birth, donor sperm, family, fertility, gratitude, homebirth, IUI, IVF, parenthood, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive

once around the sun

I’m increasingly nostalgic as E’s birthday approaches. Today, May 4, was my due date. I watched it come and go and then spent another two weeks living in the surreal state of waiting and getting huger.

At this time of year, the sun travels more directly overhead. It rises in the morning, centered above the neighboring rooftop and shining straight onto my bed, where I lay like a whale last year. It sets in the evening, slanting through the kitchen window to the living room, where I sat on the couch and ordered omelets from my dad. Every day we waited, every day no sign. It was a happy time, yet, like so many things, not what I expected.

Now the sun rises, centered above the neighboring rooftop, and there’s a little person laying next to me going, “Gaba gaba gaba.” The sun sets, and he’s standing below me, raising his hands to be picked up, an expression on his face that says, “PICK ME UP” as emphatically as possible without words.

Tonight he correctly did two signs in context: he requested to nurse when he was feeling a bit distressed (I actually had him on my lap while I was peeing in an effort to avoid a big protest–he missed his afternoon nap today) and then during dinner he requested more blueberries. And when I suggest he find his blue car, he finds his blue car. When he wants to communicate in the affirmative, he says, “Yah.” When it’s negative, as demonstrated tonight when I offered tofu, bok choy, quinoa, and strawberries, he shakes his head vigorously. More blueberries.

One whole trip around the sun.

I decided to go see Dr. Tran. I know this seems out of the blue, but it’s not. I’ve been shy about telling you. There’s something about having a baby that made me immediately thing about #2, pretty much on a daily basis. Will this be the first and last time I experience all of these milestones? Will everyone think I’m completely off-my-rocker bananas for considering this much less going ahead with it? What if I never gave those frozen embryos, full siblings to E, a shot?

Let me first say that I’m 1000% sure that I want to try. And I hope that where there’s a will there’s a way. But there are a few hurdles to overcome here, namely the financials. And getting pregnant again. Which, let me remind you, dear readers, was not so easy the first time around.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves–I decided to go talk to Dr. Tran because when E was born I “gave myself a year” before thinking seriously about it. But what I most needed to find out was–with frozen embryos, is there any rush?

I met up with Dr. T. last Thursday in the shiny, sparkling brand-new Marc Benioff-funded facilities of UCSF that just opened in Mission Bay. I hadn’t seen Dr. T. in almost two years. It was like old times. As always, he looked handsome in scrubs.

I remember distinctly his last comment to me at my last appointment at 9 or 10 weeks pregnant: “You have embryos, you’ll be back.” It’s been ringing in my head ever since.

Upon greeting me in his office, he said, “Well, I didn’t think you’d be back THIS soon!” And I explained, bashfully, that this was purely informational, I wasn’t in any hurry. Just needed the information from him rather than trusting the internet or anecdotes from friends.

Essentially, he said that there’s no rush on the frozen embies. My relative chances will be the same next year, or the following year, or the year after that. Which felt like a relief… I realized that the decision was starting to weigh on me, as I paid a hefty annual storage fee for the embies plus five vials of sperm. And now I feel like I can give myself another year or more and just enjoy and really not worry about it either way.

I got choked up when I thanked him… He’s the closest thing to a babydaddy that I have–in so many words, I said thanks so much for knocking me up and helping bring this beautiful boy. It’s been a thrill and a joy! (Now take me out for dinner already!)

Beyond the FET (frozen embryo transfer) of my two remaining, PGS-tested embies (one good, one not-so-good quality), an IUI or IVF attempt would have low success rates at my fast-accelerating decline in fertility. So, I think I’m letting that go.

Dr. T asked why I would want another baby. Which is an intriguing question, and was the first time around as well. He asked if it’s just been so wonderful in all respects that I can’t wait to do it again? I think it’s not exactly that; even if it kind of is that. It’s sort of about going through it again and it’s about a sibling for E and becoming more of a clan than a pair. But, in a way, it’s not really those things… Like the first time, it’s just an intangible desire. I think everyone who chooses to become a parent knows what I’m talking about.

He kept encouraging me to enjoy my “sure thing” which is a totally Reproductive Endocrinologist way of saying that I already have a baby–a 100% guaranteed baby on the right side of all the odds. I’m still pinching myself that he arrived one year ago plus 15 days.

