Taking back what IVF took away from me

 

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It has been almost five weeks since we saw the Dr as we were out of town for a week for a wedding and a bit of a babymoon.  It was absolutely wonderful having a bit of a break with DH, but I was nervous to fly and also nervous to be so far from home in case something happened, but it was all fine.  So we are back home now and had our 35 week Dr’s appointment yesterday afternoon.  I was interested to see what he had to say, as some of my friends have commented on how I have popped out a bit in the last two weeks.  I definitley have felt him grow as he is getting heavy to carry around now.

So we chatted briefly about how I have been feeling and other than a bit of expected swelling, heartburn and poor sleep, I have to say I have had a fabulous pregnancy.  I really cannot complain at all!  No challenges, no issues, it has really been smooth sailing.  So then we did a scan…and this little one is measuring four weeks ahead!  His head is huge!  He has always measured a bit ahead, but not this far.  The Dr did not use the term fetal macrosomia, so I am not quite sure if he is huge, or just big.  I guess you only really know once they come out and are properly weighed.  So the Dr is sending me for a fasting blood test to rule out gestational diabetes.  I will get the results on Monday, and if it is not diabetes, then it just means we are having one huge baby!  So the next obvious question to the Dr was….is a natural birth still an option?  Which he replied, ‘It is all about the mechanics now.’, and I laughed out loud at that. 

So basically it is just about determining if his giant head will fit through my pelvis.  Now, while I was going through the many years of IVF, I was a detail-freak, to the point that I stressed myself out over every little detail and the many outcomes that could follow.  I often doomed a cycle to failure before I truly had reason to do so.  With my miscarriage….it was horrible.  I blamed myself, I blamed the regimen we chose, I even blamed the food I ate.  When I emerged from my post-miscarriage darkness (and it was pitch dark) I promised myself that I would let go of the things I had no control over, and if I ever was to become pregnant, I would try very hard to focus on the miracle and not see doom and devastation at every corner.  I like to believe that I have done that.  But it is also because I have had such a drama-free pregnancy…that has helped. 

I have really kept an open mind so far about the birth.  I have maintained that first prize is a natural birth, and I would only consider a caesarian if it was absolutely medically necessary….but I would not allow my mind to lock in a preference one way or the other.  My main priority is to have a healthy and safe delivery for both baby and me, so I have focused on that as my outcome and the details of ‘how’, although important and discussed, are not the primary objective.  This approach has given me a great deal of calm and peace knowing that the birthing process is a journey and although I can influence it, there are many things that I cannot control, so I am keeping a very open mind to avoid any stress caused if my birth plan is not possible.

Don’t get me wrong, I am informed.  I understand the pros and cons of every medical intervention….intimately.  However, I have chosen to not rule out anything as it will depend on the situation for me to determine if medical intervention is appropriate.  For example, I am not keen on the use of pitocin for induction, so that one would be a hard-sell for me.  But…I am not ruling it out.  I also am not a fan of an episiotomy, but again…I am not ruling it out.  If I need intervention for pain management…I am also not enthused by immediate pharmaceutical intervention…..but again, not ruling it out.   I also would like to have immediate skin-to-skin, but if that doesn’t happen….that is ok.  My plan involves open communication….that will be a primary need for me.

It is very interesting, because when I speak to others about their birth plan, it is very specific medically and entirely about their physical body.  I always wonder if they have thought about their mental wellness, not only their physical wellness.  I think IVF has taught me the importance of being mentally in control.  My birth plan is much more focused on what I require mentally, rather than physically.  Ultimately, I want to have a birth where I feel at peace, but also empowered.  I want to feel confident and that I am prepared to make any decision I need to make, but also hand over some of that decision-making to my very capable medical team…with DH of course, who I know will always make the right decisions.  I want to know that if something changes and I am unable to make a decision myself, that it does not make me powerless, that I have many people who are looking out for my best interest.  I do not want to have fear or doubt in my team, as I believe this is when I would start feeling powerless.  I don’t know if that makes sense, but it has really allowed me to meditate and focus on positive energy, which has made this entire experience of pregnancy such an amazing preparation for this new arrival.  Another unknown….

IVF made me feel weak and powerless….I feel like I now have my power back, and I am so grateful for that.  I only hope my birthing experience adds again to my confidence and feeling of empowerment as a woman, a wife, a friend, a sister, a daughter and in my new role as mother.

 

 

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It is finally my turn!

