Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Turkey Day Drama

I wanted to post about this yesterday, but yesterday was a lonnnggg day.  I was up with the sun and headed to NJ via the bus (the bus and early pregnancy really don't mix.  I felt so ill.) so I could go with Dad to his chemo appointment.  Then we came home, I ate a little, and took a short nap.  I made my grocery list, and went to Fairway.  Came home, went out to eat dinner at the diner, came home and started my prep cooking.  I wasn't in bed till 11:30pm, and I was really freaking tired by the end of it.

No sooner did I hit "publish" on that post about Thanksgiving food and what I was bringing to my in-laws' than my phone rings.  It's Ammie, my mother-in-law.  She was calling to discuss the e-mail I had sent her with my list of what I was bringing.  Here's how the conversation roughly went:

Ammie: If you haven't bought the pumpkin pie yet, don't bother.  I told Auntie to buy one.
Me: But I don't buy it, I make it.
Ammie: Don't bother.  Auntie needs to bring something, so I told her to bring it.  She'll pick it up at the store.  Actually, C (my sister-in-law) offered to make the pumpkin pie, but I told her not to so Auntie would have something to bring.
Me: But C makes the apple pie.  I make the pumpkin pie.
Ammie: C is making the apple pie.  But she also offered to make the pumpkin pie.  Anyway, don't worry about it.
Me: But I have to make one for my sister's family anyway.  It's no trouble to double the recipe.
Ammie: If you really want to bring it, okay, but I don't know what Auntie will bring then.
Me: Um, okay.  I guess I won't bring it?
Ammie:  Great.

Next, she told me "not to bother" bringing the carrots.  Apparently C made a kale and carrot recipe last year that they really liked, so she's doing that again.  And "not to bother" bringing my potato ricer with me either because she could handle the potatoes just fine and would use her hand mixer.  In the end, she agreed that I could bring the brine for the turkey (which by the way, I just made, and it took me 3 minutes), and I could plan on making the turkey gravy because I guess everyone still feels that my turkey gravy is slightly better than the jarred kind.

And then.  And then!  Let me backtrack a little.  When Jeeves and I stay at my in-laws' house, and my BIL and SIL and the nephews are there too, they get the big bedroom and we get the small bedroom.  The small bedroom doesn't have a door, it has a little sliding screen thingy.  In the morning, my nephews are up at 7:30am and they are LOUD.  So loud.  And sound carries and without a door, we wake up with them.  Jeeves and I talked about it and decided that we would like to sleep in the basement on the air mattress where it will be quieter, so he broached the subject with his mom and her immediate response was not "sure, fine," it was "Why don't you take our room and we'll take the small bedroom?"  This is very nice of her, but completely unacceptable to us.  I absolutely refuse to take my in-laws' bedroom.  Refuse.  Jeeves has been fighting with her about it for weeks because she. will. not. let. it. go.

So, after Ammie has totally shut me out of all the Thanksgiving cooking and left me feeling like a guest instead of a member of the family, she starts in on me about taking her bedroom.  I explained as politely as I could (even though I was feeling pretty angry at this point) that we would not take her room, that since it turned out the kids were only staying for one night that we would be fine with the small bedroom, and that I was very uncomfortable taking her room.  "I will not be happy.  I will not be comfortable," I kept repeating.  "But why?" she cried. "We're family, you should feel comfortable taking the room."  

Friends, it took all my self-control to not yell, "Clearly, we're not family!  If we were family, you would know how important Thanksgiving is to me, how hard it is for me to not be with my dad and my sister and my nephews, how much cooking makes me feel better and you wouldn't be trying to take my dishes away from me!"  I did not yell this.  I just kept repeating that we would not take the bedroom.

We got off the phone, and I basically burst into tears.  I'm chalking it up to pregnancy hormones.  Jeeves had been listening to my end of the conversation and he was like, "What's this about store-bought pumpkin pie?"  I told him what had happened and he completely backed me up.  I felt badly, like I was putting him in the middle of his family and me, but what else was I going to do?

I should say that I am pretty sure, like 99% sure, that Ammie's intentions were pure and kind.  That she is not trying to shut me out of Thanksgiving or make me feel like I'm not a participant, even though that's how it felt.  She thinks that because I am 11 weeks pregnant that I am a porcelain doll who has to spend her time on a Victorian fainting couch.  And she thinks that because my cat died last week, that I am not up for cooking.  She's trying to take stuff off my plate to be helpful.  But I am 35 years old and perfectly capable of deciding what I am and am not able to do, and if I offer to do something, it's not a false offer.  When I told Dad the story he said, "Awww, Meggie, she just doesn't know how important this stuff is to you.  She doesn't understand that cooking makes you feel better." And I'm sure he's right.

Jeeves took care of it, because he is awesome.  He immediately e-mailed his mom and said, "Megan always makes the pumpkin pie.  Tell Auntie to bring something else."  Then he e-mailed with his mom some more, explaining that I always cook the entire Thanksgiving dinner myself for my family, and that she needed to let me do something else.  So, I'm making green beans.  Not my first choice, but it's a Smitten Kitchen recipe and when has Deb Perelman ever steered me wrong?

Hopefully when we get to my in-laws' house tonight, there will be no more mention of the bedroom situation.

