anxiety, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC

ultrasound #1

Well, that did not go as expected!

My sweet sister B met me in the waiting room on the 7th floor at UCSF this afternoon. I’d been feeling mild butterflies and a lot of giddy nervous energy going in. Hoping and hoping and hoping they would see whatever they’re supposed to see. Acutely aware that I could be launched into joy or grief with one wave of the transvaginal wand.

B had me choose a random goddess card in the waiting room. I chose Vesta, the goddess of hearth and home, inviting me to make my home a warm, welcoming place including upgrades like “welcoming a new occupant.” We had a good laugh over that one.

In the exam room, B had me breathe and visualize my grounding cord connected to the center of the earth.

The NP came in and her name is Stephanie–the same lady who knocked me up! I thanked her. We got down to business and she immediately saw the gestational sac (YAY!) and the yolk sac (YAY!) and then said she’d come back to that in a minute… Then she probed around my ovaries and fallopian tubes to rule out an ectopic pregnancy or a second embryo (which were indeed ruled out–YAY!) and then she came back to the sac and got quiet and then we entered a timeless vaccuum wherein I was suspended in outer space with nothing to hold on to.

Then she pulled out the wand, notably before she had pointed out an actual baby. She explained that she wasn’t able to see the fetal pole, which she would have expected to see at this stage (6 weeks and 4 days), but sometimes things get calculated wrong due to natural variations so I should come back in a week. Given that there is no question about when I conceived, there is less room for variation, but she suggested “guarded hope” since she’s seen this go either way. She said, “I’m sorry, I wish I had more definitive news.”

I made an appt for one week from today (unfortunately with Dr. Fujimoto, who is famous for making people cry!) and walked outside with my sister. I was in shock. I was poised for definitive news! And this was pretty inconclusive and dire sounding. In the car, I started spiraling. My sister was awesome. She had me put one hand on my heart and one on my belly and ask myself, “What is the gift in this moment?” So many…. my heart said, “I am alive. I am feeling so many emotions. I am mindful of the jackhammer down the block and the bird chirping in the tree above my parked car.” Then it said, “And the baby is OK.”

I texted Dr. Beans, whose response was, “Don’t worry. Sounds normal for 6 weeks. We usually don’t ultrasound until 8 weeks for that reason.” HUGE relief, because Beans delivers babies and would be straight with me. I got home and consulted Dr. Google. Many, many examples of women in this exact situation. Some turn out viable, some do not, but it’s a sketchy week for seeing fetal poles. (From Wikipedia: “The fetal pole is a thickening on the margin of the yolk sac of a fetus during pregnancy. It is usually identified at 6.5 weeks with abdominal ultrasound imaging, and 6 weeks with vaginal ultrasound imaging. However it is quite normal for the fetal pole to not be visible until about 9 weeks.“)

I called my Mom and Dad and held it together for the first few minutes but when I eventually burst into tears they were like OH NO YOU DON’T! Have you read your own blog? You need to stay POSITIVE! They were tough love with zero tolerance on worrying–they made me laugh. I had a great call with also-prego L who also underscored positivity and faith. Then I got this email from Olga:

Hi Katie,
Sorry I am replying to this email so late. I see that you made it to your ultrasound appointment and it is a viable pregnancy! That is fantastic news! Congratulations I am so happy for you. Please continue to keep me posted! Olga
As usual, Olga comes in from left field. Then gay bf J texted to check in, I sent him the news about the sacs and he texted back, “Wonderful! He/she has a house now!”

Deeeep breath. I feel like I’ve experienced all of the following this afternoon (in this order): cautious optimism, empty shock, stoic resignation, waves of sadness and fear, a moment of despair, levity, relief, laughter, balancing on a tightrope, back to normal, anger at technology, fatigue, and now beating myself up for not staying more grounded.

So, for all that, Olga says it’s a viable pregnancy. So that’s worth celebrating!

