Sunday, August 30, 2015

Fertile People Problems

Mother Mary Fertility Ju Ju

My blog has been taken over by the infertility/pregnancy posts. Sometimes I miss my random musings but with my hand swelling and numbness, I don't often feel capable of any additional posts. But I've been thinking on this one quite a bit over the months, especially after reading so many blogs and social media posts about pregnancy.

I think most of us have seen those posts, "Rich people problems," or "White people problems." I decided to write a new one, "Fertile people problems," just for fun!

These "problems" are based on some observations I have made in my own fertility journey. This is not meant to be judgmental or insensitive to what other people find to be personal difficulties, but to offer another perspective as an infertile person looking in on problems I will probably never face myself. I would love to hear more if anyone has any!

So without further delay--and in no particular order,

Fertile People Problems:

1. Agonizing over the decision of when to have a baby -- trying to deliver the day between graduation and moving, or after your next marathon but before your sister's wedding, etc. This is a big life decision that deserves a lot of thought and hopefully preparation. Before I was aware of my infertility I also worried about timing. But now I wish I had the luxury of thinking I had any control over that, especially down to the season or the month or even the week! I really am amazed at how some people can "plan" it so specifically.

2. "I'm upset I'm over age 30 (or other age) and still have more kids to have" -- It is weird how many of my friends are done having children, have 5 or more children, or have teenagers by now. I'm getting closer to the "advanced maternal age" number (35) and we still don't have any kids yet.

3. Feeling like a botched birth plan has scarred you for life -- I am surprised how often I hear this. Evidently there are women who have lasting trauma, guilt, anger, or other overwhelming negative feelings over their birth plan not going how they had hoped. They often feel they were wrongly coerce or forced into an epidural or even a c-section. After years of infertility and very difficult interventions I am so excited to have a baby any way I can. Rip it out my nose if you have to! I do have a few preferences but also understand that while laboring in a warm tub sounds great, having twins I will be required by my particular doctor to have an epidural and deliver in an operating room with a high likelihood for c-section. Is this my ideal? Probably not, but I am grateful I have the opportunity to have any kind of delivery and that I have a team of professionals who will be there to provide whatever care will safely bring my babies and me through this experience. I can understand the disappointment of things not going as expected but I feel really sad that so many women are living life carrying such a burden with them about this!

4. "I don't like taking medications during pregnancy" -- What a luxury! I don't either, but unfortunately during my time before and during pregnancy I think I have about owned my own personal pharmacy. I should have at least bought some stock! When you do IVF you have thousands of dollars in medications to take just to stay pregnant. So it is a little hard for me to understand why you wont take a single pill to fight off a yeast infection or a short round of antibiotics to treat a UTI that could put you into pre-term labor. Or why you may judge my friends who take anti-nausea medications so they don't die from dehydration and lack of nourishment during their whole 9 months of horrible morning sickness.

5. Accidentally getting pregnant -- Obviously this is a big deal and not something to joke about. But after years of infertility, multiple procedures, hundreds of needle sticks and pills, and a doctor (not my doctor husband) impregnating me, I really cannot wrap my head around this one. This actually happens to people? my little brain asks in disbelief. Yes, yes it does! And to people I know. Multiple people.

6. "I'm wondering if I should reverse my tubal ligation to have another baby"-- This was a real question I saw on Facebook. Wow, just wow. I can't imagine being so fertile that you had to pay to become infertile and then pay to undo it and expect to get pregnant.

7. "I feel cheated out of my pregnancy/newborn stage/babies because I had twins this time" -- Knowing full well this may be my only time to be pregnant (even if I'd like more children), I am so grateful I get two babies! I can imagine there are things that would be easier, nicer, more ideal with just one baby but I have two miracle babies on the way. I will never feel cheated when it comes to these babies, because I think I am the one who cheated the system. Thank you science and God who brought me these babies when my body couldn't do it on its own.

8. "I only got to have 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, etc babies before my doctor rudely told me I could have no more -- should I listen to him or just go ahead?" -- I am really baffled by family planning. I can't imagine being able to come up with the number of kids I would want to have and be able to stick to it. I have had to totally change my mindset when it comes to how many kids we will have and realize that I will get the number of kids God will allow. I don't feel I have any control over this at all.

