12 weeks

This week we hit our first milestone: the end of the first trimester, 12 weeks.

Some days it’s starting to finally feel real.  I don’t pause in confusion when someone asks me how I’m doing or how far along I am.  I talk about the baby in casual conversation.  We’re still trying out baby names.

Other days it’s still not real.  I mostly feel fat not pregnant.  We still haven’t bought a single baby item.  Between us, we sometimes talk in hypotheticals still.  We’re afraid we still might jinx it.

This is another part of infertility that others just don’t get.  Just last night a new acquaintance congratulated us, and when I said I was 12 weeks, her response was something along the lines of, “Oh!  Then you have nothing to worry about.”

My immediate response, however, was, “You don’t understand….”

I do pretty well for the week after an ultrasound.  I’ve seen the baby and feel pretty confident that things are okay for the moment.  The next week, however, I start to worry and decide that the baby is gone.  It’s perpetual seesawing between hope and fear.

Even the ever-present nausea isn’t comforting.  Sure it’s an indication that very likely everything is still okay, but mostly living on the verge of vomit is tiresome.

And here is where the chorus singing how “ungrateful” I am starts, especially from the infertility community.  How many posts have I read from women struggling to conceive complaining about those who struggle with pregnancy or parenthood–those who complain they are tired or sick or uncomfortable or just need a break.

While I have always understood where these posts come from (it’s hard to listen to someone complain about problems that you’d literally do anything to have), they have always struck me as unfair.  It’s not fair to call those who struggle with pregnancy or parenthood ungrateful.  It romanticizes being pregnant and  a parent too much.  It ignores the reality of both: that they’re hard.

It’s also too black and white.  It’s entirely possible to be both overwhelmingly grateful (and know exactly how lucky you really are to finally have conceived) and to be simultaneously exhausted and sick and afraid and in need of just a moment’s peace from the never-ending wave upon wave of nausea.

Pregnancy is not the magic cure to infertility.  It’s another stage we navigate the best we can.  There’s no one right way to do it or feel about it.  We do the best we can and must be patient and generous with ourselves and each other.

Ultrasound #3: 10w6d

Wednesday, at 10 weeks 6 days, I had our third ultrasound.

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Our gummy bear measured 11 weeks 2 days (3 days bigger than the actual gestation and one day bigger than the previous measurements).  One of the ultrasound machines was down, so we had to use the “old machine” (and thus, the picture quality isn’t as good as before).

The baby was also messing with the ultrasound tech.  In addition to wiggling and waving, it was also doing all kinds of flips and turns and refusing to stay in the same position for very long.

After my ultrasound, I saw my ob.  Unfortunately, I can’t breathe, so in addition to the Singulair she put me on at the first appointment, she’s added Advair.  Now I’m sucking on an inhaler two times a day.  Fortunately, it seems to be working.

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My next appointment is with our MFM in Wichita at the end of the month, and then two weeks later, I go back to the ob here.

I’m also starting to show as my wonderful coworkers keep pointing out.  We’ve had more than one game of, “Hey so-and-so, come in here and see how big Sam is!”  I’ve also had to sort my closet into pants I can’t wear, pants I can wear if I want be uncomfortable all day, and pants formerly known as “too big.”

This picture is from 11 weeks 2 days.

Ultrasound #2: 9w1d

Today we had our second ultrasound at 9 weeks 1 day.   Our tech was excited because she doesn’t do many fetal ultrasounds this early.

Apparently most women don’t have ultrasounds until later in their pregnancies.  We’ve had two early on the orders of our fertility clinic.  They check to ensure development and placement of the embryos (to make sure the pregnancy isn’t a chemical–without a fetus developing–or isn’t extrauterine–implanted somewhere other than uterus).  The second ultrasound is to make sure the fetus continues to develop appropriately.

I also had labs to check my progesterone and estradiol levels because I will begin weaning from those medications in the next couple of weeks as the placenta develops and takes over the production of the needed hormones.

Our tech took a lot of time to “show us around” the baby which is about the size of a gummy bear.  We can now see where the forehead and rump are as well as the beginning of the umbilical cord and the appendages.  She also spent a while letting us watch the baby wiggle.  We also got to hear the heart beat for the first time with a rate of 175.

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Our next appointment is a regular monthly appointment with our ob-gyn on Jan. 16.  Then we see the Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialist in Wichita on Jan. 31.

On a side note, a cool advantage of working at a college means I have access to all kinds of fun props.  So, here’s our baby and a model of a two-month fetus.

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Pregnancy Denial

I don’t really know what finding out you’re pregnant is like for other women, but at least in the pregnancy test commercials and tv shows, there’s hugging and crying and joy. Everyone is excited, most of all the mother to be.

Don’t get me wrong. I was happy when our test was positive. And again when the second test doubled and when we saw the heartbeat on the ultrasound.  And everyone has been really excited–really excited.

Everyone but me. I’m not overjoyed or ecstatic. I’m not consumed by all things baby and pregnancy.  Most of the time, I even forget I’m pregnant. People congratulate me, and I have an “Oh yeah, it’s because I’m pregnant” moment. But, my next thought is always, “but I’m not really pregnant yet; I’m just barely pregnant. It doesn’t coun.  There’s too much that can go wrong still.”

I think it’s the result of the infertility and the years of trying to conceive.  In addition to developing a strong belief that it’ll never happen for us, infertile couples know all too well the transcience of hope and joy.  We’re always only one phone call or doctor’s appointment or bleed away from a frequently disappointing reality.

While those who conceive without struggle appear to bask in the joy of their pregnancies and babies, others hold our breath for agonizing weeks between appointments, hoping that no changes in the intervening time is good news but fearing it’s not.  We struggle to avoid the “what if” game and tragic self-diagnoses.

While other women plan baby shower and nursery themes, pick out necessities and gadgets for registries, and shop the maternity section, others avoid all things baby in fear of jinxing their precarious state or worse still, in fear of the room full of baby reminders should things end badly.

For while our friends and family are excited for us and can’t wait for cribs and clothes and maternity photographs and baby showers, I can’t help but worry that the next ultrasound won’t show a heartbeat or at which week the baby will stop growing.

And so I’m in pregnancy denial. I know that it’s a fact that I’m pregnant; I’ve seen the evidence. But I don’t feel like I’m pregnant.

And I know some women find the symptoms to be a comforting reminder (even when their heads are in the toilet), but I just feel sick–not pregnant.

Perhaps when we hear the heartbeat or my waistline expands or I can feel the baby move, I’ll really be pregnant. But I have a strong feeling that I won’t really believe any of this is real until the baby reaches viability or even until I hold him or her in my arms.