Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Yep, there's still a baby in there

Friday was my OB appointment and my first ultrasound scan since I was 21 weeks.  This is going to sound weird, but periodically, I would wonder if there was really still a baby in there, even though I felt him moving around.  Maybe it had turned into a cat?  I made a joke about this to Jeeves awhile ago and he said, "Look, I'm going to be honest.  If you gave birth to Abbott, I wouldn't be disappointed."  Yeah, we both still really miss Abbott.  
Anyway, even though my OB's office is pretty good about taking you in quickly for your regular appointments, that is not the case for ultrasounds.  We waited about 40 minutes before we finally got called back, and we were both really nervous.  It wasn't even really about whether it was a cat or a baby in there.  I've mentioned before that I'm in a small private pregnancy group on Facebook with a bunch of other infertiles that I met on a forum when I was doing IF treatment.  Almost all of them are pregnant through IVF.  In the group (approximately 30 women, but only about 20 or so regularly post and comment), there were several sets of twins - three of them have been delivered now (2 due to preterm labor, and 1 due to pre-eclampsia).  One of the singletons was also just born following induction due to pre-eclampsia.  And another woman in the group also has pre-e and she's delivering tonight due to skyrocketing blood pressure.  So, pre-e is definitely on my brain and Jeeves and I get tense every time they take my blood pressure (which has been totally normal from the start).   But aside from the pre-e, I've heard plenty of stories about how there's low fluid at an ultrasound scan, etc., and they send you off to the hospital.  So, yeah, nervous.

In the end, there was nothing to worry about, although I have to take their word for it that it's still a baby in there - things are crowded and you can't really see anything.  Manuji is head down.  My fluid level was fine, and he was measuring well in terms of growth (estimate was 6lbs 2oz).  Then we saw the OB.  I'm in a group practice, so right now I've been cycling through the other doctors to make sure I meet everyone who could be on call the day of delivery.  Friday's doctor, Dr. D, was great - we both liked her a lot.  I felt a little bad for her because we had just had our hospital tour and we had a lot of questions.  But she handled it very well and didn't rush us.  I also had my first vag exam since forever!  She couldn't feel my cervix at all, but said that's normal for the stage I'm at.  Let's hope at some point in the not too distant future Manuji drops down.

So now I'm going in every week, and I'll get an ultrasound each time to check fluid levels and movement.  Hopefully every scan will go as well as this one did.  

On to the shitty news, because this can't just be a nice little post about our OB appointment.  I've noted lately that Dad is very fatigued (probably due to the chemo-induced anemia) and that he seems to have some mental confusion.  It's not like when he was dehydrated where I would ask him a question and he would trail off mid-sentence and struggle to understand simple concepts.  Our conversations are perfectly normal, but he has been mixing up days (it'll be a Thursday, but he'll be so convinced it's Friday that he gets in the car and drives to a doctor's appointment he has on Friday).  There have been a couple of other things too.  My sister freaked out about yesterday and I spent a good chunk of time texting with her about it.  

Anyway, Dad went to his chemo appointment today.  I had wanted to go with him, but physically I just couldn't do it.  To put it in perspective, I went for a one mile walk (roundtrip) with Jeeves on Saturday and I had to lie down for an hour afterwards.  A drive to Jersey followed by the running around I would do out there for Dad would probably wreck me.  So, I talked to Dad a little while ago and his chemo was cancelled - his hemoglobin has dropped even lower.  Tomorrow he's getting a blood transfusion.  I'm glad that his doctor is dealing with the problem appropriately, but I wish I were there.  I know logically I can't, but I still feel shitty about it.  I wish my sister would go with him, but I know that a) Dad wouldn't see the point in that because she's basically clueless on the medical stuff; and b) she wouldn't offer to go anyway.  I texted her to tell her what was going on, and her super compassionate response was that she thinks Dad should stop doing chemo altogether, but that she "guesses" he has to come to that decision on his own.  Ugh.  Yes, it's so annoying how people get to make their own decisions about their medical care.  Look, I feel that the chemo has been making Dad quite sick for the last 8 months or so, and I realize that he may have reached a point where he just can't tolerate any chemo anymore.  But I also know that he keeps at it because he's not ready to call it quits yet and he wants to be around his family for as long as he can - that's why he keeps doing this.  And I love that about him.  When my sister says stuff like this, whether she means to or not, it sounds like, "Ugh, Dad's cancer is an inconvenience to me and I wish he would just give up already so we can sell his house."  When Dad told Sissy about Dr. T's prognosis back in March, my sister gave him some schpiel about how he shouldn't worry about us, that we'd be fine.  "I think he was really glad I said that," she told me, proudly.  "Sissy, it's not really that he worries about leaving us.  It's that he doesn't want to leave us.  He doesn't want to die and he's scared and sad about it."  I don't know if she got it.

