Monday, April 30, 2007

Wobbling Back To Center

Everyone says it's early to see a heartbeat.

Sensible Friend, earning her moniker once again, remarked "Well, if it measured 6 weeks and one day, do you think something went horribly wrong in the ten minutes before your appointment? If it's growing, it's ok."

My mom's GP made another brilliant deduction: "The NP saw 'fetal heart movement.' What do you think that was if it wasn't a heartbeat?"

And I still feel crappy, tired, and nauseated.

So I decided that going back to radiology for another ultrasound tomorrow was not worth the stress. If this pregnancy isn't going to work out, we'll know soon enough. I called back and told them we're not coming tomorrow. We'll try again next week. In the meanwhile, I'm going to try to resist the tendency to freak out and assume the worst. In other words, we're still in the game, and this might actually be our baby.

I'm proud of myself for recognizing my reactions and cancelling that appointment. I may get thrown off kilter easily, but I also seem to have inherited a certain Weeble-like quality from my dad. I wobble, but I don't fall down. At least not all the time.

Ambiguity, Or, How To Drive An Infertile Woman Completely Insane

I was looking forward to posting some happy news here after our ultrasound this morning. Several people commented, based on my betas, that maybe I was carrying twins. I confess, the idea of a Ricochet AND a Droopalong thrilled me.

At the very least, I was hoping to say "all is well, good strong heartbeat!"

Sorry to disappoint.

I woke up at 4:30, nervous as hell, and couldn't really bring myself to eat anything. Hence, nausea. Although I took the lack of actual vomiting as a bad sign. Since two of our local highways are broken, we had to take public transportation, which took twice as long as driving and did nothing to quell the waves of nausea (the dude with the nasty BO didn't help matters, either).

We waited half an hour before they called us. There was an infant in the waiting room. I started bawling. I became convinced that it was going to be bad news.

We finally got shown to a room, where we waited some more.

Finally, the NP came in. Not one we'd met before. The ultrasound showed a sac. A big old sac. After some squinting and maneuvering, she managed to get into focus a little blob on the side of the sac. Then she asked, "You're 5 weeks, right?"

"No. Six." (Dammit, something's wrong! Something's wrong! It's too small!)

She finally managed to measure the blob, and it measured 6 weeks, one day, which is more or less exactly where I'm at, gestationally speaking. She said she could see "some fetal heart movement." I said, in full panic mode by this point, "We should be able to see a heartbeat by now!"

She hemmed, she hawed, she furrowed her brow. (I hate brow furrowing. It always means something bad. Something's wrong, I just know it!)

At that point, I started to cry.

The NP said, "Everything looks ok to me, but I can't really see a heartbeat and you should be able to get an answer. Let me check with radiology."

She left. I cried harder. A nurse came by and shooed us back out into the waiting room.

After another eternal wait, the NP poked her head out again. Didn't bring us back in, just kind of shouted across the waiting room, "Radiology is swamped. They'll call you and set something up for tomorrow."

I got up and crossed the room. "Should we be worried?" I asked.

"Everything looks ok to me. They just have better equipment in radiology, so you can get a more definite answer. They'll call you and set something up."


Yes, I know that fetal heartbeats are visible at 6 weeks only about half the time.

Yes, I know that the fetal measurement is a really good sign.

Yes, I know I'm being a neurotic twit.

I just didn't realize how utterly traumatized I still am after losing a pregnancy at 11 weeks and being unable to get past the beta stage for more than a year after that. After being told I am old, my eggs are scrambled, and our chances of a successful pregnancy are slightly less than those of rolling a seven in craps.

I don't know how to relax and enjoy this process. I don't even know how not to freak myself out. I tried yelling, "Calm the fuck down!" at myself, but oddly enough, that seemed to have the opposite effect. Large quantities of bourbon and hitting myself over the head with a 2x4 are, according to the latest medical literature, contraindicated during pregnancy.

