July 30, 2009

I WANT THE COOKIE

I'm a very scarred and broken person.

Yesterday, out of the blue, a friend of mine mused, "You know, you've been pregnant now pretty much non-stop for the past two years.  I don't know if I could have done that.  You're very strong."  And it was just...nice...to have someone acknowledge that, to acknowledge my perpetual state of stress and worry and fear for the past 2+ years.

And this friend is the eternal optimist, the person who kept telling me to keep my chin up, that it would all work out, that she was sure that this time would be the time...despite the fact that she has said this four times.

It was nice to finally have her acknowledge the crap sandwich I've been eating for so long.

I talked with Heidi recently, and she teases me that I still always worry about saying the wrong thing, about offending, about not properly acknowledging her suffering.  She said she is hard to offend.

I must be easy to offend.

You know the smartass expression "What do you want, a cookie?"  Yes, sometimes I feel like I want the cookie.  Or the medal.  Or whatever else people sarcastically offer to complaining people.

Sometimes I still want to go back and choke everyone who poo-pooed my problems as I went along.  Everyone who said that so-and-so had a miscarriage and got pregnant again the next month and everything was fine.  Everyone who scoffed at my woes and said I just haven't been patient enough yet.  Everyone who said I just wanted things to come too easily.

A year ago, I already thought this experience had made me a worse person.  That was still after only one miscarriage, for heaven's sake.

Some people deal with adversity with grace and composure, like Heidi and David.  They don't need the cookie.

I need the cookie.

I don't know if that makes me a bad person.  Probably.  But I dwell on it sometimes, I know unhealthily.

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July 29, 2009

ANOTHER LOOK IN THE KANGAROO POUCH

I always feel weird giving too much information, but I feel like I need to explain why I am so crazy and why this is such a rollercoaster for me.  To do so, I have to tell you personal stuff like how I woke up in the middle of the night bleeding profusely, more than last week, far more than simple spotting.  And how my heart just sank, and how I never fell back asleep and just kept bleeding and bleeding.

And how I spent another morning composing my "the baby is dead" post in my head.

But the baby is not dead.

John Elway baby is progressing just fine.  He even did a little dance for us on screen, which was probably the most amazing thing I've ever seen, and downright adorable.  Just a few little wiggles to say hello and to let me know that he's still there and still going strong.

Heartbeat looks good, umbilical cord growing strong, and we even saw one little arm.  (Hopefully there's another one just like it on the other side.)

He's almost an inch long.

And he's a he only because I now think of it as John Elway.  Despite my initial longing for a boy, I have completely come to terms with having a girl over the past 2.5 years and think that would be perfectly fine too.

But the bleeding, I cannot stand any more of it.  It causes so much stress.  The doctor assumes that it is a reaction to the progesterone supplements, which he says I only have to tough out for another week and a half.

This baby has made it further than any other baby before.  I feel good about that.  I will feel better once I stop bleeding.

Another look in the kangaroo pouch is scheduled for next week.

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July 22, 2009

I WISH I WERE A KANGAROO

OK, I wish I were a kangaroo.

I am watching National Geographic.  Kangaroos have two awesome reproductive features that I wish I had.

1)  When the joey is 5 weeks along, it gets born and makes the trek up to the pouch to settle in for nine months.  What I wouldn't give to take my baby out and keep it in a nice, warm pocket for the rest of its gestation time, so I could peek in on it and make sure it's OK.

2)  Once the joey gets settled, the kangaroo mates again, producing a back-up embryo.  It sits dormant in embroyonic diapause, and if anything happens to the joey in the pouch, the back-up embryo starts to grow again to replace it.  Obviously, that also would've been a great feature for me.

Man, kangaroos have it made.

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THE BABY IS STILL JOHN ELWAY

Well, we made it.
The baby has a heartbeat.
It grew exactly a week's worth of size and progress.

Whew.

Because that's not what I was expecting.

This morning I woke up to blood, heavier than I've had with any other pregnancy.  I sat the 20 minutes waiting to be seen just trying not to cry, trying not to compose the "my baby is dead" blog post in my head, trying not to imagine doing this over again.

