Give me curry, or give me curry–15w4d

We officially made it to week 15 on Saturday. To celebrate, I am going to order Thai curry from every Thai restaurant in town until I find the one that will make me stop craving Thai curry. Once that’s settled, we’ll move on to Indian. Mind you, Catch won’t eat Indian or Thai, so this will be a lonesome endeavor.

I’ve had lots of cravings. If you talk about food I will probably want to eat that food, but those cravings are generally fleeting. The curry thing is the only craving that has been ongoing. In fact, I made it a condition* of shopping with my mother on Saturday that we could shop as long as we could have Indian for dinner.

*It took me 10 minutes, a trip down the hall to ask a coworker, and a thesaurus to help me think of the word “condition” just now. I walked into my friend’s office and said, “In a contract, what do you call it when one party agrees to do something as long as the other party agrees to do something else?” She looked at me like I was crazy. This baby is making me stupid.

Anyway, 15 weeks. Things are going reasonably well. I think. Maybe. It’s hard to say since I haven’t seen or heard the baby in 3 weeks. After so many weekly ultrasounds, this information void is painful. I’m hoping I’ll at least get to hear a Doppler heartbeat when I meet with a midwife for a physical exam on February 9th. I wish I could just email my doctor and tell her I’m neurotic and need reassurance, but this woman is going to be manhandling my vagina in the future and I really want to stay on her good side.

Speaking of sides, it doesn’t matter what side of me you’re looking at, I still don’t look pregnant. Just fat. Which is fine, except that it does nothing to reassure me that I AM pregnant. The only thing it reassures me of is that I made the right decision having turkey kale soup for lunch today rather than pursuing takeout curry. I can absolutely say that my belly is making it slightly difficult to reach forward for my water when I’m sitting on the couch. It feels weird that I’m happy about that.

The other day, I asked Catch if she ever has those “holy shit, we’re having a baby” moments that I’ve been having often. Her response? “No. I am just totally excited that we’re having a baby.” One of many reasons why I love her.

Finally, WHERE THE HELL DID THESE BOOBS COME FROM? Dear dog. They’re still sore as hell and we’ve now added shooting pains and itchiness to the mix. It just seems so unfair. Hey universe—if you’re going to give me big boobs, at least make it so I can have some fun with them!

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Wait. What?

At my first visit with my OB about a month ago, she informed me that I am not immune to chicken pox or rubella.  Since both of those vaccines use live viruses and I can’t have them when I’m pregnant, I was told to be careful. She added that she hasn’t heard of a rubella outbreak in a very long time.

Cut to the recent Disneyland measles outbreak.

To be clear, rubella (German Measles) is not the same virus as regular measles.  HOWEVER, the MMR vaccination (measles, mumps, rubella) is supposed to vaccinate you against all 3 viruses in one shot.  So there is a chance that if my rubella vaccination is no longer effective, neither is my measles vaccination.

I emailed my doctor’s office for clarity on the matter because I am supposed to go to Disneyland in a few weeks.  This was the response (from an RN):

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Three things irk me about this email:

1) She said there’s no record of administration of the MMR vaccine in my chart.  Well DUH.  I received the vaccine as a child, and I have only been seeing this doctor for a month–and only since I’ve been pregnant.  Of course there would be no record of the vaccine in my chart.  I would have expected that she would have looked at the lab work in my chart, since that’s where my doctor’s information came from.  That seems like common sense to me.

2) The fertility clinic tested my rubella immunity last January – 12 months ago – and unless I am reading this result totally wrong, it seems that I was immune in January.  How the hell did that change in a year?  Also–proof that I DID receive the vaccine as a child.

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3) Finally, the statement that Disneyland is safe for an un-vaccinated pregnant person right now.  Because immediately after reading this message from the RN, I popped onto Facebook and this was the first thing in my feed:

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Not that I am one to believe everything I read online, but I’m seeing the same message from multiple sources, and I figure who knows best–the RN tasked with answering emails, or the health officials and epidemiologists?

I don’t know.  Maybe I’m overreacting, but I feel like this nurse gave a vulnerable pregnant woman bad advice.  Fortunately, I have my own common sense and I’m not about to take a trip to measles-ville after everything we’ve been through–but what if I didn’t?  I’m not going to be seeing this particular doctor again until early March (I just see a midwife and the perinatologist in Feb), but I think I should probably mention this to her when I see her.  What do you think?