PS - I finished the pumpkin pies, and they look awesome.  I want to eat them now.

Monday, November 25, 2013

My sock buddy is awesome

So, I have a post all planned out about MORE Thanksgiving drama that happened yesterday, but I will save that for tomorrow.  This is just a quick post to say that my sock buddy is awesome.  She went above and beyond.  I am humbled.  

I signed up for Risa's (of Who Shot Down My Stork?) sock exchange and she paired me up with Smile from My Lady Bits.  Which was very cool because I love her blog and she is seriously in the IVF trenches right now and I really wanted to provide good luck socks to someone in the trenches.

Anyway, today Jeeves came home from work carrying a box.  "What's that?" I asked.  "It must be your socks!" he said.  And he was right, but the box seemed so big for socks!  That's because Smile sent me 4(!) pairs of socks.  Behold!

The Fighter socks represent my infertility journey and my little fighter bun.  The Go Team socks are for Team Infertility, but also for my dad who has cancer (proceeds from these socks go towards the Team in Training Program for cancer).  And then Christmas socks because who doesn't love festive holiday socks?  I'm a little ashamed to say that I don't own Christmas socks, but now I have two pairs!  I especially love the little reindeer.  So cute!  I'm going to wear the Fighter socks to my NT scan next week, and the Go Team Socks to my next OB appointment.  Thank you so much, Smile.  I feel bad I only got you one pair of socks, but I hope they bring you luck, and I'm super glad now that I stuck a bunch of chocolate in your package.

Man, what a privilege it is to be a member of a community filled with strong, supportive women.  I'm so thankful for you all.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Food, glorious food

I really love food, and as an ancillary, cooking, and I talk about both a lot.  And Thanksgiving is this week!  Probably my favorite holiday because a) I like the idea of being grateful and talking about what we are grateful for; and b) Thanksgiving food is AMAZING.  I started cooking Thanksgiving dinner for my family when I was 26, and it stayed that way till I got married.  I became obsessed with the perfect turkey recipe, perfecting my mother's turkey gravy, pumpkin pie, stuffing, all of it.  Then Jeeves and I got married and Jeeves and his family love Thanksgiving too.  So the only fair option was to trade off every other year.  This year we are with Jeeves' family.  It's probably for the best - other than fatigue my main pregnancy symptoms have been food-related.

As previously stated, I don't have much nausea (the one exception - smelling my co-workers' food, especially The Grump (I actually love her, but that is my nickname for her because she is the grumpiest human ever, she even made me cry my first day of work) who tends to eat stuff like liverwurst - that will send a serious nausea wave through me and I have to sit there sniffing the hand lotion on my hands like I'm Stefon or something).  But I get very bloated after eating small amounts of food, I have a lot of acid reflux, and I have a lot of food aversions.  Many foods that I love sound totally gross to me currently.  Every time Jeeves mentions a burrito, I gag.  I wouldn't say Thanksgiving dinner sounds gross, but it definitely is not lighting a hungry flame under me.

That being said, I still feel a little sad that I won't be with my own family for Thanksgiving this year, just as I know Jeeves misses his family when we spend Thanksgiving with mine.  I go crazy picking out my turkey - I special order it from a small local farm, then I brine it overnight, then I roughly follow a combo of Alton Brown and like, five other recipes.  It usually comes out pretty great.  The stuffing and the gravy were how my mother taught me.  She's been gone 7 years now and I take following her recipes very seriously.  The pumpkin pie is from Cooks Illustrated.  It's a lot of work, but it's tough to beat.  My family's reaction to my dinner is always one of resounding appreciation and victory.  And my pumpkin pie is so popular that my oldest nephew still demands that I send one down with my dad even when I'm not coming to Thanksgiving myself.

Let me contrast that reaction to my food with the reaction my dishes got from Jeeves' family.  Two years ago, at my first Thanksgiving with them, I made my pumpkin pie, stuffing, and Mom's gravy.   I wasn't going to do anything for the turkey - after all, I hadn't even picked it out!  But Jeeves thought we should brine it, and then because I'm a little bit of a control freak, I wound up taking over the whole production.  It wasn't exactly ideal.  My mother-in-law's (I call her Ammie, which is "mother" in Hindi) oven is small and conventional-sized roasting pans won't fit in there.  So she buys the disposable kind.  As a result, I couldn't fit my roasting rack in it and the turkey just sat in all its liquid, making the bottom half kinda soggy.  Ammie's oven also tends to run 50 degrees too hot, which I did not realize.  So it was done faster than I expected, and also the breast meat was a little overdone.  Sigh.  I hate that.  

Then the stuffing.  Several people at the dinner are vegetarian, so Ammie makes a vegetarian stuffing, and my sister-in-law makes this ridiculously amazing sausage and mozzarella stuffing.  My stuffing has chicken stock in, so it's not vegetarian, but otherwise it is a very traditional bread stuffing with celery, onion, parsley, herbs, and a lot of butter.  No one ate my stuffing.  Except me and maybe Jeeves.  I wound up taking most of it to Kate's family the next day.  It was sad.  

What about the pumpkin pie?  Again, Ammie makes a fantastic pecan pie, and my sister-in-law makes a great apple pie.  Usually the pumpkin pie is purchased from a store.  Less than a quarter of my pumpkin pie got eaten. Jeeves' nephew, J, even came over and told me he had tried it and didn't like it.  Ugh.