I just re-watched the birth video the other night with, as always, complete awe. My vagina blows up into the size and shape of a standard balloon as E’s head makes it’s way down the canal, and then they start yelling, “K, reach down and get your baby!” and someone is yelling, “Baby! Baby! Baby! Baby!” and there is chaos and the camera view flips around and then he’s there on my chest and I’m exclaiming, “Oh my god oh my god oh my god [hyperventilating]…”

In two weeks, we’ll celebrate his birthday in the park with the community who supports us every day and I will only moderately stress about the number of cupcakes and the placement of the balloons–my boy is turning ONE! It’s too awesome in the breathtaking sense. He is the one I love the most on the planet.

Even though I love you guys A LOT.

xoxo

11 point 5 months

I

Buddhism, family, gratitude, IVF, meditation, parenthood

6 months

Today at brunch, while holding Baby E, my friend Ms. R. looked at me and said, “Look at this beautiful baby. Do you remember when we first met??” And it was one of those moments that felt like jumping into a chilly lake–I was suddenly wide awake, and looking at my friend holding my beautiful boy, remembering how three years ago Ms. R. and I met for brunch and got teary over our scrambles as we discussed our plans to become single moms. And, in that moment today, it was like we had just fast-forwarded through three years of struggle, torment, pain, joy, and now a miracle, and we were teary again.

On some level, you can’t really believe it’s real. I remember looking at other people’s babies and thinking how proud the mom must be of every square inch of their bodies. But now that I’m a mom I really feel more like all I did was align with the universe somehow and nature did the rest. Which is weird to say, considering the extent of artificial procedures that went into the IVF process, but still–sperm meets egg and a person begins. The plan is locked into place from that moment and then you’re off and running.

So, as a parent, I am awestruck whenever I get more than two feet away from E and really take him in. He’s just miraculous. It’s completely overwhelming. I can’t believe that there’s a 6-month-old sleeping in my bed who is barreling toward becoming a man.

Wow, even writing that makes me reel a little bit.

At the six-month mark, we are going through all kinds of transitions. We’re getting used to our routine minus my parents, which means he’s spending all day with the nanny and I’m doing my own cooking and laundry and cleaning up and so far the household is running pretty smoothly but it’s really only been a few days. A half day of child care yesterday set me way ahead–I made lentil soup and pesto, froze turkey burgers, cleaned the house, did laundry, etc etc.

E definitely has the bottle mastered. Now we’re trying to introduce solid food (and by we I mean me) and he is pretty much nonplussed. It’s shocking how disinterested he is in food when every other thing I put in front of him goes straight into his mouth (including things that shouldn’t, like paper–he ate a little piece off our name card at Thanksgiving). He is studiously disinterested, meaning that he glares at the food and then purposely diverts his attention to something else nearby, like a drawer handle. I’ve put many foods in front of him, including sweet potato, yogurt, banana, avocado, eggs, chicken… Once he licked a little strip of pizza. This morning he opened his mouth exactly twice to let me give him a teeny forkful of hummus. Overall, I’m trying to do baby-led weaning but I’ve also wanted to feed him a taste to jump-start the process (seems to have done the opposite). We’ll see what happens next but, again–the guy is a strong consumer of breast milk so I’m not worried yet about his nutrition. I absolutely expected a lumberjack appetite out of this guy after months of him watching me eat with strong interest. But I guess this will just take time so another lesson in patience for me.

Sleep is another changing terrain. For months we’ve had a bedtime routine of bath (every other night), massage, jammies, book (if he still has attention span), then nurse to sleep. This worked like a charm starting at 4 months when he suddenly wouldn’t be rocked or bounced to sleep and set down. I had mild guilt about it since it’s supposedly a bad sleep association or crutch–but it worked and I’m a firm believer in ‘whatever works.’ But now it’s taking longer and longer for him to fall deeply asleep enough to let me go. It can take up to an hour of me unlatching and him insisting on relatching and even when I finally tiptoe away he will often wake up again 30 minutes later, and maybe again after that. Here’s the thing–I thought I’d be the no-nonsense single mom who says, Baby! You need to get on my program. And my program says you’re asleep at 7pm because mom needs her evening to relax and prep for tomorrow! So don’t get ideas about a protracted bedtime routine or me laying down with you for the night at 7pm! Etc.