I celebrated by going out for a $160 money order and passport photos for my tourist visa appointment at the Brazilian consulate tomorrow morning. I also stopped at Jamba Juice for a fancy mango smoothie and Safeway for a fancy piece of wild salmon. I feel fine. Nothing is wrong. B pointed out that if the lentil is due to triple in size this week, then a few days clearly makes a huge difference.

Please send lentil love!

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outdoors, single mom by choice, SMC

it’s my birthday!

This is brief as I must head out the door! I’m packing up for a potluck grilling birthday with some friends up in Marin that will look something (if not exactly) like this:

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I am so grateful for you, my blog readers, in the US, Canada, Colombia, the UK, Ireland, New Zealand, Israel, France, India, Singapore, Spain, Australia, Panama, Indonesia, Philippines, Switzerland, Russia, Nigeria, Costa Rica, Mexico, Greece, Croatia, Germany, Bolivia, Jordan, Sweden, Serbia, and Norway. WOW. Thank you so much for tuning in.

I am so grateful for my FRIENDS and FAMILY, who are just wonderful humans, so supportive and fun and full of love and joy and courage and authenticity.

Most of all, today I am grateful for the lentil bean.

Now time to party it up! xo

anxiety, pregnancy, pregnancy loss, single mom by choice, SMC

fresh air

A couple of days ago, I read a post on the SMC site that has helped me shift into a more positive and less fearful experience of early pregnancy. Someone posted the question: how do you deal with the anxiety at this stage? There were many helpful responses, and here’s the one that stated exactly what I needed to hear:

“I had two losses before conceiving my daughter. The first was a very early chemical pregnancy, and mostly reassured me that I could get pregnant. The second was very difficult for me. When I started trying again I was afraid to get a BFP because I was afraid it would all end again, a feeling heightened by a well meaning, but poorly stated comment by a friend who said it was like my body was just working it’s way up to a full-term pregnancy, and each one would get further along. Any who, when I finally got that BFP, I had several people who were worried for me, and at that point I decided to let them keep worrying, and I was going to enjoy being pregnant for as long as it lasted, hoping of course it would be 40 weeks. That really freed me up to just dream about my baby, and now my standard advice is just assume that all is going to be fine, and enjoy your pregnancy & baby dreams, you will never get this time back and you don’t want to worry it away. If the worst should come, you can deal with it then, but there is no sense worrying about what most likely won’t happen, just dream the dreams you have for your sweet little baby.”

Assume that all is going to be fine! What a beautiful sentiment! I experienced this as a breath of fresh air! This woman is now a mom of 2 and considering a third. Inspiring.

While my anxiety has (thankfully) been minimal in the past few weeks, it does have the capacity to take me down the path of worst-case scenarios that begin with a right ovary twinge. Now I suddenly feel free to simply note how I’m feeling, keep myself adequately informed on what actually entails an emergency, and otherwise keep calm and carry on. And ENJOY it. Smile when I take my prenatal vitamin and fish oil pill, and again later when I get the fish burp. Marvel at my first-ever mid-afternoon nap in the “Comfort Room” at the office. Revel in the now-handful of friends who are pregnant right along with me (or are on the verge!!). Laugh about the hilariousness of inspecting your boob size/soreness more than once a day. Imagine the tiny little love in there, growing, thriving… It’s the road less traveled: assume the best-case scenario.

So, that is kind of blowing my mind as it extends to life in general and helps me have a happier outlook on pretty much everything. Also blowing my mind is a book called Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin, loaned to me by dear friend MM. Ina May is a world-renowned expert midwife who got her start on a commune in Tennessee. The book includes 200 pages of home birth stories. I am taking a break from reading to write this post–it’s totally engrossing, if a little dated in its 70s terminology, describing many experiences as “heavy,” “psychedelic,” and “far out.” Has anyone else read it? Powerful, beautiful, moving stories. Our bodies know how to do this.

