Monday, November 24, 2008

human trampoline

There is a girl in New York City
Who calls herself The Human Trampoline
And sometimes when I'm falling, flying, tumbling in turmoil
I think "whoa, so this is what she means"
She means we're bouncing into Graceland

-Paul Simon, Graceland

Good news: Last Wednesday I woke up officially more pregnant than I'd ever been. My chemical pregnancies ended before the pee dried on the stick and my stickiest pregnancy lasted to just 9w1d. On Wednesday, at 9w2d, I felt relieved that we'd crossed a bridge into unknown pregnancy territory and simultaneously terrified that I didn't know where I'd find myself on the other side of that bridge. Would I reach this milestone, only to soon find myself in grief once again over life lost or would I really be venturing into the true wilderness of parenthood, finally birthing a baby I'd dreamt of for so long? My whole life felt laid out in front of me that morning, as opposed to the previous 9 weeks, when I felt I was tethered to my past.

Bad news: That same morning, at 9w2d, I went to use the bathroom in the morning and glanced (as I have for the duration of this and every pregnancy) at the toilet paper, looking for but not expecting to see blood. My toilet paper searches while still a constant have become much less determined, much more flippant. 5 trips to the bathroom every day for 5 weeks and not a single spot of blood, it's only normal to lighten up a bit...but not enough, apparently. Because last Wednesday, more pregnant than ever before, I found myself bleeding. Nothing to write home about (nothing to even write on blog about), but present nonetheless: little speckles of dark reddish-brown blood. I laughed out loud and actually said "you've got to be kidding me" as I sat, ass exposed on the cold hard seat, and decided whether to panic.

Good news: I didn't panic. I realized that it was such a small amount, such a minor event that it didn't warrant a full blown terror. I debated whether to tell my husband, whether to explore the issue any further, and considered flushing the toilet, walking away and forgetting I'd ever seen anything. But I couldn't do that. I knew that rather than forget, my unwillingness to acknowledge the scare would lead to a scary week ahead as I waited for my OB appointment. So I decided to come clean with my husband - calmly, rationally - and hoped that he too would decide not to panic.

Bad news: He didn't panic, but I could tell he couldn't brush it off either. We forced ourselves into a lighthearted discussion as to how best to handle it. I'd been released to an OB exactly 3 weeks prior, but was miserable in his care. We'd decided not to return to him and I'd booked an appointment with a new doctor for 10w2d. But since I hadn't seen her yet either, I didn't know where to turn for reassurance.

Good news: I have the greatest RE in the city (and I feel like I can comment, considering I've seen 4 of them over the course of our treatments). A woman who always made me feel cared about and listened to in every respect. And although I hadn't been her "responsibility" for 3 weeks she offered to sneak me in for a quick ultrasound, just to reassure me that everything was ok.

Bad news: Have you ever noticed that even when one is decidedly not panicked, knowing that a definitive answer is forthcoming can deliver fear faster than Dominos delivers pizza? Cool, collected Amber was lost when faced with an ultrasound - hopeful that the spotting was as insignificant as I believed, but fearful that I had again begun the beginning of the end.

Good news: The probe inserted and adjusted to find the sac, a baby appeared on the screen. Still, but with heart beating strong and fast (178bpm). The doctor and I sat, both relieved, and stared at a beating blob, her with pride in her voice and me with tears in my eyes. I would've been happy at that moment to jump off the table, I didn't want to take another moment of her time and I knew now that for now the baby was safe. But my RE wanted me to feel not only safe, but happy. And spent 10 minutes letting me gaze at the precious little one, noticing arms and legs as I'd seen in my twin pregnancy, but for the first time also a spine. My baby has a spine! And soon I realized that s/he knows how to use it. Next thing I knew s/he was twisting and twirling as much as my insides had done in the hours leading up to this ultrasound. And to know that still 2 hearts beat in my body, to see hands I haven't yet held and feet I haven't yet see our baby on the screen wiggling as if to assure me that all is well. Well, are there any words?

Bad news: My husband, trapped at work, didn't get to see any of it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I have noticed, while reading infertility blogs, that oftentimes once the blogger becomes pregnant the blog becomes stagnant. Once overly verbose writers clam up, posting nothing more than the occasional ultrasound update. I often wondered why pregnant infertiles suddenly go quiet and sometimes deduced that they were too blissfully happy to bother updating us who were still miserable, bitchy and barren. And maybe that's true for some of them.

But having officially become The Pregnant Infertile Who Shuts Her Mouth, I can tell you that in my case it's definitely not a matter of being so consumed with the rays of light shooting forth from my womb, but rather an inability to process my own thoughts and feelings within my own head, muchless in a readable way, sanitized enough to share with the public.