Of course, way easier said than done, and I have mostly felt change-averse about making any adjustments. So we rode with that plan while it worked. And…now it’s not really working. So, I’m thinking a lot about sleep and trying to shut out all the ‘camps,’ because no matter what you do there’s a camp that thinks you’re a horrible parent. For now, though, I just may be going to bed at 7pm more often in the coming days–twist my arm!

The house is quiet and clean and I just had a piece of sweet potato pie. All of a sudden, it started pouring rain, like the heavens just turned on a shower with excellent water pressure. The baby hasn’t woken up tonight since I put him down, although I hear him yawning and cooing in his sleep. A bird randomly chirps, letting its friends or babies know where to seek shelter from the rain.

There’s so much we could all worry about all the time. We don’t know how it’s all going to turn out or how we’ll get from point A to point B or how to solve problems of baby transitions or how to achieve work/life balance or how to pay for everything or how to find a dream job or partner. But we can ask ourselves, “Am I OK right now?”

Right now I’m so grateful for all of the above (and below!).

xo

FullSizeRender

breech, gratitude, homebirth, IVF, parenthood, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC

happy

Please watch this video of NYC people dancing to the song “Happy”–only if you want to feel happy, smile, and maybe (probably) dance. It gets me teary in the same way that the Virgin America safety video gets me teary–so life-affirming, somehow. That’s what it’s all about.

I’ve been feeling happy! Why? BABY FLIPPED! I went to the chiropractor on Wednesday and she said, “This baby is head down!” and Em confirmed it the next day. It was the hugest relief, just huge. I had done a lot of the techniques on my list, and some of them may have worked. Most effective seemed to be the moxa followed by a hot bath with frozen vegetables on the top of my belly. My belly was rippling with his dramatic movements.

But, most of all, it was a lesson in trusting my intuition–and also, crazily enough, his. I put my faith in the idea that this baby knows how he’d like to be born. I gazed at this poster to give him additional inspiration:

headdown

And he totally did his thing. To ensure that he stays in place, I’m still doing the moxa every other day, deep squats, walking, and listening with my new fetalscope to confirm that his heartbeat can be heard best just above my pelvis. Yay, baby, yay, baby!!!

Also, I’m just happy right now. My baby is on his way and I’m already 35 weeks. Two friends on a long road of infertility just let me know they’re pregnant–local SMC friend J and also a blogger friend in England who’s also an SMC (and while you’re on her site, don’t miss her video “Ice, Ice Babies”). Healthy new babies were recently born to longtime friend L and newer friend and prenatal yoga partner and fellow homebirther J–the first of our crew to give birth (I have yet to hear the story!!). I got about halfway through my thank you cards (phew). I ordered some stuff I needed online (including an overdue giant body pillow), picked up my laundry, cleaned the house (ps you don’t realize how much cleaning the house requires bending). Went to a dinner party last night with 3 pregnant friends and their husbands, all due within the next 6 weeks. I’m almost done with Book 6 of Harry Potter. Kabuki Springs is going to email me when they get more green sarongs in from Indonesia. I’ve started writing down names. These are good times!

I don’t write about work here but let’s just say that it feels less and less relevant as the approaching birth takes center stage. I’ll leave my projects in good shape, but man it takes a lot of energy to get through a work day. On weeknights I just want mindless viewing (just rewatched Desperately Seeking Susan) and to not do my dishes. I can totally understand taking off 4 weeks before the due date, although I’m definitely not wishing these days to go faster–they are sweet and precious and I need them all to get through the to do list. Maternity leave starts 4/25.

So what’s still on the list, let’s see…I need a space heater. Who told me they could give me one again? Please remind me. Need to put in the little washer and dryer. Need a sarong from Kabuki (I picture myself laboring in a sarong). By 37 weeks, I need the carseat installed, the tub set up and tested out, and…the house decluttered (getting there). I need to do my taxes and do a will. I need to give away a pile of baby stuff I don’t need from the hand-me-down pile. I need to find a pediatrician.

I had a dream that I started going into labor. I experienced a dream contraction which I breathed through with my mom by my side. I woke up and was glad I wasn’t really in labor yet and also kind of laughed at myself for inventing a sensation I can’t possibly imagine. Before I went to study abroad, I had recurring dreams of being in France, walking down cobblestone streets, thinking, “I can’t believe I’m really here!”–and I wasn’t. I had not yet been to France and my brain was cutely trying to invent what it might be like. I can sense it beginning to do that now.

Although I don’t have many details yet from J about her new Peanut, she did text me this today, “I feel like I was in a weight lifting competition and I won! Sore, tired, proud! I get emotional just thinking that people I love like you will go through it soon.”