After this book, EJ and I will trade and I’ll read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. Believe it or not, before long I’ll need to line up a midwife and figure out at least theoretically what type of context (home, birthing center, hospital) I would want to give birth in. PS there isn’t even one birthing center in San Francisco, which had initially seemed like the perfect middle-ground solution. I’m hearing good things about hospitals here (set up like birthing centers), but Ina May is luring me home.

Yes, you’re right, just because I’m assuming the best doesn’t mean I have to figure it all out tonight, or anytime soon. Especially as my eyes feel like bowling balls in my head. I’m gearing up for my birthday weekend–I’ll be entering the last year of my 30s this Saturday! Then, on Monday, I will go to the ultrasound with my dear sister B to see a bunch of lights on a screen that will hopefully signify my next generation.

anxiety, dating, pregnancy, running, single mom by choice, SMC

le week-end

Good morning! Since I am going to bed earlier all the time (lights out at 9:30 last night), the morning is becoming my sharpest time of day–might as well slip in a blog post.

Last week was intense. (not “in tents,” Dad–he will make a Dad joke and ask if I went camping). Between the two blood tests and the 4 days of work visitors and meetings, it was a lot happening simultaneously. I’m happy to say I weathered it–blood test results were great, meetings went well, and I got my tired ass to bed early each night. By Friday, I was toast and worked from home.

The weekend was lovely! Went out with dear S to an art opening, African music/art, and dinner on Friday. At dinner, I started feeling a mild pain on the right side. Nothing big, it just started talking to me. I soon identified it as my right ovary. What would be the job of my ovary at this point? Hard to say, but it started worrying me… I went home and read on the SMC forum that someone had just miscarried at 6 weeks. In the morning the pain was still there. The anxiety can kick up fast.

I drove up north to practice wedding music with MM, and fortunately the sensation tapered off throughout the day and hasn’t returned. So, great. Maybe my ovary just had one or two quick things to say. If it comes back, I promise to call the doc, Beans.

On Sunday morning, I went with L (also preg) on our usual run in the Oakland Hills! As soon as we took our first few running steps, we both grabbed our boobs and went “oooowwww.” A glorious blue-sky day, we talked nonstop about pregnancy topics for probably a total of 3.5 hours between the way there, the run (2h20mins included walking), and pizza afterward. Dr. Tran says to keep up the normal workout, so we did (with a few modifications). We’re both in great shape–would be awesome to keep up this weekend run as long as we both feel good. I feel so blessed that L is on my schedule!

After that, I had a late lunch date. Dating while pregnant! Still in the game! Don’t get excited though–lately the guys I meet online seem like they’re from another planet. I will be the first to admit that this is largely due to recent changes in my own perspective and less to do with them and their (seriously countless) quirks. While this guy was going on and on about himself for the first half of the lunch, I was more interested in this angelic two-year-old redhead with almond-shaped blue eyes at the next table over, and a 6-month-old at the table beyond that one. I’ll admit that I started playing the “let’s see how long I can keep him talking about himself before he notices he knows nothing about me” game, and was mildly disappointed when he finally did notice and started asking about me. After we split the bill, we ended up strolling a bit (my idea), which was better since I didn’t have to watch his distracting facial tics like flashing his lower teeth in the middle of a sentence–I kept thinking he must have braces or food caught in the sides of his mouth. At the end he said, “I’m leaving town on Wed for two weeks, so I’ll give you a call you when I get back!” Not a terrible guy, but…see ya never.

Maybe I am just not in the mindset for dating?!

I went home and shifted gears from Sex and the City to newly prego lady. I took a nap. Then my sister came over and did hands-on reiki on me which was very relaxing. In bed at 9.

I am 5 weeks 4 days today. Did you know that in the 6th week, the baby triples in size? That’s in tents.

Enjoying every minute!

pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC

more confirmation!

The number is: 439!!!!!

Olga’s email:

“Hi Katie,

I just left you a voicemail. Congratulations your second pregnancy test is 439! The number went up nicely. Please call to schedule an ultrasound on Monday 7/30. I will be out of the office this Thursday and Friday but I will be back on 7/23. I am so happy for you! Talk to you soon!

