August 26, 2011

What Does Support Look Like for Me?

That's the question I have been asking myself this week. I realize I've posted a number of questions from well-meaning people that have inadvertently hurt or otherwise negatively affected me. There are others that I haven't bothered posting, because this blog isn't just a rant (as relieving as that can be at times). No, I really do want to focus on positive things and I know that others really do just want to express support but just don't know how. I mean, would I if I were in their shoes? Yeah, probably not.

Generally speaking, people's reactions have been a mix of awe and wonder and relief and even tears, not to mention absolute joy! Despite this plus the evidence so far of a perfectly normal pregnancy, we haven't made any bigger announcements. I don't know why exactly – twice bitten forever shy? It just feels right to tell people individually. I'll never post my ultrasound pic as my profile on my FB page. I'm happy to just enjoy what I can while I can in the context of a powerfully moving event. Of course, I seriously don't mind if a friend or relative leaks the info because they just can't hold it in.

Anyway, back to ways I can think of that are good ways to support me. First I'd say, ask me or DH how we are doing, and accept our weird answers. It's never a straightforward "fine!" or "great!" – it's always a mixture of optimism, hesitation, maybe a bit of discomfort, and other things that just make us human because of what we've been through and where we are now. It IS weird!

Second, I would say, is to be a cheerleader. Okay that sounds over the top, right? But you'd be amazed at how some people have reacted. Some can't help but have a negative (clinical, stereotypical) reaction since I'm such a geezer and statistically it's just so risky and the baby could have all kinds of problems and… right. Never mind the fact that there are societies where having children in the 50+ range is quite normal. If I had paid homage to statistics and didn't believe in the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, I flat out would never have tried again. And believe it or not, other people's enthusiasm actually lifts us up.

Eh, that's about all I can think of.

August 16, 2011

"You're a Little Old to be Having..."

Oh no she di-n't!

As un-hip as I am, I imagine my head swerving side to side with a wild arm gesture while I'm saying this.

I felt like I needed to call my grandmother and tell her the news. So I did, and for a few seconds she was silent, then started saying “Well, you’re a little old to be having…” I cut her off and basically said that I would really, really love to hear some positive words from her right now, that I’ve been through absolute h*ll the last couple of years because of this stuff between two miscarriages and a diagnosis of infertility, that believe me if I could have done things different I would have…

Okay, quick reality check. I am well aware of just how "old" I am (just turned 42). It's risky. Doable, but risky. And I can only assume that if someone isn't rude enough to say it to my face, sooner or later their tongues will be wagging behind my back. What am I gonna do? Keep walking. Keep sharing my story. Keep forgiving.

I know this is just the way she is, and she does suffer from dementia, so I keep that in mind. But I wasn’t about to let something negative be the first words out of her mouth (again). I think it came out in a weird combination of panic, laughter, and yelling. The conversation ended well enough and she didn't seem to retain any of the tension from that moment. Just shocked silence, I suppose. Which is a logical reaction. Overall she seemed quite amazed and happy.

I have a weird relationship with my grandmother, though I don't think she knows how weird it is from my end. From the moment I was conceived she considered me the daughter she never had (she had three sons) and spoiled me mercilessly all my life. Until one day, my dad asked me whether I thought it odd how much she complemented me. And then I became aware. Aware of the devastating effects of favoritism across an entire generation in my family. Aware of just how humble I needed to be, and how I needed to separate myself from this favoritism, even if I couldn't get her to understand why (which I couldn't). It has left a legacy of... distrust, resentment, and a total lack of closeness that just makes me so sad. I have no relationship with my cousins which I can only presume is partly because of this.

I love her and forgive her, and just accept her the way she is since I know I cannot change her. But I have every opportunity to be a catalyst for change, to break the cycle of favoritism and resentment with God's hand in my life.

August 13, 2011

"Do You Want to be Pregnant?"



Had to think about this one for a while. DH asked me this after another bout of bitching and raving about exhaustion, indigestion, poorly fitting clothes, blah blah blah... Well mostly it's the indigestion. It's hard to be enthusiastic about anything if your list of edible foods can be counted on less than 10 fingers.

But anyway, back to my pondering. Here's why I don't want to be pregnant: the risk. The fear. The pain. The uncertainty. The checking of the underwear every time I go to the restroom (yes, still). The knowledge that anything can go wrong at any time, and really - we never run out of things to worry about. No real clearing of the woods, just milestones and minimizing risk and holding on to hope.

Here's why I do want it: To have the experience of giving birth just once. To see the joy on my husband's face when he holds his daughter or son for the first time. To realize the knowledge that it really is possible. To see my own flesh and blood running around the living room.

Part of me wants to give the big "ha! you were WRONG!" finger to the Specialist, but that's just dumb. Docs don't deal in absolutes, just percentages. So just what constitues a miracle in the eyes of a medical professional anyway? I can't prove anything to anyone. I can only tell my story and hope that it gives someone hope beyond their circumstances, to know that the end of something isn't the end of everything.

Last night I had a dream. DH and I were in a bedroom somewhere and I looked at a window. I noticed there was a recycling trash bin just below the window inside the room, which I thought looked kind of tacky. I looked again, and there was a mist of blood hovering over the trash bin. I looked again, and saw that the mist had been replaced by a slow-moving cloud hovering over the bin - I looked closely, noticing the nuances of the cloud as wisps curled around the edges. Then the cloud floated up to the ceiling. For some reason, I blew gently on the cloud. It began to dissipate, and then a small figure emerged from the cloud - it was a newborn baby, which was human but looked pale and otherworldly like the cloud. The baby began to float down, and I said "See? It's a baby!" to DH. He was leery, but the baby drifted down into the crook of my right arm. I held the baby, smiling. DH touched the baby's forehead, then its lips - and the baby caught his finger in its mouth in a gentle, sort of affectionate way. And then I woke up.

