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Posts Tagged ‘pregnancy’

This past week I’ve been asked some form of the question, “So, are you guys going to try for another one?” on three separate occasions. This week alone, and from complete strangers. I’m so sick of feigning a sweet smile and mumbling, “Yeah… we’ll see.”, that I think the next time someone asks me I’m just going to say, “No, I can’t. My uterus fell out last week.” just to silence them. I don’t care if I’m the killjoy of the sandbox.  I KNOW they’re only making small talk: moms bonding over the wonders of pregnancy and family building, but my reproductive plans aren’t anyone’s business. Your reproductive plans aren’t any of MY business, either.

I think of people I care about who have battled fertility challenges, and I can only IMAGINE how often they were asked things like, “So, any plans to start a family? Are you trying?”.  Maybe it’s not just the hormonal ebb and flow of IVF treatments that make some women a little emotional: I know if I had to constantly sate nosy curiosities I’d be a little bit stabby, also. Plus, the commonly used term “trying to conceive” seems so personal. I mean, hello? That means having sex. You just asked some total stranger if she’s actively fucking her husband without protection. Excellent.

Almost exactly a year ago from this day, I got knocked up. We were thrilled. Actually, while browsing through my husband’s iphone photos just last week, I came across a picture he had taken 11 months ago of the two positive tests laying side by side. I had never seen that picture before, and the unexpectedness took my breath away for a moment. Like any couple that finds out they’ve got a bun in the oven, we immediately found ourselves gravitating towards a nickname. You often hear things like “Bean” and “Peanut”, but we started calling the baby, Goose. Whether or not we watched Top Gun a few times on TBS, or were heavily affected by the culling of the geese last summer in Prospect Park (Nice. We named the fetus after dead birds in the local park. Fuck. What’s wrong with us?): Goose was the nickname. Goose made me nauseous. Goose made me sleepy. Goose made me dizzy. The usual pregnancy woes.

Now, I have talked about how OCD I was during my first pregnancy. I was so uptight and anxiety-ridden I swear I was holding LJ inside my uterus using the powers of sheer terror. I called that OB every second of every day, and ended up having a god-awful delivery that still makes me gag to think about no matter how cute my 3-year-old might be. Goose baby, though… this pregnancy would be different. After making the switch to the local midwives, I was told there was no need for a prenatal appointment until I was about 10 weeks along. (10 weeks?! It was maddening.) Fighting the urge to scour a medical supply website for the finest home ultrasound machine money could buy, I tried my best to chill out and just enjoy being pregnant (like everyone else seemed to do… except me). We watched my belly grow; became excited at the thought of our LJ as a big sister; stressed over our miniscule, urban living arrangement, and decided on a shortlist of names. Ruby: if Goose turned out to be a girl.

At the end of August, 2 days before my first scheduled appointment with the midwives, I had a miscarriage.  I was ten weeks, but Goose had stopped developing at 7.

At this point in my life, I have known many, many women who have miscarried. You probably do, too, although nobody ever talks about it. Ever. When my friends silently suffered pregnancy losses in the past, I was always one of the people who struggled. I didn’t know what to say, how to support them, what to do. I’m sure I said the wrong things, like, “What’s meant to be, will be.” or “You’ll try again and everything will be ok.”. (Both of those things SUCK, by the way. Do not, under any circumstances, say them.).  My awkwardness in dealing with someone else’s grief makes me cringe to even think about. Now I know better.

About 4 days after the loss I peeled myself off the couch and decided  to walk LJ to the playground to see her best friend. The sun was shining, LJ was smiling: it felt good to be out of the apartment. Healthy. Immediately upon entering the playground, an adorable little blonde girl with the most charming English accent started following us around. She was about 6 years old and had on the kind of mismatched, striped tights with a tutu and t-shirt outfit only a first grader could put together. While LJ toddled around this girl chatted me up about everything from rainbows and beaches, to school and sushi rolls. She was this tiny ball of imaginative awesomeness. Then she asked me, suddenly, if I wanted to know her name.

“It’s Ruby”.

