Monday, October 15, 2012

Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day

Here we are, once again.

So much I wish I could say.  The problem now is merely time; Vivienne - my lovely, funny, squirmy, flying-squirrel of a delightfully intense and sometimes terribly fussy and wonderfully, sadly independent living (so amazingly, stunningly alive) baby - takes up so much of it.

As it should be.

And yet -


Her brother is not forgotten, or less loved, or less missed.  Gabriel is still gone and his absence is still harrowing and hurtful, unfair and unforgiving.

The dichotomy in which I existed after his death has not changed, merely shifted.  I am still and stuck and yet move forward every day.  I am sad and despairing and filled with joy.

Vivienne didn't replace Gabriel, but she did heal some of the hurt, fill some of the gaping wounds.

Life, as ever, moves on.

But today, I can take a moment, here and now, to reflect and remember my son.  My beautiful, tiny, fragile little boy.

And so many, many others (my own lost pregnancies included).

Not forgotten.  All missed.  All loved.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Happy birthday, darling.

3 years.

My heart is full and breaking.

There is so much I want to say and the words won't come.

I miss him.  I love him.

I wish you were here, baby boy.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Been Awhile

But I've been busy!  Mostly with this (4 wks):

And this (8 wks):

I'll try to write more soon.  You know, when she's doing more of this:

Until then, I'll be like this:

Monday, May 14, 2012

2 weeks in

The birth story is still coming, I promise.  What with all the pumping and feeding and trying to sleep when the baby does (and visitors and laundry, dear god, the laundry will it ever end?), throw in a dog that is still acclimating to the change and keeping baby upstairs and a temperamental laptop, I get maybe an hour a day to be on the computer which is not nearly enough to do everything I need to do.

But in the interim . . .

It's shocking to realize my baby is already (almost) 2 weeks old.  On one hand, she's been here forever and ever.  On the other, what a terribly short time that is.  I'm realizing the heartbreak of parenting a living child - the time flies so quickly and it is so ephemeral.  Already, Vivienne is changing. 

My little tiny girl had regained her birth weight by her one week appointment, and now she's visibly bigger (and heavier).  She's getting a second chin and chubby arms and legs and her hands no longer look a size too big.  Her hair is lighter (unsurprisingly, she's going to be a blonde child - DH was platinum blonde and I had dark blonde hair until late toddlerhood when it began darkening), and her eyes are changing too.  It's still debatable whether they will stay grey like mine or turn green like DH's.  She tries to hold her head up, eager to see the world around her.

I remember telling my mother last week that I don't want her to change, that she can't get bigger yet, that she's got to stay small forever, or at least long enough for me to enjoy it.  Alas, time marches on and I can't quite get over a tiny bit of resentment at how much of it has been spent sleeping or attached to the pump.  I try to make the most of the time she is alert and awake.  I've spent hours just watching the expressions flit over her face (three guesses where my favorite nickname of 'Baby Fish Face' came from).  She has the most gorgeous smile and there is also a grin and a sideways glance of the eyes that will be killer some day when they aren't just reflexes and ingrained survival instinct but are 'real' - though I'll happily coo over the expressions now, because they are so amazing.

So she's already begun to grow, and grow up, and as sad as that makes me I also can't wait for more.  I can't wait to see how she reacts to the pool and going swimming and what she thinks of applesauce and pear puree and watching her discover things and begin moving and talking . . . I want to jump ahead and I want time to stop all at once.

It's different being a mother to a living child (perceptive, aren't I?) - the thing is that time did stop with Gabriel.  There was only then and that was it.  We only had a few minutes to cram in all the love of a lifetime.  We never got to watch the expressions on his face, we never got to see what would happen next.  I'll never know what his eye color would have been, nor what he would have liked or loathed.  He is forever frozen in that moment of his life and his death, almost as frozen as a picture.  The only thing we knew after is grief, and trying to piece together and remember what joy had come before.  Whereas, with Vivienne, it's ongoing.  She is vital, she moves, she breathes, she changes, she lives.  We are not forever mourning that moment of loss, that snuffed potential - we are mourning each tiny moment even while anticipating the next.  The anticipation, the expectation, the hope of the future, that is what is different.

