10 Things You Should Never Say to a Pregnant Woman

I know a few women right now who are pregnant.  It is such an exciting time for them.  I think back to that time and smile.  However, I also do remember the incredible things people eCard_twins-300x210said to me.  At the time it took everything in my power to not either be offended, cry, yell or do all three.  Now when I think about it, I think people were actually trying to either help or show interest, but it just came out the wrong way.  With that said I came up with my “favorite” 10 things people said to me when I was pregnant.

  1. Are you afraid your cats are going to smother your baby in its sleep?

Well, I am now!   In all honesty Ringo twice jumped into the crib at the same time Liam was in there and the one time he jumped right back out.  The second time he curled up and went to sleep.  I am probably going to get blasted for this, but I thought it was so cute I took a few pictures of it.  I then removed Ringo from the crib.  He never did it again.

  1. Wow, you are huge. I can’t believe you still have another 2 months to go.

Thanks for reminding me on how big and uncomfortable I am.  Also I appreciate you pointing out that I still have another 60 days of this in which I will inevitably get larger and more uncomfortable.

    8.  You look awful! Are you ok?

No, no I am not ok.  I have not been able to hold anything down for 5 months.  I spend most of my time hanging over a toilet bowl.   But thank you for confirming what I feared.  I look as bad as I feel.

  1. Why are you going back to work? Surely you can afford to stay home?

Well, I am so glad you have an insight on my family’s finances and what we can afford.  The truth is yes I need to go back and furthermore, I want to go back to work.

  1. It’s about time

I waited for almost five years after getting married to have a baby.  For the first two years after I got married people were constantly asking me when we were going to have a baby.  Every time I was sick or had a headache someone asked if I was pregnant.  When I finally was pregnant I had one woman say to me, “It’s about time.”

  1. You know breastfeeding is better, right? No judgment.

Umm, that sounds like judgment to me.  It always made people slightly uncomfortable when I told them I had postpartum depression after Liam, so with Ava it was suggested that I try to take some things off the table that gave me stress in my last pregnancy.  Breastfeeding had been a huge issue for me.  Still I had one person say to me, “Well you could at least try.”

  1. Did you plan it?

I was always taken aback by the number of people who were basically asking me, were we not being careful and are now having an unplanned pregnancy.  I got this only once with Liam, but several people asked me when I was pregnant with Ava.  I feel bad for the one person who had asked me, as they got me on a particularly raw day and I snapped back, “No it wasn’t planned, thank you for reminding me.”  (Of course that wasn’t true, but I was tired of hearing it)

  1. Two babies under two. How are you going to manage it?  What were you thinking?

Well for starters I was thinking people weren’t going to be so rude, but the truth is I wanted my kids close together.  I didn’t want to get through the sleepless night, diapers, and whatnot and then start all over again.  I figured we were already in the trenches let’s just plow through it.  I am not going to lie it was really, really hard in the beginning, but I am so glad we did.  Liam and Ava are very close.

  1. Enjoy your sleep now because when the baby comes you won’t be getting any?

Alright first of all who is sleeping at 9 months pregnant?  Really?!  Between the back aches, the impossibility to find a comfortable spot, and every ten minutes you feel like you have to pee, sleeping is not happening.  Also, the idea that you can stock pile sleep so when the baby comes it will help you, blows my mind.

  1. How much weight did you gain?  I only gained 15lbs.  Did your doctor say you are ok?  How are going to lose all the weight?

I mean, I am not sure which one to hit first.  If asking a woman what her weight is not acceptable, why would you think its ok to do so when she is pregnant?  Good for you and you 15lb weight gain.  I hate you, but good for you.  I plan to lose the weight on a strict diet of never sleeping or eating or what some would call being a parent.  The truth is each time I had to work hard to lose the weight.  It didn’t just fall off for me, but no pain no gain.

Good luck mommas.  Don’t let it get to you and if you can laugh it off.

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I’m Back….

So I know I have been MIA for a while but as you probably can only imagine sometimes life has more planned for you than you expected.  Between doctor visits, nauseousness, extreme fatigue, work, and my own little cherubs it all seems like a blur right now.   However it is important that I get back to my writing as it has always been therapeutic for me.

So I am now 15 weeks pregnant and out of the first trimester.  But before I get to today let me rewind to 9 weeks ago.  I last left it 6 weeks pregnant and possibly carrying two.   Well, I had something happen to me what is commonly called “Vanishing Twin Syndrome.”  This basically means that both embryos took but for whatever reason one of them did not progress past 6 weeks.  Over the last several weeks the embryo has slowly been absorbed and no longer exists.  I am very thankful that the other baby is doing well, but I would be lying if I said I was not disappointed.  I really had hoped for more than one, however as I have been often reminded I should be thankful for the well progressing baby inside me.