A Long, Sunny Weekend – 14w4d

First, I want to say thank you to all of you who commented on my last post.  Your words were exactly what I needed to hear, and I am so grateful.  I haven’t gone back to respond and honestly, I probably won’t—only because I’m feeling pretty good the last few days and I don’t really want to go back there at the moment.  But thank you. Infinitely.  You made me feel so much better about being sad, and that’s not an easy thing to do.

We had gorgeous weather in L.A. over the weekend, and the sunshine made it a bit easier to pull myself out of that dark place as well.  On Saturday, we celebrated our official first steps into the second trimester over breakfast and then ran a bunch of errands.  I can’t remember the last time I was so happy to be out buying dog food.  My energy is slowly starting to return, and I have days where I feel like a normal human being.  It’s amazing.

On Sunday, Catch watched the Packers lose while I took the opportunity to get myself back into the kitchen.  I made these awesome baked turkey & spinach meatballs.  (I’ve made them with kale before, too.)  The recipe is HUGE but they freeze beautifully and make a great office lunch.  I packaged them up for our lunches this week with some spaghetti squash and marinara sauce and a side of steamed broccoli.  Then, since our Meyer lemon tree is about to explode, I made the Barefoot Contessa’s recipe for lemon bars. I don’t think I need to say how good they are.  The kitchen is my domain, and it felt really good to have the energy to be back in there.

Monday was my favorite. When a day off from work coincides with a Monday, it is a beautiful thing.  We started the day with the best waffles you will ever make.  Seriously.  Smitten Kitchen knows her waffles.  (And her pie crust, in case you ever have a need.)  These have ruined me for all other waffles.  It was a beautiful day, so we piled the dogs into the car, picked up my mom and her dog, and headed to Santa Barbara to visit our favorite dog beach.  (There are dog beaches closer to us, but this one is our favorite–it’s worth the drive.) I am my absolute happiest when I’m outdoors, and the beach was medicinal.

I also wanted to let you know that I met with a neurologist yesterday at the request of the perinatologist.  My neurological exam was absolutely normal, and she really doesn’t think I have anything to be concerned about.  She did confirm for me that the headaches I’ve been getting since I got pregnant (I had one for 4 days last week) are mild migraines (yay!) and as we all know, all I can do is pop a couple of Tylenol and hope the universe takes pity.  The best part of my visit with her was that she has two kids, both of them via IVF. We chatted about everything quite a bit.  It was so nice to talk to a doctor who really gets it.  Too bad I (hopefully) won’t ever need to see her again (knock wood)!

I hope you’re all having a wonderful week.  I can’t believe it’s already Wednesday!

Trigger – 13w6d

Warning: This is a touchy, emotional, unapologetic post about pregnancy loss–even though I’m still pregnant. If you can’t read about how sad I’m still feeling without wanting to smack me and tell me how grateful I should be, please don’t continue past the line. I am mostly writing this for my own sake–just to get it out–but I’m also writing for the girl in the future who finds out that she’s lost half of an early twin pregnancy and reaches out to Google.


Last night, something knocked the wind out of me. I sat there on the couch next to Catch and I tried to work through it in my head, but it was just one of those things that comes along when you least expect it. I went from being absolutely fine to suddenly feeling like gravity had reversed.

I told Catch I needed to talk and within seconds, I was sobbing. I haven’t cried like that since the day we found out we’d lost one of our twins. Last night—more than ever before—I just wanted my baby back. I couldn’t stop myself. Somewhere in our house is a second pair of baby-sized red converse—an ultrasound photo of two beating hearts—a book about twin pregnancy—and in that moment, I just wanted it all back. I wanted everything to be as it was 6 weeks ago. I wanted to be panicked about how we’ll pay for daycare. I wanted our (deleted) “Twins!” board on Pinterest. I wanted the universe to change its mind and admit that it made a mistake.

A year ago, I thought losing weight was hard. I thought going through fertility treatments was hard. I thought watching other people announce their pregnancy was hard. Today, I can tell you that none of that holds a candle to this place I am in right now. For me, this is hard—this cocktail of loss and gain and hormones and fear and hope and exhaustion. Now, we have so much more to lose.

My mother says our loss was for the best. She is relieved. Friends say, “But you still have one!” or “It was so early—it happens all the time!” But none of them see what I see in ultrasounds. None of them understand the void. None of them remember what it sounded like when that void had a heartbeat. I see a baby where they see a black hole.

