Thursday, April 27

Pregnancy Weeks 8-13: Nausea

Twitch at ten weeks

The day I started sleeping was also the day I started feeling ill. (A perfectly acceptable trade off, in my opinion.) As unpleasant as this phase of my pregnancy was, it wasn't that bad, for two reasons. 1) Just about anything was bearable now that I could get some frikkin' sleep! and 2) I have to admit that I didn't have to put up with much compared to some of the horror stories I've heard. I was not a pukey pregnant woman. I really thought I would be, seeing as people always say a woman can tell what her pregnancies will be like depending on what her mother's were like, and my mom was a puker. But while I didn't spend a lot of time in front of the toilet, I did constantly feel as though I were about to vomit. I think this may be worse because I constantly carried around that horrible nauseated feeling without ever having the relief of actually throwing it all up. The only times I ever did throw up was when my new, super-sensitive gag reflex was activated. Taking my monster-sized prenatal vitamins, coughing too hard, or trying to reach my back molars while brushing my teeth all triggered eruptions.

My gag reflex was not the only thing that became super-sensitive; my sense of smell also reached outrageous heights. Now, I was fully aware that this was likely to happen, as it often does to pregnant women. What I wasn't expecting was how BAD everything would smell. It was as though my life became a five-week leisurely stroll through a festering garbage dump. My precious dogs became rank stink beasts and my house became unbearably cloying, despite my constant fumigations of Lysol. When we went out, I had to be very careful. I could smell the bathroom in a restaurant if I was seated within a 20 foot radius of it. Walking by the snack bar at Target or Costco was enough to make me run screaming. I could always tell if I was within a hundred yards of a trash can. And let's not even mention my classroom, which, inexplicably, is located inside the hundred-plus-year-old science building this semester. I often wondered to myself how dogs could live like this, smelling all of these horrible things every day of their lives, until Ian pointed out that dogs like the smell of ass.

I didn't eat much during this time. Not necessarily because I couldn't keep things down, but because everything always smelled so bad that I never wanted to eat. I actually lost two pounds by my 12 week OB visit. There was only one food that ever sounded good to me, and that was vinegar. Yes, vinegar. I consumed vinegar in whatever form I could find it: salt and vinegar potato chips, pasta covered in balsamic vinegar, deli sandwiches with extra vinegar, anything with strong mustard on it, pickled anything--well, you get the picture. I had to get pretty creative about getting my daily dose of vinegar lest I sink to drinking the stuff straight from the bottle. Case in point: right in the midst of my vinegar craving, Micaela and I visited a new Crate and Barrel store, and right there in the middle of the store was a vinegar tasting bar. I kid you not. An unmanned vinegar tasting bar. There I stood doing shots of vinegar until I started getting wierd looks. Sad. Ian's theory is that our baby wanted lots of vinegar to feed its sour personality. I choose to believe that our baby is just so sweet that my body needed lots of vinegar to counteract that.

Anyways, like I said, I can't complain too much because really, I had it easy. I only puked 5 times total, and the very first day of my second trimester, I felt almost immediately better. We went in for our 12 week appointment, and afterwords we went out to breakfast where I proceeded to pig out for the first time in weeks. And I've been eating and eating ever since! Pretty lucky, considering lots of women tried to scare me with stories about how they were sick throughout their entire pregnancies (and my mother is very jealous that I escaped her fate!).
Twitch at 12 weeks

The War at Home begins, but I am the better General.

My delightful spouse has started a blog, a word reminiscent of blarg, barf, blag, and bush. These are all unpleasant things. I, of course, must therefore post on said blarg, or she will make life interesting for Me. I should probably forego My self-capitalization as well.

A progeny of My loins, TWITCH is an alarming development. Because TWITCH does, after all, share My genetic heritage, TWITCH cruelly chose to conceive at a trying time. For this, have no doubt, I will exact punishment later in life. I will love TWITCH, of course, but devising cruel punishments is part of My life's work, and one so rarely gets the chance to combine their work and love, so it behooves me to soldier on.

