrasound was just a quick check-in to make sure that he wasn't too big. She told us his weight, the percentile that fell into, and that he was head down with a full head of hair. All seemed perfectly well and on track.
Yesterday morning, we had our bi-weekly appointment with my OB to review the aforementioned ultrasound. Turns out the only normal-sized thing about him is his weight; the ultrasound tech deftly managed to avoid telling us any of his other percentile ranges. As it turns out, our kid's head and abdomen are enormous - 92nd and 96th percentiles, respectively. Also, I apparently have a borderline obscene amount of amniotic fluid; when they do fluid measurements in pregnancy, they total the four quadrants (I am unsure of the units used). The standard for my gestation is 11-12; I measured 19. So I am huge. He is huge. These are problems.
2 weeks from today, I have my final bi-weekly appointment with my OB before we go weekly. At that appointment she will be measuring me again, possibly checking my cervix, and sending me for another ultrasound. If his growth continues on the same trajectory and his head and abdomen are still in the 90-ish percentiles, she will very likely induce me shortly thereafter because letting him, and me, go to full term could be quite dangerous. Especially because at the moment, his abdomen is larger than his head.
So, in short: instead of having a minimum of 4 weeks and a max of 9 weeks left, we could be looking at 2 1/2 to 3 weeks left of this pregnancy, and I feel like I've had a rug yanked from underneath my feet.
Am I unbelievably excited to meet my son, the child I've been dreaming of my whole life and who I've torn my body apart and rebuilt again in order to be able to create? Absolutely. Am I ready?
No. I don't think I can ever be ready for this.
It has been nearly 8 years since we began our journey to try to become parents. One might think that after so many years of trying that I would be The Most Ready Mom Ever In The History Of Moms, but that just isn't the case. If anything, I feel less ready than your run-of-the-mill, no-struggles-to-get-pregnant mom because I just never actually thought this would happen and holy shit now it's happening.
It's so dizzying and kind of disconcerting to simultaneously feel as though this has been the longest pregnancy ever, but also feeling like I legitimately just saw the positive on the pregnancy test no more than a week ago. I just found out I was pregnant and now I am suddenly mere weeks away from having a brand new human being that I grew inside my body forcing his way out and being placed into my arms for my husband and I to take home and like, form into a beautiful, productive member of society. A person... a whole perfect, tiny, blank slate of a person that we are solely responsible for for the rest of our lives and who will take and carry all of my heart with him everywhere he goes, forever. How do we do this? How do I know I can handle such a massive responsibility, and do so with dignity and grace and pride? How do I know I won't collassally fuck this poor child up? And on the less profound side, we are just absolutely, utterly not ready on the logistic side of this having-a-baby thing. His nursery is literally an empty, albeit freshly painted, room with painter's tape on the wall and a bassinet shoved in the closet stuffed with miscellaneous little baby things that he can't use yet (i.e. toddler-sized hiking boots, two or three 6-9 month onsies, a carseat cover [even though we have no freakin' carseat yet], and my breast pump). Everyone tells me we'll never use the nursery anyway but considering how small our house is and the lack of comfortable seating within it, I am actually quite confident that I will be spending a *lot* of time in our nursery for nursing and changing, even if he's not sleeping in his crib right away. I also just wanted to have everything done before he showed up, even if that seems naive and ridiculous. I want to have things organized and washed and put away and everything DONE so that I don't have to worry about those things after he's here, and so we can just focus on him and soaking him up. And yet here we are, 2-3 weeks away from possibly having him out of my body, and we own no nursery furniture, no car seat, no stroller, nothing important - and for some ridiculous reason our tax return is taking FOREVER to come through so we can't even do anything about it yet, not to mention I keep being told to buy NOTHING until after our baby showers but one of them is actually AFTER his new possible arrival time. I am fully aware how silly it is to stress about material things, but there are so very few things I felt like I could control in this pregnancy and now some of the few that I felt as though I could are being taken away. I feel so out of control of everything and I hate that.
I know when all is said and done, all that matters is that he arrives safely and when is best for him (and for me), and that the best thing I can do is remain calm and go with the flow. But some things are just so much easier said than done.
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
In my last post, I was less than 2 weeks from a life-changing, terrifying, thrilling new journey. It turned out to be all that and more.
Today, I am 8 weeks or less from giving birth to our first child.
My, how times -and EVERYTHING- have changed.