So, I guess all I can do is recognize that the next couple of months are going to be traumatic and anxiety ridden, no matter what.

Fasten your seatbelts, my friends. It's going to be a bumpy ride.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Upside Of Grief

Since we got the first positive beta results, I've been so aware of the ways in which my previous miscarriages have cast a shadow on this experience. Every time I go to the bathroom (which these days is quite a lot) I'm convinced I'll see blood. I have nightmares about the ultrasound. I have flashbacks to the moment we learned our first baby was gone. I torture myself with statistics and probabilities.

Atomic, too, has been scarred. He panics whenever his cell phone rings. He hovers over me with a worried look on his beautiful face. He broods.

Over the last couple of days, though, I've become more aware of the positive things that our struggles have given us. For one, I know our baby, if this is the one, will never ever have to doubt his or her place in this world or in our hearts.

On a completely different level, our past heartaches have given me the ability to appreciate every single thing about this pregnancy. Yesterday, as I was walking through the financial district, listening to my iPod, I started tearing up for no reason.

No, really, NO REASON.

*Ahem* I may actually be the first person ever to be moved to tears by "Boogie Wonderland."

"I'm irrationally emotional because of all the hormones," I thought. "That's so AWESOME!" And then I cried some more and laughed and a homeless lady looked at me in an I-might-swat-at-imaginary-flies-and-wear-tissue-boxes-on-my-feet-but-you're-NUTS kind of way.

And today. Oh, wow. I had to leave the table during an all-day negotiation session multiple times -- mostly to pee, but once to dry heave. I can honestly say it was the happiest I've ever been with my head in a toilet. I even grabbed my phone to surreptitiously text Atomic:

Me: OMG! Honey, I just dry heaved! Isn't that wonderful?

Atomic: I luv u crazy woman

I wouldn't go so far as to say it was worth the misery, but it sure is nice to find so much joy in this process.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Turning Heartache Into Art

Sometimes, people manage to transform their pain into something beautiful and good.

Sometimes, they help heal the world by letting their heartache transform them and make them more empathetic, softer, more grounded.

And when they come together to create something out of their hurt, the world becomes a better place.

The wonderful folks who run the Stirrup Queens and Sperm Palace Jesters blog put together a virtual quilt made up of their readers' thoughts and stories on the concept of "waiting." The result made me cry, and I don't think it was just the hormones.

Check it out. And maybe spend some time visiting the blogs of the women who contributed. They're all incredibly thoughtful and inspiring.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Baby Steps

Yesterday's beta was a lovely 11,732.

When my favorite nurse called with the news, I fell to my knees in gratitude. There's nothing like a year of horrible news to make you appreciate what is good and right and beautiful in life.

They're going to lay off poking me with needles for now. We're scheduled for an ultrasound one week from today. I'm sure I'll spend plenty of time freaking out between now and then, but for now, for this moment, I am just happy.

Today, I am pregnant. And today that's all I need.

Friday, April 20, 2007


We're born, we live for a while, we die.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Whether you believe in reincarnation in a literal sense, or just meditate now and then about all the little particles of various beings that eventually wind up in that broccoli spear on your plate, you cannot deny that birth and death are inextricably bound together.

That lesson was brought home for me in a very vivid way this week.

First, I found out that two of my friends had died, one of a heart attack at age 45. These were friends I saw only once or twice a year, but their deaths felt like a little bit of joy, and a little bit of air, had been sucked out of the world.

Then my father called and told me that my grandmother passed away. She had been so very ill for so long, completely consumed by dementia, to the point of near catatonia, for years. I felt guilty for not shedding tears over her passing. It had been so long since she had been alive in any meaningful sense, it felt more like a gentle letting go, a peaceful return to the earth.

And today, I learned that two other women I know are pregnant. I confess, little Ricochet notwithstanding, it was very hard to hear. I think it will always be difficult for me to hear about other people's pregnancies, especially those that come easily.