Olga”

Today, Olga is my hero! In her voicemail, she even sounded a little breathless in her genuinely excited-sounding congratulations. She also gave a gentle caution that the ultrasound will tell the full story, the biggest confirmation yet.

This morning, J met up with me again for one more round at the lab. I told Nataliya that she brought me good luck and then she and the other nurse were whooping it up about their good-luck records with ladies and their test results. They asked if this is my first. I haven’t had that question before. Yes, it’s my first! They cooed. Afterward, J continued pointing out pregnant ladies on the street, noticing them now as if for the first time.

Back in the car and into the office for a full day of meetings. Right now, I’m on my way to a champagne and cake celebration where the champagne will merely wet my lips and I will claim to be on medication. (So far, I mentioned to one person that I wasn’t drinking and she said, ‘Oh, I shouldn’t either, I don’t want to wake up tomorrow feeling terrible.’–so far, so good on the white lie front. I spent my whole therapy session yesterday on my stress around the not-drinking-with-work-people dilemma.)

Tuesdays seem to be my mental health day, with therapy, acupuncture, and finally meditation with Beans at 7:30. I was hit in the late afternoon by an enormous wave of exhaustion that stayed with me until I was in bed at 9:30. This is getting more real. When I think about these hormone levels doubling every other day, it gives me perspective on the wild ride my body is about to go on. My acupuncturist told me to expect anything under the sun–but within 2 weeks it will always turn into something else. He kept using the word “dynamic.” Bracing myself!

As a last note before I go have cake and a teensy sip of champagne: I have a close friend who emailed me Monday night with this subject line, “I AM PREGNANT, TOO,” and in the body of the message, “Please call me, I’m dying, no one knows.” She had done her blood test that morning too and had just gotten the results–I was the first person she called in the world as she couldn’t get her husband on the phone! She did her follow-up test today too. Months ago, we fantasized about going through this together…and then we got pregnant in the same week! My best warmest wishes go out to my friend, her husband (also my friend), and your matching poppy seed! xo

biological clock, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC

today in a little more detail

The universe smiled on me by sending my gay bf in from NYC precisely when I needed him, again. If you’ll remember, last month he was here for the good news, the test, and the bad news. This month, he flew in on the same Delta flight on Sunday afternoon, I picked him up, and I said, “Let’s try this again.”

Somehow the gods and goddesses are coordinating his itinerary with my biological clock.

Yet again, he sat with me in the waiting room at the lab. I was called in by Nataliya (noting the “natal” in her name), an older Russian woman with a sweet manner and lots of smiles. I told her I was hoping for a good result, and she said, “God bless you. One woman came back here, she told me I was her luck.” I said, “Well, I hope you’re my luck too!” and she said, “God bless you,” again. This type of exchange never hurts.

After leaving the lab, we passed a pregnant lady on the street. I told J that I think it’s good luck, and after that we saw 7 other pregnant ladies. On the drive in to the office, a long, powder-blue 80’s-era powder-blue stationwagon nearly pulled into my path but stopped. I decided long ago, for mysterious reasons, that this exact car was a sign of good luck, and there it was.

I got through the morning, distracted, and around 1pm I went to lunch w/ J. (Did I mention we work together?) While sitting outside eating salads in the momentary sunshine between bouts of fog, I checked my phone and saw that Olga had called. She took forever to get to the punch line! Silly Olga! In the end, it was positive. A positive test! I pumped my fist in the air uncharacteristically. We called my mom.

Again, got through the work afternoon (it’s weird how you can just go into work mode as if nothing is different and then it keeps hitting you like a bolt of lightning), went to work out with my trainer/life coach, and ended up back on the phone w/ J on the way home. I said, “Thanks again for coming with me today, it really means a lot to me.” He said, “Sweetie, it’s only $300 round trip. I’ll be back when you’re looking for apartments, when you’re moving, when you’re shopping for clothes, for Valentine’s Day…” Could this man be any more of an angel? He’s coming with me to the blood draw on Wednesday morning as well. Fingers crossed for a doubling.