I had my gastric bypass on June 17th, 2013, less than a month after we bought and moved into our first house. It was every bit as terrifying and world-rocking as I anticipated, and I will not try to pretend that I didn't regret it for a while afterward. I had a complication from my surgery called a stricture, where the opening between my new smaller stomach pouch and my small intestine did not properly heal and was far, far too small. Thus, I was confined to a liquid diet for nearly 3 and a half months as opposed to that standard 2-3 weeks. Even things as simple as cottage cheese would lodge in that opening and take hours to digest, rendering me terribly sick and in excruciating pain and discomfort for the better part of a day every single time it happened. After 2 separate surgical dilations (the first try didn't solve the problem), I finally got to a point of being to eat solids again. But even now, almost 2 years later, there are some foods I still can't eat due to not being able to digest them and having to deal with what has become un-affectionately known as "a stick." Despite the just plain awful-ness of the first few months post-surgery, I can now say it was the best decision I have ever made for myself and for our family. After my surgery, I lost a total of 89 pounds. Before my surgery, I had lost 74. In total, I lost 163 pounds from my highest recorded weight. My amazing husband, who stood by my side through every moment of it and completely changed his lifestyle to support and encourage me, lost over 130 pounds himself and I have never been more proud of anyone or anything in my entire life. We became completely different, healthy people:
(Our wedding day, June 16th 2007, vs. our anniversary "Re-Wedding" photo shoot on July 6th, 2014)
Not only did we look and feel infinitely better, but our health drastically improved. Within a month, I was off all chronic condition-related meds. By autumn, I was officially no longer diabetic, hypertensive, or running high cholesterol. My menstrual cycles started working themselves out on their own to normalcy and for the first time in my life, I was having regular, trackable cycles. In December of 2013, we met with my new OB/Gyn about possible getting back into infertility treatment, because at that point the drastic, super fast weight loss had started to settle down for me and I was losing much more quietly and steadily. She suggested we keep trying with no assistance until April and if, by that point, we were not pregnant on our own, we would jump right back into infertility treatments where we had left off before. April came and went and despite continuing to have gloriously regular cycles, we did not conceive. And so we began the process with Kaiser, planning to do an IUI in the summertime. Kaiser takes a long time to get your foot in the door with infertility, as they require a lot of pre-testing (even though we had done all of this prior with our clinic in San Francisco several years before), classes, videos, etc. All along through our infertility journey, I have regularly taken ovulation predictor kits. When we first met with the OB back in November, I also started BBT (basal body temp) charting to more accurately keep track of when, or if, I was ever going to possibly ovulate (and thus also have documented proof of that fact that I was not ovulating). In mid-May, shortly after our first Kaiser infertility consultation at the end of April and after 6 months of OPKs and BBT charting, I got the first positive OPK I have ever had in my life. No drugs, no assistance, nothing. I knew then that my body was starting to do the work on its own and heal itself. We did not get pregnant then, however, nor the following month because I did not have a positive OPK and did not ovulate in June. So we continued on with more testing (hormone checks, semen analyses, etc) and still planned on doing our IUI in early-mid August, pending follicle checks and ultrasounds. We were already exhausted at the thought of starting the whole process over again, and bitterly disappointed that our life changes had not completely fixed things on our own (we knew it was a slim chance, but hoped nonetheless). At the very beginning of August, Scott left for a trip he's been dreaming about for the better part of a decade - a 10-day long backpacking trip with his best friend that he had never before been healthy or strong enough to go on through the Emmigrant Wilderness in Central California. Based on my cycles, we knew he would be back in plenty of time for the planned IUI, which we had tentaively scheduled for August 21-23rd pending a positive OPK and confirmation of matured follicles through ultrasound. My period was due to start on August 6th, but I often had 3-4 days of variation in the length of my cycles so I thought nothing of it when my period did not start on time. By Sunday, August 10th, however, that stupid tiny voice in the back of my head that all of us TTCers are so familiar with was rearing its head - the "maybe, just maybe" voice. The only way to shut that voice up is to waste yet another pregnancy test telling you that, yet again, you are not pregnant. So the morning of August 11th, I pulled out a pregnancy test from my stock and did the deed so I could see my negative, shed a few tears for the hundredth time, and get on with my life and my day (this day happened to be my last math class before my final exam the following morning).
Never, ever, EVER, in my wildest dreams did I actually expect to see this:
I stared. And stared. And then my heart dropped out of my ass and flew out of my body. I had a panic attack on the bathroom floor. I screamed, I cried tears of impossible, flabbergasted joy and utter disbelief. I never would have taken the test with my husband 300 miles away if I ever actually expected it to be positive, so I additionally cried that he was not with me in that moment. My entire world shifted on its axis and I felt everything fall into place. I gave myself a few moments to pull myself together, then picked myself up off the floor and spent the rest of my morning getting my ducks in a row: I went to class as planned and called Kaiser to order a serum test while I was on my break. The moment I was out of class that morning, I all but sprinted back home to drive to the lab. Within an hour, I had an e-mail showing the positive result. I knew I would be with my mother all day but that I had to keep it to myself and remain calm because Scott was not due to be home until Wednesday from his trip, and he had to be the first to know. So I spent the rest of my day helping my mother car shop, trying to make sure she bought something with a big back seat without being obvious or giving myself away. By some miracle or some grandiose and beautiful twist of fate, I got a call from Scott that afternoon saying they were coming home that night due to horrible weather and I could barely contain myself. I also made the decision to stay quiet until the following morning; they weren't going to be home until 1:00am or so, and I had to be up for my math final at 5:30. As mundane, ridiculously stupid, and irrelevant my math class seemed in that moment, I had worked really hard all summer and knew I had to at least try to focus on it. So when Scott finally came home in the middle of the night and woke me up with a hug and kiss, I held him tight and breathed him in but kept my mouth shut. The morning was a blur; I have no idea what I did on that math final besides obsess about getting it over with so I could get home and change my husband's life; I was shocked to later learn that not only did I pass the exam but did quite well on it. I ran home, expecting him to still be asleep so that I could pull out the test I had hidden in my sock drawer and wake him up with it, but the butthead was wide awake on the couch watching TV when I walked in the door. I kissed him and told him I had to pee, then darted in the bedroom to retrieve the test only to discover the damn thing had DIED (I hate you, ClearBlue Digital). Luckily, I had ONE left. I'm sure he thought I was crazy as I snuck into the bathroom to pee on this stupid thing yet again and have to wait 5 minutes - he even called out asking if I was okay at one point. Finally, the test displayed the word that would rock our world. I shoved it in a small necklace box and raced out to the living room to the open arms of the man I have journeyed through more than half my life with, the last 7 of those revolving around the dream of this exact upcoming moment. I held out the box to him and simply said, "I have an early birthday present for you. And I'm sorry I peed on it." He stared at me, and I saw it in his eyes. He knew exactly what it was but couldn't let himself even hope for it. He slowly took the lid off of the box, stared at the test, and then simply began to cry. We sat together on the couch for an amount of time I can't even measure, crying, smiling, and not believing. The next few weeks were a nervous-wreck time of fear coupled with bliss as we did blood tests every other day to monitor hormone levels, had repeated ultrasounds to confirm the pregnancy and that it was not ectopic, but the first of which showed nothing but an empty sac - we had to wait a full week for the next ultrasound and it was the longest 7 days of our lives. One week later, when I was 6 weeks and 4 days pregnant, we had the ultrasound that confirmed it all. Not only did we see the yolk sack, but we unexpectedly saw the tiniest little furious flicker in the center of the screen, confirming without a doubt that we finally had our miracle:
Fast forward to today and we are in the home stretch of preparing to meet our little man, who almost immediately earned himself the infectious and appropriate nickname of "Mooch." This pregnancy has been nothing short of miraculous. I won't try to pretend like I'm one of those people who loves every single moment of being pregnant, because I am definitely not. I don't hate being pregnant, but I'm not crazy about it either. However, I certainly can't complain because thus far, everything has gone perfectly. Aside from what I can only classify as borderline narcolepsy in my first trimester and gaining more weight than I would like (a big struggle mentally, emotionally, and physically for me considering everything I've done to get excess weight off), this has been a breeze. I had no morning sickness, have had zero heartburn, only minor sciatic pain, and though I swore my previous diabetes and hypertension would rear its head in pregnancy, all my levels are excellent. We found out on Halloween that we are having a boy and though that was a bit of a shock at first (I've always pictured a girl as our first), I am beyond elated to be having a boy and am completely beside myself with excitement to finally meet him. Now that we are in the home stretch, there is more fear creeping in; whether I will be a good enough mother, if we can provide well for him, the honest terror there is behind the thought of adding a whole new permanent person to our family when it has just been Scott and I for so very long. But then I see this face, and all that melts away.