If nothing else, I think my experience with infertility takes a lot of the pressure off. And has taken away the eight problems listed above from my life. Hooray for less stress, because we all know that infertile people just need to relax!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Week 30 Update

30 weeks!

30 weeks! That seems like something, right? It at least sounds closer to the end, which is 38 weeks, not 10- or 20-something weeks. 

To be honest, over this past weekend I was feeling pretty miserable and wondering how I was going to make it another 8 weeks knowing things would just continue to become worse as I get bigger and further along. Pregnancy does weird things to your body! Of course there is the ever present hand swelling/numbness/pain, the leg swelling and itchiness with the fact that I can only fit into 2 pairs of shoes, the immobility, restless nights, and frequent trips to the bathroom. I wasn't prepared for the shortness of breath that comes with any semblance of exercise or bending over or even just sitting, the trouble moving from one position to another and then the trouble moving once I get moving again because of very sore/stiff knees. Or especially the mole that grew three times its size or the wrist and jaw popping that has come with my joints loosening. 

But today I am happy to say I am feeling quite a bit better. Not sure the difference but I feel like I can hang in there a little longer. Maybe it is because the babies seem to each be back on their respective sides, instead of both trying to crowd on the right like they were a few days ago. Or maybe it is my improved mental state -- no diabetes! no cholestasis! and the update that I will be able to take my board exam after a few favors from some important people I know. Yay. I am looking forward to more time with Abe who has been gone a lot for work and the sweet things he does to help me (like putting on my compression stockings, one of the most tiring experiences of my day!). I even got a little cleaning done today with the help from a friend (amazing what about 20 minutes can do when you've felt like an invalid for weeks).

Our nursery is basically complete after Abe delivered our rocker/recliner from Des Moines, minus organizing the little things and some decorations on the wall. And good thing I got most of that settled weeks ago (which seemed maybe a little silly at the time) as I really don't feel I have the physical capacity for that kind of job now nor much of a nesting instinct right now (replaced by the survival instinct perhaps?).

I meet with my doctor tomorrow for my 30 week appointment. I hope to start going over the birth plan so I will feel more prepared. I will also take a breastfeeding class and a birthing class this week. I hope they will be beneficial and worth the hours spent sitting in a classroom, because sitting anywhere for more than a few hours is pretty miserable right now! I also have my maternity photo shoot early next week (still feeling absolutely clueless what to wear!) and hopefully will order my breast pump and maybe have some baby shower plans in the works. So it feels like we are starting to cross things off the to do list. 

I hope I don't sound like I am complaining because really I am so grateful to still be pregnant with these miracle babies. And grateful things are going so well without medical complications, grateful for my ability to continue working, and that even when things continue to get harder, I still have good days. 

29 weeks 4 days -- funny how I feel like I look smaller here than even weeks ago.
Oh, and can I say something more about shoes before we end? I was recently skimming a blog post about "Maternity Style." Surprise surprise I didn't find it particularly enlightening, at least when comparing a woman who hardly looks pregnant (and maybe why she is the expert on the subject because she still looks pretty stylish) to a woman pregnant with twins. But one suggestion really left me scratching my head: Throw on a pair of high heels! or if you can't manage those stilettos, at least some chunky wedges. Evidently this is a great idea because it lengthens your leg and can create a more vertical illusion to make your growing belly look smaller.

Ummm, yeah... Remember how I said I could only wear two pairs of shoes right now? They are two pairs of sandals with minimal straps (and no heel!) bought specifically because they looked like they would be good for swollen feet.

At least she had an alternate suggestion: Or if you don't think you can manage the high heels, go for a fashionable and stylish pair of flats!

Hmmm, still not helpful. I don't even have cankles yet (at least not usually). I just hope I don't have to go to a fancy event any time soon-- or heaven forbid it snows before the delivery! (I guess I do look on with a teaspoon of envy when I see pregnant women wearing normal shoes or rings.)

Week 30:
Weight: 180.5 lbs (only 1 lb up this week!)
Total  Weight Gain: 38.5 lbs

baby kicks -- big movements, maybe slightly less often
arm/hand numbness -- feels different this week, less tingle but more numbness maybe? And my left wrist pops frequently
hand and foot swelling 
discomfort/immobility -- it's getting harder to move! and to sit or stand or lie down. The first sensations of babies in the ribs happened this week. 
insomnia --sometimes hourly visits to the bathroom
knee pain -- ouch!
slightly decreased itchiness
getting excited for babies!