One day, when a young crustacean reads this blag, it may pause to wonder if said debt has been paid, or if some horrible doom is still waiting, waiting...

Trust your father, TWITCH. It's still waiting.

And it's worse than you think.

I love you.

Pregnancy Weeks 3-8: Crazy Legs

The first sign of my pregnancy started a few days before I took my pregnancy test. My legs started acting funny. I would lie in bed, ready to sleep, but sleep eluded me because my legs insisted that it was not time to sleep; it was time to move. I would lie there for a couple of hours with my legs involuntarily flailing away until I finally gave up and went into the living room where I watched PBS until the sun rose. By the time I found out I was pregnant, I had gotten about 8 hours sleep total over 4 days. Everybody kept asking about how excited I must be about finally being pregnant, but I was so zombified by sleep deprivation that I couldn't muster up any excitement. My typical response to people's inqiries was "I'm just SO tired."

This went on for five hellacious weeks. Let me tell you, nothing can kill the joy over a much longed for pregnancy like the torture of sleep deprivation. And, of course, since I was pregnant, I couldn't take sleeping pills. This is how I found that evil marketing geniuses air a majority of their sleeping pill ads late at night while half insane pregnant women are watching loads of crappy TV. I would be up--the top half of me comatose while the bottom half of me ran a marathon--and literally drool whenever I saw a sleeping pill ad. That stupid Lunesta butterfly started to epitomize for me all things good and holy in this world. It got so bad that Ian forbad me to drive because my depth perception was so skewed and my reflexes set to slow motion. I tried not napping in the day, I tried napping all day, I tried sleepy time teas and aroma therapy and warm milk and every frikkin' thing I could think of and still my legs continued their ceaseless fidgeting. (A word of gratitude must be included here for my husband, who spent these five weeks sleeping on the couch so that I could have the entire bed to myself to thrash about in.)

During this time we met Twitch. I had grown so accustomed to ultrasounds during my ferility treatment that my 8 week ultrasound seemed old hat. As the nurse focused in on my uterus, I instinctively began looking to see how thick my uterine lining was and whether or not an egg was growing on my ovary. I was quite taken aback when instead I saw what looked to be a tumor in my recently cleaned-out uterus. "There's your baby!" the nurse beamed. (Fertility nurses become very smug at this point.) Well, that was new! The thing about ultraound photos is that they are never as cool printed out as they are on screen. I always imagined that embryos kind of just floated around in some sort of baby stasis, but there was our little spawn, twitching away like it was dancing to its own little drummer. (And thus, its in utero name was immediately adopted.) We also found out that Twitch was due to be born on September 19...Ian's birthday!

This photographic experience went a long way to helping me cope with my crazy legs. However, my functionality as a human being was reaching dangerous lows, and I seriously began to consider the fact that if this was going to go on for 9 months, I would have to be committed by my second trimester. I went to my regular Dr to see what she could do (she diagnosed my PCOS...this shouldn't be a problem!), and she said it sounded like I had Restless Leg Syndrome. She had never heard of it occuring as a pregnancy symptom, but she did some research and called me later in the day to tell me that it does sometimes happen to pregnant women and for me to take extra iron. A week after I started my iron boost, my legs finally stopped, just like that, as though they had finally gotten to where they were going. For the first time in weeks I felt human again, and for the first time I was truly able to appreciate my pregnancy (now that I knew it wasn't going to land me in the nuthouse!)

The Origins of Our Family: Marriage and Infertility

Ian and I were marrried on August 8, 2003. Most of you reading this will probably remember, as most of you were probably there. That was also the day that we started trying to start a family. Well, "trying" isn't exactly the right word. Let's just say we weren't trying to prevent it. Our thought was: If it happens, it happens...neither of us is getting any younger, and if we wait for a "good" time to have a baby, we'll be waiting until we're fifty. So we happily threw away all forms of birth control and went on with our lives, "Seeing what would happen."

