Category Archives: Update

About the Missing Years (plus bonus PSA)

I have been missing writing lately, but the couple of times I have opened up my blog to add a post after a 3.5 year absence it hasn’t felt quite right, so perhaps I should clear the air. With April Fools approaching it seems a good time.

Dont-Mind-the-Gaps

I have always strived to inject a humorous undertone in my writing, even when I’m actually quite worked up about an issue. Even the serious posts have been sprinkled with sarcasm for some comic relief. Over the last few years life has just seemed a bit too heavy to find the bright side, and try as I might I could not find my voice. Circumstances plus postpartum depression (and lets face it, the circumstances probably fuelled the PPD) did not make for a happy time. Some of this I will keep private (2014, you’re dead to me), but I feel it is important to share the struggles that J & I have faced these last two years because maybe somebody will read my posts and feel less alone. God knows how often I searched the Internet late into the night, looking for others who were sharing their similar stories.

Today, this image showed up on my Facebook newsfeed:

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I cried because it reminded me that last April 1st was not a good social media day for me. In February 2016 J & I, after a year of trying to conceive without success, received a general diagnosis of Secondary Male Factor Infertility and the prognosis only got worse from there after each embarrassing and painful test. Although we did eventually beat the odds late last year (much to the shock of our medical team), pregnancy after infertility or pregnancy loss is not experienced the same as a pregnancy achieved by a couple who have never experienced either. I know because I have now experienced both. I’m grateful for people that are spreading the message that fake pregnancy announcements are not funny. Not. Remotely. Funny.

Did you know that in Canada 1 in 6 couples experience some form of infertility? In the United States that number is 1 in 8. Worldwide, the figure jumps to 1 in 4. I can tell you right now that before February 2016 I was unaware of these stats, and at that point I had been on this earth for 32 years. Male factor infertility? Literally didn’t know it existed. Secondary infertility? Nope. Wasn’t aware that was a thing either. Pregnancy loss is more visible, but no less painful. In fact, couples experiencing pregnancy loss are often expected to return to life as usual within an incredibly short period of time even by those who were privy to the loss. Their pain is minimized by society at large, which must only bring on a whole other level of pain, guilt and shame.

Infertility carries a lot of guilt and shame too. Infertility takes over. It destroys marriages. It destroys happiness. I’m not saying that it always does, or that everyone copes (or fails to cope) in the same manner, but what I am saying is I just didn’t know it could, and if you haven’t experienced it you probably didn’t know either. People say a lot of dumb stuff to infertile couples, and they just don’t know how painful it can be to have to hear them. I do hope to share more about different aspects of our infertility journey with you in the coming weeks and in typing this I hope it serves to hold me accountable to my intentions. For now I will leave you with this PSA from us Womb Warriors:

Don’t be a social media fool this April 1st. Fake pregnancy announcements haven’t ever been and won’t ever be funny. I assure you that someone you love has suffered in silence with infertility or pregnancy loss. Guilt, shame and/or embarrassment keep many people from speaking their struggles aloud. These posts are heartbreaking to a woman who may never feel life quicken in her womb, a woman who has lost a life that once grew there, or a man who may never know the joy of holding his precious newborn.

Infertility Awareness.png

Besides, just turn on the news. You can find plenty of April Fools fodder to share there, like this one that the Washington Post published hilariously prematurely:
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Oh…

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Adieu 2012

In French that title rhymes. Kinda…

So, some of you may have noted my absence. I’ve wanted to write many times but, my friends, it appears I’ve lost my funny bone. I’m pretty sure I’m suffering from some mild postpartum depression (PPD). Thankfully I am in love with and am able to take good care of my little H, but outside of the joy I get from him I have been having trouble finding it elsewhere. I realize that we still live in a time where I might be judged for this, or where people are unable to find the patience to deal with this temporary insanity. People might be wondering why I would admit this in writing. Well, with movements like Movember and Mental Health Month bringing these issues to the forefront, I don’t see the sense in pretending like everything is fine in my day to day life or in my writing. I’m not really hear to write about mental health. If you want a couple of good reads that I feel explain the current state of affairs (minus my very personal circumstances that I’m not prepared to share with the world at this time), click here for a magazine article and/or here for a bloggier recounting by saradraws writing for Le Clown’s Black Box Warnings. Welcome to Wonderland my darlings.

cheshire cat

I’m mad, you’re mad. We all have our personal brand of insanity be it anxiety, depression, obsessive thinking etc. So why stay quiet? I’ve been absent and now you know why.

