Forty at the Fork

Go right on Baby Bayou, or stay on Just-Us-and-the-Cat Creek?

obsessing over upcoming nuchal translucency and t21 tests…

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Just to be clear.  I’m not always obsessing over something.  Just sometimes!  Like today.  I’ve got an appointment with a pre-natal genetic counselor in the afternoon and I am really nervous. They’re doing the nuchal translucency scan and the t21 test.  The t21 blood test is an awesome invention!  It can not only test for the various chromosomal disorders, but it can also give you the sex.   Pretty early.  I’m at 12 weeks, six days.

I have been remiss for not blogging about all of the amazing moments since my last obsession over lab work. There was the high-five that the ultrasound technician and I gave each other when we saw, at 5 weeks, that the embryo had attached inside the womb and that the heart was flickering.  Oh yeah.  One good fallopian tube is all that kid needed!  Woohoo!  Maybe he or she is destined to be an adventurous cave diver.  Who knows.  Hope they don’t inherit my fear of sharks.

Or I could have blogged about that moment I first heard the heartbeat at 6 weeks (gotta love technology!  Hip hip hooray for vaginal ultrasounds–or dildo cameras as I like to call them).  The swooshing sound of the rapid beating heart literally stopped my clock.  After the test was over and I started digesting what was happening, I had to pull over in the hospital parking lot because I was happy-crying so hard that I couldn’t see the road.

In between that we’ve survived a frantic year-end push at work, a chaotic family holiday, and a lingering yucky flu.  And hubby has been beyond amazing.  There are no words for how grateful I am for his dish-doing, food-cooking, laundrying, holiday decorating, family-entertaining, litter-box cleaning, and house-working.  Not to mention his lovin’.  I would have just drowned in a pond of my own first trimester drool had he not literally saved the months of December and January.

Fast forward to today.  I’ve taken off work to get some housework done before the appointment.  But it’s 11 am I’m still in my jammies staring at the ultrasound my doc did yesterday.  I was walking right by my dark computer screen, heading towards the vacuum when Mr.-Ask-Me-Anything-Google sucked me in with his Death Star-like gravitational pull: “Aren’t you at least curious about this test today?

Anyway,  I’m gonna pull away from the ultrasound and my attempts at eyeball measuring nuchal translucency, get that vacuum going, head to the shower, and do something to distract myself until this afternoon.  Whenever I think about the kid, I’m going to remind myself that we saw him or her swimming/kicking around in my uterus yesterday.  Happy as can be.  Flopping around like a fish with a big alien head.  I’m going to remind myself that this little Bugger Peanut has made an amazing journey so far, that we have everything we need, and that the universe will provide.  Almost everything regarding this child’s in-utero development was determined 11.5 weeks ago when cells started dividing (am I making that up?  I dunno, sounds good to me).  I’m just here to love him or her as long as I can and as best as I can.  I wonder if, when I’m happy, he or she feels that yet?  Does he or she feel me laugh?  Okay, well I dunno, but I’m gonna go put on some good music and send little Alien Head some happy vibes.

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obsessing over hcg….

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…. and ignoring my friend’s advice.  She told me that things would be out of my control.  Yet here I sit, googling, and googling, just digging for that answer that no one knows.  Yet.

The jaunt down the rabbit hole began with the phone call from the doc’s nurse asking me to come back in for a test on Monday to see if my hcg levels are rising/doubling to make sure the pg isn’t ectopic or worse.  41 is what the levels were at approximately 13 dpo.  I think it was 2 days after implantation (a big pinching cramp woke me up early that morning).  So anyway, doing all the math doesn’t really help illuminate anything.  The range is pretty big.  I wish we were doing a follow up test tomorrow instead of Monday.  But that’s just me obsessing.  My grandma’s generation had to kill rabbits and/or wait it out 9 months.  I just need to eat well, drink lots of water, get good rest, and distract myself until Monday.

Stop googling!!!!!

