meditation, parenthood, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC

9 weeks

It’s 7:52pm and I’m sleepy but I have a sweet potato in the oven and a little time before lights out. It’s been hard to make time to write with all this sleepiness, and also with fears of this turning into just another pregnancy blog, but watch me push past the fatigue and insecurity to bring you this message.

It was a luxurious weekend–I got a mani/pedi and the cleaning lady came, I went to check out a new farmer’s market in my hood with neighbor L and it’s like the perfect farmer’s market you have always dreamed of–two blocks of California peaches, tomatoes, greens, berries, cheese, bread, olives, eggs, honey. The air was warm with golden morning sunlight and I ate an almond croissant on the spot which will be my new favorite Sunday morning tradition.

I read a LOT about pregnancy and birth over the weekend and did some research on midwives–the same names are starting to surface in the recommendations so I will hopefully interview a few of them in the next week or so. I’m also re-reading The Age of Innocence which could be an apt title for this phase of my life pre-single-motherhood. (Next up: Orange is the New Black.)

I also slept a LOT. Two words: naps and snacks.

I went to an SMC friend’s baby shower today. I couldn’t find anything to wear, honestly nothing felt or looked right. In desperation, I pulled out the maternity bag brought by my friend M and found the perfect dress. A criss-cross top with empire drawstring waist–and cute! This is not to say that my body has actually changed yet–I probably have months to go before showing. But it’s also true that nothing was as comfy as this dress and that probably speaks to all the eating I’ve been doing. Relief. (Thanks, M!)

It still feels a virtual sometimes. I know I’m sleepy and hungry and my boobs are sore and I saw the heartbeat last Wednesday and by all definitions I am pregnant. Yet, hanging around moms-to-be with big bellies and moms with babies makes it oddly less real rather than more–there’s nothing to look at yet. It’s more of an idea. It’s something I tell rather than show.

I would love to connect more with this being who is by all accounts growing one millimeter a day deep inside my belly–primary evidence being my deficit of energy and calories. As with so many life questions, I believe the answer here is meditation. So, let there be 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes at night. One of the books says, “make time to connect with your baby.” I will report back.

Last night was a huge milestone: my last injection! And my last estrogen patch. So from now until 10/19, the end of the first trimester, I am on progesterone suppositories and that. is. it. No more daily injections after literally hundreds over the past 6 months. Thank you, drugs, and farewell.

I don’t think I told you my estimated due date! It is: May 4th. May the Fourth be with you!

May the Fourth be with my little nugget too.

good night xo

 

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anxiety, dating, family, IVF, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC

believing it

For my 8w3d ultrasound, I was 71% as nervous as my ultrasound two weeks before. Less nervous because I definitely feel pregnant (hunger, fatigue, etc.) but still nervous because who the heck knows what goes on in there??

Dr. T. quickly confirmed that all is well! I saw the heartbeat right away and he clicked here and there and announced that the baby is 23 millimeters. Which is quite a lot bigger than a raspberry which was my most recent fruit of reference for 8 weeks. Which also means that it more than tripled in size in two weeks. Good job, everybody!!!

The monitor wasn’t at a good angle for me but my sister said she clearly saw the shape of a little baby flash on the screen multiple times. I really never saw anything discernible, so my sister drew a helpful outline to show the position of the baby on the printout:


bebe

 

This printout with the outline makes it more real to me than anything else so far. Because that looks like a baby!  (I didn’t post the previous ultrasound because it looked more like a lentil.)

Time stops in these moments.

I told Dr. T. that it was a bittersweet moment, being my last appointment at UCSF after a long road, and he said, “You have frozen embryos, you’ll be back.” I also asked him if he delivers babies and he said that by coincidence he just stopped last week. Maybe so we can finally date? (Meanwhile, dating is the actual last thing on my mind.) I thanked him from the bottom of my heart and he said I did a good job.

So, I have cleared every last UCSF hurdle and while I do still have 3.5 weeks until the end of the first trimester, I AM breathing a sigh of relief. Because you never know in this life, but it’s looking great.

It feels momentous. Now, when people congratulate me or drop off maternity clothes or give me advice, I will more fully believe that this is ME we’re talking about, me and the little outlined character above, not a fictitious story or daydream or what-if scenario. It’s still a process and we still have a long way to go…but today was a big step toward being a real pregnant lady.

I feel grateful and sleepy and awe-struck and soon I’ll be hungry again even though I had two lunches. Good times.

Thank you, UCSF, Dr. T., Olga, the nurses and embryologists, Maria at the front desk. I am bringing cookies for you all in the coming weeks.

And now I enter the next phase of my prenatal care: finding a midwife. Please pass along your recommendations!!

Weeks and weeks ago, when I first moved into my new apartment, my sister brought over a “CONGRATULATIONS!” helium balloon and for some reason it’s still flying high. This afternoon, it hopped off a side table in the breeze and planted itself squarely in the doorway.