Skip forward one year. Nothing had happened. I read somewhere that having unprotected sex for one year without getting pregnant was the technical definition of infertility. I tried not to panic, thinking maybe it was just a fluke, but deep down I knew it wasn't. I had been having "unexplained" health issues for about 8 years, and I felt that my not being pregnant must have something to do with that. I went in for my annual check up, and, as though fate pulled a string somewhere, my regular doctor was out sick. Instead I was given to Dr. Yeggy who took one look at my chart and started asking me questions like: Did I experience unexplained weight gain sometime in my early twenties? (yes.) Was it hard for me to lose weight no matter what I did? (yes.) Did I have highly irregular menstrual cycles? (yes.) Within 5 minutes she had diagnosed me with PCOS, a condition which essentially screws up your hormones, in some cases making it difficult for some women to ovulate (thus, no pregnancy). She knew this because she herself had the condition, and apparently this made her able to diagnose the problem that five other doctors over eight years were unable to identify.

Once I knew what the problem was, I started taking steps to fix it. I committed myself to a low-carb diet for several months, and while I lost a lot of weight, I did not get pregnant. After that, Dr. Yeggy put me on Metformin, a diabetic drug commonly used to control PCOS. I took that for another 6 months, during which I experienced my first miscarriage. We had now gone 2 years with no signs of a viable pregnancy, and, needless to say, I was an emotional basketcase. This was a horrible, awful, very bad time for me, and this brief overview does little to reflect the wretched being that I became. That issue could be a whole blog in itself, but for now let's just skip right over it.

Finally, last summer Dr. Yeggy sent me to a fertility specialist. Dr. Foulk had gotten her (and, I later found out, a sizable chunk of the women in Northern Nevada) pregnant, and she was sure that he would work his magic for me as well. Upon my first visit with him, I found out that I had not one, but two polyps hanging out in my uterus. First things first, those would have to go. In September I had a hysteroscopy with polypectomy, which is a fancy way of saying they knocked me out and cut out those nasty polyps. (See photo at right...Behold the interior of my uterus!) He then started me on Clomid, which at first I as very nervous about but that would eventually seem like small potatoes compared to the other drugs I had to take. After my six days of Clomid, no egg was growing, and the Dr. said it was time for me to start injections. This is where I, um, well, let's just say I had a bit of a temper tantrum. I couldn't believe they were already prepared to put me on injections just a few weeks after my surgery! But no matter how much I questioned their judgement, the Dr and nurses continued to calmly adopt the attitude that I should just shut up and let them do their job. This was a very angry time for me. So started the series of hormone shots that my wonderful husband had to inject into my belly, also known as the time of she-who-must-not-be-angered-lest-her-hormone-swollen-self-beat -the-living-shit-out-you. The first cycle of drugs ended when I ovulated in early November. Shortly after Thanksgiving they gave me a pregnancy test and I was told that while I was pregnant, it didn't appear to be viable (turns out you can be "a little" pregnant). Sure enough I had miscarriage number two on December 1, at which point the Dr was ready to immediately start me back on my drugs for the next cycle. (Did I mention my anger issues?) The only thing keeping me from laying the smackdown on him and all his nurses was the enormous amounts of baby pics hung in giant photo collages all over the office...all "Foulk babies." So I submitted. This cycle was far worse than the last. My ovaries were stubborn and did not want to pop an egg. I was on injections for twice as long this cycle, and, halfway through, they doubled the dosage of each injection. After our third ultrasound showed that the eggs were still taking their sweet time growing, Ian was ready to call quits on the whole cycle. I, on the other hand, was prepared to see this cycle through and then call it quits...for good. I was tired of needles and pills and taking my temperature every morning. I was fed up with feeling like an enraged she-beast every second of the day. I was done with the baby thing. I would not do another cycle, and I told the nurse so. She agreed. This process was taking too much of a toll on me, both physically and mentally, and if this cycle didn't work, then it was time to "take a break." So I grit my teeth and continued my injections and finally, FINALLY I ovulated on the day after Christmas. And, wouldn't you know it, I got pregnant. It took two-and-a-half years, but we did it. It was a Kwanzaa/Hanukkah/Boxing Day miracle!