Which of course gets me emotional too… She came with me to birth class as my partner two nights before giving birth!

Here’s my selfie for this week. I read today that the baby won’t get much longer at this point but will continue to fatten up by about half a pound a week, so there will be more growing to do. According to strangers with no internal editors, I have achieved “about to pop” status–with 5 weeks to go.

Have a great week, friends! xo

35weeks

 

 

family, fertility, gratitude, homebirth, IUI, IVF, meditation, outdoors, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc, writing

wellness and gratitude

After I got back to SF, I went to see my regular doc’s NP on Thursday with my same barking cough and story of woe. How can one really recover while traveling on airplanes at this time of year? She agreed that the original antibiotic seemed to only be kind-of working; no more ‘junk’ in my lungs but still wheezy. No fever, blood pressure normal (so glad). I switched to a Z-pack, Mucinex, and an inhaler and took the next few days to rest at home. So much for minimizing meds, sorry babe. All the coughing had resulted in pain in my rib cage equivalent to getting stabbed, my first-ever hemmorhoid (eek!), and a deep commitment to do whatever necessary to get well.

After a lot of rest, Harry Potter, West Wing (I’m on the last season), More Business of Being Born (did you know they made an additional several hours of documentary?), all those meds, Vitamin C, fluids, I woke up today with clearer lungs–the cough is improving. My ribs feel slightly less painful. I’m concerned though about a new symptom that I discovered last night. I was watching The West Wing and I suddenly realized that the theme song was out of tune, like it was being played by an amateur symphony. I thought something was wrong with my iPad. Then I turned on my computer and the notification sounds also sounded tinny and off. I thought–uh oh, maybe it’s my ears. I booted up iTunes and put on an Arcade Fire song. It sounded like it was being played on an out-of-tune old bar piano. If I plugged one ear it sounded OK, and when I plugged the other it seemed to go down in pitch by a half-step.

This has continued today. It feels like one ear is slightly plugged which certainly should be cleared up by the meds I’m on, but wow how weird. Even the notification that I have a text on my cell phone sounds flat. Voices sound fine. Did a bacteria eat my ear drum?

I am going to get out of the house today, after canceling many plans yesterday and the day before–at a certain point, it’s the inactivity that causes the discomfort. I’ll see some SMC friends and then go on a (mild) walk in the Presidio (if not raining) with my friend S who guided me through Glacier National park 2.5 years ago and is in town!

I woke up this morning and was reading on my iPad in bed, ending up going back in my blog to the beginning of last year. I reviewed last year’s resolutions which could be the same again this year word for word (I had frankly forgotten about most of them)–undercommit, write every day, get out in nature once a week, be on time.  I did OK with undercommitting, shifting into a more fertility-friendly pace. I absolutely did not write every day and almost immediately forgot that resolution as soon as I wrote it down. I mostly got into nature once a week-ish. I moderately improved on punctuality. These are still a work in progress! (Of course I did get pregnant in August, so no complaints here!)

Just after the New Year in 2013, I was also reeling from my 3rd positive that went negative, and gearing up for two more (ultimately failed) IUIs before going ahead with IVF: Mt. Everest looming on the horizon. I got so into the moment, reading those posts, reconnecting with myself a year ago and how it felt to be in that stuck and frustrated place, and then the baby would start kicking and I’d be zoom-fast-forwarded to my new apartment and my soccer-ball belly. I hadn’t looked back in a while and it was the perfect thing to do while sick because it made me enormously grateful all over again to be here with bouncing baby boy on his way, remembering all the hard work and patience and faith and money and time it took to get here.

Tomorrow I will be 24 weeks and on the precipice of the third trimester. Amazing–people have urged me to get lots done in the 2nd trimester and so I guess that ship has sailed. I am reminded that pregnancy is really 10 months–I am at 6 months and have 4 months to go. So, really, the third trimester is the longest–especially for first-time moms who go past their due date. Email me if you have no idea what I’m talking about.

I feel peaceful about my birth plans–signed up for childbirth class w/ two friends, am just about to interview doulas, just need to rent the tub and order the birth kit. It’s everything else that needs a lot of work: rearranging my apartment (J and my parents and I came up with a new scheme in AZ–I’ll have a guest room, big bedroom for me and baby w/ heater, and dining room becomes living/dining), organizing my closets, finishing my registry, going through accumulated stacks of important papers, reading about babies (diaper system? sleep strategies? child care?), creating a living will, upgrading my laundry situation… etc. Swimming, yoga, meditation, walking, writing. But first: get well.