Nauseousness and extreme fatigue in the first trimester haunted me.  I was also down for the count for a week with a very bad cold which there is nothing you can take when pregnant to alleviate the symptoms.  On top of that the headaches and migraines have been quite a frequent symptom.  Unfortunately, one of the hormones that I am taking can cause headaches.  Luckily I am at the point now where I am being weaned off the drugs. One more week and I will be done with the progesterone (just in time for Christmas).

I promise to write more frequently now that I am feeling better.  I missed you and I hope you continue on my journey with me.

Shots, and Tests, and Transfer, Oh My!

To actually become a gestational carrier there are many tests that the carrier and her partner must do first.   I had to go through extensive blood work.  This blood work was to make sure my thyroid was working to par and that I had no blood clotting issues.  Thyroid hormone plays a critical role during pregnancy both in the development of a healthy baby and in maintaining the health of the mother.  Women with thyroid problems can have a healthy pregnancy and protect their fetuses’ health by learning about pregnancy’s effect on the thyroid, keeping current on their thyroid function testing, and taking the required medications.  It just so happens I produce a thyroid hormone which is called hypothyroidism and can cause many of the body’s functions to slow down.  Mine was very minimal and I believe it was not an issue but since I was going through all this effort I did go on thyroid medication to help the thyroid work at its fullest potential.  Since blood clotting can pose problems in the IVF process with all of the hormones (estrogen) that are taken, it is essential to have that tested.  We also had my blood tested to make sure there were no infectious diseases that I could be carrying (don’t be insulted; they need to cross every t and dot every i).  Your partner will have to have his blood tested as well to verify he is not carrying anything that could be passed to you (again do not be insulted; It’s protocol). Next both you and your partner have to go through a psychological evaluation.   The psychological evaluation is intended to assess the candidate’s:

  • Motivation for serving as a carrier
  • Understanding and appreciation of the psychological and emotional implications involved
  • Understanding and appreciation of the time commitment and medical aspects of treatment
  • Perspectives about the future child and oneself in relation to that child now and in the future
  • Current psychological and emotional stability
  • Preparedness for various cycle outcomes
  • Reliability and responsibility
  • Lifestyle factors

Do not underestimate how vital your partner will be to you in this process.  My husband has truly been my lifeline and I would have not been able to do this without him.  Make sure you really discuss the implications this will bring on your relationship and family.

The next thing I needed to have done is a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) which is an x-ray that looks inside of the uterus, in the fallopian tubes and the areas around it. This is often done for women who are having a hard time getting pregnant.  Many times for women it is caused by blockages in the fallopian tubes.  Even though I have had two successful pregnancies, I still had to take the test because I was advised that blockages could occur at any time.  The doctors wanted to rule out any reason that the IVF transfer would not work before they went through the whole process.  The intended mother had already warned me that it was an uncomfortable test and I would certainly agree.  The procedure itself is rather quick (once the catheter is inserted it takes less than a minute), however I’m not going to kid you, when the catheter was first inserted I thought I was going to pass out.  I asked the doctor for a minute to take a few deep breaths which he allowed and then he inserted the dye.  Again the intended mother had told me that it would be like a burning sensation which is true but it’s not painful (although I have heard if there are blockages it can be).  During the x-ray dye is put into a catheter which is put through your cervix into the uterus.  The uterus and the fallopian tubes are hooked together so as the dye flows through the fallopian tubes pictures are taken using an x-ray and the doctors will be able to see if the uterus and fallopian tubes show problems such as injuries or abnormal structures or blockage that would prevent an egg from going through.  In my case there were no blockages and no issues which meant I just cleared the last medical hurdle

The next step for the gestational carrier is to begin medication.  The doctor will start you out with a low dose of Estrogen and then with observation will increase it.  I started on one pill of estrogen and was increased up to 4 pills of estrogen over a three week period.  During the time the estrogen is given I to go back to the office periodically to be monitor using an ultrasound to determine the thickness of the uterine lining and a blood test to look at the levels of estrogen my blood.

Once the doctor is satisfied by your hormone levels and thickness of the uterine lining you can now start the progesterone. The intended mother had warned me that part just stinks. I would agree with her but luckily it’s only once a day and it’s for good cause.  The progesterone matures the uterine lining and makes it receptive to an embryo implant. Once progesterone has begun there is a certain window of time when the implantation can occur so the transfer of the embryo must be done at a precise time. Therefore the only factor that locks the patient into performing the transfer on a certain day is starting the progesterone. Once the progesterone has begun, if the embryo transfer is not performed on a certain day the cycle must be canceled and the new preparation of hormones must begin after allowing a period to occur.  It can be very frustrating constantly rearranging your schedule for blood work, checkups, and for the transfer (there is no wiggle room for that day). However if all goes well it is well worth it.