We lost our mom suddenly and while that was awful, in some ways it was a blessing because our mom was our mom up until she died.  With Dad, he's been sick and he's needed help and it's been stressful and a source of worry and in some ways he's very different from who my dad was a couple of years ago.  There's more a parent/child reversal when you're dealing with sick, elderly parents.  It's been tough.  I wish Sissy were more willing to help.  I wish she would at least call him up and say, "Hey, I'll take you for that blood transfusion tomorrow."  

Baby CPR this week!  And hopefully I'll waddle my way to the nursing bra store so they can help me figure out what size I'm supposed to buy.  37 weeks today.  Unbelievable.  One year ago this week we started our two week ultrasound roller coaster hell where we found out the bean was not viable.  And now we're here.  37 weeks.  

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Hot Dog Fingers

I wanted to post earlier this week, but time got away from me.  Last week I started experiencing a new pregnancy symptom.  It's a super fun one.  I've noticed lately that my fingers have been swelling and I can't wear any of my rings anymore.  That was fine, I know that swelling, especially in the warmer weather, is normal at this stage of pregnancy.  My fingers were starting to look like sausages - it's a good thing we don't have a dog, it would probably try to eat them.

But what I did not anticipate is that this prolonged swelling causes pain in the joints of my fingers.  So, bottles became tough to open, and in the middle of the night, when I haven't moved my hands for awhile and I get up to pee, just removing toilet paper from the roll is painful.  It's not my favorite.  Some days are worse than others.  

Tuesday I got up very early and was in a ZipCar by 7:30 a.m. to drive from Brooklyn to Jersey so I could take Dad to chemo.  It's kind of a big week where Dad is concerned - 5 years ago yesterday (May 21) he was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer.  To put it in perspective, the 5 year survival rate for people whose colon cancer has spread to distant sites is currently 12%.  This means that all those people who got diagnosed with the same type and stage of cancer as Dad back in May 2009 - 88% of those people are dead.  My dad is in this very small minority of people who are still here 5 years later, even if they aren't cured.  As shitty as the situation with Dad has been, especially for the last 6 months or so, I can't get over the fact that we got 5 years.  It is so far beyond what we thought we would get, and I am grateful.  So grateful that he was here for the birth of my youngest nephew, here for my wedding, and that, barring a catastrophe, he will meet my son.  

Anyway, I went out to Jersey because I've been worried about him, and we went to chemo.  Chemo was fine in the end, and it looks like he's developing anemia, which explains his fatigue (his weight is holding steady and he's not dehydrated).  It's not severe enough to do anything about the anemia at this point, so we'll just wait and see.  I left mid-afternoon so I could get back to the City for our hospital tour.  The driving was tense and I ached by the time I got home.  Then I spent about an hour on the subway (where I do not always get a seat - yeah, New Yorkers are a really lovely bunch - me and my painful hot dog fingers had to cling to the subway pole since no one would give me a seat on the 6 train) and then walking to get to the hospital.  The tour was good, very informative, and made all this "holy shit, we're really having a baby" thing even more real.  