The only "success" of the dinner was the gravy, and that is because the non-vegetarian gravy apparently usually comes out of a jar.  My competition was jarred gravy.  I guess I should be grateful I beat out jarred gravy.

So when it came time to decide what to make this year, I was more circumspect.  Jeeves pointed out to me that every family has their version of Thanksgiving dinner and in his family, they like the way things are already, just like my family likes how I make things.  So if I want anyone to eat my stuff, I either need to come up with something new or I need to just take over something that's already popular.  I agreed to do the majority of the work on the turkey, but told Jeeves I'd only do it if his mom got her oven calibrated.  She did, so now it's not fluctuating 50 degrees in either direction of what you set it at.  I gave up on making my stuffing, even though I really love it.  It's not worth it if I'm the only one who's going to eat it.  I'll still make my gravy because it connects me to my mom and I'm not eating jarred gravy on Thanksgiving.  And I'm still making the pumpkin pie - even if I'm the only one who eats it, I know it's good and Kate's family will eat the leftovers.  And I'm replacing the stuffing with maple glazed carrots.  That way the vegetarians can eat it too, and no one else makes carrots, so hopefully someone other than me will eat them.

Hopefully by the time Thanksgiving rolls around, I'll be having a good day symptoms-wise, and I will actually want to eat all this food.  For the most part, the only thing I really want to eat is Ghirardelli peppermint bark and Kashi Cinnamon Harvest cereal.  Delicious.

What about you, dear reader?  What will you make for Thanksgiving?  If you're married and have to fit in with a family that has different traditions, how did you integrate yourself?

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Better Day

I'm talking about my pregnancy in this post, so if you're in a bad space, please skip this post, take care of yourself, and come back another time when I'll surely be talking about my nephew's ridiculous Christmas wish list Power Point presentation.

One of my newish pregnancy symptoms is intermittent insomnia.  I don't like it.  Even though I was completely exhausted last night from all the crying over Abbott, when I turned off the light I was suddenly wide awake.  I finally fell asleep, I'm guessing around 2am.  At 7:30, I woke up to pee, and I couldn't fall back asleep after that.  I thought about going into work for a few hours before my 1:15pm OB appointment, but I thought I'd try one more time to fall back asleep after Jeeves left for work.  That did the trick.  The problem - I did not set an alarm and I woke up at 12:25pm(!) with lines all over my face and arms.  I rushed to get ready and get to my appointment.

I'm in a private Facebook group with women I met in an online forum for infertility who are also due in June.  I'm the only pregnancy from IUI in the group - everyone else is IVF.  It's been so nice to have a group of women to talk to about pregnancy symptoms, fears, frustrations.  Many of them have had miscarriages, so they understand my fears.  But the one downside is that I find myself comparing my pregnancy to theirs and worrying.  Most of the women have a lot of nausea, some of them have severe nausea.  I've been nauseated a few times, but not much and my general eating/food issues have been improving this week.  So that made me nervous.  And then a couple of the women started posting early bump pictures.

I have been pretty good about tracking my weight this pregnancy.  In the first trimester, you're only supposed to gain 2-3 lbs, with the majority of weight gain coming in trimesters 2 and 3.  I have not gained any weight.  It's been easy to not gain weight because I'm frequently bloated and not hungry, and even when I am hungry, I can't eat as much as I used to.  My clothes all still fit fine.  And then these gals from my group started posting bump shots.  Also, Amanda from Beloved Burnt Toast, who is around the same week as me, posted a bump shot and she has a giant bump!  Anyway, the girls in my group - one of them is pregnant with triplets, so the fact that she has a big belly already is no surprise.  But a couple of the girls are pregnant with singletons and they have bellies too!  I tried to comfort myself by saying everyone is different, they did IVF, so maybe they already had some swelling from the hormones, etc.  But this week has been so shitty, you guys.  I miss my cat.  And it just started to feel like this whole year has been pretty bad with the infertility, the miscarriages, Dad's cancer, my sister's issues, and Abbott dying, that hey, of course we'll throw one more shitty thing on that pile just to really make sure it is the WORST YEAR EVER.

Suffice it to say, I was going into this OB appointment with a pretty negative mindset.

But last night, I went into the bathroom and when I turned sideways in the mirror, I noticed something.  I have a little tummy.  I don't think anyone else would notice, but it's definitely there.  I called Jeeves into the bathroom to show him.  He said he had noticed it a couple of days before, but he wasn't sure if maybe I had just gained some weight and he didn't want to upset me. It didn't upset me, it made me happy.

Anyway, back to 12:30pm today while I rush around like a crazy person to get to my OB.  I didn't think I was getting an ultrasound today - I thought she was just going to try and listen for the heartbeat with the doppler, which made me nervous because 10 weeks can sometimes be too early for the doppler.  But while we were waiting, I got called into the ultrasound room!  I was getting another ultrasound!  A pregnant infertile will never say no to an ultrasound.

For the first time, I didn't need the tech to tell me anything.  We could clearly see the baby, doing jazz hands.  The little heart was beating away and the tech turned the sound on so we could hear it.  Measuring on time.  Awesome.  A bright spot of happiness to end what has been a very sad week.  Jeeves says the baby looks like something from X-Files.  I think it's starting to look like a baby.