I miss him terribly right now.  I know he weighed heavily on DH, especially at the end of my pregnancy, but I was still in suspended animation.  I knew then that what would weigh on me would be the common everyday things of life with a living baby, and I was right.  Doing things with Viv, it reminds me of the things I didn't do with Gabe.  The absence is magnified by her presence.  Sometimes I think I feel a small presence, a little boy at my side peering over my shoulder, unsure what to make of this creature, unsure where he fits in now.  Poor older brother, is it any easier being a spirit sibling?

And yet, the sadness is not lingering, not really.  Perhaps it is lost in the exhaustion of a newborn, perhaps it's buried to erupt later.  Perhaps there is simply too much joy in cuddling the flesh and blood that are tangible in my arms.  If I kiss her every chance I can, and hold her close to my heart for an extra beat or two, well, that's not so strange, I expect.

Ah, I hear her stirring.  It's nearly time for her next feeding and I need to pump.  Again.  But here are a couple of pictures.  Somehow, we ended up with a completely gorgeous baby. 

                                         (Vivienne, 6 days old, half asleep, half smiling)


           (Vivienne, 11 days old, looking out the window, presumably thinking deep, deep thoughts)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Vivienne Rose has arrived!

Forgive the brevity and lateness. Between new baby girl and internet and laptop issues, this is the first chance I've had to get online (seriously).

Details and pics to come later, promise.

For now though, vital statistics:

High blood pressure that refused to go down led to 24 hour collection, which I was told was negative, but actually did contain protein - enough for a 'mild pre-eclampsia' diagnosis. Even higher blood pressure led to overnight admission for monitoring and another 24 hour urine collection (increasing proteins) on Friday night/Saturday by a fill-in doc of the practice, followed by release to strict bedrest and follow up with my doctor on Monday.

That resulted in admission to the hospital for induction. My doc said that if she hadn't been on vacation, I would have already had the baby because she wasn't thrilled with the developing pre-eclampsia, no matter how mild it appeared to be.

Cervidil was started around 4:30 pm on April 30, exactly 39 weeks. There is a really funny (to me, anyway) story I'll tell later about my labor/delivery and how it was rather precipitate for what we had planned.

Vivienne made her debut at 8:17 am on May 1 after about an hour to an hour and a half of pushing. I was on mag sulfate, and between that and the sertraline in the last tri, they had NICU pediatriacs standing by in case of breathing difficulties. She was taken directly to the warmer where she scored a 6 on the 1 minute apgar (points removed for color and tone). Her breathing was fine, but no crying or fussing. At 5 minutes, her apgar was 8 (again, points removed for color and tone) and it was 9 at 10 minutes. They handed her to DH and finally told him it was normal for mag babies to be a little pale (he was getting really concerned). She pinked up fine and hasn't stopped moving or flailing since.

She weighed in at 7 lbs, 9 oz (ha! where was my monster baby?!) and she was 21 inches long. Initially, breastfeeding went well, subsequently we've had difficulties latching, which have been resolved by pumping and supplementing with formula (making all three of us much, much happier and more relaxed). We are trying to catch up sleep - the hospital, lovely as it was, wasn't conducive to it, since I had to spend an extra 24 hours on mag in bed in L&D (which isn't really designed for that, tbh). My mom came in the day she was born, my in-laws visited soon after. We have some awesome pictures. She's absolutely delightful in every way, and we couldn't be more in love.

Gabriel is very present in my mind, as I trace her gorgeous little face and see the familial similarities, as I hold her and remember holding him. The joy is undiluted, but the sadness is also present. Vivienne does not replace him, never would we dream of asking her to, but the hole in our hearts and lives is differently shaped now - stronger in some areas and more raw in others.

Still, our girl is wonderful, and we are existing in exhausted amazement.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

I will cut you.

So after all this time, I'm still here at a day shy of 38 weeks. Baby has moved head down and into birth position (though is not well engaged in the pelvis yet), and is healthy as can be or so say the tests. The last growth scan indicated a 7+ pound infant and my new doctor cheerfully informed me that if I go to 40 weeks, we may have a 9-pounder on our hands. I did not find that amusing.