I came home to that repurposed congratulations. Another reason to believe. xo

anxiety, family, IVF, outdoors, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC

how it feels

It’s a sleepy Saturday night. I went on a gorgeous 5+ mile hike today with my friend C in the hills north of Mt. Tam–more exercise than I’ve had in weeks. Afterward, I had high hopes that I would come home and be wildly productive in my apartment but have only managed to nap, eat a box of mac and cheese, get halfway through making soup, and watch a West Wing episode. I am so low energy. I think it’s curtains for tonight, I’m on my way to bed after this post.

I’m not yet feeling licensed to be overjoyed and also not completely drowning in fear but somewhere in the middle, somewhere in the process of gradual acceptance and gratitude for each day. It’s natural to be cautious and realistic and also have moments of bursting joy. I also know, objectively and scientifically, that my stats are great and this is most likely a go.

I visualized the heartbeat scene so many times beforehand–either way, I would obviously burst into tears. But when it happened I was quite simply flooded with so many emotions that I was almost incoherent. As I waited on the table for Dr. T. to come back into the exam room, I tried to breathe and calm myself but some tears escaped early. He came in and the next thing I knew he was saying, “there’s a heartbeat!” and I registered that these were the magic words I was dying to hear and pushed myself up on my elbow to survey the screen full of abstract shapes while he pointed out the flicker (so so so tiny). Then I don’t know what happened but I laid back down and put my hand on my forehead and he asked if I was going to hyperventilate. I said I didn’t think so.

In the follow-up conversation, my sister caught everything important that the doctor said and I remembered almost none of it, That’s why it’s really important to have someone with you at these and all emotional doctor’s appointments–how are you supposed to track data when your world was just hanging in the balance and somehow didn’t come crashing down?

So when people texted me afterward about the joy of seeing the heartbeat, I responded that my predominant emotion was relief. I also saw the beginning of the second embryo’s gestational sac with nothing inside it so there was a moment of loss even in the joy and relief and overwhelm…also a sense that I narrowly missed both the heartbreak of putting only the one that wouldn’t have worked, and also the double-joy and double-anxiety of having twins. Mixed with immense gratitude and love for the fighting spirit of my embryo with a strong heartbeat and perfect measurement.

Tomorrow I will be 7 weeks. Babycenter says it’s the size a blueberry now and all the organs are forming, the beginnings of hands and feet and eyes. It’s truly hard to comprehend, in the way that it’s hard to comprehend the universe going on forever. And of course I just hope that it’s all happening as it should.

Pregnancy symptoms are in effect. On Monday after work, I was reading on the bus when all of a sudden I had to promptly get off at the next stop to get fresh air and walk. So far, the nausea hasn’t gotten too bad and is just a signal that I need to eat–of course I had always heard this from friends and it’s kind of fascinating to feel this unique hunger/nausea (although not pleasant). I may be honing in on a specific craving as today I noticed I had pizza for breakfast, grilled cheese for lunch, and mac and cheese for dinner. Bread and cheese anyone?

Beyond that, I’m just going to bed early, not exercising much at all besides walking, munching on snacks throughout the day, and feeling pretty incapable of doing anything else besides work. Sometimes I accuse myself of using this as an excuse to be lazy, but when I find myself dry heaving or falling asleep at 6pm while getting dressed to go on a walk, I know I’m really not making this stuff up. My body is trying to grow a human. Thanks to Dr. B for giving me permission to prioritize rest over exercise and also to eat whatever sounds good rather than trying too hard to be healthy.

On the other hand, I really REALLY want to get my place in order and if anyone wants to come over and help me hang pictures and/or organize my closet, you are welcome anytime and will be given ice cream.

xo

anxiety, fertility, IVF, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC

heartbeat!

One blessed heartbeat! Oh, the suspense! Nearly killed me! Pure terror going into the appointment!

We have ONE embryo measuring 7mm in my uterus with its heart beating 158 beats per minute. It’s a miracle.

Dr. Tran is “very excited and optimistic” about this pregnancy. Everything looked perfect. Of course, there’s still more critical first trimester weeks to cover–I go back in 2 weeks for one more scan and then I’ll graduate from UCSF.

I am breathing again though. Thanks for all the support and encouragement–that was my hardest appointment yet.

One! So perfect! What I was aiming for by putting in two but what a gamble!

I’ll write more later and with a photo of the flickering lentil. ❤

acupuncture, anxiety, family, fertility, IVF, meditation, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc

the faith and the love and the hope

I’ve been hesitating to write lately, not sure what to say until the definitive results of Wednesday’s ultrasound. Then I realized that whatever is at the core of that hesitation is itself something to write about, so here I am with a cup of tea.

I suppose I’m afraid of sounding too triumphant or too full of dread when I really don’t know yet who’s in there, where they implanted, or if their hearts are beating properly. So much is still unknown.

We have a lot going for us:

  • we transferred two
  • both embryos tested genetically normal
  • my beta numbers were high

And yet: everything depends on Wednesday.

I’m not especially feeling triumphant or full of dread, managing to walk a line of relative peaceful neutrality as I exercise mildly, eat impeccably, and sleep up a storm. Buddha willing, I will maintain this as Wednesday approaches.