We met with the genetics counselor, who was very nice, knowledgeable, and thorough, and the information she gave us confirmed what we had already decided.  I also appreciate that she didn't make me feel like my eggs are 8000 years old.  I had blood drawn for the MaterniT21 test, scheduled my nuchal translucency scan for December 5th, and did a finger stick for the Papp-A and hCG levels.  If all those come back indicating that we have a low risk for a chromosomal disorder, we'll stop there.  I'd really prefer not to do chorionic villi sampling (CVS) or an amnio if we can help it.  I'm especially excited about the MaterniT21 test, which is a cell free DNA test - it has a high rate of prediction, a low false positive rate, and as a bonus, it will tell us gender.  Results in 2 weeks!

So that was the day.  A much better day than yesterday.  And thankfully I get another ultrasound in under 2 weeks.  That will be a much easier wait than the 3 week wait I had this time.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

It's ICLW and all I want to do is cry

Hello and welcome to International Comment Leaving Week.  This is my second time participating, and aside from really enjoying the sense of community and reading new blogs, I like that it usually lights a fire under me to write more.

Unfortunately I am having a bad, bad day today.  Last night my husband, Jeeves, and I had to put our cat, Abbott, to sleep.  In October Abbott started drinking more water than usual, so we took him to the vet, who diagnosed him with lymphoma.  Lymphoma is terminal in cats.  But we thought we'd have more time.  In the last week or so he deteriorated pretty quickly: seemed hungry but didn't like anything we put down for him, lethargic, stopped grooming.  He'd loss muscle mass in his back legs and couldn't really jump anymore.  He lost a lot of weight.  His eyes lost their brightness.  He purred less and less.  On Tuesday night, he got into my lap for about 10 minutes and I said to him, "I don't know what to do.  You have to let me know when it's time to let go, okay?"  Last night, he started meowing as if in pain and tried to hide in the bathtub.  At one point I bent down to pat him and he looked at me and let out the saddest meow - I felt like he was telling me it was time.  At first we thought we would just take him to our regular, awesome vet on Thursday morning, but as the evening progressed, I knew I couldn't stand to leave him like that overnight.  We packed him up, sad meows and all, and took him to the 24-hour emergency animal hospital in midtown.

The emergency vet was awesome.  He opined that Abbott was not in pain, but perhaps disoriented due to low blood pressure, or that he might have fluid in his lungs, or possibly he was becoming very anemic due to the lymphoma.  They ran an ultrasound and some blood work, which ruled out those thoughts.  That left pain.  The vet felt Abbott was probably in pain - he had an enlarged stomach and gall bladder, and we had a long talk with the vet about what we should do.  Ultimately, he said he could give us some pain meds that might help for a couple of days, but that sooner rather than later we were going to have to make the decision to free our kitty from his illness.  While he never steered us one way or the other, we both felt he thought (and we agreed) that the humane thing was to end Abbott's suffering now.  As the vet said - he's not grooming or eating, in other words - he's not being a cat anymore.

I decided I wanted to be there when they put him to sleep.  I couldn't stand the idea of him being scared with strangers while that happened.  It was hard, but I'm glad I was the person holding him in the end, just like I held him when he was a little kitten, or when he was a fatter kitty.  Abbott, we love you and miss you so much.  We hope we did right by you.

So, if this is your first time on my blog and you ventured here from Stirrup Queens and ICLW, I apologize that you walked into this mess.  I am hopeful the coming days will get easier.

Obligatory ICLW schpiel - my husband and I started trying for a baby in April 2012.  The fall of 2012, we went to an RE and had the usual workup.  You can read more about it in my Timeline.  We did 4 IUIs - #1 was a chemical pregnancy, #2 was a BFN, #3 was a missed miscarriage where we never had a heartbeat, and #4 resulted in my current pregnancy.  Today I am 10w2d pregnant, the farthest I have ever made it.  I am perpetually wracked with anxiety about having another miscarriage.  Tomorrow is my second OB appointment, and I'm hoping we get continued good news in that department, because I just don't think my heart can take more bad stuff this week.

As for other stuff, about me, etc., I live in NYC, I usually like to eat, cook, and talk about food, but this pregnancy means that I mostly find food to be gross.  Sometimes I have a good day and food seems delicious again.  I also love books, television, NPR, Christmas lights, Thanksgiving stuffing and pumpkin pie, sleight of hand magic, and being lazy.  Being productive is pretty cool too.  Thanks for reading.  Happy ICLW!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Stork Award

It's been a tough couple of weeks in Megs Land.  Dad switched his chemo protocol back in September, and the first 2 cycles went great, but during the third cycle, he got pretty sick from side effects.  It's a story for another time, but it's very hard to watch him go through that, especially when I'm not there to hover and meddle like I did when I lived with him.  And then this week, Abbott stopped eating.  We took him to the vet yesterday, and his lymphoma is progressing.  The vet gave him a shot of dexamethasone and B vitamin, and increased the oral meds I'm giving him.  The dex did perk him up, but does not appear to have done a whole lot for his appetite.  The tough part is that while we always knew the time we had left with Abbott was limited, I think it's a lot more limited than we realized.  The vet did say that she didn't think he was in pain, just that he isn't feeling well and is tired.