But you have to admit, there is something sublimely symmetrical, something almost mystical, about it. Three deaths. Three new lives under construction.

Death, rebirth.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

By the way, I got the news this morning that my beta HcG level had climbed from 820 on Monday to 3700 as of yesterday. My doubling time is a pretty speedy 1.38 days. They don't call him Ricochet Rabbit for nothin'.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Ping! Ping! Ping!

Oh, that Ricochet.

He might just be a keeper.

Yesterday's beta: 820.

My doubling time is 1.56 days.

For those of you keeping score at home, this is very, very good news. Best news we've had in over a year, in fact.

I'm weeping with joy, and still scared to death.

Sensible Friend has decided that I should limit myself to no more than 20 minutes per day of freaking out, and no freaking out around bedtime. We'll see if I can stick to that and spend the rest of my time enjoying the ride.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Rabbit Lived

Back in prehistoric times, before pee sticks and rapid serum beta HcGs, the medical profession used to test for pregnancy by injecting the woman's urine into a female rabbit and then checking said bunny for ovarian changes.

When the test came back positive, people used to say, "The rabbit died."*

Well, my friends, the rabbit lived. And by that I don't mean some martyred bunny injected with my pee.

I mean Ricochet.

I'm kind of hyperventilating and crying as I write this. Every time I calm down, I start thinking about it and get all worked up again. I'm afraid even to say it.

I'm p-p-p-p-.....

Deep breath. Try again

I'm p-p-p-p-knocked up.

My beta HcG was 218, 14 days post-IUI.

Goddess of Mercy, I hope this one sticks. Oh, please, PLEASE let this one stick.

*This, by the way, is based on a misperception of the truth. In reality, the rabbit always died, because that's how they could tell if its ovaries were affected.

And by the way, no actual bunnies were harmed in the making of this blog.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Not The Spirit Guide I Expected

I originally posted this story on a chat board that I often visit, but the more I think about it, the more I wonder if there's a larger lesson in there somewhere.

Or maybe I've finally leapt off the high dive into a giant pool of crazy.

The progesterone supplements give me really vivid dreams. I dream all the time, all night long. I even dream during naps. Yesterday, I was at Lan Ts'ai Ho's office, lying all needled up on a comfy treatment table with a heated blanket over my feet. Lan Ts'ai Ho was reading me one of his Buddhist bedtime stories, in Chinese (he later gave me a translation, and it was a beautiful devotional meditation). So naturally I drifted off to sleep.

I dreamed that Animal from the muppets appeared and said "I'm your spirit guide. Follow me." He turned around and all I could think was, "Huh. I've never seen him from behind before. " He was wearing a little striped vest, and his orange hair was all sticking out, and he had the cutest little pink feet.

I grabbed Atomic's hand and we followed Animal across a desert to the edge of a lake, and then he disappeared, somehow, into my face.

I told Lan Ts'ai Ho about the dream and he asked, "Are you tripping?"

When I told Atomic, he said, "My wife is so weird."

One of my friends suggested that Animal might be the perfect spirit guide for me.

My shrink, thinking perhaps that it was better not to wade into that mess o' madness, simply asked "What do you make of that?"

I'm not sure what to make of it. Maybe Animal is the cute but uncontrollable baby spirit that we're trying to convince to be born. Maybe he's my own desire to break out of these restrictive routines and go pound on a drum. Maybe he's leading us to water and trying to show me how to drink.

Or maybe I just need to lay off the progesterone and not fall asleep with an electric blanket on my feet.

Monday, April 9, 2007

The Mammometer

The little blue and pink coochpills have conspired to create a rather round and extremely tender boobal region. A bra seems not quite sufficient -- a sling, perhaps, or a shelf, might be a better option. At night, I need to scoop them up and carry them with me when I roll over (and they're nowhere near big enough to justify that - they just hurt like hell!)

And then, sometimes, they don't hurt enough.