Olga made a point of telling me that Dr. T. insisted on doing this ultrasound for me, which of course I found reassuring. My sister will be there by my side. We will look at my uterus on a screen and see with our own eyes who has taken up residence.

I keep putting this in the plural and I know the top question on everyone’s mind is: one or two? Interestingly, I’m not as fixated on that question. My fervent wish is that I have greater than or equal to one.

On Friday, Walgreens let me know that my refill on estrogen patches would cost $300. I called my insurance to find out that if you order the same drug more than three times from a retail pharmacy, they consider it a maintenance drug and ping you $225 for not using their mail order service. And of course I needed it for Sunday night. So, I posted on the SF SMC listserv and asked if anyone could spot me some patches to tide me over.

The response was overwhelming and generous. Responses from all over the Bay Area. Responses from friends out of town (B wished she could remember where they were in her apartment, J offered to describe to me how to break into her house in San Rafael). I was instantly and deeply aware of this amazing community of hundreds of women to which I am connected.

I chose the offer that was located closest to me, a woman I met over a year ago at an SMC meeting. We quickly ran through our histories and statuses–we both miscarried last summer. We’re both on our second IVF transfer. And we’re both pregnant–she is 4 weeks ahead of me.

She confided about her anxiety that something will go wrong–she is trying to manage her stress and having a hard time, going to ultrasounds every 10 days, obsessing over reaching the magical 12-week mark when you’re more or less out of the woods.

She said that her acupuncturist reminded her not to resist the anxiety, but to surrender, to feel the fear and the pain of past loss and how hard it is to live with uncertainty, let it flow. It was a great reminder to me–honor whatever shows up. Awaken to the present moment. Sit and breathe. Be present with what is. My prescription from the universe.

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love,
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the 
dancing.
                                          ~T.S. Elliot
anxiety, fertility, IVF, meditation, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc

today’s beta

I spent the weekend peacefully and then this morning found myself back in the center of the fear spiral–anytime there’s an inbound call coming from Olga I seem to have more than a little PTSD. Understandable, right??

I sat with my phone on my lunch hour waiting, heart pounding. I watched the usual time range of her call (1:45-2:15) come and go. I noticed an email in my inbox called “How to Let Go of Fear and Live Life with Courage,” and read it. It helped a smidge. It got me to breathe. (I copied it below for you–it’s lovely.) Fear spiral! What if what if what if! I finally had to go in for a meeting, turned my ringer off. Two minutes after turning the ringer off, I checked the phone one last time–a voicemail! I ran into a conference room.

Olga: “Hi, it’s Olga calling from UCSF, how are you? Your number went up nicely, congratulations! It went up to 7,504, so that’s fantastic!”

AHHHHHHH! The number is great. I haven’t googled my beta numbers because they seem high but there’s a huge range and all will be determined at the ultrasound. I called Olga back and she was totally pleased and congratulatory and wanted to know if I have an OB lined up (haven’t done one bit of research and it’ll be a midwife) and we scheduled an ultrasound with Dr. T. on 9/11, at which point I will be 6 weeks 3 days, and I will find out how many babies we’re talking about.

Which means today I am 5 weeks 2 days.

And you won’t believe what that means: counting backward, Day 1 would be my birthday, July 28.

It’s a birthday miracle!! xoxoxo!

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

How to Let Go of Fear and Live Life with Courage

Fear is sticky, like glue. The initial emotion of fear may only last a few minutes, but if we let it linger, it can get stuck in our system for days, months, or even a lifetime.

The sensation of fear is effective if it protects us from real threats. The fight-or-flight reaction has helped humans escape life-threatening dangers over the millennia. But in this era of thinking, creating, and problem solving, our fears are usually unfounded. And when fear sticks in our system, it becomes a toxic influence on our choices, emotions, and actions.

Here are a few tips for getting fear out of your system:

1. Label it.

The first step is to simply notice your fear. As soon as you feel that tightness in your chest, just say, “I’m feeling afraid.” By labeling the fear, you separate the feeling from who you are. It is just a sensation.

2. Accept it. 

Once you notice your fear, don’t judge yourself for feeling this way. You’re human; to feel fear is part of our DNA. Instead, be proud of it–if you’re feeling fear, you’re likely pushing your comfort zone and fighting the good fight. Let the feeling flow through you.

3. Let it go.

This is the hardest part, because a part of our mind feels safer clinging to the fear. It feels productive, and we worry that if we let go of the fear, it’ll sneak up and catch us off-guard.

But there’s a difference between being aware your risks and clinging to fear. Let your fear go, and like a passing rain shower it will soon dissipate.

4. Focus on the present.

Most people dwell on future outcomes (that will probably never happen) or past failures (that don’t define who we are). We can avoid useless fear by instead focusing on the present.

How do you get present? By stopping right here and now, and taking a breath. As soon as you feel that knot in your stomach, stop everything you’re doing and just sit with it. Turn off your phone, step away from your computer, and take three breaths. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale.

In that pause, you can let the fear run its course. And once the storm has passed, you’ll move on, stronger and better equipped to face life’s challenges.

With gratitude,

Jesse Jacobs, Founder
Samovar Tea Lounge