And then this week has been all wonky with my pregnancy symptoms.  I had my first honest to goodness bout of morning sickness, where I thought I was going to toss my cookies on the bus ride home from Dad's, and also on the subway and the walk home.  It passed and now I'm generally back to my typical food aversions, bloating, general eating unpleasantness.  But then my boobs stopped hurting.  I'm trying not to think about it too much.  But this year has generally been so crummy, and last night I said to Jeeves that the only thing that was making the situation with my dad and Abbott remotely tolerable right now was that I'm pregnant.  And then I said, "If I have a miscarriage now, I just don't know how...." and I trailed off, because he knew what I meant.  The truth is, that we're all a lot more capable of handling horrible things than we think we are.  You breathe in and out and you put one foot in front of the other.  It sucks, but you do it.  But holy hell, if my cat dies, my dad continues to deteriorate, and I have a miscarriage, someone is getting punched.

But a nice little bright thing happened in my week - fellow Jersey girl Kasey at Stupid Broken Eggs nominated me for a Stork Award!  The Stork Award was started by Teresa at Where the Bleep is My Stork.  I've been reading her blog for a long time.  Here's how it works:

1. Include the Stork Award icon in your post
2. Link to the person(s) who nominated you
3. Answer the 10 questions about yourself
4. Nominate as many bloggers as you want to receive the award 
5. Ask your nominees 10 new questions 
6. Link your nominees and let them know they've been nominated
7. Post the Stork Award icon on your blog side bar if you are so inclined

What a nice treat.  Ahem.  Shall we begin?

Kasey's questions and my answers:

1) What is your dream vacation?

This is a tough one because there are many, many places I'd like to see.  But if I had to choose one, I'd say I would like to go back to Italy and see parts of it that I didn't see last time.  I'd like to go to Venice, the Amalfi Coast, the norther lake district, Sicily, Sardinia....  And I would like to eat all of the food.  Going back to France is a close second.  I've also never been to Scotland - I'd really like to go there.

2) Do you have any regrets in life? Would you redo something differently if you could? 

I'm not a big believer in regrets because I think that the decisions we make, even when they are the wrong ones, get us to where we're going.  For instance, I used to say I regretted going to law school.  But if I hadn't gone to law school, I never would have met my husband.  I will say that if I had a time machine, I'd like to go back to my early 20s and encourage younger me to stop crying over dumb boys who broke her heart because they are so not worth it and something much better is just around the corner.  So I guess that's a regret - I wish I hadn't spent so much time being sad about my romantic life in my early 20s.

3) What is your favorite thing to do to distract yourself?

Reading and cooking.  If it's really bad, reading cooking magazines.

4) What makes your family special? Any rituals or holiday plans that are special to just your family? 

This one was tough.  My family is quite small - just me, Dad, my sister, her crazy-ass husband, and my three awesome nephews.  I have cousins, an aunt, a couple of uncles, but they all live very far away and I was never close with any of them.  So when I say what I think is special, I really mean my immediate family.  My family really listens.  Well, sort of.  My dad (and my mom while she was alive) really listen, and they taught me to really listen.  When they asked, "How was your day?" they wanted the honest truth, not just a perfunctory "Fine."  I love my sister, but listening is not one of her strongest suits.  Still, she always wants an honest answer to "How are you?"  As for holiday traditions, on St. Patrick's Day, we make a giant corned beef and watch the movie The Quiet Man.  I don't really know any other families that do that.

5) What are you doing for the holidays?

Jeeves and I agreed when we got married that we would trade off holidays with our families.  So, this year we are with his family for Thanksgiving and mine for Christmas, and next year we will flip that around.  For Thanksgiving, we will go to Jeeves' parents' house and I will bring my pumpkin pie that no one eats except me (and then I will steal the leftovers of that pie and share them with Kate's family at our annual day after Thanksgiving holiday - Leftover Day) and I will make the giblet gravy, which is my mom's recipe, and somehow the turkey will be left up to me as well, probably.  For Christmas, we will go to my sister's house where she will make her famous standing rib roast and I will make a chocolate mousse pie.

6) Are you a coffee drinker? (I need my second cup now)

Um, yeah.  I even wrote a post about it.  Sadly I am on seriously reduced caffeine consumption right now.

7) Do you live in your dream home? If not what would you change about it or add to it?

NO.  We live in a one bedroom apartment.  It is a good apartment, but very far from my dream home.  If I could triple the size of the kitchen and maybe add some more cabinets, and magically give it a private backyard - well, that would help a lot.

8) Do you rather host parties or attend parties?

Both!  I love both.

9) Which season is your favorite? Why?

I actually think all of the seasons have their bright spots, but I think I'll go with Spring on this one.  I love the flowering trees, and seeing leaves sprout, and the days start to get longer.  It feels like such a hopeful time.

10) If you could have dinner with anyone dead or alive who would it be and what would you talk about? 

My mom.  She died in 2006.  I miss her a lot.  I wish we could talk face to face (we talk in my dreams some times, but it's not the same because in my dreams I never remember that she's dead)  so I could tell her what's been going on in our lives and get her advice.  