He will be our greatest adventure yet, and I can't wait to get started.
Sunday, June 9, 2013
Friday, January 27, 2012
The sleeplessness stripped away my fears and prejudices and denials, and there you were. I was carrying you on my hip across a freshly mowed lawn, shooing rambunctious dogs at my feet. You were 4 or 5; scrawny but so very lovely. A tangle of fiery red waves fell down your back to your waist. Asleep on my shoulder with your face pressed into my neck, you shifted your head to face outward and I could finally SEE you from this dream’s perspective. Your father’s unmistakable eyes and smile. My nose and lips. His freckles. My dimples.
There was no question about it; I was carrying no one else’s child but my own.
I have dreamed of you for years, but never have I seen you so clearly. Never have I started from the clarity of a dream of you, chasing after you like a ghost so as to see you just a moment longer.
I have no doubt anymore, now that I know your face. I will be weak and shed a few more tears at the wait, but I know I will see your face and hold you in my arms for real someday.
My sweet sweet Charlotte… I can’t wait to meet you again. I can’t wait to be your mommy.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Well, actually, it's technically day 5, but this is thw official day one of the new journey in my book.
Our appointment with our fertility specialist last month went fairly well. I had to have an ultrasound which was fantastically uncomfortable and unsuccessful (Dr. Maybebaby coulnd't locate my ovary... whaaa?), and it was more or less sitting in his office with my husband discussing the possibilities and that severely uncomfortable 10 minutes of probing. We discussed all the options, went over medical records again, and decided that the best step would be to start with a medication that will hopefully stimulate my remaining ovary to properly ovulate. This drug is called Clomifene, more popularly known as Clomid. The way it's supposed to work is that I take the Clomid on days 5 through 9 of my menstrual cycle, and around day 13 or 14 I start using a home ovulation predictor kit to see if it worked and if I am ovulating. Today is that day 5, which I've been waiting for for 3 weeks (which has seemed like FOREVER). I really have a good feeling about this drug working for us, but I'm trying very hard not to let my hopes and imagination get out of control. Clomid is what worked for my mother when she was trying to get pregnant with me, and aside from the fact that I have one less ovary than she did, our fertility struggles have so far been identical. It's hard not to get my hopes up with that knowledge. We will try the Clomid every month for 4 months (hopefully it won't take that many months but again... tryin' to keep myself in check), and if by the end of four months it's still not working, we'll have to go to the next step. Dr. Maybebaby suggested the next step would be a round of Clomid at a higher dosage combined with IUI (intrauterine insemination). I think this is silly, as we have no problem with getting the sperm where it needs to go... hence, I think the next step would be gonadotropin injections. They are stronger than the Clomid, and obviously not just a pill. And if that doesn't work, we go to IVF. I'm trying not to panic myself by thinking of every step we'll have to take if this doesn't work. My husband is the calm and logical one; I'm the emotional basket-case worrier. I don't even say my worries aloud anymore, but he is strangely/acutely aware of when I am thinking of them. I hear the words, "one step at a time, baby" out of him more than I care to, but certainly not more than I need to. Regardless of the outcome of all of this craziness, I will never be able to forget or take for granted how much of a rock he has been. He is unfailingly positive and relaxed and so freakin'grounded, and I have no idea how a nutjob like myself landed the perfect balance of a man to quell my crazy. As adorably excited as he is at the prospect of us possibly starting our family, he's is a pro at cautious optimism and making sure that I don't get too ahead of myself. I love him so much for that.
