Pregnancy: Time Does Not Fly

We are now just a little over six months (27 1/2 weeks) into Sweet Potato's growth. Went to the OB yesterday and the wee one is looking fine, weighing almost three pounds. Doctor said she could see hair already in the sonogram! I'm doing very well too. This makes me very very happy.

Recently two people asked how far along I was and I said "almost six months." They both replied with, "Wow, time has really flown!" I answered with a laugh and said, "for you maybe!" Time has not flown at all for me. In fact it seems I have felt every day as it came and and went.

My first trimester was an anxious time. Having just had a miscarriage, I couldn't get too excited or attached because I really didn't know what would happen. Being 44 and "of advanced maternal age" (which I guess is better than a friend who, pregnant at 36, was referred to as having a "geriatric pregnancy" - yikes!) you are bombarded with all the facts and figures about how much more common miscarriages and failed pregnancies and birth defects are. It's like everything you read has a subtext of "why are you even bothering to try?" So I stopped reading stuff a long time ago. (Except when I'm looking for specific info or just checking in on "what's happening this week with baby." But even then you have to avoid the minefield of horror stories.)

The first trimester waiting, coupled with the spotting, CVS test and three weeks bed rest was hard. Time passed oh so slowly.

We made it to week 14 and into the second trimester and I was feeling good, all was going well and we found out she is a girl and we began to tell people. That was very joyous, but still, I was knocking on wood and crossing my fingers. For most of June and July I didn't feel that different. My tummy was larger and I bought maternity jeans and clothes but as I couldn't feel her move yet, I just felt chubby. A few people said, "Isn't this a glorious time? Enjoy it!" But it didn't feel glorious then, it still felt a bit unreal. Even after our major sonogram at 19 weeks where we saw so much detail and awesomeness, there was a bit of a distance as her kung-fu/somersaults/ballroom dancing routines had not started in earnest. Or that I could feel, anyway.

August has finally found me quite round and there is plenty of movement for both Kurt and I to feel. On Maui last week a friend of mom's asked if we were thrilled about the pregnancy and I could finally say "Yes!" I feel pregnant, I look pregnant and I am excited and so much looking forward to meeting this little girl.

What has amazed me in the last two months as my belly has grown and we've moved through the various vegetable stages of pregnancy (I'll explain in a later post) is how just very very normal I feel. I don't feel like I'm sacrificing my body for another life. I don't feel incapacitated, though bending over is getting more challenging and long walks through airport terminals make me winded. (And I know there is major growth to come!) Mostly I feel like I'm in happy symbiotic relationship with a new being and I am the luckiest person because I get to team up with this almost-new life and help bring her forth. That is awesome. And yet all so amazingly normal.

Believe me, I am very very grateful for feeling so normal. Yes, there is heartburn and nighttime sinus issues and sometimes a sore back. But mostly I feel extremely fortunate and thank my lucky stars every day to feel so fine. So normal.

By the calendar, there is slightly less than three months to go. September will be a busy month but I still doubt it will fly by. I look forwad to each lovely normal day full of growth and kung-fu kicks as each one comes.

Pregnancy: Exploding Bras

The unexpected adventures of pregnancy.

So yeah, as previously mentioned, one's boobs get larger when you are pregnant. This does not include how much bigger they might get after baby is born and the milk arrives. (Oy I'm going to be huge. I've had a big rack since I was about 12 so this is not as much fun as it might be for some friends who were not so well endowed and enjoyed the temporary curvaceousness.)

Sorry, where was I? Right...

Larger boobs = need new bras.

I had been hanging in with two bras that still fit okay. They were getting a bit snug, but I was hoping they would hang on until about October when I would start looking at nursing bras and nursing tank tops. Good bras of my size are not cheap and to buy bras for only a few months could get costly. But no such luck on waiting.

I was getting dressed the other day and hitching on the bra when I heard a loud and robust SNAP!. Couldn't figure out where it came from so took the bra off and discovered that I had not snapped a strap or elastic or something, but THE UNDERWIRE HAD BROKEN! Criminy.

I mail ordered some bras that same day and await their arrival, hoping against hope that my current bra stays strong at least for a few more weeks.

In other baby news, Sweet Potato has become a gymnast and rolls and tumbles around like a trooper!

Pregnancy: The Side Effects

Being the youngest of four sisters, almost the last of our friends to procreate, and having started much later in life to have kids, I'm amazed at how much I already knew about pregnancy. But then came a few of the "side effects" I didn't know or expect at all.