They originally told me less than a 5% chance of getting to May, and now we're looking at scheduling an induction for that first week of May. It's surreal - happy news, of course! the best possible outcomes - but surreal. I'm hanging in there - the complaints of pregnancy are normal ones and I'm tired and ready to be done with work. They will not let me go past my due date, but unless baby makes an appearance this coming week or the 24-hour urine collection or bloodwork I'll do tomorrow (due to another high blood pressure reading in office) suggest pre-eclampsia, then we're pretty much looking at induction the following week. I'm guessing this will end with induction, given that not much has happened naturally. No cervical change (save some shortening) since the cerclage came out.

I find that I am tired and more grumpy than I've any real right to be. My doctors have been great with listening to me and really hearing what I am saying about my anxiety and working with me to put me at ease. I have a lot of testing and monitoring (probably made easier by the fact that my blood pressure has given high/wonky readings so they can categorize it under PIH/Pre-E observation and testing, though it continues to come back clear time and again. . .). I have a few contractions - mostly BH, I think. Random, mildly annoying. The baby is big and stretching makes me cringe because various sharp body parts are poked into painful places and there really isn't much room in there any longer.

We're mostly ready. Not at work, but hey, if I can just finish two or three things, I'll rest easy about it. We've got our plans laid out for leave and are 90% sure about our plans for childcare. The upstairs is as clean and organized as it has ever been. It's nice up there - I want to spend time there. Amazing that a mere few weeks ago, we couldn't walk all the way into one room and had dedicated pathways to navigate the other. Everything up there now has a place (save the linen closet, which we are working on today now that we've gotten new shelving). The carseat has been installed and the hospital bag packed since the night before the cerclage removal. The co-sleeper, pack'n'play, swing and bouncer have been assembled and have batteries ready and waiting. The nursery is pretty much done, though DH is going to go over the carpet with the steam cleaner one more time (there is a persistent sort of stain in one corner - it gets lighter each time, but isn't gone yet). We've interviewed a pediatrician, and while I won't claim it was love at first sight, the practice's policies were in line with our own and she is board certified and affiliated with the hospitals I wanted and takes our insurance, so it's as good a place to start as any. If we don't really click with her, there are hundreds of others to choose from.

 Beyond that, I'm just sort of assuming on-the-job training. I know a fair amount about newborn and infant care nad my husband knows much less, but in the end, we shrugged and said they'll show us much of what we need in the hospital and the internet is full of resources. Certainly, dumber people that us manage to reproduce and not kill their offspring through sheer ineptitude or lack of experience, so I'm going to assume that we'll survive.

God, I hope so.

 But mostly, the only thing I really wanted to say is that the next person who smirks and tells me to get some sleep now, HAHAHAHAHA, because you won't be able to once the baby arrives is getting shanked. It's neither clever nor helpful advice, and because I can't sleep and am fucking tired, I'm nearing the point where I will not be held responsible for my actions.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Oh, hi! Yeah, we're still here.

So . . . yeah.

Short version: Baby is doing well, at 35 and a half weeks, passing BPPs and moving strongly, practicing breathing and flipping breech and back (currently breech. sigh). Cerclage is being removed on Monday. More on that later.

Long version:

Let's start with work. I'm going to summarize a long period by saying this - I applied for a vacancy in my office when my colleague left. I was one of the final candidates, but I didn't get the job. It went to someone with more experience. The entire episode left me feeling pretty bitter - not that they didn't hire me, I can understand why on many levels and the person they did hire is fantastic and I genuinely like that person - but the way certain things were handled (or not - like not informing me that I was not chosen, which is a huge lack of common courtesy given that I've worked here for four years and share an office with the new person). It's been a revelation and a big disappointment; not only not getting a job that would have been personally loads better for me, but finding out that I mean less to this organization than I thought hurt me a lot. Stupid in many ways, but after all the time and effort (unpaid and largely unrewarded effort) I've put it in, it was distressing to learn that it didn't matter more. Add to that the fact that I took on an extra department (essentially a full time job by itself)in September and have not received any additional compensation for it, and when I became eligible again in March was asked to wait until September 2012 for a reclassification, and I haven't been a particularly happy worker bee. Now, before pitchforks and such go up, the main reason for the request to wait was to my monetary advantage in the long run - there are raises coming, and if I reclass now I will be ineligible. Waiting allows me to get a higher salary (based on a higher rate + plus higher equity rates across the positions), but still . . . a full year of trying to do 3 jobs, for free, is not easy to swallow. Nor is the fact that I essentially allowed it to happen and screwed myself over in the process.

On the other hand, it made cutting back my hours easier and boy oh boy can I not wait for maternity leave just to be away for awhile.

What else has been going on?

Baby stuff. I kept meaning to update and then I'd think, well, let me wait for the next appointment. And uh, here we are, coming up on cerclage removal.

Generally, things are fine. No gestational diabetes, child growing nicely. There was a bit of a scare around 30 weeks, when the perinatalogist appt revealed a baby 1-3 weeks ahead in measurements across the board and also fluid levels above normal, but not quite into official polyhydramnios range. That could be associated with birth defects. However, when I returned for what ended up being my last appointment at 33 and a half weeks, the growth had evened out and was within a week of gestational age, and the fluid levels had returned to normal. Apparently, we just literally caught a growth spurt in progress. At 33 and a half weeks, the baby weighed over 5 lbs, and the peri absolutely glowed about how well things had gone and . . . released me. He told me he'd see me again next pregnancy for another stitch.

I've since been on weekly appointments with my OB, with a BPP/AFI each time. The first one passed, but not by much, as the child decided that was the perfect time to nap and apparently takes sleep as seriously as I do. No big deal, except when you are doing an u/s specifically to check on things like, oh, movement and variable heart-rate and practice breathing . . . but the last one was a fiesty moving baby. Literally flipping back and forth, back and forth between vertex and breech.

Cerclage is coming out on Monday, around noon. We hope baby has returned to vertex, but it comes out either way. It is possible that baby could be born shortly thereafter, though more than likely it will be some time. My cervix has begun to shorten, but no signs of dilation or effacement yet. Of course, the instability/incompetency is at the interal os, so my water could break next Wednesday and then comes baby. Or I could be induced at the end of the month. It doesn't really make planning very easy, to be honest, when you say "I could have the baby Monday. Or in four weeks. Yeah." We just hope baby is head down when/if my water breaks, as it is an emergency c-section otherwise because of the risks of cord prolapse, etc. Clearly, there is room enough to move, but the inclination appears to be . . . lacking. Monkey baby. Or as I blurted out when I found out we were breech AGAIN, "Little bastard!" The u/s tech looked horrified, and not overly reassured when I said, "Oh don't worry, I know who the father is!" Ok, no, that just happened in my head. I thought it would be in poor taste to call the baby a bastard. But I thought it. So I'm not a very nice person. Meh.

As for how I am feeling - awful. I am completely exhausted, not sleeping well (does any pregnant woman sleep well at 9 months?) and my pelvis feels like it is going to split in half whenever I get up and walk. Also, if I stay in any one position (sitting, standing, laying down, whatever) for too long (how long is too long is unknown and variable) I can barely move. It's awful and painful and I feel vaguely amazed that I never realized before how painful this could be. But so long as baby is good, I hang in there. I'm starting to feel more cramping and a contraction here or there, but nothing awful yet.

Emotionally, I'm fairly stable, but the anxiety is increasing and the idea the baby could be here next week is stressing me out. We don't feel ready. At all. There is just so much to get done. The nursery is mostly finished, save a few details like ironing curtains or carpet cleaning, etc. Diapers and clothes are washed and ready. But the rest of the house is a mess and the carseat isn't installed, etc. Much to do.

We toured the hospital last night - there is a new wing that has just opened for maternity services and it is swanky and nice. I mean, like really really nice. That, more than anything, bummed me out about the increasing likelihood of a c-section. I mean, whatever is necessary to get baby here safely is what needs to happen. But the labor/delivery rooms are incredible and the labor nurses are all doula trained and so on and so on. . . I want a chance for one piece of this (other than conception, as my husband reminded me mischievously) not to require the highest levels of medical intervention and monitoring and care, you know? I won't feel like a failure or anything if it doesn't happen that way, but it would be nice. But again, whatever is needed to get baby here alive and safe and sound.

So, that's the rough update. I'm sure I've skipped tons, but frankly, I have to get back to work. Too much left to do and potentially very little time left to do it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Today was a better day.

Yesterday wasn't really a lot of fun, what with the fasting and glucose and needle sticks and all. And the surprise 'payroll is running a day early!' escapades and so on. But the good news is that it ended and overall, I slept a little better (by which I mean it didn't take me two hours to fall asleep again after I got up to pee).

Today had its moments as well, which weren't fun, but I didn't cry. I didn't feel like crying. I laughed several times. Dealt with a few issues, and absolutely loved the Onion article from today that could be read as a retelling of my recent work experience entitled "Nation Trying, Okay?" (can be found here). (Seriously - LOVED IT).

Oh, plus also?


Chocolate cake and donuts for all! Ok, not really, because that's not healthy. But I could not be more relieved. All the values from all four draws, plus the HGBA1C, were well within normal ranges/cut offs. That risk being off the table is so huge to me, I cannot explain the buoyant feeling I had much of the day. The idea of the increased risks associated with GD, the additional stress of monitoring and treatment . . . all of it, no longer a concern. Thank you, body, for getting this one right.

Of course, the swelling is getting worse and my b/p is creeping up. And my doc said I've got to find a way to destress and cut my hours or I'm going to be pulled out of work, so it's not all roses. And I know nothing about the job application, except that my coworker was apparently really surprised I applied (I wasn't supposed to hear that. But I did.) - I try really hard not to fret and worry over it, though I'm not always successful. I've left work earlier than usual, though there is still work to be done in that arena. I'm scheduled to discuss these issues with my boss soon - not put off on my end, but massive budget reports can't be put off either, and I was happy to wait until we could really discuss it.

The anti-depressants were not fun the first few days - nausea, headaches, dizziness, etc. But it seems (a week later) to be getting better, and I do see some improvement. Like I said - sleep is a bit better, not crying every day, feels like a better ability to focus or at least not get completely overwhelmed. I mean, I can still hear the voices and they say awful things, but it's easier to remind myself that my perceptions are skewed right now. I don't know if that makes sense or not. I don't feel suddenly all better, it's possible this is initially a placebo effect, but I feel a little more centered or stable and that makes the day easier, so I'm not going to analyze it too much.

So yeah. Something feels a little like sunlight today, and I'm going to take it for what it's worth. And maybe enjoy a cookie.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Just to ice the cake . . .

Oh, that's an even worse pun than I realized, because I am about to update on my glucose screen - FAIL. Cut off is 130 and I came in at an astonishing 144.


Three hour glucose tolerance test up next, on Tuesday. I cannot express how delighted I am. Of course, if I have GD (as I'd expected to), then I want it known and treated. Unquestionably. But oh, it makes me so nervous - baby is already measuring/weighing ahead of the curve (good growth or macrosoma?) and that is worrisome. As is the risk of delayed lung maturity associated with diabetes (particularly when one considers I've just started taking Zoloft again, which carries a minute risk of breathing problems at birth as well) and the increased risk of prematurely aging placenta. I know I will be in good hands and continue to be monitored and everything, but the anxiety just ratcheted up ten notches.

But baby is kicking hard inside me, still head down (back to my right side, I'm guessing), so I have to suppose whatever happens we will be fine.

I'm still really unhappy about this whole GTT thing though. Been there, done that before. It's massively boring, headachey, shaky and generally not fun.

Update to the last.

Not much of one, I'm afraid. I'm feeling pretty scattered and uncertain. I felt a bit more peacefulness having a plan, and to be honest, I had a really nice weekend. I slept a bit better, went out with DH and even updated one of my stories (the Ron/Hermione piece of Controversial Horror That I Just Do Not Get).