So today we start the Clomid, and really start the journey. On the 22nd or so, I'll start testing for ovulation and if that's a go, we get to have a, uh, marathon. Ahem. ;)
Wish us luck!! We'll need it.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Much has changed since my last real post. In February (on Valentine's Day, in fact), we learned that the condo we had been renting for over two and a half years had gone into foreclosure and that we had 30 days to move. That's all the notice we had. Well, having filed for bankruptcy last September and having a young pitbull didn't help us in our rushed quest to find a new place to live, and hence we wound up living with my mother. It was very frightening and uncomfortable to be an independent married couple living back at home with a parent after living on your own for so long. And actually, the problem was never my mom; she was awesome. But her brother happens to live with her as well, and let's just say that I am not terribly fond of the man. Hubby and I had decided we would try to live there for at least 6 months to work on saving for a down payment on a house so we would never have to go through this again. Scott was hoping for a year; I told him that was a BIG maybe. My mom's house is quite lovely and spacious and on a big piece of land, but when you put 4 adults, 4 dogs, 3 cats, 3 chickens and a large tortoise on one piece of property, things start to feel cramped awfully quick. We had our bed, our dresser, our desk and our computers all crammed into my old bedroom and that was all the space we had, aside from my old bathroom which was for our exclusive use. Our bedroom was so tight you had to turn sideways and shimmy to get around the bed and dresser over to the desk. All the rest of our possessions --nearly everything we've acquired in our 7 years together-- sat cold and untouched in storage. After 5 months of feeling confined to our bedroom (because my uncle was always somewhere in the house being awkward and creepy, so I never wanted to go downstairs), I finally told my husband that I had had enough. I knew he wanted to stay longer and I totally understood his reasoning because I had it too. Rent has hugely increased, and moving would make saving anything damned near impossible. But I told him that if he wanted to keep his wife sane, we needed to start looking for a place to move.
After agreeing with me on a Friday night, I found a place on craigslist the next morning and asked if he wanted to go look at it. We loved it immediately, and the owner as well. She's real funky and free-spirited, and conveniently very handy. We told her straight up when we met her to see that house that we had filed for bankruptcy and that we had a pitbull, but that if she was willing to overlook those things (and actually MEET our awesome dog) that we would be awesome tenants, because we loved the house so much. She clearly appreciated our honesty, but she said she had a lot of other interest in the house and she wouldn't be making a decision until the middle of the week. We filled out an application that night anyway, despite our reservations about the cost (same price for a 2 bedroom 1 bathroom old 1930's house as we paid for our brand new 3 bedroom 2 1/2 bathroom brand new condo) because we didn't want to pass up the opportunity just in case. We expected nothing, seeing as she had many more qualified applicants and seeing as on the surface, we did not look like great tenants. To my intense surprise, she called the very next morning and said she wanted us to be her tenants. Apparently she really appreciated our honesty, but most importantly she appreciated that we love the house so much. It's old and quirky and has so much funk, and it's so close to everything. She knew we would love her house and take care of it. Long story short (well, a little), we moved in less than a week later. She met Daisy and adored her and had no problem with her whatsoever. We're broke, but living in such a tight situation really put things into perspective for both of us, and we are just so happy to have our own beautiful space again that we don't care that money is tight. We will survive; we always do. And in this case, we know how to survive and be happy and grateful for what we have, and grateful for a kind person believing that people who have made mistakes in the past are not bad people.
Another perk to being back on our own again is that we can re-focus ourselves on goals we had before the foreclosure fiasco. We had been talking to a fertility specialist in the end of last year/beginning of this year; we had some tests done and a couple of phone consultations, and he advised us to give it a shot naturally for a few more months. Of course, once we had to move in with my mom, things got put on hold because let's face it... who wants to get pregnant while living with their mother?? Not me! This was another reason I wanted to get out... having to put that dream of a family on hold was devastating; I tried not to think about it but found it difficult to cope with. But now that we're on our own again and have settled down (we've been here about a month now), we decided last night to pick up where we left off. This morning I called the fertility center to set up our first face-to-face appointment and to set up our treatment plan, since we've already done all the necessary testing and discussed it via telephone. We have an appointment next Thursday morning; and I'm excited and terrified. Excited for obvious reasons: this doctor is one of the top fertility specialists in the country, and he is willing to help us despite my weight, unlike most other doctors I have talked to. He understands that while there is greater risk for me and a baby during my pregnancy, that I am willing to take that risk and take the best possible care of myself to provide the best outcome possible. He understands that just because I'm fat, that doesn't mean we shouldn't be able to have a family if we want to. Terrified because money is already tight, and fertility treatment is not cheap. Our first appointment alone is $350. Things will be tight but we are willing to do whatever necessary to have the family we've been dreaming of. The worry is strong, but the excitement and hope is overshadowing it enough that I can't force myself to entirely care. It's been so long since I have felt hope for this particular issue that I can't help but want to sing. Even if things don't work, at least Dr. Herbert is giving us the chance to try.
The past 6 months have been a fairly dark period for us, but now that we are in a beautiful house of our own again and hopefully at the beginning of our journey to parenthood, things feel so much brighter. I've never felt so blessed and hopeful and excited in my life.
Updates to come next week (for sure) after our first appointment!
Monday, June 21, 2010
I don’t have to turn this in until tomorrow, so I am hoping for some constructive criticism from those who were not there for a personal account, who can feel it as I felt it just by reading the story. Regardless of criticism, I hope that for these few moments, you can see the world accurately through my eyes as my world crumbled twice over.
The Silver Lining of Loss
I woke unexpectedly early. I smiled sleepily at the familiar touch that was the culprit of my waking until I heard a pained sigh and a hitched sob. Startled, I opened my eyes to the silhouette of someone I knew heart and soul but, even in shadow, I no longer recognized. Her shoulders were hunched, her face drawn and haggard, as though she had braved the fieriest depths of Hell to get to this seemingly quaint moment of stroking the bridge of my nose so early in the morning. I struggled to focus as my mind registered and matched this utterly broken stranger in front of me to the person I had known and loved for my entire life. Before I could say a word and without any prelude, my mother choked out the words that would forever change everything about who I was and who I would ultimately become, even though I did not truly know it at the time: “Honey, daddy died last night.”