8 weeks to go!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Week 29 Update

Week 29 (I probably shouldn't wait until late at night to take these--looking tired!)
Today I had the pleasure of undergoing the three hour glucose test. What a way to spend your morning off! After fasting since 10 pm last night, I walked in to the hospital (figuring the exercise would do me good even if it almost did me in!) and started with my first blood draw at 9:07. After what was actually a very painful and drawn out needle stick, I was then allowed to drink the orange glucola. I have heard multiple horror stories about the yuckiness of this drink, but in the past it hasn't bothered me. Well, today it did. After drinking twice the dose on an empty stomach after a long and uncomfortable needle poke, let's just say it wasn't a lovely experience.

I then had the great joy of camping out at the hospital and undergoing additional blood draws at 10:07, 11:07, and 12:07 before getting to go home (and eat and drink something!). The time surprisingly went by quickly but I am disappointed because I had two goals for the day:

1) obtain verification of my hospital privileges so I can submit them for my oral board exam application, due September 3.
2) start and maybe complete my online renewal for my Advanced Cardiac Life Support certification.

Unfortunately, neither of these happened! I found out that my privileges were not settled when I had been given the impression it was in order. Now, I have to spend quite a bit of time re-submitting the same application which will not be completed in time for the application deadline-- which means I may not be able to take the exam this year. Maybe the timing with the babies isn't great as it is, but everyone strongly recommends taking it as soon as possible so you don't forget things as time goes by. I would love to have it all behind me even if it means a little added stress in the first few months after the babies come. I am hoping to get an exception with this pending but I'm not so sure that will happen. What a disappointment and frustration.

And, I couldn't get logged in to the online site for the course. So I'm 0/2 for the day. I did finish a book and had a netflix marathon instead once I got home.

But really, the big task of the day was to pass the glucose test which looks like I did! I am still waiting on the results to see if I have cholestasis, the potential cause of my itchiness as of late. I am relieved that I am still healthy and that I will get to avoid needle sticks multiple times per day for blood sugar testing (haven't I been poked enough?!?).

As for the rest of the week, we spent the weekend in Des Moines again, this time with Abe's parents and sister. We started Saturday with lunch at Krunkwhich Ramen House. Yay for satisfying my ever present ramen craving. And then I ran a marathon... I mean, went to the Iowa State Fair. Abe came up with the following riddle: What  do we, Hillary, Trump, and Santorum have in common? We were all at the Iowa State Fair on Saturday. Unfortunately, we seemed to have missed the candidates but still got a pretty good fair experience.

I felt big so it was good to get some perspective from some of the exhibits.

Nothing like a 1235 lb. pumpkin ...

...0r pig of similar size to make you feel a little less huge!
Of course we had to see the famous butter cow
Tried some ridiculous fried foods--fried oreos! (these ones somehow not on a stick!

Watched my hands balloon up to bigger than ever (where's my blue ribbon?) and become unusable

Saw a bunch of animals
Met up with the Burlington Elk Rancher
And some of us caught some rides
We finished off a long day by getting some late night pizza at Fong's, a Des Moines hot spot with asian inspired pizza. And then bed! Much needed after a lot of walking in the hot sun.

I thought my weight gain started to slow down but looks like I stayed pretty stable. I still seem to stay stable until I get a sudden 3 pound change over night.

Week 29:
Weight: 179.5 lbs 
Total  Weight Gain: 37.5 lbs
3 hour glucose test: pass!
Belly Button status: popped

baby kicks -- big movements, maybe slightly less often
arm/hand numbness -- is it improving some or am I just used to it by now?
hand and foot swelling 
discomfort -- it's getting harder to move! and to sit or stand or lie down 
insomnia --sometimes hourly visits to the bathroom
knee pain 
slightly decreased itchiness
white patches on my legs (lack of pigment) 
emotional--feeling a little more frustrated by how much longer I have to go as things seem to only get worse!
getting excited for babies!