I have the best friends ever!  This past Saturday they threw me a baby shower and it was amazing!  It was most amazing because I never ever thought I would have one, so it was such a milestone.  DH drove me there and I was a little anxious and nervous, as I am now 34 weeks (I still can’t believe it!) and my hormones have decided to turn a quiet little dance party into a rager.  So I have been very emotional lately.  Everything makes me cry.  I was steeling myself so I would make it through without getting weepy, but as soon as I sat down, they started reading a letter from my Mom…..(god….I am crying again just typing this….argghh!).  I live in my husbands home country, so my family is on the other side of the world.  So it has been tough at times, because these are the special moments that you really wish your family was closer.  So they caught me off guard and I started to weep….but when I looked up everyone else was crying along with me, so I knew it was going to be ok.  Those are the best girlfriends, the ones who cry with you 🙂

We had a lovely time, and we played a few typical shower games and ate some lovely food.  Then we opened gifts, but before we started I really wanted to say something to all of them….so I steeled myself again.  Of course, it was useless as I was a puddle once again from the first sentence.  Being alone here I have really relied on my friends to celebrate with in good times and lean on in hard times.  Only a handfull of them knew of my infertility, but I am sure most of them suspected.  So I really just wanted to tell them how much the shower meant to me, that it wasn’t just about gifts and celebrating…it really had such a deeper meaning to me.  I am sure a lot of you can relate to this.  When I was in the depths of my infertility and asking all of the ‘why me’ questions, I thought a lot about all of the things I was missing out on.  Having a baby shower was one of those things.  I often visualized what I thought my baby shower would be like, who would be there, what we would eat (food being a major focus, of course!) and subconciously, I believe a baby shower was one of those milestones for me.  When I think about it, there have been three big milestones for me, that have brought up all of the infertility heartache for me…..1) hearing the heartbeat for the first time; 2) finding out the sex of the baby; and 3) my baby shower.  All of these events have been the moments that I have emotionally lost it. 

My baby shower was a bit of a coming out in a way.  I told them all how much they meant to me, and that I never thought I would ever have a baby shower, as it has been a long road for DH and I.  I tried to explain (over my blubbering) what a significant day this was for me, and to have all of them there, for them to be so kind, especially when I have no family here, just meant more to me then I think they will ever know.  So I looked up again from my tears…and there were all of them crying with me….again.  God love ’em.  They all gave me hugs and that was the end of the water works.  I pulled myself together, we opened prezzies, and had cake!  A beautiful cake that one of my friends made herself.  So special!

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They spoiled me…completely.  I have been waiting for the baby shower before DH and I bought anything.  We bought the big things, like a stroller, car seat, pack and play and we still need to get a chest of drawers, but no clothes etc.  So I walked out of there with two car loads of clothes, diapers, lotions and potions, toys….it was crazy!  Yesterday I went through everything and packed it all away in the cupboards.  I was hanging some of the clothes and had to stop and take a moment.  For the first time I started to see him in the clothes, it is the first time I have started to feel like he is really coming now.  Which is crazy, because I am as big as a house!  I think all those years of trying and hoping and failing, has left me with the need to protect myself and never believe too much, as the heartache of the loss is so much greater when you are too positive, as I learned the hard way.  It has left me hardened, and practical and way too honest with myself.  I never allowed myself to dream, to believe, to feel confident that DH and I would eventually be pregnant. What I realised as I was packing those clothes away is that it is ok, this is really going to happen, I am going to be a Mom….it still feels strange to say it, but it feels so unbelievable good to finally feel I am in a safe place to look to the future and know that everything DH and I have worked towards is finally here.  It is really going to happen.  

Over the past six years, I read the blogs of ladies who were infertile who finally became pregnant, and said it was all worth it.  All the heartache, all the money, all the stress….and I remember being happy for them, but wondering when, and more importantly ‘if’, it would ever be my turn.  Well it is finally my turn, and I am so glad I soldiered through when so many times I really wanted to give up.  Six more weeks to go! 

Scans….and plans…..and hospital bags….Oh my!

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I am so lucky….I am having the most uneventful pregnancy ever!  That means that I have very little to write about.  So sorry for the long delays in between posts.  Also apologies because this post doesn’t have a theme, it is a mish-mash of whatever came out of my brain.

DH and I just got back from the hospital where we had our 4D scan.  I was expecting something a little more eventful.  I guess for ‘regular’ pregnant ladies, the 4D is very exciting, as they don’t have many scans.  With me, I had a scan every 2 weeks until around 16 weeks, then one every four weeks.  My Dr has a 3D scanner, so I have had lots of opportunities to see this little guy.  I am completely spoiled, but after my long journey…I deserve it!

We were able to see his face a bit better though, and spend time on the more aesthetic pleasures of growing a baby rather than just measurements.  We saw his loads of hair!  So if the old wives tales are true, that explains the unending heartburn that I am experiencing (I should have bought shares in Gaviscon, as it is a staple in my diet these days).  We also saw his long legs!  The technician even commented on his strong calf muscles.  So this also explains the quick sharp jabs to my side.  Although I must say, he is not a very active baby, he is pretty gentle most of the time and kicks to the sides.  I haven’t felt these kicks to major organs, or worse (at least I hear they are) sharp kicks to the hoo-hoo. 