When I was nine years old, summertime was glorious. For me, it meant endless days of being in the water as much as I could stand; every day I would gleefully hop onto my bicycle and ride to the community pool, where I would spend no less than eight hours swimming myself into exhaustion. My mother would shake her head and smile when I would come home, brushing my tangled green-tinged hair out of my eyes while pressing her cool hands to my cheeks, my forehead, and behind my ears in search of any signs of a fever. One such evening upon arriving home from the pool for the umpteenth time that summer, my mother told me we were going to my grandmother’s. I was torn between elation and disappointment; I loved going to visit my grandma, but there was no pool near her house. She and I took to the car the next day alone while my dad begrudgingly stayed behind for work. Bound for the hot, flat expanse of the Sacramento valley, she chattered along the way and rubbed her finger over the bridge of my nose whenever I would doze off. I would smile and open my eyes to her warm grin and playful scolding of preferring to have a conscious daughter to discuss “Big Ten-Oh” birthday plans with.
A few days later while sitting in my grandma’s living room watching a movie and humming along, the phone rang shrilly, bringing with it a curious sense of unease. I glanced at my grandma who was at the counter forming cookie dough into balls, so I got up from the couch and ran to the phone to answer it. I lifted the old ivory handset off of the wall, politely asked, “Hello?” and in return heard my dad’s voice for what turned out to be the very last time.
“Hey Sweet Bug, I need to talk to your momma. Can you get her for me?”
“Hi dad! How are you? When are you coming to Grandma’s?”
“Baby, I really need to talk to your mom. Get her for me now, please.”
I hesitated. My dad had never been short with me on the phone, especially when we had been apart for a few days. But I did as I was told.
“’Kay daddy, just a ‘sec.”
I covered the mouthpiece with my palm and called for my mom, who had been napping in her old bedroom. She emerged sleepy-eyed and groggy; I handed her the phone and she smiled, kissed me on the head and playfully poked my nose. I tried to return her smile, but the strange unease in the pit of my stomach had increased tenfold upon hearing his voice. He sounded awful; exhausted, hoarse, and not himself. I slowly backed away until I bumped into the kitchen counter, and watched my mother’s face as it progressively fell from sleepy contentment to confusion, to alarmed concern, and finally plummeted into flat-out panic before she glanced at me. Upon seeing the worried questioning in my eyes, she pulled herself together, quickly mumbled something to my dad and hung up the phone. At this point my grandma had also turned to face my mom, her expression a mask of concern and curiosity that mirrored my own. My mother took a deep breath and quickly blurted out, “Daddy is really sick. I’m going to go home for a few days to take care of him, but I’ll be back soon.” Anxiety colored her tone as she held my grandmother’s gaze, her eyes much like my own as each daughter looked desperately to her mother for reassurance. Only moments later, she pulled me into a frighteningly intense hug, then ran out the door and drove away. I stood in the doorway, staring after the car that had already disappeared from my sight with confusion and fear gnawing at my insides. My grandma came up behind me, wrapped her arms around my shoulders, and led me into the living room to talk. That night I slept restlessly, dreaming of dark things; images I couldn’t define but which nonetheless haunted me and kept me in quiet, thoughtful concern for the remainder of the week until the very moment five days later that I awoke to the shattered stranger that was my mother.
Eleven years down the road I found myself with my knees buckling, collapsing to the floor as agony tore through my entire being. Not two minutes prior, I received the phone call that had violently ripped me back into the memory of that morning with my mother so many years ago, turning the fragile world I had built upside down and shaking me to my core. My father-in-law had died. My husband was already at the scene; he knew. My brother-in-law was the one to break the news to me, calling us with condolences, unaware that I did not yet know. As the words reached me and my world stopped spinning, I could do nothing but clutch my chest as if desperately trying to keep myself from imploding. I knew I should have called my husband first, but I couldn’t. I fumbled over the buttons to dial my mother, trying desperately to see the blurry numbers through the torrent of tears. I screamed to her, panic and heartbreak ringing clearly in my cries. She was quiet for a moment, then told me to do what I thought –what I then knew– I could not: to take a moment and allow myself fall apart, but to then pull myself together and go to my husband.
She was asking me to do the unbearable: permit my heart to shatter, and only moments later piece all of the shards together again and draw on the strength of my re-forged heart to pass that strength to my husband. Impossible, I thought. But I could not shake an image out of my mind, one that simultaneously petrified me and strengthened my resolve: the memory of the way my mother looked the morning she told me of my father’s death, only with my husband in her place. In that instant I knew I had to go, knew I had to get to my husband as quickly as possible to try to catch as many pieces of him as I could before they all disappeared in the raging black hole left behind by the implosion and destruction of his brightest star. I found him at his father’s house on the porch, a perfect replica of the image I had feared. I ran to him and pulled him into my arms, trying desperately to hold the man I loved together as he crumbled. We cried; a muted stream of constant tears from me, an endless chain of hitched and broken sobs from him. I held him for what felt like hours, trying to wrap my mind around how this could happen to both of us and how we would ever survive life without him. It was as if my father had died all over again, but this time I was fully grown up and knew how to truly feel every searing, agonizing facet of the pain.
I was very young when my own father died. I never cried until weeks afterward, and even then it felt as if I cried because I was expected to. I missed my father terribly and I was heartbroken, but I did not understand. I knew logically that his death meant that he was never coming back; that I would never see him again. What I did not understand is how the death of a parent wholly alters the shape and being of a child and his or her future self. I did not understand that to the outside world, I would forever be that child who lost her father too young and should be pitied, or that I would forever be wary of any kind of relationship with men, terrified so much by the mere possibility of loving and losing them that I would subconsciously push every one of them away. I would be forever broken, and forced to build a façade that gave an air of acceptance and even slight indifference “because I was so young,” when it happened, though the truth lay in the opposite. When he died, I was too young to experience the grief as I needed to. I shut down, and the part of me that needed to process all those emotions in order to move on and grow hid quietly in a corner, biding her time.
