Monday, December 21, 2015

A Little Bit

Hey all.  Sorry for not writing sooner.  The last two weeks have been kind of a blur/rollercoaster.

The second week of my two week wait was tough.  Aside from the general impatience, Jeeves went to the west coast for work for three days.  Luckily Max had been going through a phase of sleeping and napping for longer, so that helped, and he was generally in a good mood all week.  Although, he did ask for "Dada" during bedtime routine, so we would FaceTime with Jeeves, and he seemed to like that.

On 11dpiui, I woke up, took my temp and was immediately depressed - it had dropped down to 98.0 from 98.4.  For me, that has always signaled a negative cycle.  On 12dpiui, my temp went down to 97.9.  I was sad, but I had been more depressed the day before and I had accepted that this cycle had failed.  I think one of the reasons I was so bummed about it was that I had such large follicles when I triggered - I have never had a totally negative cycle when my follicles were that big.  So I guess I really, really got my hopes up.

I unburdened myself to my Facebook infertile moms group and they totally said the right things (no one told me it was too early, and there was still a chance - they just embraced how shitty the process is and reminded me that this is just the start of the journey and not the end).  It helped a lot.

At 13dpiui, my temp rebounded slightly to 98.0, and I got a little hopeful... till I looked at my charts for the last 5 months and realized that my temp has rebounded to 98.0 the day before I get my period every cycle.  Oh well.  That day I had some slight cramping and a little bit of pink tinged discharge, which made me wonder if my period was about to start.

Jeeves came home and on 14dpiui, I woke up and my temp was up to 98.2.  What the heck?  I was supposed to go in for my beta test during morning monitoring hours and I decided to pee on a stick before I went to see what was going on.

Positive HPT.

What the what?

But it was light. I mean, it was there, but it was definitely light.  Much lighter than either of my HPTs with Max or with my missed miscarriage.  I had a chemical pregnancy on my first IUI back in 2013 and when my beta was around a 32, I took an HPT just so I could see a positive test for once.  That's what this looked like.  LIGHT.

All day I steeled myself for a phone call where I'd be told my beta was super low and that it was unlikely this was viable.

The nurse called at 4:30 - beta was 77.  They were fine with that number.  At my old clinic, they wanted you over a 50.  Still, 77 is much lower than my first beta with Max or with my miscarriage. They were concerned with how low my progesterone was - only a 7 point something.  With Max I was around 36 at the same point.  So they started me on prometrium suppositories (which is super fun).  Still, at least now I had an explanation for why my temp had started to drop.

A week ago, at 17dpiui, I went in for the second beta.  270 - a doubling time of 39.7 hours.  Progesterone had bounced up to 17.  This clinic doesn't make you come in for multiple betas once you get that doubling.  And I'm grateful for that.  Who knows if this is going to work out, but at least I don't have to keep torturing myself with blood levels.  Instead, though, they want me in for an ultrasound this Wednesday - I'll only be 5 weeks and 5 days.

5 weeks and 5 days is where I was when I started my ultrasound debacle with my miscarriage.   I'm definitely anxious.  If this isn't going to work, I would have preferred a chemical pregnancy to another missed miscarriage, and I would have preferred a negative to a chemical, obviously.  I assume they want to check me tomorrow so early because they want to make sure it's intrauterine and not ectopic, and with the holidays and then the weekend, there's limited time for that.  I just keep reminding myself not to expect to see much, hopefully a gestational sac and a yolk sac, and not to freak if there's no fetal pole or heartbeat.  

So that's where things are right now.  Wendy and I have been saying that I'm "a little bit pregnant."  I've been very tired, but I'm not always sure if that's from the pregnancy or just from the fact that I have a toddler.  On Friday I had a rough day with Max and didn't get a chance to eat enough, so while fixing Max's dinner I became lightheaded and nearly fainted.  But other than that, I don't feel pregnant, though I know it's still early.

There's the update.  I'm a little pregnant.  Hoping this isn't going to be a miscarriage.  Hoping that if it was just a late implantation, that everything else is okay.   

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Cycle Day 18

Howdy!  Thought I’d write a little update about my IUI and my thoroughly exhausting Thanksgiving.

So, last week on cycle day 11, I went in for monitoring.  Dr. P checked me out and found my lead follicle was now up to 26.5mm(!), and a second one around 20.5.  The one on the left was about 18.5mm.  My lining had improved a little to about 7mm and change, but she still wanted it thicker.  She sent me for blood work and said that depending on what that showed, she would recommend that I take the Ovid.rel shot that night and come in Friday morning for an IUI.

The rest of the day was super tiring and stressful.  I came home, went to the gym, E came to look after Max so I could do my Thanksgiving cooking and pack us up for our trip to Jeeves’ parents’ house.  Before I could get any cooking done, a bunch of stuff with my father’s estate blew up which devolved into me having an argument with the paralegal who works on the estate and having to ask the attorney to weigh in.  It was ridiculous and aggravating.  Finally I was able to make my pumpkin pie and the brine for the turkey, but there was no time to make the green beans.  I packed for Max and me, sent E home, and waited for Jeeves to get back from work.  Irritatingly, he had gone to a work lunch that ran very late and the end result was we didn’t get out of the apartment till 4pm. 

In the meantime, the IUI nurse called and confirmed that I should take the shot that night and come in for IUI on Friday. This was, of course, not the most convenient timing.  We would be out in White Plains visiting Jeeves’ family.  What should we do with Max – leave him with the family?  Take him with us and trade off going into the medical building? 

On the long, trafficky drive out to White Plains, we discovered that Jeeves’ mother had become very ill and was at the ER with his dad. [I will tell you now that she is okay].  I won’t go into the details about how Jeeves’ parents didn’t bother calling us when they originally went to the ER and that finding out where they were took various phone acrobatics on my part.  I will attempt not to complain too much about the fact that if we had known how sick my MIL was and that they would not be home, we would have stayed home too and come out Thursday morning.  Instead, we arrived at the house, got Max fed and put to bed, and then had to heat up dinner and entertain Jeeves’ auntie and uncle who had arrived after us from out-of-town.

My MIL and FIL came home late from the ER and although she looked very ill and tired, all of the tests had come back negative and they had given her some Zof.ran to curb the nausea. 