It’s the last day of 2012 and so I feel compelled to write one last post this year, although I remain uninspired. I began this blog last March shortly after discovering that my life had been following a very different trajectory from the one I was on, unbeknownst to me. This year has given me the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. I have considered myself the happiest girl in the world at times and at others, the saddest (yes, I know what you’re thinking…#firstwordproblems… I need some perspective sometimes). Regardless, it was the most amazing year of my life, because in 2012 I became a mom. I found out I was pregnant, carried a baby for 9 amazing and excruciating months, and began to figure out how to take care of him. If someone had handed me their infant last year I would have had no idea what to do. I’m not a kid person… or, at least, I wasn’t.

Bush is demonstrating how I felt about babies... until I had one

Bush demonstrating how I felt about babies… until I had one

2013 will likely involve redefining who I am. I think a lot of the PPD business has to do with suddenly feeling like a fish out of water. Everything happened at once. I had been a student since 2006 and had spent the last two years researching and writing a master’s thesis, all leading up to one big event: The Defense. Once that was conquered I flopped, plodded moaned and groaned until the unexpected c-section delivery of my baby boy. And then everything was different. I love my son more than anything in life, but this whole stay-at-home-mom thing is throwing me off. For the first time in 13 years I don’t have an income. I don’t have a lot of friends with children. I live far away from my family who I had seen on a regular basis. I no longer live with my best girl friend. I’m not a student anymore. I’m not researching or writing. I have no goals.

If the ref says no goal maybe it's time to kick that ref's behind...

If the ref says no goal maybe it’s time to kick that ref’s behind…

Aha. I think that last one is the crux of the problem. All the other changes don’t really matter in the end. I mean, they’re just part of this new life and I’ll figure them out one way or another. Being an eternal student, my goal was to finish high school and get accepted to university. Then it was save money for university. Then it was finish my BA with a high enough average to pay my way through an MA. Once in the MA program it was to obtain enough funding to complete my MA program and once that was secured my focus switched to surviving my ennui with the system enough to finish the darn thing. I was sick of being a student, but it was all I knew. I have had permanent employment for the last 10 years, but never anything serious career-wise. I just had to work to pay the bills. No matter what, though, I was always goal oriented. And when the larger goals were far off I set myself smaller ones, like saving enough to buy a piano or to visit friends overseas. Anyways, I’m just a bit lost.

So, while acknowledging that this is broad, my goal for 2013 is to find myself again. To find some sort of way to combine who I am with who I thought I’d be.

Hint: I am not Jean Valjean

Hint: I am not Jean Valjean

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not meaning to end this year on a depressing note. I’m not, as some have mistaken me to be, ungrateful for the life that I do have. I’m just trying to adjust. Think about it. One year ago I would never even have imagined that I’d be a mom this New Year’s Eve. That’s a pretty big life change… one of the biggest actually. Thanks to all those who have laughed and cried with me this year. I am truly grateful to those who have been kind, patient and understanding, even if it wasn’t always easy. I know I can be trying at times. Having you in my life means that I am truly blessed. May 2013 bring only lovely things to all of you. See ya on the flip side!

Little H wishes you a happy new year too

Little H wishes you a happy new year too

Update

Just a quick little update for now.

I saw my midwife today and although I am still big after having such a huge growth spurt the last month, my growth has slowed to a normal 1cm/week. Whew! I’m still super uncomfortable, seeing as I’m measuring full-term and still have quite a few weeks to go, but I was so relieved to hear that I hadn’t gained another few cms like I had in between my last two visits.

Another growth ultrasound next Tuesday to confirm that things have slowed and then the OB consult next Friday. I’ll keep you posted!

Thanks to everyone who commented here and to my amazing friends and family who have been checking up on me and baby constantly. We really appreciate your concern and all your help! xo

Three Little Birds

Today I am on self-prescribed bed rest. I’m scared, but I’m telling myself not to be. I’m telling myself that every little thing gonna be alright. And yes, Bob Marley is singing it to me over and over in my brain. He’s singing me out of that bad place that I go to sometimes in the back of my mind, or he’s trying to anyway. Ok, so he’s deceased, was never a personal acquaintance and couldn’t possibly be trying anything earthly at the moment, even such a noble deed as singing me out of the bad place. It’s me that’s trying, but it’s hard.

Today I am 32 weeks pregnant. I’ve had a relatively easy time so far (shhhhhh Mom. I know I bitch and moan too much), but last night I got a phone call from my midwife that scared me and sent me to the bad place.

You see, I suffer from some pretty severe anxiety at times. I’ve always been neurotic. I had terrible separation anxiety as a child. I’ve never slept well because that’s when the worries of the world attack my unsuspecting brain. I spent most of my life unmedicated, and very brief periods medicated (all within the last five years). I’m currently unmedicated, and although it’s scary I prefer it that way. I hated the time when I felt like I had no choice (but I really did have no choice at the time) but to take the drugs.