THEN we got on a train to Westchester to go pick up Jeeves' parents' second car, which we are borrowing.  We got home around 10:30 p.m.  Such a long day.  And I got all pleased with how much I was able to do even though I'm 36 weeks pregnant.  Like, oh ho, look at me and how productive I am and I didn't collapse!  Ha.  The next day I was so fucking banged up from the day before that I basically couldn't get out of bed.  I felt awful.  My fingers went from hot dogs to bratwurst links.  

So, I guess the moral of the story is that I cannot, in fact, do all that stuff and have a normal day the next day.  Even today, two days later, I'm still not back to myself.  Or my normal pregnancy self, which is definitely different from normal non-pregnant me.

In other news, our crib and the dresser came for the baby's room, and I've been having fun putting his stuff away.  I am, at once, so excited to meet him I can hardly stand it, and terrified that he will come early and we won't be ready at all (because we still have a lot of shit on the "To Do" list).  I am also terrified that he will come very late or not at all and I will have to be induced.  So, a lot of terror up in here, basically.

Tomorrow is a big day - we have our last biweekly OB appointment before we move on to weekly appointments, and it's our first ultrasound since I was 21 weeks.  I'm very anxious about it because I'm scared they will see something bad (like low amniotic fluid) and send me off to the hospital or something.  So, wish me luck that tomorrow goes smoothly.  I will update.  And in the meantime, have a fantastic three day weekend.  

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Lesson learned

For my birthday, Jeeves got me a gift certificate for a prenatal massage.  He did a lot of research into it and picked a place that specializes in that sort of thing because he knew what I really wanted out of a prenatal massage was the opportunity to lie face down.  Some places just have you lie on your side, so he found a place that has all the special pillows and what not so I could lie on my tum.  I was really excited about this massage.  Since it's just down the street from my OB's office, I decided to schedule it for post-OB appointment.  A small voice in the back of my head asked if that was such a good idea.  A few women in my pregnancy group have gone for "routine" OB appointments only to be sent to triage because of skyrocketing blood pressure or something in their urine.  I ignored this little (wise) voice.  I should note that the massage place has a very strict policy that you must cancel 24 hours ahead of time or you will be charged the full amount.

Anyhoo, the day before my appointment, it was raining pretty hard here in NYC and I put on my rain boots to go to work.  I noticed a pretty sharp pain in my right inner ankle/calf.  It was enough that I took off the boots because it hurt to wear them, but I noted that I didn't have any pain unless I applied pressure to the area.  There was no bruise, but I'm up about 3 times a night now and it's possible I could have sleepily banged my leg and not remembered it.  Anyway, I mentioned it to Jeeves and he thought we should mention it to the OB, just to be safe.

So, anyway, we met a new OB (I am in a group practice and I'm at the point now where I have meet all the doctors who could potentially deliver Manuji).  She was fine, everything seemed normal (fundal height, Manuji's heartrate, my blood pressure), and then I mentioned the ankle pain.  She was immediately concerned and started examining the leg.  It was actually hurting less that day than it had the day before.  But she was still concerned that it could be a deep vein thrombosis (loud sigh) and felt I should go get a Doppler ultrasound study of the leg.  Today.  Oh joy.  She stepped out of the exam room so she could see about getting me in for the Doppler, and I just looked at Jeeves.  "Sorry, baby.  I shouldn't have told you to say anything."  Honestly, though, he was right - it's the sort of thing you should mention to your doctor.  I was just pissed because a) I feel like most of my doctors in NYC tend to err on the side of over-testing (Cover Your Ass (CYA) Medicine, as Jeeves calls it); and b) I fucking knew I should not have scheduled my massage for the same day as my OB appointment.

I know some people would have just cancelled the massage and given up the gift certificate.  But I'm kind of an asshole and I just fucking refused.  I kept thinking back to the bean and that shitty day where my RE's office made me run all over the city for high res scans to make 100% sure I wasn't having an ectopic pregnancy when we all knew I wasn't having an ectopic pregnancy.  I knew I did not have a deep vein thrombosis.  So, I told my OB I would go for a scan, but I could not go before a certain time, as I had another appointment.  