For me I take two forms of progesterone which I am still doing till the end of the first trimester.  The first is a progesterone injection and it must be administered in the muscle of either you lower back or in the thigh (thigh is not preferable and it hurts much more).  It must be done in the muscle because it is thick oil and if it is administered in fat it will never be disbursed into your body.   I’m not going to lie to you; after a week of taking turns on each side of your back, you are sore. I have found that taking hot baths or hot showers before the injection helps and after the injection rubbing the area with a warm washcloth.  It helps loosens the muscle and soothe the area.  The other form of progesterone that I take is progesterone suppositories one in the morning and one in the evening.

The actually transfer of the embryos was a rather quick process.  I was instructed to drink 32 ounces of water and I was given a Valium to take (that part was very nice 🙂 ) The sedative was to relax me.  The actual transfer is not uncomfortable, but if the office is running late and you are sitting around with 32 ounces of water in your bladder, that is uncomfortable.  When it was finally time to do the transfer, I was brought into a room with the intended parents.  I lay down on a table and an ultrasound was used to help guide the doctor as he transferred the embryos.  The embryos were loaded into a fine tube catheter that passed through the vagina and cervix into the uterus. In my case two embryos were deposited.

1197104193998287648papapishu_Baby_boy_crawling.svg.hiThe hardest part is the waiting period afterwards.  It is an excruciating two weeks of not knowing and it is highly suggested you don’t take a pregnancy test. It is possible to get a false reading because of the hormones being taken.  It is on the very early side when you go back to do blood work for the pregnancy test. It is about 12 days after the transfer.  Five hours after my blood work I received the wonderful news that I was pregnant.  🙂

Explaining Pregnancy to a Three Year Old

Last Saturday when I found I was pregnant I screamed out loud out of excitement.  Liam asked me, “Mommy what’s wrong?”  I said to him, “Nothing is wrong.  Mommy is just really happy. I am pregnant.”  Without missing a beat Liam replied back while waving his hand towards Ava, “Why you are already have her?”  I could not help but giggle but then I tried to explain in simple terms that mommy was carrying the baby, but the baby would not be coming home with us.  This must have satisfied Liam because he then asked for a cookie.  I love three year olds.

I am a rock. I am an island

Since I decided to share a very difficult moment previously about my postpartum depression with Liam I have decided to write about another very difficult moment for me.  It was during a time when I felt very lonely, sad and confused.  I figured if only one person reads and feels comfort in knowing that they aren’t the only one that went through what I went through, then this would have done some good.  I know I wish I had had that at my moment of darkness.

Eleven months after Liam was born as the fog had begun to slowly roll away and I saw specks of sunshine I began entertaining the thought of having another child.  I always wanted two kids and to have them close together in my head was ideal.  I also thought that “if I could get this part over with” then I could actually begin to enjoy having children.  Please understand it isn’t that I was so negative about babies and pregnancy, however my first experience was not exactly a perfect scenario and I was looking forward to being a completed family and progressing from there.

Some people I am sure think it would be crazy to get pregnant so quickly after coming out of such a difficult time but quite honestly I also didn’t think I was going to get pregnant so quickly….but I did.  I was very excited and to be honest a little scared.  I had “What did I get myself into moment.”  Unfortunately unlike my pregnancy with Liam where I slept and ate all the time, the only thing I was successful in doing the first 5 months was throwing up and losing not gaining weight.  On the upside I had a lot of energy, shocking for someone who felt so ill.  With that said I cried … a lot.  But who wouldn’t if you spent most of your day hanging over a toilet or sink.  It wasn’t until I spent a day with a dear friend of mine that my husband picked up on something not being right.

I came home from my day of shopping, chatting, and even successfully eating lunch, and Will asked me how it was.  I remember looking at him and saying it was fine and then bursting into tears.  He looked at me shocked and then I blurted out, “I am sad all the time and I cry all the time.”  He looked at me and without saying a word knew we were right back where I was 5 months ago.

Well maybe not right back where I was.  With my postpartum depression I felt numb and emotionless.  This was exactly the opposite I felt horrible, sad, depressed and on top of that I felt ashamed.  This is exactly what I wanted, how dare I feel anything but happiness.  It was a two day battle between my well intentioned husband and me to get me to call the doctor.  I remember the nurse asking why I was making the appointment and in a small embarrassed voice I uttered, “I am depressed.”

I was so humiliated and I could not bring myself to look at the doctor when I explained everything I was feeling.  The only other people I even dared to share a small portion of what I was feeling were my parents and even that made me feel terrible.  Everyone around me was so excited about my pregnancy but I just cried.   When we found out that we were having a girl ( my dream was complete) I felt indifferent and that kills me now.

There are a lot of things looking back that pains me but I try to remember that this wasn’t my fault.  I did not bring it on myself and it did not dictate what kind of person I was or even what kind of mother I would be. I guess if anything it taught me a lot about how lucky I am to have the wonderful husband and family who supported me.  I am also very grateful for how I feel now and can enjoy my precious lovely children and most of all, our family is complete.