I have many, many feelings regarding the Thanksgiving weekend.  One of the ones that hit me hardest was walking into a dark house where older people live when one of them is ill.  It reminded me very, very much of coming into my dad’s house the last few months of his life.  It was difficult and unpleasant.  I was also exhausted and angry.  I forgot to pack a bunch of things for myself and for Max and I laid into Jeeves about how I feel like he expects too much of me.  I felt angry in the disparity of time that we spend with his family compared to mine.  I felt frustrated with my in-laws’ house which is not remotely childproofed and requires either me or Jeeves to tell Max “no” dozens of times in a row and to hover over him lest he break something or pick up a knife left carelessly on the coffee table or tumble down the stairs.  I felt anxious about the IUI, and I was in a lot of physical discomfort from my swollen ovaries.  I became impatient with Max, who wasn’t eating and wasn’t sleeping enough.  And at the bottom of all of this, I missed my parents so much I ached.

Anyway.  Wednesday night I gave myself a shot, which went fine.  Thursday, Jeeves’ brother, SIL, and nephews arrived, and my SIL and I cooked Thanksgiving dinner.  It went well enough, but I was on my feet cooking for most of the day and it was tiring.   Adding to this, we have to share a small bedroom with Max (this could be a separate post all together.  Basically the sleeping arrangements are completely unfair because Jeeves’ parents can’t stomach pissing off his brother.  But then instead of letting us have a larger bedroom after his brother leaves, they moved his auntie into the room).  The room is too small for us to have both the pack n play and our bags, so we have to keep our bags in the entry hallway.  Also, the shower broke in the guest bathroom, and the downstairs toilet clogged.  Jeeves said at one point that staying in the house is like staying in a hostel.  I couldn’t agree more.  And I’m too old for this shit.  Also, whenever we travel, Max wakes up at 6am and refuses to go back to sleep.  Did I mention that I was tired?

Thankfully, on Friday my SIL agreed to get up and watch Max while we went for our IUI (we are a little reticent to leave Max with just my MIL and FIL while my MIL is not feeling well).

The IUI was in many ways very different from when I was at my old clinic.  We checked in at a scheduled time (as opposed to just coming in during morning monitoring hours) and were sent to the andrology lab.  Jeeves did his part, and I was given a time to come pick up the sample.  Then we went and ate pastries.  We went back at the appointed time, picked up the sample, went back to the main waiting room and sat until I was called back.  The doctor who performed the IUI was pleasant, though less skilled with a speculum than my primary RE, and we chatted about my previous IUI experiences, Max, and his birth.  Then it was done and I stayed lying down for 15 minutes.  On the whole, it was a more pleasant experience than at my old clinic.

The rest of the weekend sped by, Jeeves got sick, we visited Kate’s family, and had dinner with my sister and her family on Saturday (which was, surprisingly, one of the nicest parts of the weekend for me).  We went home Saturday night and I could have cried with how happy and relieved I was to be home.  After barely eating for three days, Max proceeded to eat everything placed in front of him on Sunday.

So, I’m 5dpiui now.  I’m hopeful.  The fact that I’m hopeful leads me to believe this will fail because nothing can ever go easily.  I mean, we got so lucky that IUI worked for us with Max, what on earth makes me think that we could be so lucky that it would a) work this time; and b) that if it did work this time that it would work the first round?  Oh well.  The benefit of doing this with a 17 month old around the holidays is that I have a lot to distract me during the two week wait.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Cycle Day 10

Well, it's been awhile again.  It's the usual reasons, just life in general.

I'm not pregnant.  At the end of September, after what looked like a promising cycle that resulted in a period, I decided to at least call and make an appointment with a doctor.  The earliest they could see me was mid-November, so I took the appointment and we kept trying on our own.  Unsuccessfully, obvs.  
We went to a new doctor.  It's closer to where we live now and they have better statistics for IVF than our old clinic, should it come to that.  We went to meet the new doc a couple of weeks ago and we really liked her and were very impressed.

And also a little shocked.  Based on how well we responded to IUI last time, the new doc (Dr. P) thought we should do IUI again and she didn't see any reason to wait.  She went through the tests she'd want to run (AMH, thyroid, the usual FSH/estradiol combo, and a saline sonogram) but said all of them could be run while we were doing an IUI cycle.  So, a few days later when my period started, I went in for morning monitoring and we got started.  I'm taking Clomid again, but this time it was for days 4-8 instead of 2-6.   

So far my test results look pretty good.  My antral follicle count was nothing exciting, but it was pretty standard for someone my age.  My AMH is at 1.89.  That's certainly down from the 2.77 it was 3 years ago, but that's not surprising given my age and it does put me above the 50th percentile for my age group.  My other blood results have been normal.  Today was the saline sonogram.  I was apprehensive.  The doctor wanted to make sure I didn't have scar tissue from the c-section, which I wasn't super worried about.  But after the HSG, I had pretty bad cramps for a solid 18 hours.  Thankfully, the saline sonogram was a lot easier than the HSG and it was over very quickly.  And I didn't have any cramps.  Woohoo!  The results - I have a very, very small polyp in my uterine wall, but Dr. P doesn't think it will prevent me from getting pregnant.  She recommended leaving it for now, unless we wind up doing IVF in which case it would have to be removed.  No scarring from the c-section.

Then she checked out my ovaries.  Aside from the usual hot flashes, I didn't have any symptoms until yesterday when my right side started to really bother me.  Sure enough, I have two follicles on my right ovary, one of which is already 23mm(!) and the other is 18mm.  On the left I have one 18mm follicle.  My lining, though, is still pretty thin.  I go back tomorrow morning for a check and I suspect that Thursday or Friday we'll wind up having an IUI.

I was feeling pretty negative about the cycle until today.  I was worried that nothing would develop or that I had somehow already ovulated (I just had a cycle where I ovulated very early).  But I'm feeling more optimistic today.  And it helps that I really like the new RE, a lot more than my old RE.  Her bedside manner is light years better.

Anyway, on to my son!  Max is 17 months!  He walks and runs.  It changes things.  Activities outside the apartment are more complicated.  He just cut his bottom molars, which was super fun.  He's a terrible napper, great nighttime sleeper.  He loves to be read to.  Current favorite books are Room on the Broom, The Gruffalo, Dragons Love Tacos, On the Night You Were Born, A Pocket for Corduroy, Chu's Day, and the usual rotation of Sandra Boynton books.  He's a sweet, happy boy and he really makes every day better.