There are the big ones that you hear about in movies or tv (you know, the comedy fodder): constipation, gas, heartburn, morning sickness, dizziness, hemorrhoids, stretch marks. Fortunately, I've only had minor versions of the first three (so far)...

But there are two side effects I didn't hear about that have been quite surprising. Let's start with pregnancy sinuses. Not all women are affected by this but I am and how. They are mostly not a problem during the day. Oh I can tell there is some swelling in my sinuses, but I can still breath regularly. No, it's at night when I lie down that is sucky. At first it's no problem but hours later I am a mouth breathing troglodyte, tossing and turning, my tongue turning to cotton. Fun! When I wake up, it takes an hour or two to settle down.

Why does this happen? Apparently one's body is making all kinds of cool mucusy stuff to help with the baby area, especially the infamous "mucus plug". (It blocks stuff from coming into the uterus to keep baby safe and then is expelled before labor. Apparently it's not unlike snot being expelled from your nose, except it doesn't come out your nose.... TMI?) With all this awesome mucus production going on, my body said, "Hey! We should just make mucus everywhere, this is a blast!" The official name: Rhinitis of Pregnancy.

(Rhinitis...hmm...I bet there would be no other girls named Rhinitis...)

The other unexpected side effect? ITCHY NIPPLES!!!!! Christ on a cracker people, why didn't anyone say anything?? When the boobs start growing (and yeah, all I need are BIGGER boobs!) (Though I guess I don't hear Kurt complaining) the skin gets stretched and itchy. But damn! There were a few weeks when it was pretty wacky and let me tell you, trying not to scratch your nipples in public is HARD. It's calmed down now, but the girls are only going to get bigger again so I know it will happen again. Women about to get pregnant: consider yourself warned!

I've been fortunate so far with the standard stuff. There was no hurling, just some general nausea in the first trimester. I've moved on to the heartburn phase of the pregnancy so I keep my tums and gum handy at all times, but days go by when it's not a problem.

I'm not really complaining too much about this, because again, I've been lucky so far. And honestly, when I get heartburn or even an itchy nipple, it reminds me that things are progressing just as they should be and the Sweet Potato is doing just fine.



So Yeah, The Pregnancy Thing!

In which I will talk about what's been going on with the pregnancy -- not too many gory details, I promise, but it still might be TMI for some of you. But hey, it's my life and I'm going to write about it and I haven't been able to for MONTHS! You must understand how hard that is for a blogger!

Also, this blog post might be TLDR for some of you... I understand. (TLDR= Too Long Didn't Read.)

There is so much on the internet about being pregnant. I mean, honestly, wow. Some of it is very helpful, some not so much. Everyone gets to do it differently, that is the most important thing to remember.

First I'd like to dispel a myth about us being pregnant. It's a myth I'm way more sensitive to since we started the adoption process: We did not get pregnant just because we started the adoption process. Yes, there are many stories about people adopting (or who are in the process) and then getting pregnant. But in the last year and a half I've met many people who have adopted or are waiting to adopt who have not been able to get or stay pregnant. When you meet someone who is adopting, try not to tell them "oh you'll adopt and then get pregnant, it happens all the time." I know I'm guilty of having said this in the past. It stings.

We are fortunate (knock wood) that things happened this way and so far so good. I believe the real reason we got pregnant is because an egg made it's way down my fallopian tube and was met by a sperm and they hooked up just at the right time. It's called biology. It took two years to get here and surprisingly it did not require any medical intervention at all. I think my body finally clued into what we were trying to accomplish and got the factory slowly cranked up to produce. Sadly there was a false start last December.

And because of that miscarriage, the first trimester was quite stressful. When you've had a miscarriage and you are 44, it's hard not to prepare for another. But at the same time you just keep moving forward because it could work out just fine. Or not. But probably fine. Maybe. It's scary. Does my back hurt just because my muscles are stiff or is that cramps before a miscarriage??

May was then really stressful because that's when I started spotting and was scheduled for the CVS test. (More on that later.) This was about week 9 1/2. (My miscarriage had been at week 11.) Went to the doctor, all looked just fine, blood work and progesterone levels were perfect. She ordered bed rest and I did so. I'm so grateful that I didn't have to be at a job just then.

A week later, the spotting was reduced, and then we went to get the CVS. CVS = Chorionic Villus Sampling. When you are of "Advanced Maternal Age" or AMA (35 years and older) getting genetic testing on the fetus is recommended (but not required) to see if your dusty old eggs have left out any chromosomes. The test will show if there is Down Syndrome or other chromosomal abnormalities. Most of us have a 95% chance of it being totally normal, especially if there is no family history of any knod of genetic abnormality. I know two women who were AMA who have perfect kids and they both opted not to do the CVS test. I was on the fence because there is also a slight chance of miscarriage as a result of the test. But very slight. But when you've had a miscarriage, that chance seems HUGE.