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walkin’ the light pink line…

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My pregnancy tests are positive.  Both of the pee sticks and the blood test.  Cannot believe that happened today.  I have no idea how.   Well, I do know how.  But this month, we didn’t really try… I know, I know.  You hear that all the time.  But the disappointment from the previous month was a little much, so I was just giving this month a pass.   I didn’t chart anything.  I didn’t pee on any ovulation sticks.  I made love to my husband when I was in the mood.  I forgot alllll about it (well, I did prop my legs in the air after nooky, just in case….why not?!)

So the first inkling I had was at the Saints game this Sunday.  I was jumping up and down.  Screaming for our defense on that pivotal fourth down where Jabari Greer saved the day with an interrupted pass from Matty Ice to his favorite wide receiver.  I was dizzy.  And it was glorious.  I stood still in the Superdome, breathing this slow-motion moment where the “worst defense in the NFL” took this tough goal-line stand to redefine their season.  Re-chart their fate.  Every moment was this moment.  We believed in them.  They believed in themselves.  They stood.  And we won.  And I was dizzy from jumping, and hollaring, and high-fiving everyone in sight.  I looked to my left, then slowly breathed in while panning to my right.  A sea of rowdy, joyous humanity in this perfect circle, on their feet, roaring, as our team bested their 8 and 0 rivals.  I could feel, and hear, and smell everything.  And then…. I felt nauseous. I leaned over to tell hubby–he thought it was the jumping.  I knew it was something else.  Not the flu.  Not the jumping.

Then last night, I realized I was late.  I had two tests left over from last month.  I peed.  Saw only one line.  Put it down, sure it meant that I could drink wine and coffee with abandon for the next two weeks.  Continued online shopping for xmas presents.  Ran right back in to check it again, fully expecting to toss that stick in the can, as I had so many times before.  And there it was.  A thin, faint, little pink line.  Hubby didn’t believe it.  I just stared at the line.

I dreamt all night about urine.  Urine.  Just everywhere in my dreams.  Someone even baked a urine pie.  Gross!!  I woke up this morning and peed on another stick.  Same outcome.  Line was more faint, though.  So I don’t want to get my hopes up too high in case it’s a chemical pregnancy.  So I called my doc’s nurse and scheduled a blood test.  Ride to the hospital was actually quite nauseating.  And I had to pee every 15 minutes.  Surely, it’s just because of my large water intake….right?

Wrong.  Just got the call while walking with my BFF on the way to lunch.  All I heard the nurse say on the other end of the line was, “Congratulations!”   As I gripped Lisa by the shoulder and stopped walking, I heard nothing else the nurse said.  Something about my doctor.  Something about another test.  Something about a phone call later this week.  Lisa’s eyes widened.  I tried to telecommunicate to her with my eyes.  But she just looked puzzled and a little giggly.  She knew it was something big for me to grab her shoulder and stop in the middle of the sidewalk.  Hell, it was big if I was taking a phone call during our precious lunch time.  “What was that?” She asked when I hung up.

“My pregnancy test was positive.”  She literally leaned back, as though hit by the news, and then quickly forward, grabbing me into a very long hug.  And we cried a little.  And giggled a little.  And then she reminded me to call my husband.  I texted him cuz I knew he’d be in a meeting.  “test is positive, daddy-o.”

“Wow.  Congrats.”  He replied.  I can’t help but wonder if he ran to the bathroom to poop.

So now what?  What happens next?  I need to go buy some folic acid gummy bears.  I’ve been taking the pills and they’re way too big to swallow.  How pregnant am I?  How do we monitor this to make sure the baby will be healthy?  How do we make sure it’s not ectopic?  Is this real?  Where will we put a nursery in our small apartment?  How will we soundproof it?  When do we tell our families?  Can’t we just keep it to ourselves for a while?  Just until we know more….

Okay.  Well this is a weird feeling.  Unreal.  I’m scared to hope.  But I’ve learned the hard way, to love wildly, even in the face of fear of getting hurt.  For right now, he or she is a real little being that has fought his/her way past my wacky hormones, endometriosis, 4 surgeries worth of scar tissue,  and hopefully through my one remaining healthy fallopian tube into my uterus.  What a journey.  I think it’s moving from zygote to embryo any day now?  I dunno… I must read more.  And download an app.  And pray a lot.