And of course, here's where Jeeves is the best husband ever.  He sent me off for my prenatal massage while he dealt with the doctor and the hospital about getting my stupid Doppler study scheduled.  Apparently at one point the OB told him if I couldn't get in for an appointment today then I needed to go to the ER.  Ummm, hell no, I'm not sitting in an ER for 7 hours where I will be the absolute lowest priority.

So I went for the massage, which was pretty damn great, and when it was done, there was a text from Jeeves exhorting me to hustle on up to midtown for a Doppler study.  Subway and lots of running later, I got to the place, panting and clutching my belly because walking fast gives me cramps.  A half hour later, I got a 15 minute ultrasound done of my leg, which was, as expected, completely fine.  Do you want to know what the ticket price of this test is?  $2750.  We have insurance, so we'll be paying 10% of whatever the negotiated fee is, but geez.  

So, that was the excitement in my day, and now I have learned my lesson that I should stop making plans for after OB appointments.  

How did everyone do with Mother's Day?  Most years, no one says anything to me about it.  Last year was an especially tough Mother's Day for me - I really missed my mom, all the Facebook messages people were posting made me sad sad sad, and I was in the two week wait of what I was sure was another failed IUI (turned out I was pregnant with the bean, but I didn't know it on that day).  On that day last year, Liana texted me to tell me she loved me and she knew it was a hard day for me.  I promptly started crying on the Metro North train back from my in-laws' house.  Being pregnant on Mother's Day is nice and all, but it doesn't make me miss my mom any less.  Luckily we were at a wedding all day Sunday for Rajeev's uncle.  Listen, I'm generally not a huge fan of weddings on holidays, but if Mother's Day (or Father's Day for that matter) is tough for you, I highly recommend getting yourself invited to a wedding on that day.  It's a great distraction.  Sure, there are still people wishing some of the people at the wedding a happy Mother's Day, but the primary focus is on the couple getting married (and in this case, it's an older couple, so there was no talk of them having children).

Because I am visibly pregnant, a lot of people wished me a happy Mother's Day.  This made me feel weird, and like it was a jinx, even though I am not a superstitious person.  In my heart, am I Manuji's mother?  Of course.  But it just makes me nervous.  Lots of things can go wrong between now and when he's born.  Let's not get ahead of ourselves, people.

Perhaps the nicest thing, though, was that several of my friends texted me to let me know they were thinking of me, knowing it can be a hard day.  I was really touched.  And when I got home, there was a card from Liana.  It meant so much to me that she thought of me - as I mentioned in this post, she has MS and has been going through a really bad time.  But she still remembered me.  The card:


It reads "May the gift of her memory turn your Mother's Day into a time of appreciation and love."  Inside, Liana had written a really lovely message about my mom and how she knew that because of my mom, I would be a great mom.  Yes, I cried.

I know for some of you, it was an especially shitty Mother's Day.  I know having a child doesn't necessarily cure the rough feelings many of us have for Mother's Day, but I hope next year, the day will be gentler for you.  And if you made it through relatively unscathed like I did, I'm grateful for that too.  And if you're a mom, I hope you had a beautiful day.

35 weeks pregnant today.  People continue to tell me how small I look.  I continue to not appreciate that comment.  Baby's room is still a mess, but crib and dresser come this week, so it's gonna have to get fixed up by Friday.  I can't believe how time is flying by.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Stuff about Dad, my baby shower, and missing my mom

It's been a little while since I've written.  Honestly, nothing really happened last week.  This week and the weekend were more eventful, so I'll just give a recap of the following: my dad, my baby shower, and pregnancy/spazzing out a little.