My nominees - I would have a lot, but I don't want to re-nominate anyone:

Melissa from Ask an Infertile
Smile at My Lady Bits

My questions for them:

1.) What is your guilty pleasure movie/music/book/TV show?
2.) The best vacation you ever went on?
3.) If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
4.) Time travel is a thing, but you can only go back and observe - you can't change anything.  What time period would you want to witness?
5.) What would you choose as your last meal?
6.) The best book you've read in the last 5 years?
7.) What do you love about where you live?
8.) What's your biggest pet peeve?
9.) Who was your favorite teacher in high school and why?
10.) What was your bravest moment?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Once an infertile...

I really was going to write a silly post about the foods I can't eat and my current obsession with peanut butter cups.  I even started writing it.  But then something happened, and now that will have to wait.

I have wondered since we found out I was pregnant how I would react to pregnancy announcements and seeing pregnant ladies on the street.  The seeing-pregnant-ladies-on-the-street question got answered pretty quickly since I live in lower Manhattan and you can't walk down the street without tripping over five giant bellies.  The answer to that question is that they don't make me as sad/angry/jealous as they used to, but I feel no affinity with them.  Right or wrong, I assume most of these women didn't struggle to get pregnant and I assume they did not spend their first trimester filled with panic that they were about the miscarry, and so I just don't feel like I'm in their club.  But on the whole, it's a lot easier to see them than it used to be.

As for the pregnancy announcement thing - my first foray into that realm was very different than I expected.  My cousins have been through the ringer when it comes to having a baby.  They were married before I ever even met my husband, and have basically been trying since then.  They have experienced the stillbirth of a full term son, followed by difficulty conceiving, ART, and recurrent early pregnancy loss.  On Halloween they posted an adorable announcement on Facebook that they are expecting twins in the spring.  This is a win for IF Land.  This is a fist-pumping, "hell yeah!" moment.  This is sheer joy.  I realized that I would have felt this way for them even if I weren't pregnant, so it didn't seem like a proper test of my reaction.

Well, that question was answered last night.  Like most couples, Jeeves has his friends, especially from high school and college, I have my friends from that time frame, and then we have truly shared friends from when our lives started to overlap.  I am very lucky that I really like all of Jeeves' old friends.  They are nice, interesting people.  A close friend of his from college, N, and her partner C live in Manhattan.  It took me a couple of years to warm up to N - she's got many wonderful qualities, but she can also be an insufferable know-it-all (takes one to know one), and she can say some off-the-cuff, judgmental things that I find irksome.  Also, the first time I met her she made some disparaging comments about New Jersey.  I hold to the rule that you may only mock New Jersey, the greatest state in the nation, if you are from New Jersey.  What I didn't know at the time is that N is originally from New Jersey.  Anyway, things started to get better for me where N is concerned when I realized it's okay to argue with her about some of her judgey positions - she won't take offense and I feel better when I do it.

N's partner C (I'm using "partner" instead of boyfriend because although they are not married, they have been together for a long time, and have lived together for the last few years and I feel it's safe to assume that they are committed to being together for the long-term, even if they aren't married) is awesome - he is kind and smart and best of all - he calls N on some of her bullshit, which I think she needs.  

While I have been pretty open with my friends about our infertility and miscarriages, Jeeves has told very few people.  N and C don't know anything about our experience.

Last night, they invited us over to their apartment for dinner.  We arrived and got the tour, and right away I had serious apartment envy.  This happens to me a lot, because although our apartment itself is very nice, our furnishings leave a lot to be desired.  I joke that our apartment looks like a couple of college bros live in it.  This is what happens when you put all of your stuff in storage before you move into the City and your husband's furniture was bought at Ikea circa 2001.  We've been slowly trying to convert it to a more adult look, but it's been a very long process.  We are also not handy.  Or particularly creative at spacial arrangements.  Meanwhile, N and C are architects and super handy, so their place is so amazingly organized and adult, and all their pictures are properly framed, and they have all these cool shelving units and aesthetic touches.  And since it's a very new apartment building, the bathroom fixtures are awesome and clean, and the kitchen has Viking appliances.  And the apartment has a washer/dryer!  Serious envy here.

Anyway, we sit down in the living room and I am swallowing my "why can't our apartment look like this?" envy when C asks what we would like to drink (beer for Jeeves, water for me) when N says, "The reason I'm not drinking is because I'm pregnant!"  Record scratch.  She's 16 weeks, still as tiny as ever.

I am going to boil down the story for you.   At some point in the late summer, N started feeling sick.  Very fatigued, bloated, constipated, hungry all the time, but queasy.  Sound familiar?  She thought she had a parasite.  She went to her doctor, who was like, "I dunno."  She went to an OB/GYN, who was also like, "I dunno."  Dumbest OB/GYN ever, apparently.  She mentioned that she had been having some left-sided pain, so her gynecologist referred her for an ultrasound on her left ovary.  Which is where she learned she was pregnant.  At that point she was 10 weeks!  10 fucking weeks!   It came out as she is telling me this story, that she had just gone off the birth control pill.  What kind of idiot OB/GYN doesn't automatically say, "you need to go in the bathroom and pee on this stick for me."  For Pete's sake, at my old gynecologist they used to give you a pregnancy test every time you stepped into the office, just to be safe!  