9 weeks to go!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

28 Week Update

28 weeks
24 weeks felt good. 28 weeks feels even better! Not only are the babies at an age where they can survive, but are that much more likely to survive without problems. Funny, though, as time goes by I find myself getting more nervous. So far this pregnancy has been pretty low stress and I still have a strong feeling things are going to continue to go well. But, I guess I am realizing that while each day brings the babies to a safer place it also brings us closer to a potential pre-term labor.

I had my 28 week appointment today. Where does the day go?! I planned to go for the appointment and have the rest of the day to relax and get a few things done. Unfortunately, I need to start studying for boards again (I figure it will be easier to study while the babies are in than out) but I just can't seem to get this lazy pregnant lady to do much of anything these days. Well, after about 3 hours at the doctor (mostly in the waiting room) I am feeling even less excited about that option.

We started the appointment with our ultrasound. I was shocked within the first few seconds to see how big the babies have grown since the last scan 4 weeks ago! They are still looking good but actually harder to see as they take up much more room and weren't moving much. So, we got a few good pictures of Baby A but B was being shy and turned the wrong way so we got some adorable back of the head and spine shots. The babies are about twice as big, four weeks later, and almost 3 pounds each! I am wondering how big they will get over the next 10 weeks?

Baby A 

Baby B

And just like you'd expect from a brother, a little boy foot right in the face of Baby A

I also had my 1 hour glucose test. I've heard a lot of horror stories about how nasty the drink is but I didn't think it was as bad as people say--I feel like it is like a really sweet melted orange popsickle that burns your throat. After my blood draw I got my TDAP vaccine (you'd think I'd be way good at needle pokes after so many rounds of IVF but amazingly it still is something I dread). When I finally met with the doctor (a new one this time) I had a lot more questions than usual. She was great and answered them very kindly and helpfully. I learned that I failed my glucose test with a score of 162 (should be lower than 140 she said). Darn! I will have to follow up next week with an additional test to see if I have developed gestational diabetes. I also will have to have a test for bile as I have been quite itchy and this can be a sign of a problem with the gallbladder. 

I asked again about my weight gain. As of today I have 10 weeks to go and have already gained the recommended 35 lbs I was supposed to gain for the entire pregnancy. Neither the doctor today nor my own OB have hassled me about my weight but I felt bad when she confirmed that they would have preferred I only gain 35 but hopefully we can keep the weight gain down over the next few months.

So three hours later, I left kinda down. I fell pretty fast from the high I had from seeing my "chubby" little babes into feeling a little frustrated about failing the test (I'm still not worried, mostly annoyed by the additional time to do the three hour test, mixed with just a little worry) and feeling bad about my weight gain. Intellectually I know it isn't a big deal, but hormonally I admit I felt bad, and surprised myself that I felt bad enough to cry. If I were anyone else I would tell them I was doing great and to not worry about it, but funny how we can be hard on ourselves.

I did a quick trip to Costco and now at almost 4:00 the day seems gone and I am pretty exhausted. So much for a free day to catch up on a few academic pursuits, maybe a nap, and a few other tasks. Darn.

As for life in general, I am hanging in there! I feel I have become more uncomfortable this past week. But work is still going well and I am handling my commute with minimal issues. My reflux is resurging with a vengeance. My whole body feels itchy at night the past few days. Sleep is getting hard. Sitting and lying down and standing are getting hard. I am still feeling puzzled by baby names. We are trying to decide on a baby shower date and a guestlist (it feels a little awkward -- inviting people to come and give me stuff, mixing groups, etc). And we still need to figure out the plan for my maternity time at work.

Oh, and it finally happened. On Aug 9, 2015 my belly button finally popped. I've been dreading that day a bit but it wasn't as traumatic as I expected. Ha! 