Lisa, being a mother herself, gave me some advice in the excitement of our impromptu celebratory lunch:  It will take a while for it to be real for hubby; rest when I need to; put myself and my health first from today on out; don’t worry about that glass of wine or that extra cup of coffee from last week because now and forward is what counts; my feet (along with everything else) will get much, much bigger; and that I have to understand how little control I have over this situation.  That may be the scariest part for me!!!

Well, wish me luck!!!!

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what would my 65 year old self tell me now?

Laying in bed just now.  Resting after a bike ride.  Heavy with the kind of slogging-through-mollasses feeling that only a monthly cycle can bring.

Thoughts floating by like dragon flies on an updraft.  Some stick around.  Some flit away.

One thought stole me away and I rode it right into my computer screen: What would my 65 year old self tell me right now, if she could visit me from the future?

I’m living with the consequences of decisions that my 25 year-old self made.  If my 40 year-old self could go back and have a frank conversation with my 25 year-old self, what would I say to her?  Well, I’d say, “Enjoy that luscious head of hair you have and that sleek, flat tummy.  It really doesn’t last past 38.   Oh, and by the way, fertility is not culturally constructed, it’s science.  It’s easy for your gender studies teacher to talk to you about socially created definitions of womanhood because she already has a kid…..And let me tell you, you and that “significant other” of yours should stop effin around with that ‘marriage is just a piece of paper’ bollocks and just get married already.  The vows really are important in your case.  You both need a safe place and marriage, for you, is that.  He really is your other half.  And who cares what people say about co-fucking-dependence?  He is your home.  You are his.  Love like this comes only once.  You are lucky.  It is later than you think.  Celebrate each other and stop worrying about getting hurt.  Jeez.  You can only turn into your mother if you run from yourself.  You can develop tools that she didn’t give you.  And you can forgive her and love her anyway.  You can create your own definition of ‘family’.  And ‘womanhood.’  And ‘motherhood.’…. Stop dicking around with the obgyn who tells you that premarital sex is a sin and that your horrible ovarian pains are in your head.  Go to a real doctor.  Go to a female doctor and demand the tests that would diagnose the stage of the disease that you know damn well that you have.  Also, about that career thing, no matter how hard you work, you’re gonna hit that glass ceiling eventually.  And no matter what gender you are or what socioeconomic group you belong to, in your career, you are replaceable.  And you will be replaced.   And you will be glad because you will have earned your retirement.  But you may just want a family with whom to enjoy that time.  Work to live.  Not the other way around….Now, put down those gummy bears and go ride your bike.”

So…. what would my 65 year-old self come back from the future to tell me?  That having a kid at 40 was an insane decision because you’re still supporting him and his dreams to be a successful fashion blogger one day?  That bringing a kid into this economically and environmentally challenging landscape was narcissistic and short-sighted and you’re paying for it by having to work well past retirement age?  Or would my 65 year-old self tell me that having a kid in 2013 was the best thing you did for your family.  That he enjoys his life on this planet and may even be making it a better place.  That you and your husband were able to heal all those old crappy wounds caused by your own parents and  create a loving and strong family. That at first it exhausted you because you were a little too old to be running around after a toddler, but then later you re-prioritized and it all fell into place.  And you and hubby ended up becoming actively involved in your community and you absorbed the best of your own families and passed that down.  That despite your disease and your procrastination, everything really worked out for the best.  Or…(gulp) would my 65 year-old self say, “You weren’t successful at making babies.  But you do need to honor your attempts, mourn it properly, together, and move on in a positive way.”

On our bike ride today, I saw some baby socks that someone had dropped in the park.  Mismatched.  One blue and orange striped sock.  And one white sock.   Probably fell out of a diaper bag.  And it reminded me of Hemingway’s 6 word essay:  “For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn.”  Last week, I saw parents in the park with new babies, and thought, “Hey–that could be us in nine months?!”  Excited to possibly join that club.  And this week, I see the same blurry little families as I whiz past on the bike, but there is this twinge in my solar plexus as I wonder, “What if that’s never us?”