I know many of you are sick too. May you be well! May you be free from suffering! May you be grateful! Take good care of precious you.

xo

anxiety, Buddhism, family, IUI, IVF, meditation, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc

sicker

I made a quick recovery from the stomach bug but the cough got worse. I steamed, drank a special concoction from my dad (hot water with honey, cider vinegar, and cayenne pepper), ate cough drops, drank lots of fluids, rested as much as I could. But it was time to go to the sales meeting and I depended the cough to neatly resolve itself which…it didn’t. During the first full day, I drank much hot water with honey and lemon, but I kept breaking into coughing fits and people were starting to give me that alarmed look like I should be quarantined. By full day 2, I lost my voice. I was hosting strategy breakfast and was almost unable to communicate in anything but a growl. Finally, I texted Em who wanted me to go to urgent care to have a doctor listen to my lungs.

Fortunately, the disruption to my team was minor because we were well-staffed. I waited 3 hours in urgent care to see the doctor because they only had one doctor on and there were many people waiting. When the doc finally listened to my lungs, I couldn’t take a full deep breath without lots of coughing and he stepped away and said, “You sound TERRIBLE.” He told me that if I don’t already have pneumonia I would soon, and that if I already wasn’t in such good shape I would be knocked out. No more sales meeting–rest, fluids, and a strong antibiotic.

Of course I wasn’t thrilled to have to take medicine, but triple-checked it with Em, Dr. B., and the doctor here confirmed it was a B-class drug for pregnancy, meaning the safest. And the alternative would be to get sicker, an obvious risk in itself. So I went to Walgreens and got the prescription, Emergen-C, Ricola drops, water. Then my phone died so I couldn’t call a cab and the nice people at Walgreens let me use their phone. The hotel sent a woman named Veronica in a black car to get me and I was noting how relatively luxurious it is to be sick on a work trip with an Am Ex corporate card.

My room is comfy (I’m in a JW Marriott) and I spent a while watching junky TV before landing on the season premiere of Downton Abbey. While I had missed the third season, I heard how it ended (thanks to facebook) and found this premiere to be really tepid with no compelling storylines. I hung in there hoping it would get better (it didn’t) before falling asleep for close to 10 hours.

A series of room service orders, naps, and baths later and I am in bed in my bathrobe listening to ambient spa music being piped outside my the open sliding door to the balcony. The antibiotic will take 24-48 hrs to kick in, so the deep wheezy cough is still there, but I don’t feel too miserable. In a few hours, I’ll put on my formal dress and heels and go down to the awards banquet for a little while–there’s lots to celebrate with my team and I want to at least make an appearance and exchange some hugs and high-fives. But not overdo it. And I definitely want to be sitting down the whole time.

At this meeting of nearly a thousand colleagues, there are many hugs and congratulations and everyone seems to already know my circumstances as I’m sure that part of the story travels like wildfire (since it’s unorthodox and therefore interesting). Only once was I asked if it was intentional, and only once was I asked if I’ll be coming back to work–aren’t these question off limits?? There was one colleague who very studiously was not acknowledging my news, and I realized he was waiting for me to tell him–good policy! Another friend told me over and over how proud she is of me for making it happen. Feels nice.

While here, I had two women tell me they’d be interested in knowing more about how I went about getting pregnant on my own because they may end up doing the same. I strive to be a good example to women like this–it helps to get serious about it when you know someone else’s story (for me, it was my friend C). I had another woman get teary and tell me how happy she was for me–and then confided that she’s been trying unsuccessfully to conceive for years and is in the process of trying to adopt. I always want to make it clear that this did not happen easily or quickly for me either–but, then again, what is easily or quickly? It’s all relative, everyone’s story and struggle is unique, and I remember looking at pregnant women on the ‘other side’ and wondering if I’d ever get there, almost disregarding how long her road had been. Does it matter how hard it was if you got there? (I recently told someone it took me “a long time” and she said, “Me too, ten years!” and I instantly felt like OMG–it didn’t take me long at all.) Rather than compare numbers of IUIs and IVF transfers, I can sincerely tell women that if you are totally committed to making it happen, it will happen, one way or another. Just keep trying.

