Saturday, July 30, 2011

My latest obsession

So now that I’ve survived the dreaded five week mark I have become obsessed with the concept of the “blighted ovum” or the “empty gestational sac”.  For those of you who don’t know, here’s another wickedly cruel thing that sometimes happens in early pregnancy – you conceive, there is an embryo, and you have all the signs of a normal pregnancy, but at some point the embryo stops developing and is absorbed into your body, however the sac it was in sticks around and hormonally creates the illusion of a normally progressing pregnancy.  That is, until an ultrasound shows there’s no there there. 

How f-d up is that???  I wanted to see if there were any “signs” this had happened, but there aren’t – again, the sac will cause your body to continue creating the hormones so you don’t lose your symptoms.  It appears this can happen as late as 12 weeks, though normally by 8 weeks you would have had an ultrasound that would show an empty sac.  An empty sac!  Of course at some point you would assume you’d “pass” all this, but sometimes you don’t and have to have surgery.  Still on the fence as to what I’d choose under those circumstances; it sounds like a really horrible choice to make.  Kind of like whether or not to put a beloved pet “down” to end their suffering.  Ugh!

Anyway as you can see I’m having fun stressing myself out over bizarre scenarios.  I guess I’m taking it one bizarre scenario at a time.  Ok, so the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy is probably behind me at this point – what’s the next horrible thing that might happen?  Ha ha, pregnancy is not for the worrying type, for sure.

Last night went to a birthday dinner I really didn’t want to go to, and was very sick the whole time and had to leave rather abruptly, to the point where a friend who was there called later and asked if I was ok.  I said the Mexican food had upset my stomach (kind of true).  I’ve noticed a direct correlation between my on again, off again nausea and stressful situations (ie, how incredibly ill I felt during my event, and the minute it was over I felt fine, and continued to feel fine until last night).  Is it possible basic stress has that much of an effect on pregnancy symptoms, or is it just coincidence?  My boobs were also so sore even sitting still they hurt; now they feel normal.  Maybe I just had a huge hormone surge last night.  But I still think stress is a factor – any kind of emotional anything seems to get me going.  Interesting.  Luckily the only things coming up that may cause stress are my family trip (just the air travel, I’m a little worried about) and the following weekend another trip to the east coast which is my final band trip for the year which also will be stressful because of the early flight (7 AM going).  But that’s it as far as obligations for a good long time – the rest of this time I get to kick back and relax (and watch my money slowly drain away). 

Today I also looked up the term “hysterical pregnancy” since it’s something I’d heard about but wasn’t sure if it was the same as a “blighted ovum” or not.  No, actually hysterical pregnancy is entirely a mental illness thing – no pregnancy occurs at all, yet women can have all the symptoms, even positive pregnancy tests (!)  Wow, if that doesn’t show you the power of the mind!  I’m pretty sure that’s not what’s going on with me, ha ha!  I do know one person who had one of these (I think), and she’s the type – “histrionic” doesn’t begin to describe her.  Totally fascinated by this. 

I still can’t believe that until the baby is outside of your body, you can lose it at ANY TIME.  Although most women feel “safe” by the second trimester (I’m sure if I make it that far I’ll allow myself to relax a little), there’s no safety anywhere.  So scary, so tenuous.  Anything can go wrong at any time, and you may not even know it, which is the freakiest part.  But this is what I signed up for, and I accept it.  Believe it or not I am not walking around a ball of worry and fear all day.  Sure, I’m obsessively wiping and Googling, but I’m also going about my life and thinking about other things occasionally.  Every day that passes is a triumph and gets me closer to my goal, a healthy little red headed akachan. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

I don't want a bunch of crap

The five week mark came and went with (as far as I know) no miscarriage.  Hooray!

Very sore/swollen boobs and some morning sickness today.  So I think I can assume it’s still in there.  It’s kind of sad that I can’t start getting all excited about this pregnancy.  But those of you who have had a loss know what I’m talking about.  I’m just too scared.  I’d love to start reading pregnancy/labor/parenting books, planning the house (I would say nursery but since I’m not making one right away it’s just the whole house), scoping out cute maternity outfits, coming up with a manifesto of what kind of parent I want to be.  But honestly, all of that was for the “theory” phase when I started this blog, before I started actively trying.  Now my only goal in life is to not lose this baby.  In a few weeks I can start having fun with the pregnancy, start feeling grateful and blessed.  Right now I’m just downright scared of losing it and having to start all over again.