I sort of assumed from this story that perhaps N and C had decided that they would maybe start trying for kids in a few months, so N had gone off the pill in preparation for that, and since she hadn't had a normal period yet, it had not occurred to her that she might be pregnant.  But Jeeves told me when I was in the bathroom she made some sort of remark about how she hadn't thought she would have kids.  And they had been really thrown for a loop when they found out she was pregnant and debated whether they would even keep it.  Which begs the question - why the fuck did you go off the pill then?  Arrrggghhhh.  For the rest of the evening, she kept explaining pregnancy 101 stuff to us, like how progesterone slows down your system and that's why she's constipated, and about the foods you can't eat, and my eyes nearly rolled out of my head. 

Obviously, being only 8w4d pregnant, we did not tell them that I was pregnant.  Even when N became the first person in a year to ask me, repeatedly, why I'm not drinking.  Seriously?  I really thought I might have to choke a bitch, and that would be super wrong.

Don't get me wrong.  I am very happy for them.  I think they will be really good parents.  And hearing their news did not sting the way such news used to sting.  If I weren't pregnant, I suspect I would have come home and sobbed.  And that didn't happen.  But the year and a half of trying, the 4 IUIs and the 2 miscarriages that it took for us to get to this point - they mean that I am not on her team.  Her baby is due two months before mine and I felt no kinship with her on this.  Because she is lucky.  So, so lucky.  And life is so very unfair.  I thought of how hard it was for us to get here, how many infertiles I know are struggling, and how N got pregnant the moment she went off the pill when she didn't even want to get pregnant, how for the first 10 weeks she wasn't taking prenatals, and was eating and drinking all sorts of stuff she probably shouldn't, and all of her screening tests have come back clean.

The universe is not a wish-granting factory, and I know that.  But I was so very angry about it last night.  I have read so many other posts from women who get pregnant through ART which explain that pregnancy doesn't mean that you're no longer an infertile.  You're always an infertile.  You're always on this team.  I wouldn't wish this team on anyone, in that I wouldn't wish infertility on anyone.  But I am glad I found this club of really cool women, who I will be connected to for the rest of my life because of our crummy shared experience.

Jeeves and I spent today organizing, throwing things away, and generally trying to make our apartment look a little less like a frat house.  My stand mixer is now accessible, which means cookies.  Cookies all the time.  Please send me your recipes.  Next post will be more fun, I promise.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

The only thing we have to fear

"Just when you think you've sunk as far as it's possible to sink, there's always a lower place.  There's always something worse to be scared about."
- Holly Black, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

You know that Google commercial with the kid who looks up glossophobia?  I kind of love that commercial.  I love the framing of his leg jiggling up and down at his desk, I love the use of FDR's inaugural address, heck, I even like the music.  I think another reason I like it is because I used to be very afraid of public speaking, which is funny because I eventually became a litigator and you aren't allowed to be afraid of public speaking when you're a litigator.   

I've talked a lot in the last couple of weeks about being afraid, and that I'm having a hard time feeling happiness or joy in this pregnancy.  But I saw that commercial again.  And more importantly, I read Rach's (from A Little Bit More) beautiful post about how she has allowed her fear of failure, of miscarriage, of the unknown, to prevent her from pursuing her goal of having a child.  It got me thinking about how I was letting my fears rule me.

When my mother died I became paralyzingly terrified of my own death.  I've been told this is very normal.  In many ways our parents are what stand between us and our own mortality, and when they are gone, we realize we are that much closer.  With time and some therapy, I managed to get the fear under control.  When I called to make an appointment with the RE that first time over a year ago, I started crying on the phone with the scheduler, I was so scared.  Scared to find out what was wrong with us.  And once we knew, terrified that nothing would work.  Terrified that they would discover something new that was wrong with us after we started treatment.  Always, always something to be scared about.  But most of all - scared we would never be parents.  I usually just crushed those feelings down and did whatever I had to do next.

Maybe crushing the fear down isn't always healthy, but it kept me moving forward.  And the one thing I know would not have been healthy would have been if I had allowed my fear to paralyze me, to prevent me from plowing ahead.  FDR said in his inaugural address, the one where he says the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, that there was "no unsolvable problem if we face it wisely and courageously."  I have not been feeling very courageous lately.

Now I've reached the goal of becoming pregnant, but there's still fear.  

There's always something worse to be scared about.  I like to pretend that if I make it to 12 weeks that I will suddenly not be afraid anymore, but we've all read the stories of women in our community who lost pregnancies in the second and third trimester.  And then there are the stories of people who lose their infants, or their toddlers, or their teenagers.  There will always be something more to be scared about.  But I can't allow that to dictate how I feel, and I can't allow it to take over my brain.

I wasn't allowing myself to feel happy or attached to this bun.  I was fixating on my symptoms, and whether they were worse or better and what that could possibly mean.  I discovered that some cheese I ate a couple of weeks ago was probably raw milk cheese and I spent a day obsessing over whether I was going to come down with listeriosis.  And when I wasn't worrying about that stuff, I was worried about screening tests and I was worried about incompetent cervix, and I was worried about premature rupture of membranes.  And I wasn't allowing myself to feel okay, or confident, or any other positive emotion because clearly that would jinx the whole thing, right?  I wasn't allowing myself to read certain sections of the pregnancy book because that would be getting ahead of myself.  As if reading those sections would make it worse if I had a miscarriage at this point.  As if by not reading those sections, I was going to feel okay if I do have a miscarriage.