When my father-in-law died, that hidden part of me burst from her shadowy forgotten corner, glowing in a passionate and terrible rage born from fear and despair. She brought forth with her every feeling I had spent the last 11 years since my own father’s death unconsciously subduing, and I thought I would die from the sheer concussive force of her escape. I have spent the years since my father-in-law’s death trying to put out the ancient fires of loss and anguish that she stoked, but over time I learned that those fires can never be extinguished. They are always there, smoldering endlessly like hot coals. However, I have learned to ease the flames through understanding what the lives and deaths of two of the three most important men in my life did to me as a whole. I am a completely different person because of each of those men, both for their influence on me while alive and just as much for their influence on me in death.
With their lives, they made me a woman of immense, unabashed love. Because of them I am strong and free-willed, independent and humbled by how lucky I am to have the family and life I do. With their deaths, I learned resilience, acceptance, and humility; how despair and the mere fear of it can drive a person to manic paranoia and crippling instability, and how to process –and even love– the intensely altered person I became. My love for them and my heartbreak at losing them brought about in me a fervent gratitude and wonder at the astounding man I still do have with me, and a constant desire to never take a moment of our amazing life and love we share for granted. These remarkable men taught me how to take something so profoundly negative and devastating and find the obscure, glowing silver lining there that helps to bring some balance and meaning to seemingly meaningless and cruel twists of fate. I am better because of each of them and everything they are and were, even on my worst days. Better, and eternally grateful.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
It's been, strangely enough, exactly 6 months since I last blogged. It is a new year, a new decade... much has changed, and much is still the same. There is a lot of hope on the horizon, of lot of promise of good things to come, but those things aren't quite here yet.
To follow up on some things from my last post:
1) I finished my phlebotomy course. I passed with a B (I would have been happier with an A but really I was just ecstatic to get through the damn class), got all of my 40 required class-lab draws done, did a job shadowing in the ER in September which was awesome, but where I also contracted the H1N1 virus. My phlebotomy externship was due to start 5 days after my shadow and I wound up having to postpone it until mid-October as H1N1 kicked my ass. My externship was amazing. I met some truly wonderful people, both patients and hospital employees alike. I did realllly well and finished my externship with 118 draws, when the state only requires 50. I hardly missed at all and all of my patients seemed to be honestly impressed with my knowledge and skill, and most would forget I was a student. It was nice to say I did well and I am very proud of my accomplishments in that regard. At the end of November I finally had all the documents in hand that I needed to send in to the state to get my license, including my certificate from my school and the hospital, and my National certificate.
November 20th saw them shipped off via certified mail so they wouldn't give me any of that "we never received your paperwork" crap. I hunkered down and prepared to wait until at least February for a response, as that was the time frame people were giving me for the wait. However, Christmas day I happened to check the status on line just in passing, and discovered my application was approved, and very shortly thereafter I had a piece of paper with my license number on it. 2 weeks after that, I finally got my real license.
I nearly peed myself when this finally came, a full month earlier than I had expected it to. I'm super excited, but it hasn't changed anything unfortunately. In the 3 weeks that I have had my actual license in hand, I have yet to find a single opening at any location for a phlebotomist or lab assistant. While I'm proud of my accomplishment, the change a job would bring has yet to come to me.
2) I mentioned in my last post that we were considering filing for bankruptcy. Well... we did. When we found out that my hubby's wages were going to be garnished by over $400 a paycheck, there was absolutely no way we could have that happen and be able to keep our heads above water. We didn't really have a choice. I was totally against it at first and embarrassed, but I am now so happy that we did it. The weight of that financial burden being gone, of knowing that we no longer owe tens of thousands of dollars for ridiculous reasons to mean, heartless companies, is HUGE. My stress level has plummeted. Our relationship has gotten even better than it was, and it has brought us closer. It changed our habits for the better and gave us the opportunity to see and analyze the mistakes we were making, and learn how to make better financial choices from here on out. It was scary and expensive, but it's done and we are happy.
3) Babies. Still, none. But there is, finally, some hope. Remember that clinic I mentioned that specializes in PCOS that I had found? Well, we finally went down there in December. They were having a free seminar to introduce themselves and their practice to potential new clients, and to explain causes and possible treatments of infertility. The clinic is state-of-the-art and AMAZING. I walked in and nearly walked out because just by the decor I thought there might be a $1000 cover charge just to step over the threshold. But they are the same price as, and in same cases cost less than other clinics we have looked at. Scott loved the seminar for all its information; he was engrossed and I was surprised at his interest. He later explained that though he knew what my issues were, he never really knew what exactly our options could be, or why some people are infertile for other reasons and he found the whole thing fascinating. So we stayed and watched the videos and sat through the Q&A, and were invited to talk privately with the doctor doing the presentation if we were so inclined after the seminar was over. I had been very nervous the whole night, getting hopeful then telling myself to stop because I had heard so many "no's" before. So the moment the seminar ended, I grabbed Scott's hand and marched straight up to the doctor and introduced us, and told our story. How we've been to numerous clinics who refuse to help us because of my size. How it kills me that I see women hundreds of pounds heavier than me who can get pregnant, but I can't. How I understood the risks of carrying a child to term at my size and how I was willing to take those risks and sign away their worry of a lawsuit if something went wrong. And I flat-out asked him if he was going to reject me because I'm fat, or if he would understand that I am young and healthy and we want a family and deserve it, because if not then we weren't going to waste the money and time to drive down there again. He looked me straight in the eye and said he would never refuse to help someone get pregnant simply because of their size. He explained he had gotten women bigger than me and with worse cases of PCOS pregnant, and that he would love to work with us. I broke down crying right there, because I had honestly come to believe that no one would ever agree to help us unless I miraculously lost 150 pounds. I hugged him and cried on him, thanked him profusely, and we went out to a celebratory dinner. 