Food - he eats pretty well, but he definitely has strong preferences.  I try my best to get veggies into him, and to introduce new flavors.  It's definitely a lot of work.  He loves being chased up and down the hall of our apartment building.  And even though the idea of taking care of two year old Max and a newborn sounds about as possible to me as climbing Mt. Everest, I know we'll make it work.  And if we don't have another and it's just the three of us, that will be okay too.  Here's my happy guy:

Monday, August 31, 2015

But I do not know yet what that can be

          When he had finished, Alice would say, "When I grow up, I too will go to faraway places, and when I grow old, I too will live beside the sea."
         "That is all very well, little Alice," said her grandfather, "but there is a third thing you must do." 
         "What is that?" asked Alice. 
         "You must do something to make the world more beautiful," said her grandfather.
         "All right," said Alice.  But she did not know what that could be.
                                                        --Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney 

Not long after my early August post, I got my period and we decided to get serious about trying for number two.  I sort of started charting (I say "sort of" because I periodically forget to take my temperature in the morning - it's just not habit yet.), used some OPKs, and I even went back to acupuncture.  Things went pretty well, I ovulated, we timed things right.  And then last week we were on vacation and I didn't take my temperature at all.  

I wondered if we could possibly be so lucky to get pregnant on the first try this time.  I could see that Jeeves was feeling a little hopeful when he asked when I'm supposed to get my period.  Yesterday was our first full day back from vacation and even though it was a Sunday, Jeeves had to go to work.  I was feeling depressed, but quite energetic and not tired at all thanks to some extra sleep.  I wondered if my depression was cause-based or maybe PMS?  Or maybe pregnancy hormones?  But I knew I wasn't pregnant.  I just knew. The lack of tiredness was a dead giveaway. That night I wondered again if maybe it had worked?  I decided to take my temperature before I went to sleep, just as a baseline.  It was 97.6.  My temp was never that low when awake while pregnant with Max.  So there was my answer.

This morning it was 97.3.  Definitely not pregnant.  A couple of hours later, my period came, a day early.  Jeeves and I were both a little bummed.  It's silly, really.  Most fertiles don't get pregnant the first month they try, so what's the likelihood that an infertile couple like us would?  I knew that these couple of months of trying are just to cover the bases before going back to the doctor and the logical part of my brain knew that we would be going back to a doctor.  But another part hoped we'd be that urban legend (not so much a legend - aside from the fact that I personally know 6 women who got pregnant naturally after IVF, I read a study recently that suggested up to 20% of previously diagnosed infertile women experienced spontaneous conception after live birth of a child conceived through ART).  

My mind raced ahead to the doctor and what would happen if our tests this time indicated we were worse off than 3 years ago when we were originally tested.  A friend of mine from my infertile moms group did IVF and now has a son a couple of weeks older than Max.  They had a diagnosis of male factor.  When they were testing years ago, he had low count - usually around 2 million.  They had a frozen sample but decided to destroy it because frozen isn't usually recommended.  A few weeks ago they went back for testing and he now has zero sperm.  Zero.  In typical Megs fashion, my mind can't help but think of that story.  Sure, my numbers were good 3 years ago.  But I'm 37 now.  What if my eggs have gone to shit?  What if they tell me that IVF isn't even recommended because my numbers are so bad?  What if Jeeves goes from 1% morphology to 0%?  

Well, the answers to those "what ifs" are that we will probably walk away if a doctor tells us that treatment is unlikely to work for us.  I know families who have used donor egg or sperm or have adopted when a second child can't happen with their own gametes.  Or some couples who decide they want to foster or adopt for a second child anyway.  And while all of those possibilities would have been considered if we had been unable to have Max, now that we have Max we are more limited in how far we're prepared to go.  And I personally feel that I cannot dedicate years of my life to this endeavor again.  So even though I think it is usually very silly to draw a line in the sand when it comes to family-building, for now I need to draw a line in the sand and say if a doctor tells us we are unlikely to have a child through ART, we will stop.  We will move on with our lives.

The thought of being told that we are done makes me sad.  And I do realize that I have jumped way, way ahead of myself.  But I think back to the first month we tried before we knew what was coming, and I just need to make this leap right now.  I needed to scratch that itch.

If you've been reading this blog for awhile, it is probably apparent to you that I am a planner and I need contingency plans.  

It was a hazy and very humid day in Brooklyn today and I decided to take Max down to the swings by the water.  It's a good stretch of the legs.  As we were walking, my mind went to that place wherein a doctor tells us that medical intervention is unlikely to give us another child.  And after feeling sad, I started wondering what I would do after we decide that we're done trying.  I didn't know.  I remembered a children's book called Miss Rumphius.

My friend Meg gave me a copy of Miss Rumphius for my birthday at some point in my 20s.  Miss Rumphius tells the story of Alice, who as a child listens to her grandfather's stories of his life.  And, as the quote above explains, she decides to do three things in life: travel to faraway places, grow old by the sea, and do something to make the world more beautiful.  Alice grows up, becomes a librarian, and becomes known as Miss Rumphius.  She's able to accomplish her first two goals with ease, but struggles to figure out how to make the world more beautiful. (Spoiler alert - she figures it out, and passes along her words of wisdom to her great-niece).  It's a really wonderful story - I highly recommend it.

At each point in her story, Miss Rumphius doesn't map out and plan every little thing she is going to do.  She has a general idea of the goals in her life and when the time feels right, she works on a goal.  

I do not know yet what I want my life to be if we are done building our family.  I think I want to go work in a library.  And I want to resume traveling to faraway places, something that will be easier as Max gets older.  And I want to do something to make the world more beautiful, though I do not yet know what that can be.  And that is okay.  When the time comes, I will move forward, I hope with enthusiasm and alacrity, but I'll settle for grace.  And I will accept that right now I am working towards one goal.  I'll try not to leap too far ahead or make up contingency plans if we are ultimately unable to have a baby.  I'll let myself feel whatever I am going to feel about it.  Today, I felt a little disappointed that this cycle didn't work out.  I felt a little sad to remember the taste of that disappointment when my temperature drops, and to realize I may have many more cycles of that ahead.  I will remember there are many good things ahead too, not the least of which was my son's giggles as I pushed him on the swing.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Constantly remember more and more

Why hello!  Look at me, blogging twice in one month!