I cried. No, let me rephrase that. I bawled so instantly that I made this primal screechy, retchy sound right in this sweet girl’s face, stammered, “That’s a beautiful name. I’m sorry.”, turned my back and walked away. My friend saw me, gave me a hug, let me sit on the ground and cry for a bit behind my sunglasses until I got my shit together enough to walk home.

Three weeks passed, and I was crawling out of my hole. I had gotten pissed, grieved, and was beginning to feel some sense of peace. Then, the doctor associated with the midwives called late one Tuesday night. It was 9:30 at night, three weeks after the miscarriage. He told me that my pathology report came back and showed signs of a partial molar pregnancy. I had no idea what the fuck he was talking about, and all I could think of while hearing the term “molar pregnancy” was something like this:

But it wasn’t about teeth. Or a vagina dentata, but that’s all I envisioned. While the doctor was saying terms like this:

“weekly blood work”

“tumor”

“cancerous”

“chemotherapy”

“You have to wait an entire year until you can try to conceive again.”

In my delirium, disbelief and minor hysteria my mind just kept coming back to:

Turns out, a molar pregnancy is a really rare pregnancy complication (having nothing to do with teeth) that occurs when the fetus ceases to develop normally, and is rapidly overtaken by abnormal cells. Kind of like a tumor. If the abnormal cells are not all removed from your body, they can burrow into the uterine walls (now picturing tiny teeth digging into a uterus) and become cancerous, requiring chemotherapy treatments. It’s just one of those freak things; not at all genetic; there was nothing I could have done to prevent it; and I didn’t do anything wrong to cause it. Just a shitty miscarriage with a fancy name, really. For about 6 weeks I had to go for weekly blood draws to make sure my hormone levels reached zero. If they had plateaued or started to rise, that would have meant there was a tumor and I would have been sent to the oncologist. That means, for those 6 weeks I was a nail-biting basket case. Really. Probably unbearable, but I was so deep in my head stressing about how I’d take care of LJ if I had to go through chemo, I didn’t give a shit if I was acting crazy. I had the right to be a little nutty.

Everything went smoothly, though, and no chemo was needed. So for the past 9 months or so, we’ve just been waiting. Waiting to get the all-clear from the doctor to take the goalie off the ice. Living our lives, loving our tiny family and learning how to cope when things go wrong: but definitely waiting. LJ deserves to be a big sister. I’m starting to feel sappy when I see tiny babies all wrapped up in their Ergos and Moby wraps. My ovaries are aching.  (Did I just say that out loud? I’m such a chick.)

Maybe next time someone asks me why I haven’t had another baby yet I’ll lie to them and say I had a vagina dentata, just for a laugh. Maybe I’ll just carry around a print-out of this post in my tote bag, autographed and footnoted for all the nosy women out there.

We’ll just have to wait and see what’s in store for us.

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***Disclaimer: The following is probably not suitable for the delicate, squeamish eyes of men. Just saying. It involves vaginas, blood, poop and biting. ***

In the final weeks of pregnancy, I became irrationally concerned with poop. I wasn’t the least bit worried about pain since the epidural would alleviate that… but the poop? What if I pooped during delivery? WHY HADN’T ANYONE WARNED ME ABOUT THIS UNTIL THE END?  I mean, I didn’t think childbirth was some antiseptic, spotless event: but poop? In front of everyone? While just LAYING THERE? That had to be the grossest shit I’d ever heard. (Ha! Shit!) My anxiety was now kicked into anti-poop overdrive, and it was really all I cared about. I wasn’t nervous about having a newborn, or practicing any silly breathing techniques (Who doesn’t know how to breathe?) or pain management. That was what drugs were for.

As my due date came and went, and my amniotic fluid seemed a tiny bit low, and the baby seemed a tiny bit large: my induction date was set for June 4, 2008.  We checked into the hospital in the late afternoon, filled out mountains of paperwork, and by 5pm I was hooked up to all sorts of monitors making all sorts of nerve-wracking sounds. That fetal heart-rate monitor has to be the most stress-inducing creation known to man. If the baby or I moved even one centimeter the monitor would lose its place,  leaving me to shriek, “SHE HAS NO HEARTBEAT!! DO SOMETHING!!”.  I finally convinced them to turn the volume down, and they happily obliged (sensing my crazy, I’m sure.).