On Sunday, while spacing out at my kitchen table, I noticed some crumbs I hadn’t wiped up before heading out on vacation. Then I noticed there was a poppy seed. And a sesame seed. And a caraway seed. I lined them all up on my grocery list to show you the scale of my developing pod–seemed like another wild coincidence that these three (and almost nothing else) would be hanging out in my line of vision.

Grateful and hopeful for these next steps of development from my current early early status of 4 weeks and 4 days.Image

pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC

confirmation!

Blood test HCG test result: 195!

Of course, Olga said some cryptic things in the voicemail to throw me off, as you might have guessed: “I would have expected 50 on 7/12 (14dpo) and doubling every day after that so…” (quick math tells me the number would then be too low, but I also think: wouldn’t it entirely depend on what day implantation happened given that these things are variable??) “…you’re in good standing! So please test again on Wednesday.”

Bottom line: the medical establishment has certified my status as prego and even congratulated me! I am enjoying this because it is real!!! And now I can tell you: I really feel it. This is happening.

Gotta run as I am still at work, but more very soon 🙂

donor sperm, IUI, outdoors, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc

!!!!!

I woke up this morning at 5:30am, at first light, thinking ummmmmm do I want to test? Because I need to pee. Box says 99% accuracy on day of expected period. False negative is unlikely. I’ll want a day up here to process the result. I am or I’m not–the test just exposes the truth. Time to test. Just do it.

Heart pounding, hands shaking, peed on a stick.

Pregnant!!! (again!)

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I looked in the mirror at my pregnant self and smiled and said, “I knew it!” Because I did. Pretty much the whole two weeks, from the IUI lightning bolt onward. But since it’s hard to know what you know in this process, I didn’t want to say anything until now. Now I have the home test BFP and will feel more reassured when I cross the 5-day hurdle (which is far as I got last month), the likely day of my blood test (Monday), and even more reassured with each passing day. This is a tenuous time, as you and I already know all too well.

I had foolishly thought I could go back to sleep, but no such luck! I got up and had cereal, made coffee, and sat on the beach in the sunrise, feeling grateful.

When I went in, it was still very early. I could hear that someone was showering. I waited in the kitchen with my stick, ready to spring the good news on my parents. Imagine my surprise when my dad walked out buck naked! He froze in place when he saw me and said, OH! Well, maybe I’ll go put some clothes on! A good laugh in what was building to be a big moment. When he went back into the bedroom, I heard my mom say, “Did she pee on a stick?”

They came out, I told them the good news, they hugged me, and then we all were wide-eyed like, OK! One step at a time! And then we went about our biz. (Pretty much. My mom and I indulged a bit in re-looking at my donor’s photos, discussing first trimester symptoms, and watching an animated video of implantation. Have you guys seen that video? Fascinating. Here’s the link.)

I keep checking the stick to make sure a “Not” hasn’t shown up. So far, so good. 🙂

I feel happy and cautious and happy again. One less exclamation point in the title of this post compared to last time. Focusing on reducing stress, resting, eating well. Tomorrow I’ll go downstate to see Mrs. John and her family, including her brand-new 2mo baby boy. More baby time can only help!

Thank you for sending vibes of good health and gangbusters cell division! I love you all for being there.

running, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc

Day 28

Thanks for tuning in to see what’s going on with me. Breaking news: nothing yet!

Day 28 is everything. I find a lot of reassurance in the fact that you either are or you aren’t (thanks, Ms. R). Like in tennis, I must stay in a ready position as I anticipate the serve. Will it go left? Will it go right?

I figured out that I had counted the wrong dpo… today is 12dpo. Tomorrow will be 13dpo. Technically, I should wait until Thursday to test (which would be exactly two weeks). Theoretically, I shouldn’t get overjoyed until after the blood test. Even then, I should temper my excitement until 12 weeks. (My sister: “Isn’t it really a 12 week wait?”)