Based on the comments I got last time, I thought I'd talk about some books I've read this year that I loved, my experience with weaning, and I'd finish up with a couple of thoughts about life in general, in particular my parents.

Books!  My absolute favorite book that I've read this year is Uprooted by Naomi Novik.  I wrote a long and involved review of it to my BFF, Kate, so I'm just going to cut and paste what I said about it:  Ahhhh-mazing.  I am so fucking tired this week because I have been staying up till 1am to read it.  I'm actually somewhat resentful of my child for keeping me from it.  I'm not going to send you any of the (glowing) reviews because there are too many spoilers in them.  The short version of the plot (and this happens in the first, like, 5 pages so it doesn't ruin it to tell you).  Agnieska lives in the Valley in a country called Polnya.  Her village is not far from The Wood, a place of dark magic that periodically threatens the villagers.  Anyone who enters the Wood is inevitably corrupted by its evil.  The lord of the valley, The Dragon, is a wizard who holds The Wood at bay.  Every ten years, as fealty, the citizens of the Valley must allow The Dragon to take one girl, who becomes his servant.  No one knows what goes on in his tower, except that after the ten years are up, the girls never want to return to live in the valley - they go off and live somewhere else.  The Dragon always chooses a girl who is super special - either the most beautiful, or the best musician, or whatever.  Everyone knows that this year the Dragon is going take Kasia, Agnieska's very best friend.  Kasia is beautiful, smart, fun, humble, a good cook.  Agnieska is a disaster, always grubby and climbing trees and getting into trouble.  Then the Dragon takes Agnieska instead of Kasia, though he seems pretty grouchy about it.  Of course, we realize why he took her, but it takes her a few pages to figure it out.  It's like if a combination of Neville Longbottom and Hermione Granger had to go live with Snape.
This book scratched my Harry Potter itch that has not remotely abated since book 7 came out.  I loved its treatment of magic.  Loved it.  It heavily featured a strong, beautiful female friendship.  A terrifying villain.  A flawed, relatable, brave heroine.  Folklore.  A kickass magical duo.  It's such a great feminist work - I wish there were more fantasy novels like this.  As much as I love Name of the Wind and others of its ilk, they are usually focused on a man with a woman or women playing back up.  And then sometimes if we're lucky we get stories like Graceling, but characters like Katsa are lone wolves, beyond tough, damaged by their childhoods.  One of the things I loved about this book is that it highlights how Nieska is different, but still very powerful.  It doesn't feel the need to make her stereotypically masculine, and it doesn't feel the need to give her a little sister to explain her motivations.  Nieska can be steely, but she can also be vulnerable and those traits don't feel remotely incongruous.  In other words, she gets to be a whole person.

Right after that, I read Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, and it was completely delightful.  Very funny.  I also loved Station Eleven by Emily St. James Mandel, which came out last year.  Interestingly, it's a post-apocalypse book that takes placed 20 years after a plague that kills off most of the population, and the primary characters are members of a traveling theater/symphony.  It also jumps around in time to observe what happened to a variety of connected characters at the time of the plague.  Riveting.

Weaning.  I knew that I didn't especially feel like nursing for much after Max's first birthday.  I was eager to sleep on my stomach again (something I couldn't do while nursing because I was plagued with plugged ducts from about 5 months onward) and I was really, really sick of pumping.  And the plugged ducts - I was ready to be done with them.  For several months, Max had only been nursing 4 times per day, and his nursing time had gotten quite short.  So I felt like he would be okay with weaning.

I weaned very slowly - over the course of 6 weeks.  I wanted to try and prevent any sort of engorgement and plugged ducts for me and I wanted Max to have plenty of time to adjust.  I dropped the afternoon nurse first, which he never cried for and never seemed to care about - I was just picking him up at a certain time and sticking him on the boob.  He handled it well.  I didn't replace the afternoon nurse with milk or anything like that.  He pretty quickly started eating more at dinner.  About 10 days later I dropped the late morning nurse.  Again, he handled it very well.  When I weaned him from the evening nurse, which was part of our bedtime ritual, I replaced it with a bottle of either pumped breast milk (until I didn't have any left) or formula (he wasn't a year old yet).  A bottle instead of a boob was no big deal to him.  When he hit a year, I put whole cow's milk in the bottle instead and he took that just fine.  I know some babies struggle with constipation when they switch over to cow's milk - we did not have that issue.  Max also didn't seem to mind that the milk was cold.  After a few days, I started putting the milk in a straw cup (and also offering him milk late morning and mid-afternoon).  He's been drinking water out of a straw cup since he was about 10 months, but he did struggle a little with the transition at this point.  Still, it went pretty well.  The only difference I observed was that for about 3 days after I dropped the late morning nurse and the evening nurse, he was maybe a little more cuddly, trying to make up for the physical closeness we had during nursing.  

The toughest was dropping the morning nurse.  Our morning routine up to this point: Max would wake up and we'd hear him over the monitor, anywhere from 6:30-7:30 a.m.  Jeeves would get him, change his diaper, and would bring him in to nurse.  I used to do side-lying, but he eventually stopped willingly nursing on both sides, which I really needed (he'd get so distracted, for some reason), so I started sitting up for nursing, and he'd nurse both sides.  Then we'd all hang out in bed for awhile.  Sometimes Max would fall asleep while nursing - that was the best.  Extra sleep!  When we dropped the morning feed, I started giving him a bottle in bed.  He wasn't a big fan.  He wouldn't ask to nurse (don't think I would have refused him), but he just wasn't interested in milk.  He wanted to play!  We ultimately switched him over to a straw cup and he started crying, hard, in the morning.  It turned out that with the change in our routine, Max decided he didn't want to hang in bed - he wanted to go straight to the living room for playing, and slowly sipping on his milk.  No more snoozing in bed for Mom and Dad.  One of us gets up, hangs out with him while he plays, and he drinks his milk in a leisurely fashion for about 45 minutes, at which time he crawls to the kitchen and demands his breakfast.

The last time I nursed was when he was very sick over 4th of July weekend.  He now has a cup of milk in the morning before breakfast, sometimes a little milk late morning, a cup of milk mid-afternoon with his snack, and a little milk before bedtime.  I still miss those sleepy mornings in bed with him, but I try to look at it as just another part of his development that he's happy to now putter around the living room, chatting at me and playing with his toys.