I understand that expectations cause pain.  So I try not to get washed away by either set of emotions.  That it’s healthier not to assign judgement to a thought as “good” or “bad.”.  It’s just a pair of mismatched baby socks.  That’s just a couple over-photographing their newborn under the oak tree.  We’re just a couple riding bikes in the park on a beautiful fall day.


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where is that fricking stop button?

Second period after laporoscopy.  I think I actually skipped a cycle, though because I was 20 days late starting this one.  It’s all kinda confusing.  My hot flashes stopped about a week before I got this period and then returned mildly when this cycle began.  My current cycle is sooo different now than it was pre-surgery.   I wonder what is going on?  It has to be all connected.  Is one of my ovaries dying?  How can you tell?  I wonder who would know the answer to this sort of thing?  Not my doc.  Should I go have my tea leaves read?

And psychologically speaking, just when I start to think that I’m quite happy with just me and the hubby and the cat in our fabulous urban neighborhood triplex where a 2 am screaming baby would not really be welcome, that all flies right out the window after a week of babysitting my 9 month old nephew.  He’s just so chunkalicious!  And I didn’t mind the 2am feedings.  I know, I know–my shift was very temporary and parents have to do that for months and months.  But I’m accustomed to insomnia.  I would adapt.  And did I mention how addictive baby giggles are?

But I worry that the odds are against us.  Endo.  One blocked fallopian tube.  Scarring from surgery.  Age.  Maybe the hot flashes will fully subside and my cycle will normalize.  And the family/work dramas will slow down a little and we can focus on some baby-making….  I just look around at my younger siblings and cousins and friends and feel soooo far behind.

Oh well.  None of that.  I guess I’ll focus on charting ovulation next.  Oh shit.  I suppose I should have done a FSH test, but I was on the road tending to family and forgot to pack it or buy it.  And I’m way past the third day of my cycle.  Arrrgggg…

Hmmmm.  I wonder what else I can do to help?  Maybe do a mild detoxification?  My sister in law did a huge detox the month she got pregnant.  But these next three weeks are just not good for a planned poopfest, which is what I understand comes along with a big detox.  Well, I will go google “mild detox” and start there.  Although I really don’t want to give up caffeine.  Not with three weeks of 10 hour drives and flights ahead of me for work and family.  So I can at least try some mild detoxing.  And set up an acupuncture appointment for today–it’s the only day I have between work and travel.  Ugh.  I don’t even really have time for an acupuncture.  I have a work 4pm work deadline and can’t see losing two hours.  Hell, this is costing me time!!!!  I shouldn’t be on this blog thinking about baby-making.  I should be working.  Or calling to check on my family and the impending doom of my dying grandmother.  But death makes you think about life, doesn’t it?  That’s kinda normal, right?  Re-reading this, I sound so selfish.  Yup.  Selfish.

So I just wanted to stop by and update, even if it’s in this random, slightly incoherent way because I’ll be on the road again soon to grieve with my family and then retun home to ball-busting deadlines and exhaustive travel.  Maybe this time next month will be more placid!  God I hope so because today I feel like I’m in that scene in Star Wars where Chewie, Hans Solo, Princess Leia, and Luke are all stuck in the Death Star trash compactor.  R2, can you please find the  fricking “stop” button????

phew!

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Tests came back okay!  What a relief!!!  Now on to the rest of my life.

Hot flashes subsided with ovulation; then returned with period.  What can that be about?!

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oh boobs!

The mammogram technician just called to tell me that there are abnormal masses on both of my breasts and they want me to come back for further testing.  I think my blood stopped running for a full minute as she spoke to me.

Last week I went to the doc for testing regarding the hot flashes.  Estrogen okay.  Thyroid okay.  While I was in the office, she sent me to mammography for my yearly check-up.  Only they had skipped me last year for some reason, so it wasn’t really annual, despite 2 years of complaints of pains in my breast that the doc determined were just caffeine related–constrocondritis or some such thing.