2 weeks later, we had a (free, again!) phone consultation with him to discuss our issues and options and next steps. He wanted us to send over our medical records, have lab work done and for Scott to get a semen analysis and me to get an HSG, or hysterosalpingogram, which is a special kind of x-ray done on my uterus and remaining fallopian tube and ovary. The next phone appointment, which was last week, we went over all our tests and determined that my uterus is in excellent shape, Scott's sperm are just fine, and my tube is not blocked. He explained that fertility rates frequently go up after an HSG, so he wants us to try timing intercourse with my supposed ovulation (which I don't think is happening) and see what happens. So now we're stuck there. However, I have also recently been put on insulin, as oral medication alone has not been doing the trick. When I went in for my insulin instruction appointment, I was weighed for the first time in months. I discovered that I am now just 13 pounds away from the weight I needed to get to for my bariatric surgery, which I had kind of given up on. I don't know how I lost the weight, but now I am considering the surgery again. If I do it, my HBP and diabetes would probably go away, and we might not even need infertility treatment as things may normalize after the weight loss. But, if I do do it, we would have to wait at least a year to even start trying to get pregnant for the safety of the baby. I am torn. We both desperately want a baby now, but it seems much smarter to try to get my health fully straightened out, for the sake of not just our theoretical baby's well-being, but for my own. I don't want to be on all the medications I'm on when I'm pregnant. I don't want to barely be able to move because of the added weight. I want to be able to keep up with him/her as they grow. But I'm still terrified of the surgery, of having my system rerouted, of going under, of the possible complications, and of the way of life afterward. I love food. I don't eat badly... I love cooking and eating super delicious, local organic foods. I love experiencing other cultures through food. I love how food brings families together, and I love going out and trying new foods with my hubby. Food is an adventure, and "the only beautiful thing that truly nourishes." My surgery will condemn me to years of jello, cream of wheat, and very small amounts of very boring things. And even after that, even once I'm fully healed and at goal weight, there are foods I can never experience again, and it will always be in super tiny amounts. Giving that up is definitely worth getting a baby in return, but that doesn't make it any easier to commit to the decision. And though 13 pounds is not that much, it feels like 1,000 pounds. 13 pounds will not be easy for me to lose, as the last 35 has taken me ages to get off and I don't even know how I did it.
Reservations and decisions to be made are abundant right now... I feel like a sucky horoscope.
For my own sanity, I need to blog more often, so I will. That's all for today, but Daisy sends out her love:
Monday, July 27, 2009
Bad news: I have no time to blog anymore!
I am pleased to announce that I now have my own "thing" as opposed to before, when I was usually just proud to say "I'm an engineer's wife" or my hubby this and my hubby that. Don't get me wrong, I'm majorly proud of my man, but for a long time I've felt like an extension of him and his career, just mulling along and supporting him without really having my own thing.
And now I do, and it's awesome.
Ladies and gents, I am about to become a state-certified phlebotomist, or for those with less-than-stellar medical terminology knowledge, a professional vampire. When you go to the lab to have you blood drawn, or go to the blood bank to donate blood (which, PLEASE, go do, right now!), I will be the one sticking the needle in you. Sounds weird, I know. but I LOVE it. I always wanted to be in the medical field, but never felt like I was good enough at school to handle the education, or like I was a strong enough person to handle the pressure that is ever-present in hospitals. But I wanted it, and I went for it. I registered for the SRJC's phlebotomy program, which is one of the hardest classes offered on the campus - 5.5 units in 8 weeks. We were poking each other on the very first lab day - head first into something that is quite terrifying. I was crazy scared at first, not only about having to put needles in people and hit the correct thing without hurting them more than necessary, but also about the studying and the tests, which I knew would be incredibly difficult. Thus far, I am one of the top students in the class, but in lecture/testing and the lab. I sucked at it at first and wondered if it was the right path for me, but I did something very unlike myself: I faced what I was scared of and dove into it as quickly as possible. I knew the only way to get past the fear of failing was to just do it, and learn from whatever mistakes I made. I was previously quite a coward at my core so this was a big deal for me; it has changed me enormously for the better in how I approach situations and has also been a wonderful boost to my confidence. I love what I'm doing, I love the people I'm working with, I love coming home and having something of my own to talk about, and I love having my own true identity and career goal. It's a huge step in the direction I want to go; I may have years of nursing school ahead of me but this will allow me to be getting hospital experience under my belt the whole time I'm in school, which will be invaluable once I'm actually a nurse and applying for jobs. It's a wild, busy ride but I'm really happy.
In other news, Daisy turned one in May, we had our 2nd wedding anniversary in June, for which hubby bought me a nice new laptop, and then later we got iPhones and pinned it on the anniversary for an excuse, too. =]
I freakin' love my iPhone. I had no interest in it until we went into the store to get new phones because our contract was up. I was dead set on the new Blackberry Curve, and within 15 minutes I was in love with the iPhone. It's just so handy and versatile, and my love for it must be quite clear because 2 weeks into my phlebotomy class, 3 of my 4 professors had gone and gotten one on account of me. I should get a commission.
Babies are still desired, but no closer. I found a fertility clinic in San Francisco that specializes in my condition, PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) but have yet to go down. My overwhelming desire for children is being set aside due to finances... my unemployment has run out, and we received word that hubby's wages are going to be garnished due to an old credit card. We thought we had dealt with them but apparently not, so we're going to see a lawyer tomorrow about possibly filing for bankruptcy, or at least finding a way to stop them. It really sucks and is causing so much stress that we just don't need... I hate it.
C'est la vie I guess... so much good going on, but always tainted by the bad.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
So yeaaahhhh, my vagina hates me. It has hated me since April of 1997 when womanhood finally reared it's snarling, evil head. Since that awful day, I've have gone though more super-plus flow tampons and overnight-flow pads and even diapers than most women and babies go through in their adult lives and infancies, respectively. It's a nightmare that never seems to go away and that is always evolving. Docs come up with a new way to kind of tame it, but within a year it becomes immune and figures out a way around said treatment and we're back at square 1. So there is only one conclusion, obviously... there is a masochistic, evolving demon that lives in my uterus. Fuck.