One of the pros of getting the CVS test is that you get it between 10 and 12 weeks of pregnancy. If the results are very bad, there is still time to decide if you want to terminate the pregnancy. This is a decision so intense that I'm really glad we didn't have to make it. Kurt and I discussed the procedure and I called a friend who I suspected might have had it, but she hadn't. So we forged ahead. I do like to have all the information in front of me, so it made sense to have the test.

And we live in Los Angeles which means we were referred to one of the leading experts of this procedure. That is Dr. Williams at Cedars. He's done tens of thousands of these over the last 25 years. We were in good hands. But first you wait. They warn you that you may have to wait a few hours, but the procedure itself takes mere moments. We settled in at the Prenatal Center at Cedars and Kurt was so stoked to find out they have snacks and juice for all the expectant moms. I grabbed a few for him. Hey, he's expecting too!

For a full description of what a CVS procedure is all about, click here.

They call us in and we go through my medical history, blood pressure, etc. Then the sonographer comes in to do measurements and check the wee one's position to better prepare the doc for the CVS. Kurt and I had already seen the wee little smudge and heartbeat on the gyno's sonogram about three weeks earlier. But this sonogram was awesome! First of all they have HUGE monitors that are super hi-resolution so watching is easy. The sonographer has her monitor then there is another up on the wall so we, me reclined in the chair, Kurt sitting next to me, have a perfect view. So she gets the image going and damn if there isn't a little, almost (but not quite) baby looking thing in there. AND IT'S WIGGLING AROUND LIKE CRAZY! HOLY SHIT! Kurt and I are quiet while the sonographer points out feet and hands and umbilical cord, then she takes measurements, prints up a couple pictures for us, then leaves. Kurt and I look at each other and go "DUDE! That was crazy!!"

Then the doc and a nurse come in and we all prep for the procedure. I asked about his background with this procedure and he tells us the history of it, then tells us his experience and practice and then we start talking about Hawaii and pretty soon the whole thing is done and it didn't take long at all. In fact, the general prep on my cervix, etc, took longer than the cell collection itself. Cool. DONE! He and the nurse gave me the post procedure instructions, what to expect, etc, and we left.

More bedrest. And all this bedrest is in the lying down position, not just off your feet. So I couldn't sit up and use the computer. Mostly I lay on the couch and watched tv or I read. I was allowed to get up and pee but that was all for the first 24 hours. Then three days of taking it really easy. I basically kept myself on modified bed rest just out of pure nervousness. Spotting was expected, post procedure, as the test was done vaginally (sometimes they do it through the abdomen.) But after five days I was still spotting so I went to the OB at my gyno's office and she said more bedrest and let's check the progesterone. Progesterone was good, but she said to take progesterone supplements (vaginal suppositories, yay! Oy.) for a week. That seemed to do the trick and the spotting was gone. But that was three weeks of bedrest. It's hard and I can't imagine women who have to do it for months. Much respect.

With the CVS you can get results back normally in two weeks or you can pay extra ($400) to get express results in three days. please, I'm scared shitless! The procedure was done on a Tuesday (my week 10 mark) and I was expecting a call on Friday. Thursday afternoon I got a voice mail message saying "This is the prenatal center and we have good news, call us!" And the nice lady said all was perfect.

Now, since this test is all about genetics, they also know the the sex. But we didn't want to know. Being in the first trimester there is still a greater chance of miscarriage and we didn't want to connect to a boy or girl yet. So we waited.

In the meantime I found a new OB/GYN who I really like. At my previous doctor's office, there were gynecologists, but they were not OB's. Because of the early spotting, I saw the OB at the same office. She's fine, but was more of a default for the time. I wanted to find someone I really connected with and I did through a good friend's recommendation. Bonus points: the doctor is about 12 minutes from our house, in Beverly Hills. It is just her and another OB/GYN in practice. The office is relaxed and everyone is really nice. Easy parking and not a lot of waiting around. They deliver at Cedars Sinai, which is about 20  minutes from our house, max. All very good!

Finally at my OB check up at 13 1/2 weeks, we asked for the sex and found out it's a girl. Then we started telling people over Memorial Day weekend and are now public!

Whew! Okay that is some of the story of Mai Tai Frey off my chest. It's been so hard not to write about things as they happened.

There is plenty more to come -- things like fruit comparisons and unexpected things your body does when pregnant. Stay tuned!