I had this weird dream last week that my deceased grandpa visited me and told me that I only had 15 minutes to live and to make the most of my time.  I tried to convince him to get me to the doctor, but he said I now only had 14 minutes.  So I spent the rest of the dream calling people and leaving brave messages so they wouldn’t be scared, and making sure that my husband knew where my life insurance policy was in the file cabinet.  Very detailed dream.  The next day, in real life, my grandmother (his wife) broke her back, and although she lived and is in recovery,  I thought the dream was an eerie a premonition about her joining him soon, and a warning to make the most out of life.  Now, I’m wondering if it’s something else.  Is that silly?

I’ve had so many near death experiences and consider myself pretty fearless, but for some reason that phone call made me both hot and cold at the same time. It actually made my boobs hurt!!  ha ha.  Seriously, I had a cancer scare when I was younger, but it didn’t worry me at all.  I suppose it was the tone of the technician’s voice that got me.

Okay, well.  I’ve got to wait 6 days, so I suppose I’ll just relax and try to forget about it until then.

Back to work…..


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hurricanes and hot flashes

Couldn’t resist the alliteration.  So you think hot flashes are bad in a first world situation?  Try 7 days, no power, in 90 plus degree weather in a swamp.  The situation provided some much needed clarification about whether or not I was having daytime hot flashes.  There was little to do, but eat, sleep, search for ice, drink water, read by daylight, socialize with the neighbors, and listen to a battery operated radio.  So I decided to chart my hot flashes.  Turns out they occur once every 90-120 minutes and they last 5-7 looooong minutes.  Saw the doc yesterday and luckily I had a hot flash in her office so she could see it in action.  She asked me if  wanted medicine for it, to which I responded, “I prefer to know why they’re happening.”  (I’m sure she’s merely responding to how many of her patients deal with hot flashes, which is “make it stop!  give me medicine!”) So she ordered some blood tests and we’ll do some waiting and seeing until the results return.  I did have a thought with which the doc agreed could be possible (along with other options like thyroid, stress, and unexplainable wackiness):  after my previous surgeries, I went on birth control immediately to control the estrogen levels to stem the endometrioisis.  This time, I did not get on birth control.  Perhaps without the hormone regulation that birth control pills provide post surgery,  my body had to start adjusting to less estrogen and is trying to level out on it’s own.  So maybe the hot flashes are some sort of estrogen withdrawal thing?   Who frickin knows.  I just hope it’s not early menopause.  I’d like to enjoy my body in a state of harmony for a little while!  Meanwhile, now that power has been restored, I’m returning to acupuncture, which hopefully will balance out all that wacky hurricane and surgery chi!


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Hot flashes… what the HELL?

One night last week, I awoke, drenched in sweat, having dreamt that the house was on fire.  At the time, it merely inspired me to  ensure that our smoke detectors and fire extinguishers were up to date.  Then a few nights later, I realized that I was waking up in night sweats… a lot!  It is August.  Our AC is taxed due to the the whole earth-is-melting thing.  So I blamed it on the AC, being on the second story in one of the hottest cities in the US, and moved along.  Here’s the weird thing, though.  I love heat.  I love summer.  I usually set the AC to 80 degrees and wrestle with hubby when he tries to lower it.  I wear sweaters when it’s in the 70s.  So you see how weird it is that I’m suddenly very hot?

So last night, I got rid of the blanket on the bed and slept better, but still had some night sweating.  Not as bad, admittedly.  And then today, I’m wondering if these little daytime hot spells also are actually hot flashes?

I’ve been here before.   Ten years ago, after my first surgery, the doc put me on Lupron, sending me into a chemically induced menopause to try to fight the growth of the endometriosis.  The hot flashes  were sooo bad that I would have to halt what I was doing, strip down, splash water on my face, and stand in front of anything circulating air. I felt like a chunk of frizzy hair being flat-ironed by an angry teenager.

These current hot spells are not nearly as scorching, so just maybe I’m imagining it?  They do, however, seem to be a post-surgery phenomenon.  It’s been about two weeks since the laporotomy. Could this be coincidental?  Part of the surgery recovery this time around?  Google doesn’t have any light to shed on this.  Did I push myself back to work too quickly and subsequently induce stress that is somehow causing a temporary m’pause?  Is it peri-menopause?  Did one of my ovaries dry up and shoot out of my nose during a sneezing attack last week?