My first period required diapers. Not like hugely giant pads, but ACTUAL adult diapers that my mom brought home from the hospital. Somehow she did not seem concerned, or at least not as mortified as I was. I am 12 years old and bleeding out like someone jackhammered my cooter so she just brings home supplies to soak it all up. Nice. She had a similar experience, so she just warned me to tough it out and get used to it. SHE has had a hysterectomy at this point. If I weren't so desperately clinging to the ever-thinning chance of breeding little minions of my own, I would have done the same. It has actually been offered to my by my gynecologist... I am 23 years old and she has offered to give me a full hysterectomy should I ever choose it. That tells you how mean my cooter really is to me.
When I was 17, my masochistic vagina and her inner counterparts decided to spawn a friend. It started within my right fallopian tube and got so big that it obliterated the tube and grew into my ovary and stretched the whole thing out, from the inside, to just a useless, paper-thin layer covering this giant cyst. I missed the last quarter of my senior year recovering from it, and all I have to show for it is a scar the size of the Grand Canyon.
That is my surgeon's large, plate-sized hand, obscured in size by my monstrous cyst. Awesome, right?
This is not a little dish... this is a full-sized hospital bucket, nearly filled by the mass of my vagina's demon-spawn. This is also my ovary and fallopian tube, stretched completely around it so you have no idea either one is there. So now I'm like, half a woman.
This has been my worst experience thus far. I had not even been aware of the fact that anything was wrong until it shifted onto my hip nerve and had me screaming like a rabid banshee. It was filled with liquid so, when still inside me, it kinda spread out and formed to my organs so I looked like i maybe put on a little weight, but it wasn't like a big obvious watermelon tumor thing sticking out. Not to say I didn't look much better once the 17-pound monstrosity had been removed. I hope to never experience this crap again.
However, I'm terrified that I will. I keep waiting for one to pop up on my only remaining ovary and completely lose all hope of having babies. I want the babies. Sometimes I look at babies, full of poo and crying and general grossness and I almost wonder why. But I know without a doubt that I want to be a mom more than anything else in the world, and no matter how many doctors tell me it won't happen, I will keep trying until my body is wasted. Which seems not far off.
I've been on about 20,000 different types of b/c to try to control my cycles. For about a year before I was married, we tried something new after the birth control failed time and time again and a new approach was deemed necessary. Lupron injections... a synthetic hormone that forced my body into menopause, thus halting all menstrual cycles. It wasn't permanent so it wouldn't jeopardize having children something, but temporarily made me a sweaty, hot-flashing, crazy old bitch. My hubby got a super nice preview of his life in 20 years.
Menospause - now in travel size!
The Lupron worked... for a time. About a year and a half later (approximately 3 months after we got married) I stopped the Lupron to see if maybe we could get pregnant. For the first time EVER in my entire life, I had a series of normal cycles. By normal I mean every 30-35 days, 5 days long. They were still heavy, but I could PREDICT when they were going to come and this was a fascinating new thing to me. Prior to that time, my periods could have been anywhere from 2 months to a year apart, and would usually last anywhere from 3-12 weeks. No, I'm not kidding.
I was so convinced that I would get pregnant because my cycles were suddenly regular that I mangled my poor hubby in procreation sex. But it never happen, and within 3 months the wonder of regularity was going away. Right before Christmas, my period came. By March, it had not stopped once. My doctor gave me two options: a D&C and if that didn't work, a hysterectomy. I was so exhausted and fed up with all the months of bleeding and excruciating cramps that I almost caved to a hysterectomy. But I couldn't do it; I want the kids too bad.
So we tried the D&C. I was admitted to the hospital and taken in for surgery and everything went fine. I continued to bleed for another couple of weeks but it started to slow and eventually stopped. When it stopped, I decided I'd had enough of my gyno's opinions and we went to a fertility specialist. Not just to see if she could help me get pregnant someday, but to see if she had any ideas to help with my cycles. She told us she couldn't help us get pregnant right away because of my weight, but she did put me on an experimental drug that amazingly, a year later, is still working. It's called Femara and it is usually for breast cancer patients, but has been shown to help women like myself who are struggling with super-heavy flows and irregular cycles. For the first 8 months, I had no period at all. That was a very nice 8 months. Then, in November, I got the 2nd round of fairly normal cycles. Since then, I have had a period every 30-40 days, about 5-7 days long but never longer. I have real hormone surging and like actual PMS for the first time ever (my poor hubby... he'd never had to experience that with me before and now I think he questions why he married me about once a month). But there is no denying that these periods are AWFUL. I bleed so heavily that every time it first shows up I lay in bed crying, wondering if I should go to the ER. I have to sleep with towels underneath me in case my fabricated dam of the heaviest-flow tampons and TWO overnight pads doesn't hold. And the cramps are as if someone took an over-sized corkscrew, held it in the fire until it was glowing red, and rammed it up there and just started twisting it around. It's terrible.
Mad photoshop skills.
It was late this time. To the point where I though maybe it wasn't going to come and I would have a nice, long, blissful no-period time again. but it showed up yesterday, out of nowhere, and I can't even lay down for fear of bleeding everywhere. I seriously question my sanity every time it comes, wondering if children are really worth putting myself and my husband through this every time. I know how much it hurts him to see me so miserable and in so much pain and for him to not be able to do anything about it. He fully supports any decision I make, hysterectomy or not. I don't know why, entirely, I continue to put up with this, but I want our babies so ridiculously badly that I just can't give up. I will suffer through it month after month, year after year, until we meet one end or another: babies, or no chance of babies.
Turns out my vagina isn't the masochist...