Yesterday I went out to see Dad - rented a Zip Car because public transportation is really tough for me right now (I can manage the subway, but subway + bus is hard).  I hadn't seen Dad in just over two weeks and I figured I'd take him to chemo and see how he was doing.  I picked a good one to go to.  A few days ago, Dad started experiencing pain in his upper right abdomen (roughly where the liver is), and that's sort of worrisome because Dad has a lot of metastasis in his liver.  The pain wasn't terrible, but it's uncomfortable.  He also sounded and admitted to me that he's been quite tired and fatigued.  I'll skip to the chase - his nurse practitioner was able to palpate the spot where the pain is originating and based on his scan from March and what she felt, she's pretty sure it is a node on the liver that is pressing on a nerve.  Which sucks, cause obviously it means stuff is growing.  But she said he's only had a little chemo since the scan in March, so hopefully with a few more treatments, it will shrink.  Hopefully she's right, though who knows.  In the mean time, she prescribed Dad some pain meds and a sleep aid (since he wakes up a lot at night, we're hoping a deeper sleep might help a little with the fatigue).  As for the fatigue, it's probably from the chemo.  He's been doing chemo for 5 years - it gets harder to bounce back the longer you've been on it.

On top of that crap, they had some problems with Dad's power port (the implanted device that allows them to infuse his chemo without putting in an IV every time), but they were able to fix it.  The house wasn't a disaster when I was there, but he didn't have much food in the fridge and he's lost some weight.  I got him some food and went to the pharmacy to pick up his meds.  You know what would be sweet right now?  A home health aide.  Oh, that's right.  He got rid of the home health aide.  Eye roll.  Basically I feel like things are reverting to how they were a few months ago.  So that was a nice feeling.  Obviously I'm being sarcastic.  My sister is being a little weird these days, I think she's having some family issues of her own, so although she's been visiting Dad, I sort of doubt she'll step up as much as I'd like her to.

I have 6 more weeks to go in this pregnancy and a little part of me is scared Dad won't make it to meet Manuji.  He probably will, but what if he doesn't?  Yesterday after I showed him pictures of a friend's baby he said "That baby is very beautiful, but it's not as beautiful as our baby is going to be."  He was talking about Manuji.  I was really touched, it's the first time he's really taken any sort of ownership of his new grandkid.

I was talking to my sister-in-law about what's been going on with Dad.  Her father died years ago from a chronic blood disease.  She said that when he was really sick, he'd still insist on driving himself everywhere even though just a minor accident could have been completely disastrous for him.  As she put it, when you are very sick and/or dying, you have no control.  And so you need to feel like you have control over something, and what you can control are things like driving or who is in your house/taking care of you, etc.  When she put it that way, I understood a little more about why my dad has been so resistant to having an aide.  Though I still wish he would have one.

Baby Shower

This past weekend was my baby shower!  It was hands down the best baby shower I have ever been to, and I say this as someone who has thrown a number of showers myself.  I understand if you think your baby shower was the best.  But you're wrong.  Mine was!  I cannot believe the amount of time, effort, and money Wendy put into it.  I'd like to say I'll someday repay her for her generosity by throwing her a great bridal shower or baby shower, but she doesn't plan to ever have children and who knows about marriage.  So I think instead I will have to throw her a kickass surprise 40th birthday party in a few years.

It was so great to see my friends, and everyone was so kind and loving.  The food was great, the cake was amazing, and it was just all around really fun.  The only sad part was that I really didn't get to talk to anyone as much as I would have liked to, but I think that's always the case at parties where you're the guest of honor.

And I got to meet Kate's daughter Ella!  She is adorable.  Kate's mom was invited to the shower as well, and spent most of the time holding and taking care of Ella.  My sister turned to me and said "I'm jealous of Kate because she has her mom to help her out."  I nodded - I know how she feels.

Pregnancy thoughts and stuff

I am 34 weeks and 1 day pregnant.  Six more weeks till I'm due, kind of like the ground hog.  I've been feeling okay.  My digestive system has finally, finally adjusted to the iron supplement (hey, only took 6 weeks!) so that's pretty cool.  I still have acid reflux but it's pretty well controlled with the Pepcid.  I still hate staircases.  I feel like a furnace.  This is a weird experience for me because I'm usually cold unless it's over 70 degrees outside.  I actually have Raynaud's phenomenon - I've had it since I was a teenager.  Dad has it too.  Anyway, I haven't had a single instance of losing feeling in my fingers since I've been pregnant, and now that it's warmer out, my hands are constantly hot, sweaty, veiny, and a little swollen.  I usually walk around the apartment in a tank top and capri yoga pants, and even then I complain about how hot it is [Note: It is not actually hot, I am just feeling hot].  I'm pretty sure I made Ella cry the other day because I was so freaking hot that I made her uncomfortable while holding her.

