Friday, February 27, 2015

Tick Tock

Yesterday morning, I started my day with a full-blown panic attack.

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

Catching Up and Our Greatest Adventure Yet

I'm not sure why I'm choosing this moment to poke back into my blog. Maybe my husband, who has started his own amazing blog, has been my inspiration. Maybe because I'm looking back at my old posts and feeling sad I didn't document the last 2 years more, because it's been a crazy, whirlwind hoot. As always, I can't guarantee I will be able or willing to visit regularly, but perhaps for the sake of documentation and a little bit for my sanity, I will certainly try.

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.