Tomorrow, J and I will head back to my parents’ place for one more relaxing day, then fly back to SF. What a trip. I hope I can manage to stay healthy after this–extensive travel is not promoting good pregnancy health. Only one two-hour flight to go.

I had so much I wanted to say about the silent retreat but the experience got kind of blasted out of the water by all this illness–I never ‘transitioned out,’ I just barreled into survival mode. People have asked me how it went and I have a hard time putting it into words, and no one who hasn’t experienced it can really get it. In fact, I think most people think it sounds nuts to spend money on nothingness and silence. I’ll just say that while it’s happening, it’s intense, enlightening, intimidating, big–all stimulations and distractions are inside your own head. You face the stuff that stays buried underground most days but inevitably causes intermittent or unrelenting stress, anxiety, dread, etc–and it evolves and turns into an action-packed movie with rich visuals, a swirling sea of rising and falling emotions, and a series of surprising visitors, all punctuated by many, many moments of stillness and peace. All I can say is: give it a try.

My boy is growing and moving and I’m shifting into a new level of thinking and planning–it’s the new year, the year he will be born!

New Year’s resolution: clear time and space for new life!

xo

family, gratitude, homebirth, IVF, meditation, parenthood, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC

more on how it feels

As I sit down to write after an action-packed biz trip to NYC, I’m reminded of how I’d like to set a New Year’s intention to slooooow down. The evolving pregnancy will require it and I’m craving it. Fewer plans on the calendar, please. This whole fall has felt like a blur as work has required so much of my time and energy, with only the rare quiet moment to sit with my belly and contemplate the life ahead. I need time to be (we are human beings not human doings), especially as I approach 20 weeks and realize we’re already halfway through. And especially as I have a little being on the way who may have an agenda that goes beyond peace and quiet.

The trip was truly great–friends and colleagues all seemed delighted with my news, and for the record not one person who doesn’t know about my process ever asked about the father (sometimes I share, sometimes I don’t, but it’s nice that people are leaving it up to me). Also, not one work person has asked who is going to cover for me while I’m out, how I’ll handle this job with a baby, how long I’ll be out, or when/if I’m coming back. It’s all about how joyful the news is, how I’m feeling, when I’m due, and if I’m finding out if it’s a girl or a boy. Everyone says I look and seem happy. Which is always a lovely thing to have reflected back to you. I do feel happy!

One of my favorite comments was from my work friend JB (famously not a fan of kids) turned to me at the end of a drunken holiday dinner and said meaningfully, “I want to be the friend you turn to when you need a break from talking about the baby.” She also offered to take the kid out for her 16th birthday (she’s sure it’s a girl).

Meanwhile, I’m so aware of how this type of news can push all kinds of buttons for people, having been on the other side for so long. Behind the scenes, some are struggling to get pregnant, or are not on the same page as their partners about getting pregnant, or aren’t sure they’re with the right partner to have kids with, or aren’t sure if they want kids at all, or had a super-rough pregnancy/birth/newborn experience, or miscarried, or maybe some are where I was two years ago–definitely wanting it but with without the dad half of the equation. So I’m especially grateful to receive these joyful reactions, while feeling compassion for the inevitable mix of emotions people are experiencing, as I did while sharing in other people’s joyful news over the years while feeling like I couldn’t get my life to move forward. (I recently saw this Onion article, “Report: Everyone Starting New Exciting Stage of Life Except You.”) I also love how the reactions from parents (especially new parents, shout out to G) have a level of intensity that goes beyond words–tears, touching the belly, wanting more details, awe over what I’m about to experience.

And also the questions I get from women who haven’t yet had babies, because I know I asked these of friends in the past. “What does it feel like–is it so gradual that it just feels normal, or does it feel really new and strange?” I say both. This is a sensation and a time that I want to experience in the moment–there’s nothing like it, it doesn’t last forever, and I can imagine it would be hard to really re-access the feeling long after it’s over. It is so gradual that it feels normal–my flat belly seems like such a thing of the past (I find solace whenever I see a mom with a flat belly!). Yet the belly is new enough that I don’t know exactly where it is in space and I graze it against things like the refrigerator door. Squeezing past someone in the airplane aisle felt really weird today. It feels a lot like when you eat too much and your belly feels a little stretched (and when I eat too much now it feels super duper stretched). Also itchy. Today I noticed that my belly button is looking a little stressed. Mostly I can’t believe that my body is producing such a nice pregnant-looking belly, like in pictures. Everything’s in the right place.