One thing I have given some thought to, though, is one aspect of parenting, which is, what is my attitude going to be about stuff?  And I have a theory about stuff, although I maintain the power to change my mind about this at any time.  My theory is, “I don’t want a bunch of crap”.  Which is going to be really hard to maintain, since I have tons of friends who will want to pile crap on me, and tons of thrilled relatives who will want to do the same.  And I know that no matter how much I tell people I don’t want a bunch of crap, they’re going to pile it on me anyway – even if I tell people that for my shower I want them to make a contribution to the group that helps remove landmines in Cambodia in lieu of gifts, everyone will still want to buy me stuffed animals and cute onesies and giant loud blinking toys instead.  I truly believe that children are as happy banging on pots and pans or playing with sticks and rocks and empty boxes as they would be playing with high tech toys.  I have tons of amazing family toys to be handed down – hand made dolls from my aunt, my grandfather’s WWI era childhood books, etc.  I kept all these things for my future offspring, in an attempt to have a sweet, innocent child who appreciates the small things like a butterfly landing on a leaf or the feeling of a soft spring breeze floating through a window.   Still, I see my tiny house becoming overwhelmed with giant bright colored plastic pieces of crap given by well meaning friends and relatives.  Ugh!  Is this a normal part of being a parent and I just have to let it go?  Am I being a control freak?  Am I assuming I can keep my very staid, stylish adult life going on around here when in fact that’s totally impossible when you have a kid and I need to just get over it?  Am I being a cheap ass bastard in the tradition of my “you’ll get nothing and like it” ancestors?

I truly believe the “stuff” aspect of parenting has gotten totally out of control in the last couple of decades.  Used to be you needed a crib and a high chair and that was it, done.  Now it’s multiple strollers, car seats, boppy pillows, changing tables, sleepers, swaddlers, booster seats, carriers, diaper bags, toys, etc etc.  We didn’t have any of this stuff in the 70s and we turned out all right.  I don’t know.  Maybe I’m being silly and when there is a baby in the picture I’ll see how all of these things really are necessary and make life so much easier.  But I’m skeptical. 

Last year I broke down the wall between my second bedroom and my living room so I could have a nice big airy living room, since the second bedroom was only used as a junk collector.  So basically I have a one bedroom house at the moment.  People who know I’m pregnant always say things like, “boy, I bet you wish you hadn’t broken that wall down now, huh?”  I smile and nod, but they don’t know I have no intention of putting the wall back, not any time soon.  As much as I would totally get a kick out of decorating a nursery (oh, I’ve got the super cute 1940’s kid’s room wallpaper all picked out) I think it’s not practical initially, because it means having to get up and walk into another room every time the baby needs a feeding, which sounds like a huge pain in the butt when the baby should just sleep with me and I can just roll over and feed him/her.  So I plan on some kind of co-sleeping arrangement, even if it’s just a crib next to my bed or whatever.  Again, there’s no man around here to say no, so f it!  The time will of course come when the kid should have his/her own room, but I figure from right now I have at least two more years with my nice big living room and I intend to enjoy it.  Maybe by the time the kid needs his/her own room I will have figured out a way to renovate the attic and that can be the room.  I know when I was a kid I would have loved a little attic room.

Hmm.  In reading all this over, maybe I am thinking more about parenting than I’m giving myself credit for.  Perhaps I’m bolstered by reaching, and passing, the five week mark.  Apart from the conception it’s my first real milestone.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Five weeks (well, really three weeks)

It still kind of cracks me up that you automatically get a couple of weeks added on to your pregnancy just because that’s how doctors date you – from the day of your last period, not the day you conceived.  So really I’m three weeks today.  But I’ll take that extra two weeks, thank you very much.

Woke up nauseated as hell this morning, so I guess everything is a-ok!  Never thought I’d be happy to feel ill.  I hear this a lot on the internet from women in my position.  As usual managed it with water and rice cakes.  I’ll admit today is all about counting down the moments.  Why a miscarriage a day after the point of my miscarriage last time would somehow feel better to me, I don’t know – I truly feel if I make it through today that somehow everything will be ok.  Talking to a friend last night currently in her second trimester who had a loss on the day of the 5 week mark like I did, she said she felt the same way – a lot of anxiety surrounding hitting that mark again, and then once it was over it was all downhill.  I hope this is how it goes for me – if I can feel this ok (kind of sick but no big deal) and have a healthy, progressing zygote, that’s all I ask.  Doesn’t sound like much, but in the scheme of things I suppose it is.