I really can't complain.  Yes, I'm uncomfortable and roly-poly and and my back hurts and I don't sleep great and I can't do a lot of stuff like go for a nice walk without panting and having cramps.  But it's not bad right now, really.  Ask me again in another 4 weeks and I will probably be singing a different tune.

We had our breastfeeding and parenting class this weekend, and it went well (except for the annoying younger couple who kept giggling during the breastfeeding video - ugh, get over it!).  And then when we came home that evening, I freaked out a little about the apartment, but mostly Manuji's room.  Our crib and dresser (generously bought for us by my in-laws) are coming next week, and the room still needs a lot of work and unpacking.  I may have cried a little about it, and about whether I'm going to be any good at breastfeeding, and a number of other things.  I say this just so people will know - just because you're infertile and you had to work like hell to get pregnant and having a baby is your heart's biggest desire does not mean you're only allowed to feel 100% awesome and happy when you are pregnant.  You're allowed to feel apprehensive and nervous, and you probably will feel that way at some point.  Anyway, the feeling passed.  I still can't look in his room too much because it makes me anxious.   We have a lot of work to do, and I'm not entirely sure when/how it will get done.  

Since we moved, we've mostly been subsisting on take-out, and I've gotten really, really tired of it.  I've also been feeling like a bad mom-to-be about it.  Here I was, harping last week about how parents should try to take care of themselves by exercising and eating healthy and I eat way more pizza and Chinese take out than is good for me.  Part of the problem has been that I don't have a lot of energy, so cooking something generally means I won't feel up to doing any work around the apartment afterwards.  But mostly I've just been lazy about cooking.  It's silly because there are a lot of really easy, healthy things I could make that won't wipe me out.  So this week I resolved to do a better job, and I have been.  I've also started having a green smoothie every day so that I at least get more veggies into Manuji (and me, for that matter).  The smoothie recipe I've been making is delicious!  It's from the NY Times, and I don't bother with the Chia seeds, and I threw in a little fresh coconut because I had some in the fridge.  Anyway, give it a try (it's also vegan, if that matters to you).  The Times had a whole set of smoothies with greens in them, so tomorrow I'm going to try this recipe which has blueberries and kefir in it.  

I've been missing Mom a lot.  I know that's not surprising given what's been going on with my dad and that I'm hopefully going to have a baby in a few weeks.  But it hits me at random moments and I start tearing up in the middle of the grocery store.  When I was little, I didn't know my mom's mom and dad at all - they had both died long before I was born.  And Dad's mom had also died before I was born.  But my grandpa (Dad's dad) lived next door to us.  He died when I was 5.  I have fond memories of him and I was really sad when he died, but mostly I was worried about my dad.  I remember asking him how he felt and if he was really sad about his dad dying.  Mostly, in typical 5 year old fashion, I was worried about myself - I was scared about what life would be like for me if my parents died and I was trying to figure out if Dad was okay because maybe that would mean something about whether I would be okay if my mom and dad died.

I remember Dad told me that yes, he was sad, and yes, he missed his parents.  But that he also had his own family - his wife and me and my sister - and that made it easier to bear and less lonely.  He assured me that someday I would have a family of my own, so I shouldn't worry.  It comforted me.  Having Jeeves and Manuji comforts me now, but I still would rather that my kid (and any possible future kids) could know my mom and dad.  I still wish my mom were here to give me advice.  But I also know it's made a difference in my life to hear my dad's stories about his mother, and how even though I never met her I really feel like I know her because he talked (and still talks) about her all the time.  So I guess that's the best I can do for Manuji, so that in some small way he will know my mom.