As an infertile you have months, years, to adjust to the life you're living. A woman new to the world of IF blogging is still quite experienced in feeling and thinking in the way of an infertile. Even someone newly diagnosed has likely had a year or more to come to grips with the fact that she is not like everybody else. By the time pen is put to paper, fingers to keyboard, she has likely processed countless failed cycles, a diagnosis, endless friends and their "oops" pregnancies and have begun to identify as one of the barren bunch. Pregnancy, it turns out, is the reverse. After spending 2 1/2 years adjusting to the concept that you are not pregnant (and aren't likely to get pregnant without remarkable acts of god or science) suddenly you're thrust into a new identity. Sure, it's an identity that you've strived for over the course of a lifetime, but it's also one you've fought to accept you might never have. Where the hell are you supposed to go with that?

I have now known about the pregnancy for 5 weeks, but I am no more adjusted to the reality of this reality than I was the day I found out. I am thankful that I haven't come out to most people, because honestly I don't know how to be pregnant. When friends who know ask how I'm feeling I don't know how to respond; I find myself uncomfortable discussing even the most mundane pregnancy details. I've spent so long feeling so raw when hearing the details of others' pregnancies...I just never imagined I would feel the same way myself. And I cannot lose the understanding that my pregnancy details could be excruciating for someone else to hear - someone out there doesn't want to know about my morning sickness the fact that I'm already in maternity pants, worrying instead that they will never have the discussion themselves. And as it turns out, maybe they won't. At least not out loud.

I don't know who this woman is or how she's supposed to feel. I don't know what to say, what life to live. So the days tick by, the counter creeps further towards 40 weeks and I wait. Hoping that someday soon I will know once again who I am...likely just before having to adjust again, this time from pregnant woman to Mother.

Monday, November 10, 2008

the golden thread

On August 28th, 2006 I was standing in front of the dry erase board at work, reading patient charts when suddenly I had this overwhelming rush: "what if I really am pregnant this time?" I felt almost as though my life flashed before my eyes, in that moment I pictured making my grandmother a great-grandmother again, connecting generations of my family's women with another branch of the tree. The intense feeling passed fairly quickly but the imprint of it stayed with me and when 3 days later I learned that yes, I really was pregnant, I wasn't surprised. Foolish though it may seem, I still believe that that moment (at 7dpo) was the moment of implantation. The moment my babies became connected to me.

When I lost them I was devastated. Sadness is pervasive, but almost more than anything I felt lonely. I'd been speaking to my babies since that first day, begging them to stay with me through all the scary bleeding. I'd tell them I loved them, of course, but I also had a simple running dialogue with them. We lived my life together in those 9 weeks and when they were gone, when I could no longer share my every experience with them, I felt like a close companion, a confidant had died. The golden thread connecting them to me had snapped.

I've known I was pregnant for a full month today. I've seen this healthy baby on 3 ultrasounds, watched her (his?) heart beating twice. I feel nauseas much of the time, my breasts are tender and the bloat is immense. (Seriously. It's ridiculous.) But regardless of *knowing* what is going on within my own body, I don't feel it. Not like last time. I talk to this baby on occassion, but it feels forced. I rub my belly often, but mainly due to the water retention, not any maternal feelings. I know there is a baby in there, but I do not know this baby. Not like last time. And I feel sad and guilty about it.

I wonder if my twin pregnancy was a bit of a perfect storm, bringing about the intense connection. I bled from day one (well, 2dpo to be specific) so I spent many hours begging those babies to be strong for me, to hold on while my body did what it could to make them let go. My husband was out of town for a month from 3 days after getting that first positive. Spending so much time alone I'm not surprised I made friends wherever friends could be made: in this case, within my own body. The idea of pregnancy was so new to me, as was the idea of trying. It seemed in some ways magical, mystical rather than a scientific process.

In contrast, with this pregnancy I have, for the first time, had not a single scare. I thank god for the lack of blood, but I'm also without reason to suspect that this little squirt is going anywhere and therefore not likely to beg him (her?) to stick around. My husband is very much present, sometimes leaving me wishing I had some time alone, so I talk out loud to him rather than internally to a person I'm not sure has ears. I've had 3 ultrasounds since learning I was pregnant - but hundreds in the past 2 years while attempting to get pregnant. I've looked at them as a science experiment over the course of many treatments - how can I now expect to switch to a mindset focused on the blissful joys of a newly minted mother-to-be?

Knowing the above, I shouldn't be surprised that I feel distance. But I wonder if it's something more.

I wonder. I wonder if although I feel very few bursts of fear, check my pantyliner for spotting rarely, genuinely believe that this time we will have a baby come June...I wonder if the fear I expected to feel is still there. Still lurking and poisoning my pregnancy. I wonder if my unfelt fear is manifesting itself not in incessant worry and panic, but in a disconnect. Preventing my seemingly hopeful heart from being broken once again when the other shoe drops. I wonder if that golden thread is tied not around the beating heart of my baby, but rather the fear that I may never know this one either. And I wonder when *that* thread will snap.