There are many eloquent quotes on courage and bravery that all basically boil down to the same point.  People who are brave or courageous are not people who are without fear.  They are people who feel fear, and who see what lies ahead - both disaster and success - and they go out to face it nonetheless.  The IF community is filled with a lot of very brave people.  I need to take a page out of their playbook.  I am a fearful person, and that is okay.  There are many things to be scared about.  But I'm no longer going to allow that fear to steal my time and joy.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

A visit to the OB

Last week was a pretty depressing week at Casa de Megs and Jeeves because of our sadness over Abbott.  We took about a million pictures of him and whenever one of us was out of the apartment, we would incessantly text the other, asking what Abbott was doing.  The good news is that the steroids Abbott is on seem to have perked him up a bit and he's more interested in food again.  And he doesn't seem to be in any pain, which makes me happy.

Friday was our first OB appointment, and it was our second ultrasound.  Unfortunately we had to wait awhile for the ultrasound - there were a bunch of other pregnant ladies there getting scanned as well - and I became more and more agitated and anxious as we waited.  I also noted that they have an ultrasound tech do the scan, not a doctor, so I was worried she wouldn't tell us anything.  I was wrong.  The tech was very nice and pointed out everything to us.  "Look, there's your baby."  "Is there a heartbeat?" I immediately asked.  "Yes, right there." And I finally could really see it.  But the best part - the best, best part, was that she turned on the sound and we got to hear the heartbeat.  She told us the heartbeat was measuring normally (I didn't ask for the actual rate - I feel like I need to chill a little with the information and Googling), and the little bun was measuring 7 weeks 2 days.  I noted that this was a day behind, but my OB assured me that this is perfectly fine and normal.

The rest of the appointment was fine, and the doctor answered my questions and we also talked about the fact that I'm an old, old lady in Obstetrics Land, so they want me to meet with the genetics counselor to talk about what, if any, screening tests we want.  She said I could come back in 2 to 3 weeks, but that if I wanted to do the MaterniT21 test, which I do, then I should come back in 3 weeks since the blood has to be drawn after 10 weeks.  So I decided to go back in 3 weeks (November 22nd) in order to see the doc and meet the genetics counselor, and get my blood drawn for the test.  Now I'm not so sure I can make it 3 weeks without having a total freakout.

I've mentioned before that I have a good friend in real life who has been dealing with infertility for over 7 years now.  She has had the unfairest of shakes, and one of the top specialists in the country told her he thought she might be the unluckiest patient he's ever seen.  Despite good blood test results from her initial infertility workup, she found out during her first IVF that she is a poor responder.  She got pregnant from that IVF, but never got a heartbeat - a missed miscarriage was diagnosed.  She did another cycle that didn't work out, and then did a frozen embryo transfer which resulted in an ectopic pregnancy.  Somewhere in there she found out she has a thrombophilia, so if she were to get pregnant again, she'd need treatment via weekly infusion for that.  Against all odd, she did get pregnant from her third fresh IVF, got a heartbeat, got released to the OB, made it to her 12 week nuchal translucency scan, only to find out that once again, the baby had stopped developing and she was going to miscarry.  Recently she found out she has elevated natural killer cells, which may explain her recurrent pregnancy loss, but the treatment for it is questionable.  It's been a hard, hard road for her, but despite that she has never been calloused or dismissive of other peoples' pain and experiences.  She is my role model in all things.

It seems like any bad thing that could happen has happened to her, and her experience is always on my mind in Jeeves's and my infertility journey.  Knowing how she had to wait for that scan, and how much she had wanted one earlier just to make sure everything was okay - I keep thinking about it.  Which is the say, I don't know if I'm actually going to make it 3 weeks before I see my doctor again.  I'm thinking about e-mailing my doctor to find out what the plan is at the next appointment - will I be at a point where we can do a doppler scan for the heartbeat?  Can I get an ultrasound just for reassurance?

Last week I started to have.... not morning sickness, but a general gross feeling after I would eat.  I felt bloated and uninterested in food.  Lots of foods that I normally like sounded gross to me, and I didn't need to eat much before I no longer wanted anymore food.  And for hours after eating, I would feel too full.  Then yesterday, I noted that most of what I ate sat just fine.  Sure, I was burpy, but that's par for the course these days.  But that really yucky feeling was absent.  I still have plenty of other pregnancy symptoms, but it bothered me that I was okay with food!  I wanted to just enjoy the reprieve, but nooooo.  I'm still nervous about it, even though I've heard it's perfectly normal for symptoms to come and go, and for Pete's sake - I just saw the bun two freakin' days ago.  You'd think I could chill out a little.

Sigh.  I am so jealous of pregnant women who just enjoy being pregnant, and don't have to worry or think about all the things that can and do go wrong.  Ignorance truly can be bliss sometimes.

I'm sorry if any of this sounds like whining.  I know so many of you are still in the trenches and even though I'm happy for me, I feel shitty that you're not here with me.  I'm hoping that you'll all be joining me on this side very soon.