This is what we see on the screen every time we see our remaining healthy baby. (Pardon the link, but I really didn’t want this photo showing up in your feeds.) This is what a “vanishing” twin ultrasound looks like at 11 weeks after a loss around 7 weeks. It doesn’t exactly vanish, does it?  You can’t actually see what remains of the embryo in this photo, but I could see it clear as day when the ultrasound tech measured it at our NT scan last week. It’s like a kick to the stomach every single time.

There’s a part of me that feels like after everything, I owe it to everyone—all of you included—to be blissful and glowing, but it’s just not happening. It’s not for a lack of effort. I want nothing more than to be able to put everything behind me. To move forward without this overwhelming fear that we will lose our other baby as well. I would love to be able to stop checking the toilet paper for blood. I would love to stop obsessing over symptoms and worrying about what’s happening now that I’m off all of the meds. I would love to be able to take a perfect ultrasound of a perfectly developing fetus at face value.  I have dreamed of pregnancy my entire life, and this is not what I want from these 40 weeks.

I will tell all of you what I told Catch last night. I’m trying. I really am. Most of the time, I feel like happier times are right around the corner. I just don’t know which corner. Perhaps it’s the one when it becomes apparent that there’s something more than flab in my mid-section. Perhaps I’ll find it when I start feeling our baby move. Maybe it won’t be until I’m holding her in my arms. Regardless, I know I’ll get there and I promise to keep trying until I do.

13 Weeks (But Who’s Counting?)

We reached the 13 week mark on Saturday. Silly me believed this to be the end of the first trimester, but my apps have informed me that the second trimester doesn’t start until week 14. Is it just me, or does it seem like there’s a bit of contradictory information about this out there? They can all agree that the baby is the size of a freaking peach, but they can’t agree on the trimesters? And what is with this fruit comparison business? A peach may well have a 3-inch diameter, but I have yet to see one that weighs less than an ounce. Where do they come up with this stuff?

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For anyone who’s interested, here’s what’s happening at this point:

  • The nausea is mostly gone. I still have the occasional bit, but it’s nothing like it was. This is by far my favorite thing about week 13.
  • It seems my body is celebrating this change by wanting to eat all of the food in sight. I’m hungry every two hours. The other night, I probably could have eaten an entire pizza by myself. I didn’t, but I could have. This is going to be the tricky part for me—especially since I’m no longer taking Metformin. Time to start watching what I eat.
  • Sometimes my boobs feel absolutely fine and sometimes the slightest bit of pressure sends me reeling. This is supposed to improve sometime soon, I believe?
  • I feel positively fat. I know that sounds cliché, but being that I was a size 16 (sometimes 18) to begin with, I don’t yet have any trace of a lovely round protrusion. Instead, it seems that the lumps I already had have just become more pronounced and it looks like I ate too many Christmas cookies—and I’m fairly resentful of that because I could barely even LOOK at a freaking Christmas cookie in December. I do not mind a growing belly one bit except that it would be nice if it could look a bit more pregnant and less like a pile of leftover holiday mashed potatoes.
  • I am never not tired. It doesn’t matter how much sleep I get, I can always sleep some more. I really hope this eases up as we move toward the second trimester. This morning I unexpectedly fell asleep as I was getting dressed because I stopped to cuddle one of the dogs for “a minute” and ended up being an hour late for work.
  • Pregnancy brain. It’s real. Names, dates, deadlines, destinations—they just seem to vanish. Poof. At the most inopportune moments, too.

All that said, I have to mention how exciting it is to be 5 days away from the second trimester. This milestone felt light years away when I was staring at positive pregnancy tests in November. I remember seeing some of you in the “teen” weeks back then and thinking that I just want to be there already. In my mind, every step ahead of where I am presently seems like it will be a little bit less scary. That hasn’t exactly been my experience, but it’s nice to at least pretend that I will find comfort and security in whatever milestone I decide is next.

One last thing along the same vein… Sometimes, I’ll be reading your blogs and you’re 20 weeks or 30 weeks or just about to give birth and it feels like you are SO far ahead of me.  In reality, our kids will probably be in the same year in school.  I find that strangely comforting.

Records

I received my medical records from my RE’s office last week.  Initially, I let the whole packet sit untouched.  Why do I need to read records of things that I lived through?  It’s not like I wasn’t there speaking to my doctor every step of the way.

Eventually, curiosity got the better of me.  I grabbed the envelope on my way out the door one morning and flipped through it on my lunch break that day.

Here is where I offer some advice.  If you are ever given a stack of your medical records, and your emotional state is perhaps already fragile for one reason or another, don’t read them.  Just don’t.

I learned that there are things doctors write in their notes–because they have to–that perhaps you don’t really need to see spelled out on paper.