So many shoulds above! Here’s the thing: you don’t know until it happens. You can’t plan for how you’re going to feel or not feel. Today, I actually feel fantastic, if a little distracted.

I woke up this morning to find that the power was out. Took one call (I am on the clock today), then went for a run. As I believe I’ve said before, and will say again: everything is better after a run. The outside air, the sunshine, the physical exertion, the impact that works out all the kinks, the meditative space, the time for me. I am clear, energized, buzzing.

After the run, I headed over to the river house with a coffee to make use of its power and internet. No renters this week. I’m on my own, looking out at the river and the sun-dappled yard, it’s quiet. I have a bunch of work to do, but wanted to give you an update!

My plan is to test tomorrow, unless I don’t feel like it, in which case I’ll test Thursday, unless I also don’t feel like it (but I think I will). I can’t really think beyond Thursday. That’s the day I’ll leave this glorious place! I’ll try to make it back soon.

I’m hopeful. Which doesn’t mean certain devastation in the event that the ball goes left and whizzes by. It just is what it is.

meditation, outdoors, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc, two week wait

countdown

Back on the balcony, this time at 5:30pm. These summer days on the western edge of of the Eastern Standard Time zone are luxuriously long; the sun is still high in the sky but beginning to veer toward the west, creating familiar sparkles on the surface of the lake and causing me squint at my laptop screen under an umbrella. My dad is dozing in a nearby chair.

Today, my sister and her family took off at mid-day to head home. The almost-4yo has never been a fan of saying good-bye (who is?), and typically when she was younger would start pointedly ignoring you just prior to your departure. You’d ask her a question and she’d give you a hard stare and then go back to whatever she was doing as if you didn’t exist. Understandable.

Today was the first time I saw her acknowledge and manage her feelings a bit. She was mercurial all morning, and then came up to me with wide eyes and a small voice and said, “I’m going to miss you, KK.” Cue my heart breaking. The baby was bursting with smiles going off like fireworks and we all cried in the parking lot as they drove away.

Now that the little people are gone, we’ll segue into more big people activities like watching movies and swearing and hiking and reading. We made a trip to the library this afternoon to drop off all the kids books and pick up more books than I can possibly read between now and Thursday, especially since I’m working from here M-W, but the idea is to continue to relax and keep the work integrated with lots of sunshine and cool breezes.

It occurred to me yesterday that I always keep a countdown clock in my head while vacationing up here (panicked: how many days left?!), so that the end doesn’t have the chance to sneak up. I love being here and if I could slow down time, I would. I think I noticed this more explicitly because the Vacation Countdown (which makes time speed up) has now merged with the even more relentless Days Past Ovulation Countdown (which makes time slow down), and the latter is winning. Even though I’m having fun, time isn’t flying because I’m in the two week wait! My vacation is actually going slower! Win!

I’m on Day 25, so it’s anyone’s guess what happens next. I’m enough of a veteran now to not even hint at any symptoms since it’s either this or that and we don’t know yet. My intuition says yes, my intuition says no, my intuition says, “Don’t trust your intuition.” But I remain optimistic, because, shoot, why not? (And, no, I apparently haven’t gone back to swearing yet.)

So, the challenge is to be in the moment in the midst of the countdown. Isn’t this always the challenge? My mom and I have pledged to start doing our daily meditation now that the little ones are gone and we’re not just eating up every second of being with them. Meditation always slows things down and reconnects you to you and ensures that you come back from vacation with a true reset.

We just got back from kayaking down the Crystal River, a shallow, winding river with a gentle, almost imperceptible current. When you get your kayak pointed in the right direction, you can close your eyes and all of a sudden you’re hearing the wind in the trees and your parents’ paddles dipping in the water and the buzzing of dragonflies and, for just a moment, you don’t even feel yourself moving forward. That’s me, as much as possible, for the next few days. And always.

Strength and patience to all those waiting!