The next dream was one of those fast-action dreams with translucent tigers floating down a walkway in an Asian spa that changed plots every few minutes. Weird. Oh well.

August 11, 2011

Scan Day

It was a warm and clear night, and we passed the time watching a movie and getting in a 10-minute swim before the pool closed for the evening. Soon it was bedtime, and we felt a sort of peace that didn't make any sense. We had worked at letting go, at trying not to predict the joy or agony of a future we could not see. We had resigned ourselves to the fact that we have no control over the next day's news, and so we slept. Que sera, sera.

Morning came, too early for me, but I rose anyway. I ate half a bagel shortly after 6 a.m. since I was already starving, then hit the shower and began the routine of the day. Of course, this routine was interrupted by a morning visit to the doctor. This was the day of the big, fat ultrasound scan. The one that would tell me my future or at least the next year of it. I refused to project reactions and just prayed a little.

We drove to the doc's office, listening to music or talk radio or whatever, and still felt that peace. We walked through an adjoining hospital corridor and I remarked on how I hate the smell of hospitals. It scares me and makes me wonder if that is what death smells like.

We waited for several minutes in the lobby. DH went for a glass of water, and I was called back. Once inside the scanning room, DH showed up just after the technician who came in quickly and announced that she would do a belly scan. No wand necessary. I held my breath, reluctant to look at the screen. She was silent for a moment, getting the scanner into position.

Time stood still for just a moment.

The tech exclaimed "Oh, there's your baby!" And then... there it was. A baby squirming around in a sac of fluid, practically showing off to us to say "I'm still here!" Perfect shape, perfect heartbeat, perfectly measuring at 13 weeks, perfectly normal. I just laid there with my mouth open, incredulous at the fact that this was actually inside my body (except for swallowing the lump in my throat). Due date is somewhere near Valentine's Day. Nothing ironic about that, I'm sure.

The front view of the face, with the baby's still-translucent skin and visible skeleton, was kinda creepy. The tech gave us several photos. The doc answered what few questions we had. The assistant took blood (for the initial chromosome screening). And that was that.

Since I was hungry again, we stopped for a breakfast sandwich. Somewhere in that next half hour I decided - I am just going to embrace hope. I know, anything's still possible. But I do take comfort in those measurements, those movements, that heartbeat, and the fact that I'm officially in the second trimester. The facts are winning the argument over my fears.

Late this afternoon, DH opened a bottle of Cava (Spanish sparkling white wine) and I enjoyed a few sips. We toasted the (near) future, and I let him finish my glass. It was a good day.

August 9, 2011

Two More Days

Less than 48 hours from now, I will know. I will know whether this pregnancy really is viable, whether the fetus is growing normally, and soon after I'll know if there are any chromosomal abnormalities.

Yeah, we decided to do the preliminary blood test to see if there's a possibility for these types of birth defects. But I will not, unless my life is threatened, have an amniocentesis. I did not come this far to pretend that the life inside me is in my hands. I know better. It will only be information - knowledge of something to pray for.

According to the Web calculators, I should be just over 12 weeks now. Nausea is minimal, though I have my days. Food is still largely the enemy when it comes to heartburn as I play Russian Roulette with various foods (armed with Tums and Pepcid). Clothes are tighter, but I don't see anything resembling "the bump" yet. Then again, I do have a few somewhat toned stomach muscles so that could be why.

I'm obsessing about bad stuff way less. Thanks Lord! Dreams are still weird, though I'm trying not to take them as seriously as I might otherwise. I'm ridiculously forgetful (drove to a party yesterday evening only to realize I had shown up a week early! Thank goodness I didn't knock on the door).

Next week my MIL comes to hang with us for a week. I'm really looking forward to it. I am hoping, hoping, hoping that DH and I will be able to deliver wonderful news to her. Just once I'd like to see the look on a loved one's face as I give the news that, despite all we've been through, we are actually going to have a live one next February.

Or, I could be saying something else. But I'd rather not think about that. It does no good to try and solve problems that don't exist.

August 2, 2011

"Don't Worry [Stress Out, Get Your Heart Rate or Blood Pressure Up, or Otherwise Display Less than Blissful Behavior], You'll Hurt the Baby!"

I was relating my paranoid state of mind to a good friend a few weeks, trying to share what was on my heart about how tough this really is for me, and maybe hoping for some words of wisdom when she laid that one on me. My response was carefully constructed cynical laughter laced with an unexpressed middle finger.

Oh, okay! I'll just quit worrying, cuz otherwise I'll kill the baby! LOL No pressure there! Thanks, that's great advice.


May as well tell me not to think about white elephants no matter what I do or a bomb will explode every ten seconds. Oh, okay! No problem.

All sarcasm aside, I understand that a stressful emotional environment is not the best for a growing fetus. Which is why I do try to visualize positive things, pray every day and ask for peace, and recently started reading the book Battlefield of the Mind.

Yeah, I get it. Our thought lives do actually influence our external lives. But rather than creating a vacuum by trying not to think of spotting or having a bad ultrasound or any of the other nasties that can spell doom to a growing baby, I need to know what to replace the thoughts with and, really, how to do it.

And how to deal with the occasional nightmares. Like last night, in which I dreamed that I drowned a tiny kitten in a bathtub and shoved it down the drain. I cried this morning telling DH about it. I'm fine now, recognizing a dream for a dream. But still.

Any advice from those who've fought and won this battle?