Family, Infertility, Uncategorized

The First Trimester

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This post is, as titled, about the first trimester of my pregnancy. There are pictures and lots of details. If you’re struggling with IF and not in a good place – please do yourself a favor and skip this post!

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Each day, I wonder about whether or not it will be easy to conceive a second time. It was such a struggle to pinpoint our reproductive issues and to conceive our first child, it startles me to think that this may be the only pregnancy that I get to experience in my lifetime! It would be wonderful to be able to successfully deliver this child and then have three or four more children, but life does not always work out the way we hope. I don’t want to take any of this experience for granted, and I don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to cherish what I’ve been given in the present moment. To that end, at the risk of becoming one of those blogs, I thought I would do a little update at the end of each trimester as a way to keep a brief record of the different experiences of this pregnancy.

Week 4: How We Found Out

Regular readers already know that I had been prescribed 200mg of progesterone to be taken every other day post ovulation, in the form of an intramuscular shot. Although I had stopped using the sympto-thermal method (aka tracking my basal body temperature each morning), I decided to pick that back up again while on the progesterone. I knew beforehand that progesterone can mimic pregnancy, so when I began to feel certain pregnancy symptoms (shortness of breath, extreme fatigue, breast tenderness, etc) I chalked it up to the progesterone. My chart looked better than it had in years, and still, I refused to get my hopes up. I have known people to take progesterone supplements for many cycles before getting pregnant, why would mine work on the first try?

I remember emailing a picture of my chart to my mother, and telling her that if I were not on progesterone, I would strongly suspect pregnancy. I explained the chart to her and we were both excited that – at the very least – the chart was improving my cycles. The following day, I woke up feeling different. I’m not sure how to explain it, but something was off. My period had not started yet, my temperatures were still high, and I was tired of having to convince myself that I was not pregnant. I woke my husband and told him that I wanted to test, and as soon as the sun came up we went out to purchase the HPT. On the way home, I made a joke that if it was positive I would look a pinterest all day, and if it was negative, I would just do laundry and watch Netflix to bury my sorrows. He chuckled as we returned home and I went into the bathroom to take the test.

Suddenly a sense of hesitation washed over me. ‘This is stupid,’ I thought. ‘You won’t be pregnant and you’ll probably get your period in a few hours. You’re wasting your time and your money.’ I believed my negativity, and after taking the test I chickened out – not wanting to read it – and left it in the bathroom as I went to cook breakfast. After eating, I told my husband that I couldn’t go in and look at it. He had to do it. So he got up and went to look at the test, while I went to hide. When he found me, he held out the test and said,

“I guess you’ll be looking at pinterest all day.”

I’m not even going to try to describe what that moment felt like. We decided to nickname the baby Chocobo. My mother hates that nickname, but I got it from the Final Fantasy game series. There is an animal in the games called a ‘Chocobo’ that I always thought was so cute. In times past, I would say to friends, “Let’s go, Chocobo!” as a term of endearment. My husband liked the nickname as well, and we have even given nicknames to the nickname – chocobaby, chocs, chococo, chocoberry – we make them up as we go. I can understand why people think the name is not “cute,” but we like it and until we know the gender – it’s what we are sticking with!

Weeks 5-10: Medicine, Moving, and Morning Sickness

I was prescribed 200mg of Prometrium daily – a progesterone suppository that would keep me from miscarrying due to progesterone related issues in the first trimester. I was told to take the suppository every night until week 13. Let me tell you, suppositories are gross. They leak. They smell. And they keep babies alive. So I was happy to do whatever was necessary.

At the same time, my husband’s job promoted and relocated him to a different state. We lived in hotels for two weeks, which was pretty stressful for me. Living in a hotel in a different state where you don’t know anyone or anything about the area got lonely at times, and also meant no home-cooked food! All of the restaurant food I ate during those two weeks was getting to me. I was feeling lethargic and heavy. Between living in a hotel and taking these suppositories every day – I felt crowded, lethargic, and icky all the time. Thankfully, we found a place to live. I was able to start cooking again, and we were able to get all of our stuff out of our old home and into our new one.

I started experiencing more consistent pregnancy symptoms around week 7 or 8. I threw up quite a bit, got most of my nausea and “morning” sickness in the evenings, became intolerant of all dairy products, experienced extreme all-day exhaustion, and had trouble walking around or doing small household chores without getting out of breath or feeling faint/weak. Sleeping started to become a problem for me as well. I normally sleep on my stomach, and after week 6 or so that was no longer comfortable. I began sleeping on my back around week 7, but by week 9 – I had to start sleeping on my sides. I have never been comfortable sleeping on my side, and it has been tough to get a good night’s sleep. My shoulders, knees, and hips are often either very sore or completely numb as a result of how I have been sleeping. Still, I think that my symptoms are pretty mild compared to some of the things that I have heard others go through. I have made it a practice to express gratefulness and pray for an infertile friend every time I feel sick or uncomfortable, because I know that there are still so many women waiting to have these experiences. And, because I know what it feels like to be the woman reading about pregnancy discomforts and wishing for them.

During these weeks, I had my first two ultrasounds. One at week 7 and the other at week 9. At the week 9 ultrasound, the tech told us that we have a very active baby. I didn’t know babies began moving around so early, but apparently Chocobo was moving like crazy. We were actually able to record the movement on my phone, which was pretty neat. I can’t wait until I can actually feel the movements! I think seeing Chocobo on the screen and in these pictures really helped me to start getting it into my head that this is not some kind of amazing dream – this is actually happening! I feel so humbled and undeserving, other women have waited longer than I. Yet, I am so grateful for this gift.

Chocobo @ week 7
Chocobo @ week 7
Chocobo @ week 9
Chocobo @ week 9

Weeks 11-13: ER Visit, Mother’s Day, and Stopping Progesterone

Everything went smoothly until week 11, when I went to the bathroom and saw that I was bleeding – a lot! To be honest, it wasn’t an overwhelming amount of blood, but it was bright red and way more blood than I felt comfortable with. I called my OB, whose office was closing, and was instructed that I could go to the ER. We sat in the ER for hours before finally being seen. On one hand I feared the worst, but on the other hand, I felt very calm and at peace. Whatever the outcome, I know that God is always sovereign, always faithful, and always in control. One of my favorite verses in the Bible says that “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” I thought about this verse while in the ER, and reminded myself that our child is God’s creation and God’s child – only loaned to us. Nothing would happen to Chocobo, except what God allowed, and I resolved to trust God’s sovereignty, even if our night ended in tragedy.

Thankfully though, everything was fine. Chocobo was moving around so much that the tech had trouble getting the heart rate. Choco finally sat still, with the exception of one of his/her arms moving back and forth across the screen. The tech joked that Chocobo was giving us a little wave. This was the second time that a tech told us we had a very active child on our hands. After seeing the tech, we met with a doctor who said that mine was the first perfect ultrasound he’d seen in the ER in three years!

I continued to bleed and spot on and off for the next few weeks, which still makes me nervous, but at my most recent appointment I was told that everything looks absolutely perfect, and that some women spot frequently during their pregnancies with no explanation and with nothing actually wrong. So, I am trying to take comfort in that.

We went home to celebrate Mother’s Day with our moms, and it was kind of surreal to realize that I am a mother, too. I started showing around week 10, and during the Mother’s Day weekend, I got a few comments about how I have “popped.”

By the time week 13 rolled around, we were headed back to another doctor’s appointment where I was told to stop the progesterone! As much as I hated those suppositories and was happy to ditch them, it definitely made me feel uneasy to not take the medicine! Especially as I have continued to have on and off brown spotting since week 11, I felt that stopping the progesterone might be a mistake. However, since I was told by 3 separate doctors to stop taking it,  we stopped. I am hoping that the placenta will take over the way it is supposed to and produce enough progesterone for Chocobo to survive through the rest of this pregnancy!

Final Thoughts

One interesting fact about my pregnancy is that it has really given me more of a heart for adoption than I already had! I am so grateful and humbled to have gotten pregnant, and I wish that every child could be as loved – from the point of conception – as my child is. Since my own childhood I have wanted to adopt a child, but being pregnant has really deepened that desire. I want to give other children the chance to be cared for and celebrated the way Choco is blessed to be. I am trusting that God will allow us the safe delivery of this child, but regardless of the outcome of this pregnancy, I am so grateful that Chocobo is so loved, wanted, and cherished even now –  before his or her arrival into the world.

If only all children in the world could be so fortunate.

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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.