Trust Fall

Tomorrow R will be 37 weeks, full term. I don’t know where the time has gone.  In the last 9 months we’ve engaged in some pretty major life changes. We endured IVF, and it worked.  We prepared for the joys and challenges of twins. We celebrated. My mom bought matching red and grey owl onesies. At the beginning of the second trimester,  Peanut got terribly sick, and we lost her. In midst of our grief, we moved forward with our plan to get legally married on our seventh wedding anniversary.  Not long after that, we sold our house, I defended my dissertation, R quit her job, and we moved to Indiana.

The move required starting over in so many ways. Leaving behind our beloved friends and R’s sister and her husband. Saying goodbye to the mountains and waterways that brought us so much joy.  Stepping out of the political safe zone of the “Left Coast” and into a blue city in a red state. But the thing I’m really hung up on is the change in providers. As I mentioned, we started off at Indy’s urban hospital but decided to switch at 34 weeks. It wasn’t a big deal because we’d only seen the urban hospital doc twice. But the new office has four providers and requires expectant parents to see all four of them prior to delivery, which means that we see a new doc each week because we joined the practice so close to R’s due date.

On Thursday, we met Dr. M for the first time. Our primary OB in the practice, Dr. K, ordered an ultrasound for the visit but no one else seemed to know why. The sonographer thought she was doing the 20 week anatomy scan. We told her R was almost 37 weeks, and we’d already had two anatomy scans. She left the room to inquire about the purpose of the scan, and came back and said it was just for a check of the baby’s growth. When she measured Bean’s head circumference and femur length I noticed the estimated gestational age was 32 weeks. I was perplexed but figured she was still getting the right angle or something. But when we met with Dr. M, she said, “Okay, so have we been monitoring the baby because of her small size?” R said, “You tell me. I don’t know why Dr. K ordered this ultrasound.” We told Dr. M that Bean has always measured large for her gestational age. At the last ultrasound she was nearly a week ahead. Dr. M told us she was measuring two weeks behind, and was in the 15th percentile for her gestational age. At the 10th percentile, she’d meet criteria for Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR), which warrants early induction of labor.

Cue the terror. Cue the PTSD. Cue the loss of any sense of control. Even though I could hear Dr. M reassuring us that the baby does not meet criteria for IUGR, and would simply need extra monitoring, I felt the panic rising in me. Dr. M said we’d need to return on Monday or Tuesday for additional testing. R asked why we couldn’t do it right then. Dr. M looked as though this had not occurred to her, and went to check with the sonographer. We sat quietly in the room, and were relieved to be sent back to ultrasound for another look at Bean. The sonographer checked the blood flow through her cord, and determined it was adequate. The amniotic fluid levels were normal, and Bean’s heart rate was strong and regular. Dr. M told me not to worry all weekend, and dismissed us until Monday.

Her tone was confident and cautious, and she even told us that her own daughter was delivered a little bit early (just shy of 37 weeks) for low amniotic fluid levels and IUGR. She’s been there, so she errs on the side of caution. She even referred to herself as “anal.” R and I agreed that we prefer anal doctors. I made a mental note that it sounded a bit funny to say that aloud. While Dr. M was competent, I didn’t find her particularly compassionate. What she failed to understand, and I failed to articulate, is that the appointment was not routine for us. It was not the news we expected, and for me it had echoes of earlier trauma with Peanut. We have been planning and hoping for this child for three and half years and we’re entrusting her to a perfect stranger. It reminds me of the trust fall, a team-building exercise during which one person stands backwards on an elevated platform with her arms crossed, and falls backwards into the arms of strangers. I never really enjoyed the fall.

Curtains, Please

Well friends, the curtains are drawing on the two week wait. At the crack of dawn R will head to the lab to have her blood drawn and four hours later, her beta hcg level will be faxed to Dr. A’s office in Ohio.  The nurse will call and leave a voicemail on R’s phone to tell us whether our little embryos hung on for the ride. So many of you have dreamed and prayed about those little buggers, and we feel deeply honored to be held in your good intentions for the last few weeks.

Your friendship and encouragement has sustained us through a very difficult time, and we are so grateful. Tonight we are going to hunker down and enjoy some quiet time over cupcakes, delivered by our sweet neighbor. We have such an amazing network of friends and family, and I know we could not have come this far without you. So thank you for waiting with us, for hoping with us, for dreaming with us.