I’m still getting a kick out of the memory of the two couples I told about all this during my event – I told my #1 helper guy and his girlfriend who helped me load up the van on Thursday, and then another couple who helped unload on Monday.  Here are my favorite things about telling people:

That look of “um…who has she been dating that we don’t know about?  Was it that guy that time – no, that was a year ago, wasn’t it?  That doesn’t make sense…”

The odd hesitation as they find a way to politely ask who the dad is, if I’m “doing it on my own”, etc

The look of utter shock in general

When I told my bandleader and his wife last month, her first comment was, “well, as long as it’s not his!”  Ha ha ha!  Awesome.  I love that because I’m not in a relationship, it’s the last thing people expect to hear from me – had I gotten married a year ago or something, if I mention I’m not feeling well or can’t lift things, that would be the first thing everyone would think is pregnancy; because I’m single it’s the last thing people think.  There’s a certain anonymity and freedom in that – I can be as sick or weird as I want, nobody, but nobody, will think, “maybe she’s pregnant!”  And I do love to shock people, and hopefully I’ll get to do a lot more of that in the next few months.  The looks on their faces is priceless.  And the awkwardness.  I love the awkwardness!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Paranoia, cha cha cha

I have to admit, now that my event is behind me, I have allowed paranoia and worry to take over.  My big worry is the fact that my nausea/morning sickness completely disappeared the minute I got home, so I’ve now had two days of feeling totally normal.  As in, my pregnancy symptoms have vanished into thin air.  Not a good sign.  Or is it?

Here’s the f-d up thing about early pregnancy.  Check out this list of variables I’ve discovered with my obsessive Googling:

Disappearance of morning sickness/pregnancy symptoms could mean you’re about to miscarry.  It could also mean absolutely nothing.

Pregnancy tests getting progressively lighter could mean you’re about to miscarry.  It could also mean absolutely nothing.

Bleeding/spotting could mean you’re about to miscarry.  It could also mean absolutely nothing.

Your hcg numbers not looking quite right could mean you’re about to miscarry.  It could also mean absolutely nothing.

Not seeing a fetal pole/evidence of pregnancy on an ultrasound (heart beat, etc) could mean you’re not pregnant.  It could also mean you are.

Not bleeding could mean you’re still pregnant.  It could also mean you miscarried but just don’t know it.

How maddening is all this???  How I wish I could just turn off my brain and be patient, and listen to myself when I tell myself “just assume everything is fine until you have evidence to the contrary”, but I can’t.  I mean, no bleeding is good – but could also be meaningless, since people have “missed miscarriages” all the time.  The utter lack of nausea bothers me a lot, considering how much it kicked my butt all weekend.  But now I’m rested, not stressed, and eating good clean homemade food regularly.  Could this be why I feel so much better, so “normal”?  I still have swollen boobs, heavy feelings, fatigue.  Still feel emotional and not “quite right”.  I don’t feel, as some women do instinctively, that something is wrong.  But I didn’t feel that last time, either.

Anyway, broke down and took a $ Tree test since I have a few left kicking around – a good strong line, although with nothing to compare it to, who knows?  But I guess that’s better than a faint little line or NO line.  It’s occurred to me to try to get in and see someone, but the fact is other than taking a couple of progressive hcg blood tests, there’s really nothing to be done this early – and I have no money, and the results might only confuse me or give me false hope.  Kind of like last time when I went to the Emergency Room and they said they saw no evidence of an active miscarriage, but an hour later I started bleeding in earnest.  In the end, there’s nothing I can do about any of this – either it’s viable or it’s not, and no amount of testing or medication (well, beyond the progesterone support) or doctor visits is going to save a non-viable early pregnancy.

I try to tell myself, “well, you can just try again,” or “two losses is no big deal, and says nothing about your ability to carry a baby to term,” but that doesn’t change the fact that I so want this baby to survive; I so don’t want to go through all that again.  Ugh!  Maybe the Buddhists have it right about being desireless.  Not wanting anything definitely makes life a lot easier!