Week 28:
Weight: 177.1 lbs (home); 178.4 lbs (office)
Total  Weight Gain: 35.1 lbs
BP: 117/73
HR: 108 (about twice as high as normal!)
Glucose test 162
Belly Button status: popped

Baby A: 
Weight: 2 lbs 15 oz (73 percentile)
FHR: 152 bpm
Position: head down

Baby B:
Weight: 2 lbs 14 oz (65%)
FHR: 163 bpm
Position: head down

baby kicks -- moving a lot!
arm/hand numbness 
hand and foot swelling 
discomfort -- it's getting harder to move! and to sit or stand or lie down 
insomnia --sometimes hourly visits to the bathroom
TMJ popping and pain -- less?
knee pain 
bigger stretch marks on hips
severe shortness of breath when I bend over
body itchiness
reflux is back
white patches on my legs (lack of pigment) -- I had this before pregnancy but ten times worse now

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Weeks 26 and 27

26 weeks
27 weeks

Did I make it to the third trimester? I am a little confused as I have seen different times for this milestone and the math doesn't always seem to add up (shouldn't it be at about 26 weeks instead of 28 then?). I guess regardless, as I will deliver a little early, I am in MY third trimester.

And wow, can you believe we are in to August already? This summer seems to have blown by. This pregnancy, on the other hand, is starting to feel like it has been going on for a while now. But, I am starting to realize that these babies will be here very soon! We are aiming to make it to 38 weeks so I only have 11 weeks to go if we make it full term. I am feeling the babies more and more as their kicks and punches get stronger and it makes it more real that there actually are two little babies in there ready to join our family in just a few more months!

With the upcoming delivery I am getting more excited for their appearance. I am also getting a little nervous about complications cropping up or pre-term labor. I just really want those babies to stay in there until they are done! I will feel a little better at my next appointment when my doctor tells me everything is still going well.

After this long, I think I am getting used to being big. In the beginning I felt huge when it seemed I became big pregnant overnight. Now that I am used to having a belly, I feel less like a whale even though I know I am obviously getting bigger and bigger (I can definitely tell when I try to get out of bed!). I am having a hard time imagining just how big I will get! I am starting to see all of those tiny pregnant girls who will deliver weeks ahead of me finally looking pregnant now that they are in their third trimester so I am wondering what will happen to me, who is already big! I do think my weight gain over all has slowed down, but I did gain about 5 pounds overnight last week -- I am assuming water weight as I came back down and stayed pretty stable the next week. I bought some more maternity clothes this weekend as I am outgrowing many of my clothes, especially pants and fitted dresses and tops.

Every day I work I feel grateful to make it through my schedule as my hands continue to swell. On the weekends they tend to be the worst -- probably because I am outside in the heat and more active running around. I tried on some rings the other day and my normal 4.5 size ring finger was too big for a size 7 (I didn't even try to find what size I am beyond that -- a 9?). Who knows how big my right hand is, as it is normally quite a bit bigger.  I don't take many pictures of my hands, but here is my dainty little hand at our wedding:

And my now pregnant swollen weekend hands! Can you tell? Look at those monster veins. I have already gone up a glove size at work and may need to jump to the next if it gets much worse.

I don't think the pictures do it justice...but they are pretty puffy!

And we finally decided on our infant baby carriers. I think we went to the baby store six times trying to decide which we liked better. We finally thought we made a choice, but in the end, our tall daddy made the ultimate decision easy as there was only one seat we were considering that would fit both Abe and the carrier in our car. So, all that research and indecision was a bit unnecessary.

Finally, I scheduled maternity pics for the end of the month. I will probably be huge and puffy by then. I'm not too excited about the idea of documenting that with a professional photographer, but as this may be my only pregnancy, I don't want to feel like I missed out. (Make me look beautiful Sarah!) It is probably about time, anyway, as we haven't had "family" pictures since our wedding 8 years ago. 

And, is it the pregnancy that has made all of my eyelashes fall out? My hair wont seem to curl (is it the hair or my hand (ouch!), or is my flat iron getting too old?), and I have NO idea what to wear. So if anyone wants to come over and help make me beautiful I feel like I could use some help! Or some good photoshop.

Week 26:
Weight: 177.7
Total  Weight Gain: 35.7 lbs
Week 27:
Weight: 174.8
Total  Weight Gain: 32.8 lbs

baby kicks -- getting harder and harder
arm/hand numbness 
hand and foot swelling 
discomfort -- it's getting hard to move! 
insomnia and nocturnal bathroom breaks! -- a little better this week
TMJ popping and pain
knee pain -- my knees feel "too loose" and sore when I bend down
outgrowing maternity clothes
severe shortness of breath when I bend over

Weeks to go: <11 nbsp="" p="">