You know, when I told my husband we should go for this, I easy peasy said, "We try once more before you go, and if it's a win, then we're great; and if it's a loss, then we haven't really lost anything because I can still do the IVF." 

It sounded far easier in my head to have one more loss than it feels in real life.

I've now made the ultrasound tech a nervous wreck too.  She quietly fired up the machine, started ultrasounding, and as soon as she could see anything -- a second faster than I could locate it -- immediately says, "We have a heartbeat," and let out a sigh of relief.

The baby was hanging upside down in my uterus like a bat.  It was kinda comical.

But I couldn't even enjoy it.  I just felt the relief that it was there, and then immediately started thinking about making it one more week.

Pregnancy, for me, is like deployment.  (Actually, pregnancy is worse, because my husband has lived through two deployments; our baby has never lived through pregnancy.)  But pregnancy reminds me of the remarks I made at the 2007 Milblogs Conference:

Your deployment is filled with the ebb and flow of adrenaline; your life is monotonous days punctuated by moments of anxiety or excitement; our adrenaline is always half-on, since every moment that we'’re not on the phone with you is a moment when you'’re possibly in danger. Such is the life for those on the homefront, those who stand and wait.

Every moment that I am not looking at that ultrasound screen is a moment when I doubt the baby is alive.  I know that is normal for many pregnant women, but for me it has been borne out by too much experience.  Baby #2 died within a day of our seeing it on the ultrasound screen.  And I don't lose babies naturally; I generally have to find out about it and take medicine to get it out.  I won't know it's dead until I see it dead on screen.

And now I have morning sickness, so it's a constant reminder that I'm pregnant.  And my house is empty, no husband to lovingly distract me from my worries.

So I asked my mother to come visit.

I need the distraction.  I hate to admit that I can't handle this on my own, but it is proving harder than I figured.  So my mother's going to come out for a few days and be there for next week's ultrasound.  If we make it past next week, that will be the longest I've ever kept a baby alive.

I read this chapter in The Sandbox last night, on how casually an Afghan man says he would divorce his wife and choose another if she couldn't bear children.

Thank heavens I'm an American.
Thank heavens I have such a wonderful husband.

Thank heavens we made it another week.

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July 18, 2009

JOHN ELWAY BABY

I just got my first call from the husband, ten minutes long with only a slight delay.  He is at his final destination and doing well: his living conditions sound great, there's a good gym, and he sounded really good.  I'm glad.

When he said goodbye, he said, "I love you.  Take care of John Elway."

CaliValleyGirl asked me last night if our baby has a nickname.  I said no, that I'm just here by myself with no one to discuss the baby with, but I guess it does now...

He seemed excited about the John Elway baby.  He has never been optimistic about a pregnancy before, so I find it sweet.

I hope I don't break his heart.

Tim commented that probabilities are moot, that I'm 100% pregnant now and that's all that matters.  I still only feel 50% pregnant.  I will be waiting for the other shoe to drop for a long time.

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July 15, 2009

PLEASE, MONTY HALL, LET ME SWITCH FROM GOAT TO BABY



Last week, I got obsessed with probability problems.  Since my likelihood of having a successful pregnancy is 50/50, it mirrors coin toss statistics.  I originally wrote that I had a 6.25% chance of a fourth miscarriage, but I kept thinking about the problem and realized that was too simplistic.  That assumed that I had four chances to get pregnant and struck out on all four.  But that wasn't the case: in fact, I had 22 chances to get pregnant, got pregnant on four of them, and flipped tails on the first three.

One of my good friends is a statistician, so I contacted her and asked her a coin toss problem:  Let's say you flip a coin 22 times and mark down whether each flip is heads or tails.  What is the probability that I could choose four random flips -- say numbers 8, 13, 19, 22 (the months I got pregnant) -- and have them all be tails?

She thought about it and replied:

I think the answer to this question is:
 
(11 choose 4) / (22 choose 4) = 330 / 7315 = 4.511%
 
Explanation: The number of ways to select 4 tails out of 11 possible tails divided by the number of ways to select 4 coins out of 22 possible coins.
 