I should add that in order to prevent plugged ducts, I pumped when I dropped the evening and the morning feeds - 10 minutes, then 9, then 8, etc., until I got down to 4 minutes.  This definitely helped alleviate engorgement and plugged ducts.  I was getting very little milk from it.  Perhaps three times during the process, I became very painfully engorged (usually only on one side at time) or I got a plugged duct.  On those occasions, I would pop Max on and have him nurse (the pump has never, not once, cleared a plugged duct for me) - he usually only nursed for 5-8 minutes, and it was tremendously helpful each time.  

June was the one year anniversary of my dad's death.  I still miss him a lot, but it's manageable, and in many ways my experience of his loss has been more manageable than when I lost my mother. That's not a commentary on my relationship with either of them.  I was very close to both of them. I'm not sure if it was because of my age at the time of their deaths, the fact that my dad's death was expected while my mother's was a shock, or that I had just become a mother when my dad died and a squalling newborn is pretty distracting.  It was probably a combo of all three.

Anyway, a few years ago I found a quote from a letter that the French writer Marcel Proust had written to a friend on the occasion of his [the friend's] mother's death.  Proust knew a little something about the topic, having lost his beloved mother years before:
Now there is one thing I can tell you: you will enjoy certain pleasures you would not fathom now. When you still had your mother you often thought of the days when you would have her no longer. Now you will often think of days past when you had her. When you are used to this horrible thing that they will forever be cast into the past, then you will gently feel her revive, returning to take her place, her entire place, beside you. At the present time, this is not yet possible. Let yourself be inert, wait till the incomprehensible power . . . that has broken you restores you a little, I say a little, for henceforth you will always keep something broken about you. Tell yourself this, too, for it is a kind of pleasure to know that you will never love less, that you will never be consoled, that you will constantly remember more and more.
I love this quote because a) it's beautifully written; and b) YES.  YES, THIS IS JUST HOW I FEEL.  When I originally read the quote, it was the first time I had read something about the death of my mother that perfectly encompassed how I felt as time passed.  It's been true for my father as well.  In particular, I have been thinking about the "you will constantly remember more and more" part.  I have at times, many times, lamented the things that I never asked my parents about - their childhoods, their years before I was born.  Things I never asked them about what parenting me was like, how they handled certain situations.  I regret that.  But I also find small, lovely memories popping in my mind, from nowhere, and they are cherished.  

Jeeves, Max, and I are on vacation in the Hudson Valley this week.  While rushing around to pack, I had this silly memory of how much my father used to love watching sitcom repeats on Fox when he would come home from work - he watched the entirety of The Nanny, Home Improvement, and Third Rock from the Sun that way.  And there was this commercial for the clothing store Mandy that used to always play and he would sing it at random times and do a little dance.  I don't know what made me think of it, but I love it.

And then yesterday, at the rental house we have been grilling a lot after Max goes to bed.  I had brought some eggplant from our CSA and I was obsessed with grilling it a certain way, with garlic powder and Italian seasoning, and olive oil.  Jeeves wanted to bail on the Italian seasoning, but I was insistent.  That night while feasting on eggplant, which tasted like my youth, Jeeves remarked on how great it had turned out and I remembered - "It was my mom.  My mom taught me to make it this way every summer."  And I remembered so many other kitchen tips that I had used in the last few days that she had taught me.

We're getting close to distributing the rest of my dad's estate, but I have work to do.  My sister has been kind of crummy about it - asking repeatedly when she's getting her money.  I have felt stressed and sad and alone about it.  I was having a hard time letting go of it yesterday and even though I am a non-believer and thoughts of an afterlife are questionable, I sometimes talk to my parents in my head.  I asked them to help me, please please help me, tell me if I'm doing the right thing and just... help me.  This morning I took a nap when Jeeves woke up (we trade off with Max in the mornings on weekends and vacations) and when I came downstairs I found a ladybug on my laptop.  I don't believe in signs.  But I sure do love ladybugs.  And she was a beaut.  I promptly escorted her outside with Jeeves' help.  And I thought of my parents.  Even though I don't believe in signs.

This week would have been my dad's 80th birthday and my mom's 77th.  They would have liked the place we're vacationing.  Quiet, with a view.  And some wine.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Sorry I dropped off the face of the earth