At 7pm the labor and delivery resident doctor came in (my doctor was home, for some unknown reason), and after a quick exam she began the first phase of induction: the insertion of the Cervadil. According to Drugs.com, Cervadil

… plays an important role in the complex set of biochemical and structural alterations involved in cervical ripening. Cervical ripening involves a marked relaxation of the cervical smooth muscle fibers of the uterine cervix which must be transformed from a rigid structure to a softened, yielding and dilated configuration to allow passage of the fetus through the birth canal.

“Cervical ripening”. Barf.

The nurses assured me that the Cervadil was very, very weak. In fact, since I was only dilated 1 centimeter, in 12 hours I would probably have to have even MORE Cervadil, followed by Pitocin hours later to really get things going. Since I was in it for the long haul, they also convinced (ie: forced) me to take another drug called Stadol at about 9pm in order to “help me get some sleep”. I later learned that Stadol was not a sleep aid, but a narcotic whose side effects include dizziness, nausea, vomiting and even HALLUCINATIONS. Within 5 minutes I was nodding off, and for the next hour my husband watched me peacefully sleep, my toes curling quietly with each contraction. Something happened to my body during that ONE HOUR of drug-induced rest. It’s almost as if all my anxiety, all the things that had been plaguing my crowded mind for the past 9 months were suddenly released from my body, and with that, my body relaxed. All of it. Completely. I was now wasted, and in full-blown labor.

When I somehow managed to push the help button on the bed, the nurse came in and found me wriggling in pain with my eyes rolled back in my head, curled into the fetal position on the pillow at the very top of the bed. I was kind of sideways, and clutching the railing on the edge of the bed.  As she stood above me the narcotic/hallucinogenic made her face kind of swirl into the flourescent lights on the ceiling. It was a creepy view, and one that’s been burned into my mind.  Our exchange went roughly like this:

TRACY!!! YOU NEED TO CALM DOWN!!! BREATHE!!

I need drugs. I have to poop.

YOU CAN’T HAVE AN EPIDURAL! IT’S TOO EARLY! YOU’RE ONLY 1 CENTIMETER! CALM DOWN!

I need drugs. Help me. Help. I need drugs. I have to poop.

DO YOU WANT TO GO TO THE BATHROOM? PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER! BREATHE!

Help me. I need drugs. I’m pooping.

(To my husband as she left the room) YOU HAVE TO GET HER TO CALM DOWN! THIS IS ONLY EARLY LABOR!

Ten minutes later I buzzed her again, begging for drugs, only to be derided and basically told I was being a complete pussy. Even in my drug-ridden state, I KNEW I was not in early labor. Thankfully, my husband eventually sensed it also and flagged down another nurse, who reluctantly called in the resident to check me. (My doctor was still at home, assuming the induction would take days.) That exchange went something like this:

Help. I need drugs. I’m pooping.

Ok, Tracy. It’s too early for that, let me just give a little feel and we’ll.. I CAN FEEL THE HEAD! SHE’S FULLY DILATED! I THINK SHE’S BEEN PUSHING! TRACY, STOP PUSHING! SOMEONE CALL HER DOCTOR!

Give me my drugs. Help.

NO, I’M SORRY HON, IT’S TOO LATE FOR AN EPIDURAL! OK, IF YOU FEEL LIKE YOU NEED TO PUSH, GO AHEAD. YOU’RE ALMOST THERE!

No. No. I need drugs. I have to poop. Please help me. No.

The rest of the ordeal is a blur. The bitch nurse who had been scolding me was suddenly my biggest cheerleader, trying to holding my leg up while I was trying to kick her in the face. While my husband had the fantastic job of holding my other leg, I thanked him by grabbing his chest (through his shirt) and yanking out a fistful of chest hair during a contraction. When he tried to wipe my hair out of my face, I remember trying to bite him, but catching myself just before my teeth broke the flesh. While actively pushing my eyes caught a glimpse of the HORRIFIED faces of a group of medical students that had been called in to watch. My doctor, who finally decided to grace us with his presence, came tearing in at the very end: right in time for him to turn LJ around (who was screaming WHILE SHE WAS COMING OUT) and shout, “Look at your daughter, Tracy! Look! Look! Here she is!” I SCREAMED. LJ SCREAMED. (Pete later compared us to some sort of mythical two-headed cobra). My daughter was officially born at 12:25am on June 5, weighing 7 pounds and 12 ounces. When it was all over and she was in my arms, I looked at the doctor, confused, still hallucinating and completely high and said,

I need drugs.