I’m also so grateful that my body is embracing this process with ease so far. People ask me all the time if I’ve been sick or exhausted or had any number of weird or difficult symptoms, and the answer is basically no. I feel great. I eat more and sleep more and I have gone all soft where I used to be muscular, but I feel energetic and all bodily functions are doing their thing without any big problems. Second trimester rocks. After four nights on my friend’s pull-out couch, I was beginning to perceive achey hips but I’m going to chalk it up to the sofabed and start sleeping with a body pillow. I still can’t believe that UCSF put a microscopic embryo inside my uterus and now I’ve gained 15 pounds and there’s a moving baby in there as long as a banana. A miracle.

People also ask about the sensation of the baby moving. I monitored the feeling for about a week before I was convinced it was the baby because at first it just felt like the digestive clicks and rumbles that happen normally. But it was the same feeling in the same place with some consistency. Then it started getting stronger. It really feels like a tiny baby moving in my belly, literally. It’s usually a series of taps or a little shimmy. It’s easy to think it’s always a kick but could be a little fist or butt or head moving around in there. It’s always pleasant, and wonderful to know, viscerally, that baby’s doing fine. The strongest kick was during a company meeting this week in which I was sitting directly across from the president who was running the meeting, and I had eye contact with him when it happened–my reflex was to bend forward slightly and put my hands on it. It felt like more of a stronger swirl in the lower right, maybe two-footed. No one noticed.

I’m not craving any foods in particular but did have almost a whole glass of red wine over a period of a couple of hours last night, which was nice. After even one sip, I feel this nice glow in my extremities, and I swear the baby started doing a happy slow dance.

Just before leaving for NYC, I went to a holiday potluck of the SF Homebirth Collective. These people are rad. I have lots of new friends there who go to prenatal yoga with me and now there will be a dinner party at my friend N’s, with J, and M, and their nice husbands, and we’re all due in April/May. There is a LOT to talk about. Em walked in having just wrapped up a birth and looking sleepy but happy, and after giving me a hug she said my bloodwork results came back and all is normal. Next up is the anatomy scan on 12/23.

I couldn’t get an earlier date and you have to call the radiology dept precisely at 8am or they don’t pick up the phone! So, I am going with it–2pm on Monday, 12/23 and I fly to meet my family in Chicago at 6pm. I don’t have anyone to go with me, and this is a big one where they measure every single thing they can. Most people I know are either working or already on vacation, including my sister. Anyone have flexibility and want to come see my babe?

And, of course, this will be the big gender reveal! However, since I’ll be so close to seeing my family, and Christmas, I’m thinking I’ll have them not tell me and instead write it on a piece of paper and put it in an envelope to be opened later. I picture having my little nieces opening it on Christmas morning with the whole family beside themselves with anticipation. THAT’S going to be exciting.

This photo is overdue–here is me a week ago at 19 weeks, on my street, last Saturday, taken by dear friend C. Her little daughter S put her hands on my belly and said she feels it’s a boy (like almost everyone else!). 20-week photo to come soon. Lots of love to you!

19weeks

anxiety, donor sperm, gratitude, homebirth, IVF, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC

full disclosure

I woke up this morning at 6:15am and was so awake (despite having gone to bed at 11:45pm) that I decided to get up and write. So, I had a bit of plain whole-milk yogurt and checked in on some blogs (my midwife just sent me her food blog with great recipes, it’s here), and I’m back in bed with my laptop.

This week I told my team at work the big news! For almost two years, the solo mama project has been kept entirely separate from anything work-related; whereas all my friends and family have followed my every step (largely through this blog), the work folks knew nothing. When they asked me what’s new, I made something up. I’m not used to keeping such a big secret, especially one that is so central to my life–as you know, I’m not the most private person in the entire world. Clearly, though, it was smart to keep this one to myself. Even if it was difficult through all the appointments, the disappointments, the tearing my hair out over wondering if a conference was going to overlap with my fertile window, etc.

I know that disclosing a pregnancy at work is a pretty universally terrifying conversation. I’ve wondered why this is. I mean, how many managers really say, “How DARE you!” In my non-scientific sample size of friends’ anecdotes, the conversation usually goes fine, and managers are congratulatory. But I think it’s terrifying because it’s the very first time (of many) when this new child is inserting itself as an important enough priority to be discussed as something that will eventually conflict with work. And, knowing that this is a conflict that is essentially unresolvable, that, for the rest of our lives there will be tension between our careers and the needs of our children, breaking the ice on this just feels huge. HUGE.