I was texting with Adi from The Second Bedroom the other day and she asked "so are you ever going to post again?"  I've been really bad about blogging, as you can clearly see.  I have a variety of excuses, but it basically comes down to prioritizing other things over blogging.  Mostly reading.  Sometimes television.  Sometimes cooking or sleeping.  And of course there's Max!  So here's an update on where things are.
Max!  Max turned 1!  I can't believe it.  He's a little person, not a tiny baby anymore.  He's such a happy kid.  He says Mama (though it sounds more like Mummum), Dada, Yes, and Buff (we have no idea what "buff" means, but he says it when he's busy or happy).  Sometimes he says "yummm" when he's eating.  He's not walking yet, but he uses the furniture to cruise around.  He weighs a bit over 20lbs now, so he's still small for his age, but he's average for height.  After rocking the purees for awhile, he started wanting real solid food.  He's a little pickier than I'd like, but I'm working really hard on being patient and not freaking out about food with him.  I struggle with this a lot.  It should probably be its own blog post.  It's the first time in my life that I have worked hard at cooking a nice nutritious meal for someone and he occasionally rejects it without a bite, OR takes a bite and then rejects it.  Of course this is totally normal.  It's just hard for me to not get upset about it and to keep giving him a variety of food without resorting to just giving him stuff I know he likes over and over again.
We weaned around the one year mark.  I simultaneously miss it and don't.  I miss the cuddles and the closeness and the feeling that no matter what, I can soothe him.  But I don't miss the plugged ducts or the pumping or the not fitting in most of my pre-pregnancy shirts and dresses.  My boobs did shrink, but wound up a larger size than I was pre-pregnancy.
In April, I started working out with a trainer.  It has made a huge difference for me both in my overall strength and ability to keep up with Max and how I feel about my post-baby body.  I still struggle with my body image a bit.  I gained some weight after weaning, and when I shop for clothing, I can get kind of down on myself.  I'm working on it, trying to focus on the fact that I'm in much better shape than I was before I had a baby, even if that's not reflected on the scale yet.
I am tired a lot.  I daydream about sleep.  I'm trying to go to bed earlier, but it's hard.  There's a lot to do between Max's bedtime and my bedtime, but damn, that kid wakes up early!  He was sleeping till 7-7:30 (so civilized!) for a long time, but lately it's been pushed to 6-6:30.  No likey. 
I've been reading a lot.  I even joined a book club.  It's no where like when I read 52 books in a year, but I'm hoping I might hit 25.  That would be a huge accomplishment for me. 
Work is work.  It's fine.  No complaints.  We finally got raises (after 4+ years without a raise) so that was exciting.  On the two days I am at work, E continues to take care of Max and she continues to be an amazing gift for us.
Max went on his first flight back in May.  He did really well.  We were super nervous, but he was a champ.
We're at the point where we are planning on a second child.  We had a talk and agreed we'd like another (most days.... on days where I am especially tired and Max is crabby or sick, I'm not so sure).  In typical infertile fashion, this required a lot of planning and mapping.  Do you know what I'd really like?  I'd like to wait till Max is 2 or 3 and then maybe start trying.  Do you want to know the reality?  I am 37 years old and before Max we had to do IUI and I had two miscarriages.  I actually know about a half dozen women in real life who had to do IVF and got pregnant with their second kid by accident.  I know it really does happen.  But I feel like there is no effing way we will be that "lucky." [I'm using snarky quotes there because I don't like saying that it's lucky that you didn't have to go through IVF to have a second kid].  Anyhoo.  My point is that we don't have the luxury of waiting a few years to have another kid.  We aren't being serious about it now.  We're not preventing, but I'm not charting or peeing on OPKs or anything.  I'm enjoying way too much iced coffee and rose wine for that right now.  But soon we'll get serious and if it doesn't happen within a couple of months, we'll go back to the doctor and see what they say.  We're uncertain how far we're willing to go for another child.  IUI again?  Sure.  We're not sure about whether we'll try IVF.  Most of the time, I would be game for trying IVF.  But I don't want to plan that far ahead just yet.  Max is a wonderful child and if he is our only child, we will be a happy, fulfilled family of 3.

It's funny to think about how much had changed in one year.  When I look back on myself one year ago from now, I remember a woman who cried every day and who ached and struggled with breastfeeding and felt like she was in over her head.  I love looking at pictures of Max when he was so tiny and needed me so much.  But I'm glad that time has passed too.  

I'm really hoping to write a bit more soon.  Fingers crossed.  Here's a picture of my cutie to thank you all for reading.  

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Mean girl

Ugh, I am the worst!   I seriously wrote a blog post two weeks ago and then never posted it because I don’t like to post without proofing and I was too lazy to proof (and also too busy watching The Americans – this season has been amazing!).  Maybe tomorrow I will actually post it - I think it was about my baby carrier obsession.

Believe it or not, I actually have something to share other than my usual blah blah about Max and daily life.

Back in the days of when we were still trying to get pregnant without help, Jeeves and I went on an awesome trip to Portland, Seattle, and points in between.  While we were on this trip, we got a very annoying call from his parents that we were being invited to a wedding that was only 3 weeks away. 

Let me back up a little.  Jeeves’ family has a rich network of friends who also emigrated from India.  Jeeves grew up with a bunch of other first generation kids.  These people are like extended family.  They are “Aunties” and “Uncles.”  It’s very different from how I grew up, but it’s lovely.  One of these kids, R, was getting married in the September of that year.  We had invited him and his fiancĂ©e to our wedding, but they couldn’t make it.  We heard through the grapevine that we weren’t going to be invited to R’s wedding because there were just too many people, etc., etc.  And it was totally fine, we absolutely understood.  Then three weeks before the wedding, R’s parents called up Jeeves’ parents and said, “Good news!  Jeeves and Megan can come because we had a lot more people say no than we expected.”  Ummm… thanks? So Jeeves’ parents called us on our vacation and wanted to know immediately if we were coming, and if so, did we want the chicken or the beef?

We went to the wedding, which I honestly didn’t want to go to.  I thought the situation was handled poorly, and it was out of state and required a lot of schlepping.  And it was black tie!  I only have one dress that’s black tie appropriate and I gained too much weight on our trip, so I had to starve myself to fit in it. 

So we go to this wedding, and guys, I kid you not, I have never heard future children mentioned more than I did at that wedding and I really don’t think it was just that I was sensitive to the subject at that moment.  It came up several times in their vows, during speeches, and then, when I was sitting at a table with the bride’s friends.  I didn’t even ask – the friend sitting next to me just volunteered that the bride (who was a med student at the time) was going into her chosen specialty because the hours would be better for a mother and that they planned to have several kids, and soon.  Barf.

I was resentful.  At this point in my journey, I didn’t know we were infertile, but we were having problems and I had a bad feeling that something was wrong.  I fumed over their presumption that having children wouldn’t be an issue.  I thought mean things about them.

Last fall, Jeeves’ parents told us that R and his wife were expecting in the summer.  That’s nice, I said.  And I mostly meant it.  I have to be honest – even though having Max has been incredibly healing, I do still sometimes feel a small pang when I hear that someone else is pregnant without issue.  I thought back to their wedding and how hard it was for me and everything that happened after that and I just thought, well, some people are lucky.  Some people don’t have to struggle. And then I promptly forgot about it.

A couple of weeks ago Jeeves’ mother emailed him that R’s wife had the baby, and he weighed less than 2 lbs.  She phrased it in a way that made us think the weight must be a typo, and I thought to myself, “wasn’t she due in the summer?”  After some clarification we learned that she had started having contractions at 23 weeks, had been admitted and kept at the hospital and then delivered the baby via c-section at 25 weeks.  The baby is alive.  They obviously have a very, very long and difficult road ahead.  I felt terrible for that moment of meanness in my heart years ago.  I hugged my big 9 month old baby (who wriggled away and wanted to crawl to his toys).  I thought about how having a micro preemie was going to completely change this couple’s life in ways they never expected.  I tried to remind myself that my resentful thoughts at their wedding did not magically create this situation. 