For example, we all know I was spotting quite a bit early in my pregnancy.  It started the day after my first positive pregnancy test and continued through about 6-ish weeks.  My low initial progesterone level had them watching my hormones very carefully, and beyond that, nothing much was ever said about the bleeding except to watch it and let them know if it worsened.  We all know that bleeding in pregnancy can either be something or it can be nothing, and my doctor reminded us of that every step of the way.

In her notes, however, bleeding = threatened abortion.  Those words are scrawled across the paper on her notes from every single ultrasound, including the one that details our “missed abortion.”  Even our last ultrasound with her–when everything looked good and I hadn’t had any bleeding for weeks–noted a threatened abortion.  Under her “Plan” it lists “Spontaneous Abortion Precautions.”

I haven’t been able to get those words out of my head ever since I read them. It caused all sorts of feelings. Fear. Sadness. Panic. Initially, I was even resentful of my doctor (who I LOVE) for not really discussing it with us.  Except she did.  She just didn’t use those exact words because she is a human being as much as she is a doctor. You are all witnesses to the fact that I was well aware that bleeding could equal something bad.  And even when all of the bleeding stopped and had for weeks, losing one baby certainly didn’t bode well for the threatened abortion notes, either.

I really, really wish I had just left that envelope sealed and handed everything over to my OB without a second thought.  I didn’t need those words in my head, and my RE knew I didn’t.  I wasn’t any less aware of the risks before I read her notes, and now all I can see is those awful words–even after yesterday’s amazing scan.

How amazing would it be to just be a normal, oblivious pregnant lady?  The ones who automatically assume that unprotected sex equals pregnancy or that two pink lines equal baby or that two heartbeats equal twins.  It’s hard not to be a bit resentful of that kind of ignorant bliss.

NT Scan – 12w5d

*Warning – Ridiculous amount of happy pregnancy gushing ahead*

I figured out a magical cure for bad days: Ultrasounds. I wish I could schedule one for every bad day, because this one turned my (work-related) frown upside down faster than you can say, “And there’s the heartbeat.” (158 today!) (Also–knock wood because I know all too well from personal experience that not every ultrasound is a happy one.)

Is it weird to be totally in love with a genetic evaluation? Because I am in love with the NT scan. That was seriously so cool. 20 minutes in a dark room with my baby wiggling around on a giant screen mounted for my viewing pleasure. Brain, heart, spine, bladder—I got to see all of the parts. It was amazing.

The NT measurement itself was well under the point that causes concern. I think she said they want a max of 3 and ours was 1.4? Something like that. I honestly don’t remember. I was too distracted by wiggling arms. We’ll have to wait until my doctor reviews all of the anatomical scans to see if there’s any cause for concern regarding anything else.

To top off my complete baby high, Catch and I agreed on a girl name yesterday, and I am over the moon with what we have now. We’ve had a boy name picked out for years, but the girl name was more complicated. In the end, she randomly agreed to my absolute favorite name in the world, even though she had said no previously. Perhaps the last 10 weeks of physical misery I’ve been experiencing helped weaken her resolve.

So not only do we have fantastic names picked out for this little monster, but I am starting to believe that we could actually have a real baby in 27-ish weeks. And a wiggly one at that! PLUS, I finally got the ultrasound picture I’ve been hoping for—goodbye alien seamonkey, hello baby!

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My brother had this to say:

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PS – I am having a really hard time referring to this baby in neutral terms because in my mind, “it” is totally a “she.” I’ve felt that way since the very beginning, and so has Catch. Unfortunately, we have a long wait ahead of us to find out for sure!

The Perinatologist -12w3d

Have I mentioned before that I have a history of seizures? We think they started when I was around 13 or 14 years old, and they stopped when I was about 21. I only ever had them in my sleep, and as long as I was on medication, they were 100% controlled. Trouble was that I hated the side effects of my medication, so I often didn’t take it and then wham—seizure. Anyway, it has been more than a dozen years since I’ve had one, and I’ve been off meds for a very long time. I haven’t really given it a second thought except to be absolutely certain I was taking my folic acid when we started TTC.

Unfortunately, Kaiser has decided that my seizure history is a slightly bigger deal, and the perinatologist wasted no time in flagging my chart once I was in the system. I saw her this morning for the first time.

I learned a great deal at our appointment. As far as the seizure thing goes, she is only concerned that changing body chemistry during pregnancy could trigger something, and she wants us all to be prepared in the event that happens. That means establishing a relationship with a Kaiser neurologist, a possible EEG, and probably (hopefully) not much else.