I’m at that limbo age where fertility could go either way.  There’s no definitive test for menopause, except not having your period for 12 months.  Oh sure, there are FSH tests, but still not definitive.  Can I still get pregnant if I’m  in peri-menopause? What a strange little rabbit hole to go down.  A very heated one at that…

Okay, well I’m trying to imagine what I want, rather than what I don’t want, but it’s difficult to imagine happy, chunky babies with internal volcanic implosions blurring my vision!  I’ll call the doc and see what she says….  Well, maybe, just maybe it’s just the hottest month of the year, and I’m worrying about nothing….


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Oh Fertility!

What direction will we be taking?  

Maybe the decision isn’t up to us?  I don’t like being told what to do or not to do.  Not by a calendar, a clock, a doctor, a disease, nor society in general.  At the same time, I recognize my own mortality, and if the decision is no longer mine, I’d like to get on with my life.

The scene from “Idiocracy” plays in my head, where the middle class couple waits to have kids, only to be out-bred by dumb rednecks in trailer park trysts.  The frantic, aging middle class couple who blew off kids in a previous decade, suddenly wants a family, to no avail.  That’s who I feel like right now, standing here.  That frustrated blonde in the movie who won’t get any branches on her family tree.  Okay,  I’m less frantic than she is. Bewildered is more like it.

Why are hubby and I here at this juncture?  How did we get here?  I could go on and on about endometriosis, a rushed childhood, mediocre finances of our 20s and 30s, and how the past five years blurred by before we finally got to this decision.  But what’s the point?   It’s how we go forward that counts, right? 

I’m on day 10, recovering from surgery for endometriosis, which as you may know, contributes to infertility.  It’s the fourth surgery in 12 years.  Once I heal, we are going to continue trying to get pregnant.  I’ve promised myself no fertility drugs.  No IVF.  If it doesn’t happen naturally, then we’ll mourn the loss and be fantastic aunts and uncles to our nieces and nephews, and enjoy the luxuries in life that childlessness affords.

I wonder if some decisions are still in our hands?  I still feel like everything I do from today out, makes a difference: taking prenatal multi vitamins, exercising, going to acupuncture, thinking like a fertile woman, being proactive with my obgyn.

So here we stand at the fork in the road.  At the age of 40. I say fork, because as you know, it could go either way.  And there is a large part of me that totally gets the “Childless by Choice” side of the debate.  But then the other part of me, the one who adores my nieces and nephews, feels differently. Like maybe we could have kids and not contribute to the colossal human drain on the planet’s resources.  Maybe our kid could do something to help out?

I have so many questions as I pause here before going forward.  Why, after years of not even thinking about children, do I suddenly have the urge? I barely have enough time for this blog, what makes me think I can manage a baby? Are we too selfish for kids?  What if that Chinese acupuncturist was right when he told me that I caused my own disease by not wanting children in my 20s?  Is this world good enough for kids we purposefully bring here?   Am I really cut out to mother?  What if the kid is a bona fide fu@k up–like make-the-national-news-committing-some-heinous-act-fu@k-up? What if we turn into our parents? What if we don’t? What if we lose our jobs, have to liquidate our retirements, and end up home-schooling them on a houseboat in Argentina?  

Why am I starting this blog, in the sea of endless blogs?  Maybe there are other women standing exactly where I am.  Women who took their situation (insert: disease, finances, relationship status, realization that we’re in a global economic/environmental crisis, and/or dislike of other parents our age) as a sign that parenthood wasn’t for them and are now questioning that earlier decision.  Women who realize that they will be doing most of the child-rearing work in the marriage partnership, but are willing to do so regardless.  Women who know child-bearing is a crap shoot at this age with birth defects and mortality.  Women who know that the US ranks way too high in maternal mortality rates for an industrialized country, but are willing to jump off that cliff, anyway.  Women who understand that the the economic future is iffy at best, and our kids will probably live with us until they’re 25.  Or longer.  Gulp.  Women who know that the tweens are coming earlier, and that adolescence is lasting waaay too long. The more I write, the more worries spill out of my swirling brain.

Yet, we’re making the decision to try anyway.  A fertility hail mary, so to speak!  I wonder what will happen…………