Lately I’ve been emailing with a couple of women who are going through IVF cycles.  They are family/friends of friends and because I’ve always been a big mouth about my experience, I’ve been set up with these ladies to offer moral support. Which I love doing, and which was the entire reason I’m such a big mouth about our experience.  I think being alone in infertility is horrible, it’s the only way to make a crappy situation worse, and I don’t know what I would have done without the support of other women who had been through it.  We talk about all sorts of things, and I have these memories about feelings, but I did something today that I hadn’t done in a long time because Max.  Max has made me forget some of it.  So I read a bunch of my old posts.

I read those old posts from after my miscarriage and D&C, the summer off, the treatment, my early pregnancy.  I remembered and felt those feelings for that moment.  Oh god, guys, it hurt.  I was so, so scared.  And jealous.  And filled with self-loathing for being so jealous.  But even though we went through what we went through, I’ve got Max and so every part of it feels worth it to me now. 

I think it can be easy when we reach our goal for there to be fuzziness in our memories about what happened before.  It’s not that we forget.  It’s just that we’re in a new phase and we’re so wrapped up in the happily ever after.   I do hope that that notion is soothing for other infertiles still struggling – that notion that it really will be worth it.  I still completely believe that you can have a wonderful, fulfilling life if you decide not to pursue treatment or an alternative means of parenthood.  I just mean to say for me that Max has healed a lot of those negative memories and feelings.

And if you’re still in that crappy place, that scared place…. I’m thinking of you.  Everything you feel – please let me validate it for you.  It is real and it is terrifying.  You won’t always feel this way.  And please don’t be hard on yourself for feeling whatever you feel.  

Friday, February 27, 2015

Late winter, hoping for spring

On Monday I bundled Max up in his bunting suit, stuck an extra hat on his head, popped him in the Britax carrier, tied on the windbreaker blanket cover that I put over the carrier, and ventured out into the cold to find a notary public.  Amusingly, I am a notary public, but notaries can’t notarize their own stuff, so there you go.  It’s been frigid this month in New York.  Many days, Max and I only venture across the street to the grocery store, just so we can get out of the apartment.  Anyway, it’s time to pay the state estate taxes for my dad, and the forms have to be notarized.  The whole process has been extra, extra stressful and even involved a family trip out to a Bank of America branch in New Jersey last week.  I’m hopeful that the tax debacle is over, and if it is, we’re one giant step closer to finishing things.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, there will still be a ton of work left to be done.  But a giant hurdle will be crossed and that’s something.  All I can say is that being an executor is very time-consuming and is, in many ways, a part-time job that occasionally turns into a full-time job.  I do not recommend it.

It was bitter out Monday, so I kept the walk short after I got the forms notarized.  I don’t like winter, generally, though the stress I used to feel about snow is happily gone.  I used to fret so much about the snow because of Dad, but now it’s just kind of pretty (and then annoying when it turns to gross black slush).  And while I enjoy the changing seasons, and winter makes me appreciate the other three seasons all the more, and it’s kind of fun to be cozy and warm inside, at this point I’m just done with it.  Done done done.

On the other hand, in some ways it’s appropriate that the weather has been crummy.    This week marks 9 years since my first date with Jeeves and my mother’s death.  I never know how I’m going to feel on the anniversary of her death.  Some years it goes by and I miss her but I do not feel particularly sadder or different on the actual date.  Other years it is very hard and I cry and cry and cry.  I’m not sure how it will be this year.  On the one hand – wow, it’s been 9 years.  It’s been a long time.  I am used to the feeling of missing my mother.  It lives with me every day.  On the other hand, there are so many firsts, even 9 years later.  This will be the first anniversary without my mom where my dad is also gone.  And it’s my first anniversary with a baby.

And then there’s Dad, who’s always at the front and center of my brain.  Last week Oliver Sacks, the famous neurologist, wrote a beautiful op-ed piece for the New York Times revealing that he has been diagnosed with metastatic cancer.  The piece talks about how he wants to spend the time he has left. My dad knew Dr. Sacks – they worked together from time to time at Bronx State Psychiatric Hospital where my dad was a social worker.   Dad said he was a lovely man.   Sacks wrote in his op-ed piece: “There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate — the genetic and neural fate — of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.”

Then I learned that Wil Smith, a gentleman who did a lovely piece on StoryCorp with his daughter, whom he raised as a single dad while also attending college, died from colon cancer.  I remembered listening to his daughter interviewing him for StoryCorp and he talked about how difficult it was for him to reverse roles with his daughter.  “You watched me at my weakest point where no father wants to be and you didn’t shed a tear. . . . When I was going through treatments, one of the things that helped me through was knowing that had I not been there to help you through this process, you would have figured it out by yourself. But now I'm grateful that I am here and with you.” 

Then JK Simmons won an Academy Award on Sunday and in his speech he said, “Call your mom, call your dad. If you’re lucky enough to have a parent or two alive on this planet, call ‘em. Don’t text. Don’t email. Call them on the phone. Tell ‘em you love ‘em, and thank them, and listen to them for as long as they want to talk to you.”

And so, I leave it at that – I am 36 years old and my parents are dead.  It has been 9 years since I lost my mother and 8 months since I lost my father.  Even though they are gone, they remain the two most important people in my life after my husband and my son.  If you are lucky enough to have a parent left, talk to them.

Max just turned 8 months.  He has five teeth and he can now army crawl around to grab his toys.  He acts like a rabid spider monkey when I’m trying to change his diaper or his clothes.  Solid foods are still kind of a struggle, but it's getting a little better.  Hugging him is my favorite.

Friday, January 30, 2015

It's been too long

As more time has passed since I’ve blogged, I’ve become more and more overwhelmed by catching up and writing.  So I’m just going to be scattershot here, do bullet points, and hope that by breaking the seal on this blog I’ll get to writing more.