We talked about other things, too. For example, she informed me that since we lost Baby B after 6 weeks, the results from our first trimester genetic screening will be useless because of the presence of Baby B’s genetic material. We will have to rely solely on the NT scan for now. That’s scheduled for Thursday.

My RE took me off of estrogen & progesterone over the weekend (yay!) but when I asked about metformin, I was told to continue taking it until my OB tells me to stop. I had asked my OB about it at my visit last week, and she said it was up to my RE. The perinatologist asked what the plan is for the metformin, and when I told her what the other two doctors had said, she insisted that she wants me off of the met in two days, period.

We also discussed my increased risk for gestational diabetes, courtesy of PCOS. They had me do a 1-hour glucose test a few weeks ago and the results were perfectly normal but I thought it was really weird that they’d test me when I’m taking metformin. She agreed, and said we’ll be testing again later on.

I had a very quick ultrasound, and our little one is still measuring on track. She gave me a picture, but it’s not the greatest, and I’m not posting it because it shows Baby B’s sac and I feel a bit protective of that. Maybe it’s silly. I don’t know. I shared an elevator with a woman and her baby twins on the way into the doctor’s office today, and I couldn’t even look at them. I feel like I should be “over” this, and really I’m mostly okay—it’s just that certain things (like ultrasounds and twins in elevators) are triggers, and they sort of knock the air out of me for a moment or two.

Anyway, I’m honestly a bit worried because I keep seeing all of these great profile shots at 11/12 weeks that are clearly BABY, and all I ever get is an upside down sea monkey or an alien. Maybe we’ll get a more human angle on Thursday.

Little Victories – 12 Weeks

I have managed to eat (and enjoy) 3 meals in a row. That’s a record since this all day sickness kicked in at around 5 weeks. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I have missed enjoying food. Especially this time of year when it is EVERYWHERE. Eating had become a miserable chore that caused stress and anxiety. Normally, I am a girl who LOVES food, so it’s like I didn’t even recognize myself anymore.

I’m not saying I’m leaving morning sickness in the dust. I had a total meltdown while grocery shopping this morning because there was no food in the entire store that appealed to me. Still, it is certainly a vast improvement.

Today is my second hormone and needle-free day since I don’t know when. Huzzah! Perfect timing because I honestly couldn’t take it anymore. My entire lower back is either numb or covered in painful lumps. Goodbye PIO! I am tempted to throw what remains of you off of a bridge.

Last night, we went out. With friends! And I stayed upright and awake until we left the restaurant sometime after 10. Major progress seeing as how if you inquired about my whereabouts any other time over the last two weeks, my exasperated wife would have told you I was napping. Forever. (I just woke up from a nap, but who’s counting?) We’re even going out with another friend tonight. Insanity!

After struggling with some pretty bad dehydration issues for a few weeks, this morning my brilliant wife suggested that I get a passion iced tea at Starbucks while shopping and it was like the sky opened up and angels started singing. Unlike water (gag, puke, misery), I can actually DRINK this stuff. I made a huge batch of it when I got home from the store, and I don’t care if I turn pink from drinking it, at least I am getting fluids into my poor body.

Life these days is not particularly exciting, but as long as I have these little breakthroughs I feel like I may just survive this first trimester. Come on, baby. You will have me wrapped around your fingers for the rest of my life once you’re here–maybe just cut me a bit of extra slack while you’re still growing those little fingers?

2014

2014 was a force to be reckoned with.  No other year in my history has brought more tears, desperation, depression, pain, prescription medication, and medical bills. For a long time, it has felt like all 2014 has done is take, take, take.  It took my patience, my mental health, my money… and even one of my babies.  2014 shook my foundation.

I can’t forget what 2014 has given me, though.  I lost 50 pounds.  I started running, and I loved every step.  I conquered at least a half dozen fears–everything from doctors to needles to anesthesia to spreading my legs for a stranger (or 6).  My marriage has been tested (thoroughly) and is stronger than ever because of it.  I am a better advocate for myself.

Best of all, 2014 has given me this little fighter who is measuring right on track with a nice strong heartbeat of 171. (Oh my god… it’s like I can breathe for the first time in days.)

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I am relieved to close the doors on 2014, but everything that 2015 will be is because of this year and I can’t forget that.  Our journey has not been the longest or the hardest, but it has been enough to teach me the value of a struggle and I am grateful for every wonderfully miserable moment.

Happy New Year, everyone. Cheers to all of you!