Visioning

This morning I shook out the cobwebs by assembling my vision board, which is now resting on our kitchen table. Clockwise, from left: two cuddly babies*; fabric my mom bought for The Beans; a boy in a mustache blanket and a girl in pink chevrons–uber hipster, just like us; a nursery decorated in soothing shades of white, grey, and butter; twins in a heart shaped blanket (a little too cutesy for me, but I couldn’t resist); some fabric I’ve been using to make burp cloths and baby bandanas for other people’s babies, and am saving the rest for mine; an owl from the fabric mom bought; blue onesie that says “buy one” and a pink onesie that says “get one free” (we will of course put Girl Bean in blue and Boy Bean in pink)**; snapshot of a fabric I will buy to make something cute for The Beans; a happy little cloud toy–necessary for cloudy, grey PNW; a cute cute cute pair of shoes that I’m hoping a Grandma will buy; a tree from my favorite fabric.

Visioning

Visioning

I love having this sitting next to me as I work, something to hold onto as I wait.

*The Beans will be cuddlers. Their biological mom comes from a long line of cuddlers, and I’m sure it’s genetic.

**Whenever we’ve mentioned the possibility of twins to our friends, they’ve said something like “Hey, what a deal!” so I thought these onesies were so perfect for our “Twofer”

How to Eat a Word Sandwich

As Dr. A was closing up shop after the embryo transfer he peered over his minute square glasses and said,

“Now, all my patients tell me the next two weeks are completely miserable. The best advice I can give you is to try to keep yourselves busy, but not too busy (that was for R). Do your best to avoid obsessing…am I pregnant am I not? Did it work…did it not? Try to just think positively, but not obsessively.”

I practically rolled my eyes and simultaneously blew the dust of my fingertips, all casual like. This dude obviously had no clue what freaking pros we are at managing the two week wait. We’ve only done this about a hundred 17 times over the last three years. Get real!

Cue Tuesday morning. I woke up in a cold sweat, burdened by a sinking feeling. My old friends Fear and Doubt were nipping at my heels. I tried to ignore them. They bit harder. My mom texted me just as I was starting to panic. She asked how things were going and I admitted my steely confidence had evaporated and I wanted it back. I stared at the photo of our two perfect embryos, and a few hours later I had recovered my hope. Mom also sent me a link to an article about creating a visioning board, and I have some ideas for making something similar. I think the project will keep me busy and hopeful (Doctor’s orders!) and give me something tangible to hold on to. But in the mean time, I’m eating a big ol’ word sandwich. And that brings me around to today’s subject: eating your words.

Let me tell you, I am becoming a P-R-O at eating my words. When we first started this whole adventure, some of our friends referred us to their lesbian friends who’d gotten pregnant by various means. One of them was a woman in my office, Rebecca, who was kind enough to meet us for lunch one day at a local vegan cafe. I still remember sitting there, listening to her story about trying to conceive for six years, and ultimately succeeding through IVF. I’m sure I had a Judgey McJudgerson look on my face, because she said

“You know, we can judge women for spending money on IVF, but I actually believe it should be covered by insurance.  We live in a society where it is often difficult for women to bear children and launch successful careers, and they need to do both at roughly the same time. Until we value the role of women as mothers and workers, we’re all sort of complicit in the role that reproductive medicine plays in our society and it shouldn’t be a burden that individual families have to bear.”

I considered her point, but didn’t agree with it. When we left I told R that Rebecca’s advocacy for insurance coverage for IVF was ludicrous, and I declared that I would never undergo invitro fertilization. Never!

And here we are, friends, entering week two of the two week wait after our first (and hopefully last) round of IVF. In the three years since our vegan lunch with Rebecca I’ve learned a great deal about the difficult choices women (and men) have to make as they try to create a family. I’ve learned that I can never know the full extent of another person’s suffering, nor how it shaped their journey to parenthood. Each family walks its own path and manages the twists and turns as it sees fit, and could use a relief station instead of judgement.

So yeah, Dr. A’s other patients are correct–the two week wait post IVF is HARD. Turns out that if I’m a pro at anything, it’s eating my words. My advice? When forced to eat a word sandwich, try to smile – you’ll need the room.