However, this was not our only scan this week!  We were at the Drs office yesterday and had another scan…but that was all measurements.  His heartrate is good, measuring 144bpm, so right in the middle of the average range.  He is also around 1.4kgs at 29 weeks.  So he is a bit ahead in his growth.  I asked the Dr if this meant he might come early, and he said, “No, you are just probably going to have a big baby!”.  I laughed out loud at that.  He is really getting a sense of humour.  I guess that is what happens when you no longer have to talk about serious decisions and bad results…..and doom and gloom.  I must say, I am really enjoying this new side of my Drs appts.  I actually breathe in the waiting room, and read magazines, and am relaxed!  It’s amazing!  So this is what fertiles feel like?  I could get used to this!  The Dr also looked at the umbilical cord blood flow and all is good.  My amniotic fluid is also good, which surprised me because I feel like I am constantly dehydrated and I know I don’t drink enough water…or any fluid for that matter.

We also spoke about flying, as I have to fly next week for a teaching contract.  But I will still be 29 weeks and the Dr gave me a note, so it should be fine.  We are also considering flying to a wedding in March that is 1400kms away.  We were going to drive to the wedding, but I will be 34 weeks then, and as long as all is still fine in the pregnancy, the airline says I can fly up until 36 weeks.  We were going to drive over three days and turn it into a little ‘babymoon’, but I am so nervous about being in the middle of nowhere at 34 weeks in case something does happen.  So we are going to consider flying.

My baby shower is on 08 March!!!  Now this is what I have been waiting for my whole pregnancy, a chance to celebrate with all my friends and colleagues.  All of my family live in another country, so these milestones make me so homesick.  So I invited every woman I have ever bumped into!  I figure it would have been a big affair at home, so I need to make it a big affair here!  My close friends here are hosting and we will have around 35 people coming.  I am so excited to see everyone, I just never thought I would have a baby shower, and it is so nice to finally celebrate something!

So I am about 10 weeks away from full-term, and I have also not bought anything!  Well, that’s not totally true.  I did buy a crap load of towels on sale.  A few friends and colleagues have given me a few early gifts of clothes.  Oh, and diapers were on sale a few weeks ago and I broke down and bought two big packs.  But that’s it.  I wanted to wait until after the baby shower to see what I need.  Of course, we still need the big stuff, car seat, stroller, crib…..but we will get that after we come back from the wedding.  A friend of mine has also offered me all of her stuff, as her little one is now three years old and having a second is not really panning out for her.  She also struggles with infertility and her first was a battle, so she was never really convinced a second was an option.  However, I don’t want to take her stuff if she is not ready to let go of it, as I am sure it holds a lot of emotion for her.  So we will see how she feels in a few weeks.

We also spoke to the Dr about what kind of delivery we can expect.  I am getting so many questions from people and so much pressure to make a decision….it is a little ridiculous.  So the Dr said exactly what I have been saying (phew!), that it is too soon and lots can change from now until delivery, but as of now all options are open to me and he will support whatever I want or need, as long as there are no medical complications.  Huge sigh of relief!  I feel so much pressure from people to make a decision, when I don’t really feel the decision to have a c-section is in my hands.  I don’t come from a country that supports elective c-sections, so it is a little strange for me.  I am just so happy that my Dr is open and supports whatever I want.  I have talked to so many women who didn’t have a choice, a c-section was all they were offered.  I am sorry, but I would change doctors….I can’t believe women believe they don’t have a choice!  So very sad.

I am still loving the book ‘Bringing up Bébé’, I re-read sections all the time.  I made the mistake of watching the first 30 minutes of ‘The Business of Being Born’, and hated it!  It was a little too anti-medical establishment for me.  I don’t believe in ‘being a hero’ and having a natural birth without pain medication just to prove you can do it.  Like it is a trophy or you are a stronger woman because you did.  That documentary made me feel that anyone who didn’t want to have a home birth in a tub was a sell-out.  I think there are choices you can make, and some you can’t.  Every birth is different, and to turn birthing into a competition for women against women is ludicrous.  However, I have a feeling that ‘being a hero’ is an American perspective, as the country I am in is completely opposite…..to the other extreme.  I just want to find my happy place.

Ok….last comment, or actually it is a question.  What did you pack in your hospital bag?  I need to start thinking about that.

Well hello there little guy!

25 weeks
Happy new year to everyone and I hope you had a good holiday season! Well here we are at 25 weeks, and I am still in disbelief that this is happening to me. We had a scan this morning and we got a nice shot of the little guys face (top left corner of pic above), his arm and hand (bottom centre of pic). He totally looks like he already has a little mohawk, which is the main reason I am so excited to have a boy! I love little boys with mohawks! Too cute. His estimated weight is 875g, which is a bit heavier then the average 660g for 25 weeks. So it looks like I am having a bruiser! At least he is growing nicely and there are no concerns at all, everything is going smoothly with no bumps. Fingers crossed it stays that way!