  • Max makes every day better. 
  • Max is over 7 months old!  He’s such a happy little guy.  I can’t believe I get to say that – when he was two months old the words I would use to describe Max after “cute” would have been “suspicious” and “grumpy.”  Now he’s just so pleased by so many things.  Likes: jumping, sitting, tummy time, his mailbox toy, chewing on things, doing an impression of a motorboat, when I take toys and tease him by keeping them just out of reach, sleeping through the night, fruit purees, plain Greek yogurt, his dad, the weatherman Lee Goldberg, splashing in the bath, being carried facing outward in his carrier.  Dislikes: napping, mashed avocado.  Mixed bag: diaper changes, vegetable purees, cuddling with Mom, riding in the car (likes it just fine for a couple of hours, then haaates it).  
  • I started introducing Max to solid food at 6 months.  I thought he was going to love it.  He…. didn’t.  In fact, he really, really hated it at first.  Even bananas!  I thought all babies loved bananas!  After a couple of weeks, I discovered that he really did like plain Greek yogurt, so I started just mixing purees into that.  Now he’ll eat the plain purees too.  I’ve tried giving him some Cheerios, a piece of bread, stuff like that.  He doesn’t really get it yet.  He’ll get there with time.  But he’s turned into a very good little eater of purees.  Except for the aforementioned avocado which he spits out and glares at me when I try to feed it to him.
  • Work is fine.  Nothing especially exciting to report there.  I think about switching jobs, trying to get a job in a library, but it’s hard to leave something comfortable and flexible.  I’ll get there eventually.
  • The estate and the house.  I agreed to let my sister take the house as part of an early disbursement of the estate.  She was getting a deal – I agreed to her “as is” price and she told me that she and her husband were going to do a whole bunch of work on it, including widening the driveway and adding on another bathroom.  In mid-December I signed the deed over to them and they started ripping out carpet… and to make an interminably long story short, my sister told me a week after I signed the deed over (on Christmas Eve) that they had changed their minds about doing any work other than ripping out the carpet and painting and they were just going to sell it.  It’s still a little hard for me to talk about because I feel like my sister cheated me out of a large amount of money.  Obviously she was not required to do any of that work under contract, but I do feel like they took advantage of me in order to make more money.  I eventually calmed down when Wendy reminded me of all the reasons I wanted to walk away from the house and that there’s a big difference between Sissy saying she’s selling the house and actually being able to sell the house (at least for whatever price she wants).  As for the rest of the estate, it’s stressful and annoying and it moves very slowly, but it is moving.  I’m going to drink a bottle of champagne by myself when it’s all done.
  • We spent New Years down at the Delaware shore with Kate and Bart and their little girl.  It was lovely, except that Jeeves had a lot of work to do while there.  I brought some of my mom and dad’s ashes with me – they loved it there, and actually my mom died down there.  I scattered them on the beach on New Year’s Day.  It was hard. 
  • I've been struggling since I gave birth with my body image.  I know that may seem silly or ungrateful.  I’m very happy that I got to give birth and I would do it again in a heartbeat.  But I look very different than I did before I got pregnant and it’s been a little hard.  I gained about 30 pounds with my pregnancy, which is a normal and healthy amount.  When I came home from the hospital, I was down only 12 pounds.  Over time, I lost a little more, and I’m about 10 or 11 pounds away from where I was when I got pregnant.  I know that’s not bad.  But my body is so different now – everything is thicker, saggier, etc.  My boobs are still enormous.  I had to buy new pants because I didn’t want to wear maternity pants anymore and I’m too big for my own pants.  I tend to just cover everything up and hide.  I’ve totally lost any sense of style.  My face looks pudgy.  I had to buy a new dress for a wedding we’re going to and figuring out what would look good on this new body…. Ugh.  So I decided to start exercising again and be really careful about what I ate, but without counting calories.  My goal was to lose the last 10 pounds by Max’s first birthday in June.  My milk supply immediately plummeted.  I started eating more and my supply went back to normal.  I am attempting to eat healthy, whole foods, but I’m not limiting myself at all.  Also, it’s really hard to exercise.  Max does nap, but his naps are short and I have a bajillion things I need to do when he’s napping.  I could try and wait to exercise after he goes to bed at 7:30, but by then I’m exhausted and I have to cook dinner.  I haven’t given up, I’m just still trying to figure out where to fit it in.
  • Jeeves and I are starting to talk about maybe not leaving Brooklyn.  For years we had always planned to move to the suburbs once we had a kid.  It’s still a work in progress, but now we’re not so sure we want to do that.  Even though the inheritance I’ll get from my dad’s estate is not a crazy amount of money, it’s enough that we could buy a place here and not have a huge mortgage.  There are a lot of reasons to stay, and only a couple of reasons to go.  But we'll see.  
  • I've been thinking a lot about how being Max's mom has changed me, is changing me.  I've never for a second believed that you have to have children to understand true love or to have a purpose in life.  I have many friends who don't have children, won't have children, and they have wonderful, full, meaningful lives and they are deeply loving people.  But Max has changed me.  He's sent me back to a time when I was more idealistic and less selfish.  Please note that I do not for a second believe child-free people are selfish.  My friend Meg spends every day advocating for the poor.  She's one of the least selfish people I know.  She doesn't ever plan to have children.  I'm only speaking for myself.  Max makes me want to be a better person.  He makes me want to get involved in changing the world.  He makes me want to learn more and talk more and listen more.  But I'll write about that more another time.
  • I haven't been a good blog commenter.  I do still read.  Commenting requires that I be on my computer instead of reading it on my phone and usually these days I'm on my phone.  So many of the women I follow are pregnant or parents now.  A few are still in the trenches.  Sometimes I feel very removed from my infertile life.  But then something will happen that snaps me back - I wonder if we'll have another kid.  Unlike a regular ol' fertile girl, I don't just think "well, if and when we want another kid, we'll just start trying and that will be that."  Instead I wonder about trying and what tests I'll have to do again and whether IUI would even work again and how we'd coordinate morning monitoring and whether we'd have to do IVF and blahblahblah.  That's when I'm like, "oh yeah, still an infertile."  The one difference is that being infertile doesn't leave me bereft the way it once did.  Because of Max.  If I only have Max, that will be okay.  I may hope that we have another child someday, but I really will be okay if I only have Max.  And I didn't feel like that before him. 
  • I'm trying to get back into the things that define me outside of Jeeves and Max.  I'm making a concerted effort to actually finish a book that's not about babies.  And Jeeves and I are watching TV and movies again (since Max goes to bed at 7:30 we have a lot more opportunities to watch stuff again).  We actually saw a movie in a theater even!  Crazy, I know.  

I guess that's it for now.  I will close by once again saying that I really do hope to be better about blogging.  Writing is one of those things that makes me feel like me and I should make a more concerted effort to do it.  In parting, here is my dearest darling, sitting up: