Family, Infertility, Pregnancy

Baby is Here!

November is normally a busy month for my husband and me, since we celebrate our anniversary and (for the past three years) host Thanksgiving at our place. The month is usually the start of a busy season in which we do the most traveling and the most celebrating – from our anniversary in mid-November all the way through to the New Year. This November, we added another special occasion to the list when our baby boy was born!

But, I’ll start with our anniversary.

I was at the end of 38 weeks pregnant during our anniversary this year, and although we couldn’t do a whole lot, we enjoyed our day together! My husband took off from work so that we could go to a church that we recently discovered around our way. After church, we went to Panera for a light lunch, and then it was off to the movies. My husband has always been a fan of the James Bond series, so we saw Spectre. I was pretty wiped out by the time the movie ended, and we spent the rest of the day at home relaxing and working on getting some last minute baby stuff together.

Two days later, I was at what would turn out to be my last pre-natal doctor appointment. At the appointment my doctor informed me that, because of our baby’s suspected large size, she did not want me to remain pregnant past forty weeks. She said that if I did not deliver the baby before my due date, she thought it best that I come into her office to be induced. She didn’t want baby to become too big for me to safely deliver vaginally. My husband and I ran errands the rest of the day and ended the night with a quick, impromptu date to Olive Garden. That would be our last date before the arrival of little Chocobo!

The following evening, I experienced a series of Braxton-Hicks contractions (which I had already been used to having) and one real contraction (which I had not had up until this point). It was around 6 in the evening and I wondered if I was beginning to go into labor. However, I didn’t have any other labor contractions afterward and felt a little disappointed by the anti-climactic nature of my one contraction.

Three hours later, I began experiencing more contractions. They were only slightly painful at first, but as the night went on the pain increased. I’d heard all these stories of women who’d thought they were in labor and rushed to the hospital, only to be sent home. I didn’t want to be one of those women, so I decided not to tell my husband about it right away. I didn’t sleep all night because of the pain, and at four in the morning I finally decided to call my doctor and ask for advice.

My doctor advised me to begin timing the contractions, and I downloaded an app on my phone that allowed me to time them. I eventually woke my husband up around seven in the morning, and by ten we were calling the doctor again – my contraction patterns were consistent with true labor and I was instructed to get to the hospital right away!

This sent us on a little bit of a rush to grab everything we would need for our hospital stay. We were quite certain that we wouldn’t be back home for a while and although I had packed a few items into our hospital bag – the bag was far from complete. We got to the hospital around eleven on Thursday morning and I spent the rest of the day in labor at the hospital.

By five in the afternoon, I had already been in labor for about 20 hours. Although I originally wanted to try and make it through childbirth without any medication, I gave in and requested an epidural. I had to wait for the anesthesiologist to arrive and I had about ten contractions as he was administering the epidural! This was difficult because I needed to be completely still in order for him to do his job – but I also needed to move around to try and alleviate the pain of the contractions. The nurse had to hold me down so that I would not jerk or twitch in response to my pain. Shortly after receiving the epidural, I fell asleep. When I woke up, there were a swarm of doctors and nurses in the delivery room with me – rushing around and talking amongst one another. I looked for my husband who was standing up and trying to listen in to what everyone was saying. My heart rate was dropping, as was Chocobo’s. Each time I had a contraction, Chocobo’s heart rate dropped to lower levels than was safe. In addition, he’d swallowed some meconium. At this point, I was only 7cm dilated and the doctors didn’t want to risk waiting until I was fully dilated to deliver.

They’d decided that I was going to need a C-section.

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Although I was too drugged up to be nervous, the need for a C-section has probably been one of my biggest fears since childhood. I’ve mentioned before that when I was six or seven, I used to pray each night for a natural, vaginal delivery because I had witnessed my mother go through two C-sections and the recovery process did not look like fun. It looks like God’s answer to that prayer was “No!”

The doctors and nurses moved so quickly that I barely had time to process what was happening. I remember my husband grabbing my hand before they rolled me away from him, telling him that they would come back to get him. I remember the lights on the ceiling on the way to the operating room, and I remember feeling exceptionally drowsy and being unable to swallow.

I kept telling the doctors, “I don’t want to be asleep when he is born. Why do I feel so sleepy?” and “I can’t swallow. Why can’t I swallow?” I’m sure I sounded like a delusional crazy person but hey, I was drugged so I get a pass. The rest is sort of a blur as I struggled to fight sleep. It was all I could do to keep my eyes from closing. I can remember bits and pieces of things – such as someone saying “Your husband is here!” and the feeling of him grabbing my hand (although I couldn’t see him because my eyes were closed). I remember one of the nurses saying, “Okay – she doesn’t feel anything let’s get started!” I remember the bright lights of the operating room, obstructing my ability to see clearly each time I did manage to get my eyes open, and I remember someone saying “Your baby is here!” and the feeling of them placing him on my chest.

I couldn’t see or feel anything, but I remember asking if I could kiss my son and one of the doctors chuckled and said, “He’s your baby! Do whatever you want!” Someone put him close to me so that I could give him a kiss, I tried to open my eyes and I remember kissing him on the forehead. Before I knew it my eyes were shut again and I was throwing up!

After this, I probably fell asleep for quite a bit of time. Baby Chocobo was born at 7:53pm and I didn’t get to see him again until 9:20pm! I don’t remember anything that happened between the time he was born and the time that I was able to see him again.

My husband went with the doctors and nurses to wherever they took our baby and he was able to spend that first hour and a half bonding with our son until I was coherent enough to do the same.

We stayed in the hospital from Thursday until Sunday, where I received a lot of care and instruction on how to recover from a C-section. I don’t know what it’s like to recover from a vaginal birth, but recovery from a C-section is horrible! I am so grateful to have gone through this process in a hospital that really did a great job of taking care of me after our son’s birth.

My father came to stay with us once we were at home, and he helped out a lot by making food and running to the store for us each day. A few days later, my mother, my husband’s mother, and my two sisters came to be with us and we were all able to celebrate Thanksgiving together with little Chocobo!

My husband and I are so grateful for our little baby, for whom we have (not always so patiently) waited and prayed over the last five years. Our wish for parenthood has finally come true, and so far we are loving it!

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Family, Pregnancy

The Third Trimester

*Trigger Warning* As titled, this is a post about the third trimester of my pregnancy. Please be kind to yourself if you are struggling with infertility and are not in a place to read this! Love and prayers always!

In the TTC (trying to conceive) and IF (infertility) communities, there is something called the TWW (Two Week Wait), in which a woman must wait the approximate two weeks between ovulation and her ability to test for pregnancy. It is a rather stressful time, in which every twitch and tingle is (over) analyzed and scrutinized in the hopes that her body will provide her with a sign that she is – finally – pregnant. In the TTC community, this time period (though stressful) can be rather exciting. Most women find that after a few months of TTC, a baby is indeed on the way. For the IF community, however, this is usually a time of anxiety, depression, fear, and hopelessness. Each month, for years on end, the TWW of an infertile ends in crushed hopes as her tests show up negative and her monthly cycle returns.

During my time as an infertile, I grew so tired of the TWW that I stopped testing. It was harder for me to see a negative pregnancy test than it was for me to see the return of “Aunt Flo” each month.

Now, as a pregnant woman, I am experiencing a different kind of TWW. This time, I am waiting through the approximate two weeks I have left before my due date (and if we want to be precise, I have exactly one week and four days left to go)! I thought now would be a great time to overview the third trimester and talk about some of the things I am doing to help me get through this new type of TWW!

Getting a Job

I was crazy enough to get a job at the start of the third trimester! I am a PreK teacher at heart (and probably always will be), so naturally I found a job in a pre-school teaching two year olds. There were some advantages and disadvantages to this decision. The advantages included having a little extra money to help with our finances, having something to do each day that helped pass the time and made me feel productive, meeting new people and making some new friends, and of course getting to wake up and do what I love (caring for and interacting with young children) each day was always a highlight! Two is an incredible age where anything can happen and no day is the same. Each day I had stories about something cute or funny that one of my kiddos had done. It was quite an enjoyable experience.

On the downside – I was so tired and in so much pain. The constant movement was too much for me and I got to a point at times where I could barely walk! Cleaning my classroom after nap time (picking up all those cots!) and at the end of the day (organizing toys, arranging furniture, vacuuming, taking out the trash) were the worst parts of each day. I got sick from kiddie germs after my first week at work and it was difficult to recover. It was also hard to get a bathroom break, and I was expending so much energy that I needed to eat almost constantly. Our weekly grocery bill went up by almost another $100 just trying to keep me fed while at work!

Still, I enjoyed having a job and I thought it was great how baby Chocobo responded with kicks and flips to the voices of other children playing, singing, and talking to me.

Childbirth Classes

We started taking childbirth classes at the hospital where I am set to deliver. It was a five week course in which we went once a week for two hours at a time. Our teacher was really sweet and the class was very informative. Despite having worked with children for most of my teen and adult life, I knew very little about childbirth – and even less about natural childbirth and non-medicinal pain management options. We saw some very graphic videos that gave us a bit of an idea of how much pain I am headed for! I also learned a lot about the recovery process that I feel will help to prepare me for what to expect post-partum.

3D Ultrasound

During my time as an infertile, one of the things that I always said I would do if I ever got pregnant was to have a 3D ultrasound. Although I have read a bit on the potential dangers of having too many ultrasounds, I decided in the end that this was something I really wanted and I waited until my 35th week to have one done! I was hesitant at first, but I am so happy that we went in and now have a clear picture of what our baby looks like – even before his big debut!

Baby Shower and Visiting Friends

The weekend after the 3D ultrasound, my husband and I went home for the baby shower! My mom and sisters organized it, and it was a lot of fun! There was good food, fun games, and lots of people that I hadn’t seen in a long time! It was great to catch up with everyone.

We also got a chance to make our yearly trip to visit our friends – who recently had their second baby. We always enjoy visiting them each year and didn’t want to miss out on our 2015 visit! My husband got a chance to practice feeding a baby on their infant and it was cute to watch. Hopefully, when we visit next year, Chocobo and their little boy will be able to interact with one another!

Cat Fleas and Last Minute Things

Unfortunately, my cat contracted fleas somehow, and man has that kept me busy around the house! I hate that he got fleas so close to my due date! In addition to trying to organize and get everything ready for baby’s arrival – I also had to deal with keeping the house disinfected and keeping my cat clean! I’m not sure whether or not his medicine made him sick or whether he ingested something from the fleas, but he’d been throwing up a lot and we were quite worried about his lethargic behavior! Thankfully, I think the problem is finally starting to clear up.

We also went on our hospital tour and let me just say – don’t wait until your 38th week of pregnancy to tour a hospital! All of the walking and standing was excruciating for me! The tour was great and the tour guide was very thorough and answered questions well, but it was hard for me to pay attention at times because I was hot, exhausted, and in pain.

My doctors told me that baby is approximately 8 pounds and 11 ounces right now, and that I could go into labor at any time! When she said that, it hit me that I really needed to have certain basics set up so that just in case I begin labor sooner than I think I will – we’ll be ready.

We are planning to have him sleep in our bedroom in a bassinet at first, so we set up his bassinet. The following day, we installed the car seat with the help of a fire and road safety technician, and now I am working on packing a hospital bag! Everyone says that I should be getting the “nesting” urge but honestly I feel just as tired lately (if not more tired) than I did in the first trimester! When it comes to all the cleaning and organizing I need to get done – “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak!”

Final Thoughts

Toward the middle of my pregnancy, people began asking me “Has it hit you yet?” and “Does it feel real yet?” And while the aches, hunger, fatigue, insomnia, and Braxton-Hicks contractions definitely feel real – the fact that I will be bringing home my very own baby still doesn’t feel real to me! I don’t think it will hit me until they lay that baby on my chest and I get to see him face to face for the first time! This has been a completely surreal experience all the way through.

As I face this new type of TWW, I am trying to keep focused on things like my NanoWrimo project, getting the hospital bag packed and getting baby’s room organized, our upcoming 7thwedding anniversary(!!), and on enjoying what little sleep pregnancy insomnia hasn’t stolen from me!

God-willing, the next time I write about our son – it will be to announce that he has made it safely to the outside world!

Two weeks ago, at 36 weeks!
Two weeks ago, at 36 weeks!
Family, Pregnancy

The Second Trimester

*Trigger Warning: As indicated in the title, this is an entry about my pregnancy and there are pictures included. For my friends/followers still in the throes of infertility, be kind to yourself! Guard your heart and please don’t read if you aren’t able. You have my love and prayers, always!*

From the time that I began telling people about this pregnancy, everyone told me how much fun the second trimester would be. And they were right! The second trimester has been full of excitement. I cannot believe that I am two weeks away from its end, and I hope to recap some of the fun of this trimester in this overview.

Weeks 13-16: The Beginning of the Middle

The second trimester started off with extreme, insatiable hunger and an ongoing craving for anything cold, fruity, or juicy (and best if all three). I couldn’t (still can’t) eat anything without following it up with freezing cold fruits, juices, or fruity sorbets/smoothies. If you read my first trimester overview, you’ll remember that I began bleeding in week 11 – and this continued on until the end of week 15! It made me nervous and honestly a little depressed every time I saw any blood, but my doctor’s office was nice enough to let me come in (unscheduled) just to hear our baby’s heartbeat for reassurance. Every time I went in, I was told that some spotting can be normal and that our baby was doing perfectly. I was so happy when the bleeding finally stopped. Another thing that made me happy was starting our registry. I hate shopping, but I actually had a good time going around picking out baby things. My mother in law was sweet enough to purchase our baby furniture for us, and when it arrived I just absolutely could not believe that these types of items were in my home. As an infant/toddler/pre-school teacher, I am used to seeing items that belong to babies and children all of the time, but I am only used to seeing those things at work or in the homes of families that I have worked for. Having these things in my own house still feels completely surreal.

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Weeks 17-20: Movement, Furniture, and Glucose Testing

I started to feel our baby move at 2:30am on a weekday during the 17th week! It probably wasn’t the first time that I felt Chocobo moving, but it was definitely the first time that I felt confident that what I was feeling was the baby. Feeling our baby move was probably the highlight of this trimester, for me, because the movement is a great way for me to know that baby is doing okay in there. During the first trimester, especially with all the bleeding, I had no way to really know that everything was going as it should unless I was at the doctor’s office. The movements became stronger and more definitive as the weeks passed, and they are definitely a reassurance for me that our baby is – at the very least – still alive in there! My husband and I embarked on our first DIY furniture project by repainting an old dresser to match the color scheme of baby’s room (grey, teal, and white). It didn’t turn out perfectly but for first timers – I’d say we did a great job! We went in for the anatomy scan during the 20th week, and discovered that Chocobo was bigger than an average baby at the same stage of pregnancy. I was instructed to take the glucose test earlier than it is normally taken in order to screen for gestational diabetes. I passed the test, but they want me to take it again in September. At the anatomy scan, our sonographer slipped up and accidentally revealed our baby’s gender before our gender reveal party, which was scheduled for later on in the week! So, although we weren’t sure about whether or not Chocobo would be a girl or a boy, we had a hunch. Still, we tried not to over-analyze it and waited patiently to find out for sure at the gender reveal party.

Weeks 21-24: We’re having a … !!

The gender reveal party was so much fun! We enjoyed seeing friends and family that we hadn’t seen in a long time, and of course we enjoyed finding out that our baby is a boy! My husband was so excited to find out that he is having a son! I don’t think either of us would have been disappointed either way, to be honest, but pre-infertility I always wanted to have a boy as a first-born as well! After going through infertility, I did not care what gender my baby was – I just wanted a baby. But it’s nice that my pre-infertility wish came true. Boys are a lot of fun, and I look forward to rough-housing and fart jokes and lots of dirt. I hope he’s into that sort of thing. I also hope he will love the beach. My husband and I are beach people. In the twenty-second week, I really started needing new clothes! I realized that nothing was fitting me anymore, and I really underestimated how big my mid-section would become! We also started looking at daycares in the area, in case I end up returning to work after he is born. As an early childhood educator, I found myself being really picky about the places we were looking into. I guess that was to be expected. We haven’t found anything yet, but we’ll keep looking! Finally, we signed up for some classes at the hospital and registered for our hospital tour.