Oh, right. I need to back up a moment. My coworker/former supervisor announced her resignation Friday. That has affected a number of things. I don't care to go into all the backstory, but I knew awhile ago this was possible, and knew last week when the new job offer was made. The soon-to-be vacant position is a couple of grades higher than my present position, pays well, and is busy and carries a lot of responsibility, but is less work than I am currently trying to manage (being one job, not three). They are looking to hire an internal candidate and to move quickly. I applied yesterday. I have no idea what will happen. I want that job so badly I can taste it, and the thought of not getting it fills me with despair and tears. It would be so much better for me personally that I feel sick whenever I think about it.

So that's going on. I had a panicky couple of evenings struggling with rewriting my resume and penning a good cover letter and digging up references and chastising myself for over-thinking the entire fucking thing because, dude, the hiring manager is my current boss; she knows me and is going to hire me or not on the basis of my performance to date and my strengths/weaknesses. She's not even going to read my resume or cover letter except to see if I took it seriously. It's done and out of my hands now though. I don't know if there is anyone else they have in mind, and I haven't spoken to my boss about it except a brief conversation in which I told her I was going to apply and that I wasn't sure about using her as a reference since she is the hiring manager, but that I would like to list her since I'm just updating everything anyway. She said it was fine, not to worry about it, and chuckled. Whatever the hell that means. I'd like to think she wouldn't let me make an ass out of myself and get my hopes up (she knows how badly I want a higher salary and how much is personally dependent on it for me) if I weren't in consideration, but who the fuck knows?

I didn't go to work on Monday. I didn't sleep well and was exhausted and decided if there was one day I could spare, that was it. I slept for 6 extra hours and felt relatively good when I got up. I then logged onto my work remotely, thinking I could do one or two things from home, and lo and behold, I had nearly 50 emails. I immediately felt a headache come on and subsequently wanted to cry. So I shut it down and ate some cereal. Tuesday was ok. Yesterday was a lot of walking and an OB appointment.

Baby looks fine. Head down (for now), good fluid, cervix over 4 cm (the tech wasn't sure why I had a cerclage, but I didn't bother explaining). Baby kept trying to grab a very long, big foot. It was entertaining to watch. I've only gained 1 pound in the six weeks since I last saw my OB. My b/p was ok, but Dr. B wasn't thrilled with my regular readings. I redid the 1 hour glucose challenge (rather unexpectedly). Talked with Dr. B (whom, you may or may not recall, is due 6 days after I am) about the upcoming rotation and how things will work as she is cutting back hours and availability.

And then we talked about the two big things. Work and depression. She said that I have to work less and find a way to reduce the stress. That she will write letters or make calls or do whatever she can to help but that if I don't, she's going to pull me out of work and put me on full bedrest. She said she doesn't like bedrest, it's not fun, she isn't sure how effective it really is, but that if it is the only way she can get me to stop, she will do it.

She also agreed, when I laid out my symptoms for her that I am depressed, and that starting medication immediately was a good idea. She wants me to follow through with getting a psych, but called in the prescription for Zoloft with no hesitation. Glad it's not just in my head, anyway.

So while it seems like a generally good visit, I left feeling so much worse. When I returned to work, it was nearly 5:00 (DH had to stay late and I had reports due yesterday that I hadn't yet submitted). There were no handicap spots available, but I was already in a lot of pain from the walking I'd done already that day. So I drove around, eventually for 30 minutes, waiting for someone to leave so I could park near the building and go finish my reports. The longer it dragged on, the more upset I got. I started crying in the car as I circled the building.

It comes down to this. I feel like an utter failure. I'm failing at my job, and now I have to reduce my hours and my stress. I'm already so far behind I don't know how it's possible. Reduction in hours isn't even realistic, given that I commute with my husband who can't reduce his hours. I feel like I've let everyone down by taking on a task I couldn't handle and now things are falling apart and I'm walking in and announcing my doctor says I have to stop it. I feel like a failure as a mother/pregnant woman because I shouldn't even question the necessity of it or how to do it if it's affecting my child and his/her safety. I can't even manage the balance when the kid isn't even here yet. And I can't stand how limited I am and how bad it makes me feel, like a total failure as a woman because I need that stupid handicap permit and that stupid handicap spot and was in tears of pain because I could barely walk back out to the car to leave last night. It feels like everything I'm touching is failing.