Most of the time I think I’m fine and the door to the bad place remains locked; but last night, even though I didn’t really want to go there, I found myself searching for the key. I didn’t quite find it, but I did spend a good couple of hours sitting pathetically in the doorway, cheek pressed up against that cold, unyielding door, before snapping myself out of it.

So here I am in bed, surrounded by pillows, puppy at my feet, baby feet poking into my ribs. Feels like he’s kicking the back of my rib cage today. It hurts like hell. I’m super uncomfortable. I have heartburn like you wouldn’t believe. I forget what it feels like to not have heartburn. I’m really short of breath. But I can feel my baby moving, and even if he’s destroying my ribs I am so grateful for his little baby movements telling me that he’s still doing his thing in there.

Turns out there’s a reason for all my early discomfort. I have too much amniotic fluid and it’s putting a lot of pressure on my stomach and lungs. Baby H is big for his 32 weeks, but not so big that it’s alarming. He himself is measuring only slightly ahead at about 34 weeks. It’s all this fluid that is making me look (and feel) full term.

Google searches are the devil’s work. I know I shouldn’t have done it. Searching ‘polyhydramnios’ (the condition of having too much amniotic fluid) yields some scary results. Words like ‘birth defects’, ‘premature labour’ and ‘stillbirth’ attack a mother’s heart like a thousand little shards of glass.

It’s strange to think of yourself as a mother when you’ve yet to hold your baby, but I can tell you without a doubt that I am a mother worrying about her child. I honestly don’t care what I go through, so long as he’s okay. When I thought I’d lost him when he was just a little 6wk old embryo I felt like I was dying. Sitting and waiting in that hospital to find out if I was miscarrying or not was the scariest time of my life. Even after I knew things were okay it took me awhile to calm down. I returned home clutching a precious piece of paper, the hospital report containing the words ‘viable pregnancy’, collapsed on the floor and just cried my eyes out. It’s what I’d wanted to do all day but didn’t want to make a scene in a crowded hospital waiting room (never mind the fact that one of the last places I want to be is with my cheek pressed to a hospital floor… ew). Back then, on March 19th, I didn’t look pregnant. I didn’t feel pregnant in the way that I obviously do now. I couldn’t reassure myself by massaging those precious little baby feet that are, now, always sticking out of my right side. I couldn’t ask his Daddy to talk to him just for the joy of feeling him move and falling more in love with my new little family. I just had to take their word for it. There was an embryo and that embryo did indeed have a heart beat.

Now I can feel all these things and I’m trying not to be paranoid during the in between times. Even fetuses need sleep. I have to try pretty hard not to keep waking him up.

Statistics are also the devil’s work. The evil Google search told me that in 50% of polyhydramnios cases there is no known cause and baby comes out healthy and happy. The other 50%, however… 50% is a pretty big scary number.

The thing about statistics, though, is that it can be too easy to take them at face value without considering the context, without asking, “what else do we know?” In my moments of panic, this is what I forget. Fortunately, I have a midwife who cares, who returned my page within 10 minutes and then spent 40 minutes discussing my entire chart with me. This reminded me of what I do know. I do know that 1) Between 12 and 15 weeks Baby H was screened for down’s syndrome, trisomy disorders and spina bifida. He screened negative. 2) At 20 weeks we did the anatomy scan and he looked perfect. At that time he was measuring 1 week ahead. 3) He continued to measure only 1 week ahead right up until 29 weeks which is when the first jump in growth happened. 4) His heartbeat is regular and strong.

Given all of this information, this case of polyhydramnios likely falls into the 50% where nothing is amiss. All it should mean is that I have to be prepared to go into labour at any time. Chances are I will make it to at least 37 weeks, but the risk of preterm labour is increased with this condition simply because there is that much more tension with the extra fluid, making it more likely that the water will break early. Of course, to know this for sure I have to wait. I am being referred to an OB and will likely have to undergo more tests. Probably another anatomy scan, and possibly an amniocentesis (which sucks, because fear of amnio is right up there with my fear of epidurals. Big huge needles invading my baby’s little nest or sticking into my spine? Merci, mais non). At this point, as unconventional as I may think I am when it comes to medicine and childbirth, I think I’ll go with whatever the OB suggests because I can’t handle the worry. I have to know as much as there is possible to know.

But while I don’t know, I’ll try to focus on the positive, and the positive doesn’t live in the bad place.

And so, I’ll just think of Bob and his three little birds.

Chances are, every little thing gonna be alright.