I am feeling really good. I read so many other blogs and I really am having a very nice and easy pregnancy so far. I have heartburn, my feet and hands are a bit swollen, my tummy aches if I move too quickly, I am tired and sometimes sleeping is bit of a challenge…but seriously….it is all minor compared to some symptoms I read other ladies having. I am so thankful that I can relax and start to enjoy being pregnant. It is such a blessing after such a long road and so much heartache. That is what I always wished, that when I did get pregnant (finally after six years!) that it would be an event-free pregnancy. So far, so good.

So we are all booked at the hospital. That was an event. I have never filled out so many forms in my life (other than taxes!). We have registered for a private room with an additional bed for DH. I told him he doesn’t have to stay over, but at least it gives him the option if he wants to, or I need him there! It is really nice knowing that we have that option, as I have no idea what to expect. The whole delivery component of this is a bit scary and overwhelming. I read a lot about having a ‘birth plan’, but I am not sure I want to be too set in my mind or create expectations for myself that might not be possible when this baby finally does decide to come. There is so much unpredictability around giving birth, and although DH and I will be included in as many decisions as possible, some may be out of our hands. I don’t want to feel powerless at all, I think I more want to feel empowered that I fully trust my Dr. Maybe I am being naive, but I know that creating too much expectation always leads to disappointment. I will have the conversation with my Dr and DH and we will go over scenarios and what I feel comfortable with, but at the end of the day a lot of the decisions may not be mine if there are challenges. I don’t know….what did you guys do? For those of you who had a birth plan and it changed…did you feel powerless and defeated? That is what I am trying to avoid.

I do want to thank Ozifrog (Jo) for recommending to take this time during preganancy to read up on parenting. I am reading ‘Bringing up Bébé’ by Pamela Druckerman, and am interested if any of you have read this…opinions? Suggestions for good parenting books you read? I am going to withold my thoughts/opinions on this book until I am actually a parent, as I am sure what you ‘want’ to do and what you ‘actually’ end up doing are probably different. For those of you who are parents….give me the real deal. What did you think you would do that totally got thrown out the window once baby arrived?

All the best for 2014 to all of you, wherever you are on your journey.

The Booking Nazi

I had a scan this past Friday and all is good. I love having a scan and feeling reassured that all is good. I have no issues really…my placenta is good, the blood flow through the umbilical cord is good, my cervix is long, baby is measuring right on target. It feels so good to have ‘uneventful’ appointments. It makes me feel so normal, after feeling so abnormal for so long.

So I am 21 weeks now and when I came back to reception, they booked all my appointments up until my due date! That freaked me out. Then she handed me an information booklet and told me to go register at the hospital! Okay, that really freaked me out. I asked if I could wait until my next appointment, then I would be 25 weeks. I just don’t want to get in the headspace of delivery so early…I am not even at viability yet which is 24 weeks! So I told her I would think about it. She is a new receptionist and I don’t think she understands the head space of infertiles. Weird…I still see myself as infertile, but I am preggers, is that weird?

However, the worst part was that she asked me if I am having a caesar or regular birth! I am freaking only 21 weeks…I don’t have a magic ball to see the future. She is like a booking nazi, does she not realize that babies come in their own time! You can’t schedule this so far in advance….am I being ridiculous? Do they really schedule it so early? So I guess I will have that discussion with the Dr at my next appointment.

All my friends have had caesaerians…. and they all think that is the only way to go. I think a caesarian is really scary! Although I think regular birth is also pretty scary. The whole birthing process is just big and scary to me. I trust my Dr and I know he will advise the best for me. But I have no complications so far, I am not a petite person, I have not had previous caesarians, so I would assume I would have a regular birth…..

I really have tried not to think about the birth part until I am closer to the time, but I guess I have to face the reality that this baby is coming! Crazy…it still doesn’t feel real.

Madiba in my heart

20131206-060937.jpgI woke up this morning to the news that Madiba had passed. It is a sad day for my family.

My husband and I met Madiba in 2007 in Joburg on a chance meeting. We were waiting for an elevator and when it opened….there he was. It was an amazing moment and one I will never forget. Madiba has always held a very special place for my husband and I, because he and so many others are the reason we can live in South Africa today. You see we are an inter-racial couple…one of very few in South Africa. And now we are having a baby.

The depth of Madiba’s sacrifices are on our minds everyday as we move through our daily life. We could not be a family in South Africa if it was not for him. Although I would not say South Africa is a free and just country for all…we still have many lessons to learn, but we are getting there.

I love you Madiba. Our family is a testament to your life and we will never forget the sacrifices you and so many others made for us.