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Confession: I was a shitty mom even when LJ was in utero.  I HATED being pregnant. HATED it. For a hypochondriac with a smidge of obsessive-compulsive disorder: growing a tiny human being in my belly turned me into a crazy person (because being an OCD-ridden hypochondriac suffering from panic attacks wasn’t crazy enough. I needed more crazy.). Ask my husband. Ask my doctor.  Ask my old employers, my friends and parents. They’ll all tell you how unbearable I was. My doctor can tell you how I called him at home in a hysterical panic on both Christmas Eve AND Superbowl Sunday because the baby didn’t move for like, one second. My old principal can tell you how she would find me in the school nurse’s office during every prep period, because I was CONVINCED my blood pressure was through the roof. My family can tell you all about how much I complained and cried. Usually at the same time. All the time. ALL. THE. TIME.

I wanted to be pregnant, I really did. Yay! Babies with their tiny toes and wispy hair! First smiles melting our hearts! So cute so cute so cute! I was ordered to enjoy every minute of being pregnant, because after all, I would “glow” and feel great! It would be “magical”!

Let me tell you: there was no glowing involved, unless you count the melasma on my fair-skinned upper lip that made it look like I had a freckled Tom Selleck mustache. My hair didn’t morph into long and lustrous Rapunzel-like locks: it lost some of its curl, turned brown and gained 2 pounds of frizz. The hormone-induced post-nasal drip made me cough so much that I pulled a muscle in my chest that took months to heal. While I didn’t mind gaining weight at all (and I gained 40 lbs!), my frail, veal-like body DID mind. Apparently years of buying new yoga gear without actually DOING yoga was a mistake. I developed excruciating sciatica and pelvic separation at just 20 weeks: just when I was starting to show.  As I was expanding to grow this tiny human, my body was screaming, “WTF?!” I was pathetic.

My poor, poor husband. He was FREAKING OUT. He’s quick to admit that he was terrified of what was happening at the time, and it didn’t help that I was often found googling “pregnant pain in side” in a puddle of tears. He probably didn’t love when I’d frantically call him at work because I ate goat cheese in my salad and was now convinced our baby would be born with no feet and an IQ of 12. Hypochondria + google + ocd + panic attacks + pregnancy = RUN FOR THE HILLS BECAUSE THIS BITCH IS CRAZY. I was obsessed with every little ache; every little bump; every little flutter. If I could have rented an ultrasound machine, I would have stayed on the couch for the entire 9 months just watching. Waiting for something to go wrong (with the blood pressure cuff attached to my arm, of course).

I was so busy being batshit nuts I didn’t get to enjoy one second of it, and that’s why I felt guilty. Oh, the overwhelming, soul-crushing guilt. While friends were struggling with their fertility I had been lucky enough to get pregnant the moment we took the goalie off the ice. I was blessed, yet I felt awful and complained all the time: clearly I was an asshole and a despicable, ungrateful person. The guilt made me feel like a terrible mom before I even became one. Late at night I would lay in bed alone, hugging the gigantic full-body pregnancy pillow while my husband (still freaking out) played Call of Duty on the PS3, and I would talk to the baby in my belly: reassuring her that I loved her and was excited to meet her despite that fact that I sounded like such a miserable wretch.

In the days following my due date, when it was 9000 degrees outside, and I felt completely alienated from every pregnant woman in the history of the world: I turned to mint chocolate chip ice cream, and waited. Again, every woman kept assuring me that since it was my first kid, delivery would take forever, but I’d have an epidural and everything would be fine. Again, they were WRONG. So, so, SO painfully wrong…

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