So, I decided to tell my manager on our regular weekly phone call (she is in NY), with as unquavering a voice as I could manage as I paced around with my heart pounding. Once we had run through our list, I said, “Well, if there isn’t anything else, I have really big news from my personal life.” She said, “Uh oh.”

I told her I was 15 weeks pregnant. There was a pause. She said, “WHAT?!” in the most incredulous voice, then WOW!, then Oh my God, K, I am so happy for you! She asked a few questions about how I’ve been feeling as she absorbed this big news and I told her a bit more of the story, that I decided to become a single mom, used an anonymous donor, and couldn’t be more thrilled. We talked for a while longer, and she said how she knows I’ve wanted this for a long time (I shared this back when I was still dating) and she’s so impressed that I went for it and made it happen. She said she hoped I’d tell the rest of the team soon otherwise she wouldn’t be able to to explain her big, dumbfounded grin.

I got off the phone with a full heart. Ultimately, it felt like the disclosure wasn’t about work, or how this affects or fits in with work, it was purely about me and my life-changing news. I had kind of lost track of just how huge the news is, and her heartfelt reaction reminded me. It really couldn’t have gone better.

I went on to call the rest of my outside-of-SF team, one by one. They were all similar conversations and I realized that whether or not someone has kids, wants kids, or even likes kids, the story that rose to the top was that I wanted this and I made it happen, and they just loved that. There was only one co-worker who said, “I *thought* you had a lot of doctor’s appointments!” and I was like oh, honey, and I only called about a third of them doctor’s appointments!

The next day, I told the local team here in SF, and they had actually been speculating about my growing mid-section and all-day crunching at my desk. Apparently there was a meeting where I had my hand on my belly. They were less surprised but also extremely happy for me, some of the parents even got teary.

The release of all that held energy was so cathartic and also exhausting. I shared more of the back story. I sent my blog to a couple more people, although keeping a general boundary there (and my anonymity) seems like a smart thing to continue.

Life went mostly back to normal except now I can wear more form-fitting clothes and we talk about what fruit I’m  on (avocado) and people make references to how I won’t be needing drink tickets at our conference event.

Meanwhile, my midwife experience continues to be awesome (I’m going to her house for gluten-free crepes in a couple of hours), but my transition out of UCSF IVF and back into UCSF OB (as backup) has been a bureaucratic nightmare that reinforces my decision to have my primary care outside the system. I needed my medical records sent to Em, and the woman from whom I requested them was on emergency leave and no one checked her email–delay of 2 weeks. Then I called the OB dept and they couldn’t find me in their system at all, acted like I never existed and could find no records or scans, and insisted my midwife fax over my “file” even though she hasn’t received medical records from the IVF dept and had only had one appointment with me… Every time I called the OB dept and tried to get past the script in the call center, they blocked me–I tried dropping the midwife story and they just couldn’t believe that I hadn’t had prenatal care before now, or that I haven’t done any prenatal testing (which I haven’t, outside of genetic testing of the embryos). Finally, Olga came to the rescue and I think we solved it (so far).

I have an appointment with a midwife on 12/4, I’ll get set up in their systems and can make my appt for the 20-week ultrasound. Also, at my midwife appt next week I’m doing a blood test but I can’t really tell you which one…I’m enjoying paying less attention to the testing. I’m going with it because by checking out, I’m not feeling too worried.

And finally (because I’m starving), I hosted my first SF Single Moms by Choice meeting yesterday. We’d gotten kind of out of the habit of monthly meetings, and now we’re back. My best SMC friends were all there (B, C, and R, minus JJ who we think was in labor across the street), plus friends I’ve gotten to know more recently (T, J, L) and others I met for the first time–a couple of thinkers, many tryers, a few pregnant ladies, and moms with 4 babies and one toddler. My place is party-ready! And it was great to catch up with everyone’s stories.

Later today, dear friend and mom-of-three J is bringing a car load of baby gear over and I hired two Task Rabbits to carry a heavy changing table up the stairs. Welcome to baby furniture.

As I share my story with more people and get it reflected back to me by people such as the call center operators at UCSF OB, I realize just how niche-y I am as an SMC who is planning a homebirth… So sue me! It’s going to make a fascinating book! And I gotta be me.

Must eat. Love to all and happy Sunday xo

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. ❤