Tomorrow I am five weeks, the day I miscarried last time.  If I can make it to midnight tomorrow I’ll say a little cheer.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Go big or go home

This is the moment I have so longed for – finally, my event is over!!!  So I made it, and as far as I know I am still pregnant.  Win win!

I won’t lie to you, most of the event was f-ing brutal.  The first day and night are always hard, but add in nausea and fear of food, plus general fatigue and ickiness from early pregnancy, and I barely survived the night.  I had to leave the dance Friday night before the third set because I thought I was going to throw up in the middle of one of the contests – I walked around in circles on the patio eating peanuts until I felt less like hurling.  The mornings were really rough, but I had my “pregnancy survival kit” with me at all times – Slim Fast shakes, rice cakes, and string cheese.  I made sure I used my progesterone every night, I made sure I took my vitamins even when I felt like throwing them back up.  It was especially difficult sharing a room with someone who doesn’t know I’m pregnant…but in a way it was good because it forced me to act like everything was normal and not dwell on the sickness.  I’ve found distraction to be a very good method as far as dealing with nausea. 

So as with all fourteen of my events, up until about Saturday night I was in pure hell and kind of wanted to drive off a cliff, also questioned my choice of career paths.  But then the worst is over, everyone tells me what a great time they’re having, and I start to get proud and happy of what I’ve accomplished and even amazingly sort of wish it weren’t ending so soon.  Weird, huh?  It took me until a couple of years ago to figure out this was my pattern every year, and that just because Friday night I always think “I really need to do something else with my life” doesn’t mean I really mean it.  In fact, it doesn’t mean that at all, it’s just the stress talking, and the stress, as I mentioned before, is off the charts.  Back in the day (the nineties) I remember being so stressed out my jaw would clamp shut and I couldn’t eat anything but liquids for days.  I’m way better than that now, but is it enjoyable at the beginning?  Absolutely not.  It’s hell, and that’s just the way it is.  I accept it.

Because there’s been such a baby boom in the dance world in the last couple of years, a group of the new moms & dads asked to do a little “baby wearing” performance before the awards Sunday.  So they all strapped their babies on their backs and did a cute little swing line dance, with the kids' little chubby legs flopping around as they danced.  I teared up.  I couldn’t help thinking, wow, is that going to be me next year?  A friend who I later told about my pregnancy noticed the look on my face and wondered why I was getting so emotional.  So maybe I’m not hiding all this as effectively as I thought!

So now my job is to go over the money and see where I’m at.  My guess is it’s not going to be as dire as I thought, but it will probably still be a tight year.  I had a lot of thoughts going into this event about next year, and how I need to scale down and cut budgets.  But by the end of the weekend I decided to chuck all that and go for it.  Next year is the big 15 year celebration, and I think I need to seriously make it a huge blow-out.  Already people are talking about it.  I think my tactic needs to be go big or go home.  I know I can rebound next year if I spend the year just pumping it up and getting “buzz” going.  I can’t tell you how many first timers I had this year who said they so regretted not ever coming before.  I have a great event, it’s just that it’s been around for so long people seem to overlook it.  It’s my job now to undo some of that stigma and get people’s butts here.  I know I can do it!

In the meantime, day after tomorrow will be five weeks, which is the point at which I miscarried last time.  I am just keeping my fingers crossed that that day comes and goes uneventful.  Last time I had that weird bleed a few days before; this time that deadline has passed.  Is this one going to make it?  I want that so badly that I barely dare articulate it.  It’s so out of my hands – I can save my event, but I can’t save a non-viable pregnancy.  It’s scary to want something so intensely and yet have no way to make it happen (or keep something bad from happening to the thing you want).  Other than the illness & sore boobs, do I feel pregnant?  Not really, but I think that’s normal.  It’s all just theory until I’ve made it to the 2nd trimester, if you ask me.  There’s no ultrasound, no heartbeat.  It’s still so early.  This time last time I had barely had a positive pregnancy test.  I don’t allow myself to fantasize about pregnancy or motherhood, I don’t allow myself to make any plans, buy anything, or tell more than the most necessary people.  I’m just too scared of disappointment.  But again, every day that passes with no blood and continued symptoms is a personal triumph.  And hey, I can always try again.  I just hope this one decides to stick around.