Two Angels

I’m live blogging again today folks. It’s 9:42 and Dr. A said to expect his call before 10.  I’m trying to keep calm, though the coffee may not have been helpful in my pursuit of tranquility. I’m revisiting A Blessing for Waitingand breathing deeply. I’m also taking comfort in this photo of my great grandmother, Hazel.

Great Grandmother, Hazel

 Hazel

The photo is on my side of the bed in my aunt’s guest room. Just in front of it is an angel figurine that somehow managed to survive the Christmas decor round up. In her arms are six apples.

 

Two Angels

Two Angels

Last night I interpreted the whole scene as a signal that grandmother Hazel is tending our embryos until we can. And when the doctor’s office finally called at 9:57 am, we learned we have six embryos growing. I’ll entrust them to grandmother for safe keeping.

Once, Twice, Three Times a Lady

The start of this morning’s email exchange with R went something like this:

Hey, Katie just called and your E2 level is great (656)! That’s about three times the upper limit of normal estrogen levels, so you’re ‘Once, twice, three times a lady!’

I’m waiting to hear if she was as amused as I was.

So far things are going pretty smoothly. It turns out that having a few weeks off from making major life decisions is really rad. I’d almost forgotten what that is like. I didn’t even really realize the toll it was taking until yesterday, when I told a friend that it feels like I’ve been making major decisions every single month for nearly three years. She pointed out that I have been making major decisions every month for the last three years, and that is really stressful.

I like to think that all this is teaching us something, and maybe some day I’ll compile a list of lessons learned and post it here. Here’s a preview: the first lesson is How to eat a word sandwich.  Then What not to read and Things to know before meeting your sperm dealer: a guide for lesbians.

Alas the dissertation beckons, so I hope you’ll be happy with this pithy report. Just wanted to let you know that it’s day 26 and we’re getting on pretty well. We are busily preparing for our big trip, which begins at the crack of Wednesday. Cross your fingers!

For THIS child I have prayed.

Yesterday our shipment of medications arrived, along with our multicyle plan contract and some educational DVDs about how to inject all the fertility drugs. Between the giant box of meds and the receipt for the IVF payment, I was more than a little overwhelmed. And strangely, my anxiety was less about whether or not this plan will work, and more about whether we’ll be glad we went to all this trouble.

Now, everyone in the parenting club says it’s amazing and totally worth the sleep deprivation, the poop, the sore nipples and all that jazz. But every now and again I wonder if they aren’t just lying to trick us into buying a membership and getting their numbers up. You know, some kind of sick parenting schadenfreude.

I wonder how the decision to relentlessly pursue parenting will affect my life, my marriage, my future happiness. I worry about having buyer’s remorse and wanting to revoke my membership. As much as I know I should have no expectations of my children or of parenting more generally, I do have these vague visions of what life with kids will be like.  I envision us camping, hiking, taking trips, working on homework, puzzling over science fair projects, going to the library, eating gluten-free, no-sugar-added cupcakes. (JK on the last point.) But our child(ren) might hate all those things, or more importantly, they may be unable to do them.

This week I read about how R’s age and our use of ART increases our risk of having a child with a chromosomal abnormality or cerebral palsy or a few other birth anomalies. And yesterday I was struck with a cold panic over all the things that could go wrong after R conceives on top of my baseline panic over all the things that could go wrong beforehand.  I wondered if we’re ready to accept any outcome, because that seems like an important prerequisite to parenting. There’s no guarantee that after all this money and effort spent we’ll walk away with a healthy, happy child. And even if we do, s/he may still turn out to be a royal pain in the ass. I guess it’s natural to get cold feet when you have to work so hard to make something happen. It’s probably normal to constantly reevaluate your motives, your desires, your goals as you inch further and further toward complete insanity to achieve them. But it’s a little unsettling.

This morning I hopped on a TTC forum to check on how a friend was doing after her egg retrieval today. I noticed that one of the other women posted under the subject line “1 Samuel 1:27.” It was a fitting passage for me to stumble upon today, after chewing on my anxieties for a few days. The verse says:

I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him.

You’d be within your rights to suspect I find comfort in this passage because it suggests the good Lord is going to grant my wish. But truthfully, and astonishingly, when I read the passage I automatically placed the emphasis on the word “this.”

I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him.

And I feel sure that when I finally meet my child, I will know s/he is the exactly the one that I prayed for, and the one who belongs with me.