Maybe that is depression talking. But there again, is another failure. I managed through the terrible, horrible anxiety of first tri and then through 21 weeks, and then through viability - white knuckled and sick with fear, it's true - but without medication. The times I teetered, I went back to trying to make it. And now my job has driven to back to taking meds and I feel weak. I know that isn't true. I don't think people who need meds are weak, and I've taken meds before and they helped. I think I've been right to say, "No, I'm past the point I can do this without help" and clearly, my OB agrees with me. But it feels like another jeering voice, another cry of "See? You aren't good enough, and you'll never be good enough. Someone else could manage all of this. You are too stupid or too weak to get it right." It's nothing to do with logic, but it hurts a lot.

I just want everything to stop. I want the other job to come through, which would resolve my money fears and my daycare dilemmas and the worst of the job issues. I thank those of you who commented or sent messages encouraging me to quit or find a new job or make a plan. I wanted to say - I get it. I do. It's just not that easy when you are 28 weeks pregnant. There is no way I could just quit - we've got debt, not enough savings, my insurance is provided through my job, and I make about 60% of our household income. Quitting is simply not optional. As for a new job - well, I've applied for one. If that doesn't work, there will be serious conversation about how to adjust the current one - but I will, whatever happens on that front, probably look for another job after I return from maternity leave. There is no point in looking now. I do want to say though, that part of what makes it hard is that I actually really like a good deal about my job. Not the current situation, not the new department, but the other departments (frustrating as they can occasionally be, that will be anywhere), and my division. I like where things are headed under the big head boss and I want to be a part of it. That makes the rest of this feel so much worse.

Anyway. That's where things are right now. That's where I have to leave it. Just try to get through the day, and then rest. Repeat tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

And the sun will continue to rise.

So. Here's the thing.

The baby is fine. The husband, pets, assorted family and friends are all generally fine. I, on the other hand, not so fine.

I hate to say this. I am a blessed individual in so many ways, that it feels like the height of ingratitude or the grossest display of selfishness and indulgence to be not fine. My health is pretty good, all things taken together; this pregnancy has progressed with relative ease (for me) and relatively minimal physical discomfort (apart from the increasing difficulty that comes with both third tri and diminished physical capacity from weeks of near-bedrest). I have a steady job, a house in decent condition, climate control, many things we don't really need, and I have amazing family and friends who love me more than I deserve.

Which makes it hard for me to say what is true: I am depressed. My life currently reads like the questionnaire for a depression medication ad. Work has gone from bad to worse, and the situation is upsetting in the extreme. Most of my stress, but not all of it by any means, stems from work; as things get more grave, I am able to do less and less and I feel more and more incapable of doing any of it. I am not compensated appropriately for what I'm doing and haven't any idea of whether or not appropriate compensation is a) possible or b) forthcoming. That, in turn, is stressing out other things like planning for daycare when the little one arrives and general stresses that many other expectant parents share about how a budget suddenly accommodates a third, quite expensive being.

But I came to the realization this week, following what can only be described as an utter and complete meltdown on Friday, in front of my boss and coworkers (that I could not control at all, which kills me with mortification): I am on the verge on a nervous breakdown. I cannot continue to cope with everything.

-I no longer see a point at which this gets better.
-I no longer see a light at the end of the tunnel.
-I no longer have interest in things I enjoy, and no energy or desire to do things I expressed interest in.
-I find myself unable to write.
-I have no energy or interest in the state of my house.
-I am constantly tired, which after a bad day borders more on sheer, total exhaustion. I know this is probably exaggerated by pregnancy and interrupted sleep.
-I am having more and more viscerally disturbing dreams.
-My appetite is not what could be called desirable.
-I find myself lapsing into escapist daydreams more and more frequently.\
-I am averaging a cry a day, which is really unlike me generally.