(11 choose 4) = 11! / (4! * 7!) = 330
(22 choose 4) = 22! / (4! * 18!) = 7315

My gut feeling was right that the probability was even lower than it would've been with just four coin tosses (though I know enough about stats to know my gut isn't always right; otherwise, we'd all get goats.)

Anyway, I've been obsessing about this for a while.  I would start to feel confident that surely I wouldn't get so unlucky again, but then I would reign myself back in.  When it happens to someone theoretical, it's a statistic; when it happens to you, it's a tragedy.

In the car on the way there today, I was certain I would get bad news.  I was a wreck.  I had to share another ultrasound room, which nearly sent me into a rage until I realized the other girl was only there to check her follicles.  Luckily this time, it seemed that the hospital staff actually knew who I was and knew to tread lightly.  They were all nice and at least acted like they had read my chart five seconds before coming in the room.  They were sorry my husband was gone and expressed hope that this time would work out better than the others.

And it appears that, for now, Schroedinger's cat is alive.

Luckily, their sympathy extended to extra medical attention too: I get to have weekly ultrasounds.  I go back next Wednesday morning to see if the baby is still alive then too.  If it's still alive in two weeks, that will be the furthest I've ever progressed.  I won't begin to feel relaxed at all until then, but for now, I'll take whatever good news I can get.

And I can go back to feeling bad and sad.

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July 12, 2009

GOOD PARENTING DAYS

I suppose it's logical but pretty absurd that I enjoy hearing about my friends' children but not their babies.  Any child born before January 2007 does not affect my emotional state at all, but I have a hard time reading about any child born after I started trying to have a baby.  It's dumb, but that's the way it is.  And it sucks if you're one of my friends with kids in that age range.

But I love reading about people's older children, especially when they capture the great parenting days when children learn lessons about effort and show off their knowledge of coral.  Or when they crack me up.

FYI: frustrating parenting days are dreadful to read about.  As if I need any more reason to second-guess my lot in life.

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July 07, 2009

A FUTURE PROMISE

I really enjoyed reading this blog post via CG, I was a pro-life atheist, though the message that stuck with me was likely not one the author foresaw. I found comfort in this:

Because sex contains not a hard reality, but only a future promise, it becomes a promise, the promise of the man to the woman "I will be with you always, even if this does produce that for which it is designed."

In our case, the opposite is true: "even if it doesn't produce that for which it is designed."

My husband and I have said a variation on that for years.  In fact, last night I mentioned that I would've had conception problems no matter who I married, but that at least I was having these problems with a loving husband.  I apologized to my husband for ruining his chances at a baby, to which he replied that he'd rather have dead babies with me than live babies with a worse wife.

We're in this together, no matter what happens.

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July 06, 2009

THE ANSWER: 6.25%

"If I stay pregnant..."  That phrase gets said around our house often these days.

On the 4th, we had The Talk, the one every military couple has to have right before deployment.  But this time with a twist...

If something happens to you, where do you want to be buried?
If I stay pregnant and something happens to you, do you want me to name the baby after you?
If I stay pregnant and something happens to one of your teammates, do we want to name the baby after him?
If I stay pregnant but something happens to the baby later on, where do we want it to be buried?
If I stay pregnant but something happens to both of us, do we still want to choose the same guardians we chose three years ago?

So we answered all questions, staying as detached as we could from what they mean.

But when I had a tiny bit of bleeding last night, I realized something: No matter how much you think you're not emotionally invested, you actually are.  You actually want this to work out.

And it sucks lying in bed figuring out the probability of flipping four tails in a row.

I have an ultrasound scheduled for 12 hours after my husband is scheduled to deploy.  How's that for emotional torture?

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July 04, 2009

AMALGAM

I'm trying not to get ahead of myself and look forward to this right now, but I am looking forward to it someday:

One of the best things about parenting? Getting to do things twice, and seeing things from entirely different perspective, you get to see tiny people learn to walk, talk, run, swim, ride bikes, you get to jump on a trampoline, and shoot your kids high in the air, and laugh until you cry...

and you get 3 hours of rabbit jokes...most of them bad

I want to be an amalgam of all my friends' parenting styles...

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