Well, I get a little, ooooh, neurotic sometimes. As long as the boobelahs are achy, then I'm still in the game. So what do I do when suddenly I don't feel them aching?

I poke.

Poke, poke, poke. All day long. Just to check.

Poke, poke, poke. If it were anyone but ME doing that, I'd be angry and perhaps even litigious.

Poke, poke, poke. I'd be amazed if my co-workers haven't noticed by now. I'm probably causing bruising.

I just . . . *sigh* have to make sure they're still sore.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Are Marshmallovaries Kosher For Passover?

This week has been a fascinating mix of heaven and earth, ether and mud, ridiculous and sublime.

The spiritual plane was occupied with three beautiful experiences: solemnizing a wedding, hosting a seder, and welcoming Quan Yin. Meanwhile, in the corporal arena, my ovaries are swollen and tender, my uterine lining appears to be shrinking, and a cornucopia of cooch suppositories creates a daily rainbow in my pants.

Where to begin?

The wedding was gorgeous, the weather cooperative, the bride and groom glowing, the guests charming and fun. It was tremendous and awe-inspiring to be able to speak the words that created a whole new entity - a married couple. It was a privilege to sign their marriage license and make it all official.

For the next two days, I shopped and cooked and bustled about getting ready to host a seder for the very first time. I'd been to so many, but I still couldn't remember what went where on the seder plate. I had no idea how to roast an egg. I nearly forgot to get a lamb shank bone (and am so grateful to the Irish butcher who kindly reminded me when I picked up the brisket). I struggled to figure out a vegetarian alternative to the brisket for Atomic and two of our guests. Fortunately, with the indispensable assistance of Atomic and my dear friends who provided the matzoh ball soup and charoset (and constant hand holding), we pulled it off.

Eleven people around our table, a few Jews, mostly gentiles, three of whom had never attended a seder. What a beautiful sight. We used a wonderful Humanist Haggadah (which we dubbed the Hippie Haggadah) that I found online. It made me so happy to share the story of oppression and redemption in a way that emphasized our commonalities as humans. It made me even happier to see my friends devour the food I made for them. What a privilege to feed the spirits and bodies of people I love in this way.

And then, two days after that, came Quan Yin. My new acupuncturist, a devout Buddhist (I'll call him Lan Ts'ai Ho), had a little dustup with a woman with whom he shares an office right before my appointment. She thought he had made the office look "too Chinese." She particularly objected to a lovely, delicate porcelain statute of Quan Yin, the Chinese goddess of mercy, that Lan Ts'ai Ho had placed in the center of the office, so she moved the statue.

One of the things I love most about Lan Ts'ai Ho is that he tells me what I call Buddhist Bedtime Stories during my appointments. He talks about Quan Yin and prays as he's doing body work and inserting the needles for acupuncture. It's very soothing, and I'm inspired by his sincere devotion. I've also become quite fond of Quan Yin and started lighting a candle and thinking about her while I prepared my hormone injections each night.

On the heels of the unpleasantness with his office-mate, Lan Ts'ai Ho decided that Quan Yin needed to be somewhere else. She needed to be with me. He wrapped up the statue in a soft cloth and placed her in my arms. She now stands regally on the dresser in our bedroom. I feel blessed every time I look at her.

Then, yesterday, at our follow-up appointment with Dr. Nice, a scan showed giant sta-puff marshmallow ovaries and a thinner lining than when I triggered. Dr. Nice didn't seem too alarmed about the big ovaries, and I'm frankly amused that my supposedly tired old 'nads are showing such spunk. I am concerned, though, about my lining shrinking to 7mm. That's not good, and no one seems to know why that would happen. Dr. Nice prescribed estrogen suppositories, so now I get to shove one little blue thing and one little pink thing up my cha-cha each morning and evening. Perhaps the resulting nursery hues in my undies are a good omen.

Just in case there's a god, goddess, forest spirit or universal life force I've overlooked, please put in a good word for us, okay?