Final Thoughts…

I woke up a few weeks ago with a scripture in my head. I kept hearing the words of the scripture over and over and over again in the background of my thoughts, but I was not really paying attention to it until I had cleared my “to-do” list and sat down to relax and watch Netflix. When I finally did pay attention, I kind of giggled to myself – and I guess to God as well. It felt like He had put that scripture on my mind as a playful nudge, but it reminded me of how grateful I am to be carrying this child.

“And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age, and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month.” – Luke 1:36, NASB

I’m not really in my “old age” yet, but everything else is sort of true. My middle name is Elizabeth. I have conceived a son. I was once called “barren,” and at the time that I woke up with this scripture on my mind, it was the beginning of my sixth month.

No matter what happens, I will never take this pregnancy – or this sweet baby boy – for granted. Ever.

Infertility, Pregnancy

Pregnancy After Infertility

Last year, I read the blog of a woman who, after years of infertility, had finally become pregnant. She mentioned that though she had sympathy for those who were still struggling with infertility, she could no longer empathize. It was as if the news of her pregnancy had wiped away all the years of pain that she had experienced, seemingly to the point where she could no longer relate to those within the infertile community. I remember reading that, and wondering if the all-consuming pain of childlessness would be completely erased from my memory the minute I held a BFP in my hands. But that hasn’t been my experience. I haven’t forgotten how it feels to be infertile, and as this year’s National Infertility Awareness Week begins, I find myself in the odd position of being completely able to empathize with those trapped in the endless cycle of treatments and two week waits, while feeling simultaneously undeserving of and grateful for the gift of life that God has deigned to give me.

Pregnancy after infertility, in my experience, has been an interesting emotional adventure. I begged God for this for so long, and now that it’s been granted – I find myself wondering why God gave me this gift as opposed to someone who has been waiting longer or someone who has been through more trauma than I in their pursuit of parenthood. When people congratulate me, they sometimes say that I “deserve”this, and though I appreciate that and take it as a compliment – I also know that it is not true. I was given this gift as a grace and a mercy from God. I did nothing to deserve it, just as the childless woman has done nothing to deserve childlessness. I am overwhelmingly grateful. But my gratitude doesn’t negate the fact that there are still so many thousands of women who are in pain, waiting on their miracles. And hundreds whose prayers for miracles will never be answered with a “yes.” The fact that God has seen fit to gift me in this way humbles me, more than you could ever imagine.

Another effect of pregnancy after infertility is my inability to feel completely comfortable with pregnant women for whom pregnancy came easily. As I read books, articles, or forums written by women who got pregnant ‘on cue,’ I find myself feeling alienated. Their light-hearted attitudes toward getting pregnant and their ability to complain with ease about their various pregnancy symptoms seems almost sacrilegious to me! I understand that they are just venting and “being honest,” which they certainly have the right to do, but I can’t make a statement like “I wish I weren’t so sick!” without feeling like I’d be wishing away my child! Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t felt amazing over the course of the past few weeks – but my ability to be consistently grateful for my “ailments” has surprised even me!

I have a heightened sense of fear of things like loss and secondary infertility. It took what feels like an eternity to finally achieve this pregnancy, I would be crushed if I could not carry this child to delivery. And crushed if getting pregnant again took just as long – or longer. So I will cherish every moment of pain, illness, or exhaustion – because who can say that this will ever happen to me again?

Finally, there is a bit of a change of identity. For so long, I subconsciously have identified myself as an infertile. I hoped for a child, but over time I became less and less attached to the idea that it would ever actually happen. Now that is has, I am not sure what to make of things! Honestly, I am still in a bit of shock and disbelief. We’ll see how that sorts itself out over time.

I am still praying and hoping daily for those of you who are where I was. It’s such a tough road, and no one should have to do it alone. I hope that, this week, I can do my part to raise awareness and support for those still fighting to become parents.