The list continues. I am well aware that some of this is normal. Some of this is attributable to circumstances (pregnancy, stressful job). But the sum of it is that it is affecting my life in a negative way. When asked for his opinion my husband said immediately and with no hesitation that yes, I am depressed, and yes, he's noticed. A friend said some time ago that my work situation was untenable, and that something would have to give and I needed to ensure it was not my sanity.

It is my sanity.

So, here's the deal. My next OB appointment is next week. I intend to lay it out for the OB, and express as fervently as I can (while remaining calm) that this is really adversely affecting my life. That reducing stress at work is not an option, that fewer hours aren't really an option, and that I cannot cope any longer. There is a physical toll this is taking. Seek a prescription for Zoloft or a referral to a psych. Go from there.

In one sense, I feel massively relieved for finally stopping the struggle and admitting to myself that this isn't working anymore, that I can't do this. In another sense, I feel like a massive failure at work and at home, and I know that mental health is insidious and awful, so I'm trying not to listen to all of that. Work can't be changed. It's a shitty situation and I'm furious with myself for agreeing to it and putting myself in it. I'm angry that I was overly optimistic about it. I'm angry about the compensation. But I also recognize that it's not changing anytime soon, and if I can't cope with it anymore, then I need to find some other form of support or help.

I've known all along that I would probably need meds at some point in this pregnancy, and I've held off for a good long time. Baby is a good weight right now, and one of the reasons I've hesitated to do anything is because of the risks associated with low birthweight, and how important birthweight is to a preemie. I'm hopeful that I can start meds after 30 weeks, when it will be a little critical, especially given baby's current size.

I just can't go through everyday feeling like this anymore. I honestly don't know if things will get better. It doesn't feel like it right now. I do know though, that it will either get better or it won't. That at least I'm doing what I can do to get some help. And that no matter what the sun will keep on rising.

Or it won't, which will make this pretty moot anyhow. So, really, it's sort of a win-win, right?

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I don't think I can do it anymore.

Work, mostly, I mean. I've spent nearly every day for the past week and a half (which does include the 14 hours I worked this weekend) feeling like I'm being beaten up, run over, and am utterly incapable of doing anything correctly or on time or effectively. Even after finishing the massive report with a scootch of time to spare, there was no sense of accomplishment or relief, only dread about what I'd had to push off and what we'd discovered wasn't done yet or correctly.

The stress is unbelievable. There are things going on that make a lot of things feel less stable. A colleague may be leaving. Two months ago, I'd have jumped at her job and I think I'd have been hired for it. If she does leave now, I'd still apply but I have no confidence that they'd actually hire me.

Full stop. I have no confidence anymore. I feel like every thing I do is a struggle or wrong. I leave every day feeling like a failure.

I don't want to do this anymore. I don't think I can.

I have no choice. The situation may change in the future, but it's not going to change in the short-term, unless my colleague leaves. Or something happens way, way above me.

I'm not seeking advice, there is none to give. I just need to say somewhere that I feel utterly defeated. That I'm tired. That I'm terrified I will continue to feel like this every single day and the thought makes me want to crawl into bed and never leave again. Demoralized. Exhausted. Wiped out. Like a burden.

I'm so tired of it. I used to be good at my job. I miss that feeling.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Update on today's perinatalogist appt

So I'm at 25w3d today, and this was just a regular follow-up to check growth, to check the cervix and the cerclage and generally to check in with the peri.

In brief: Everything is great! He's very pleased! Very pleased indeed!

(also, pretty bouncy. He reminded me of Tigger today)

He started by saying, with great enthusiasm, that I was the most pregnant I'd been and it was wonderful! And onwards from there. . .


- Baby looks good. He got clear views of all chambers of the heart, the face, feet, hands, stomach, spine, etc. Measurements range from on track to a little ahead. Peri was very pleased by the overall measurements and size.

- Which leads to . . . baby weighs in at 2 lbs, 1 oz. Of course, this is not an exact science, but the peri was pretty assured s/he is hovering around the 2 lb mark, give or take a few ounces. And he was very happy, because a good birthweight is a contributing factor in success in early birth, should that happen. S/he is above average, but not worrisomely so.

- Cervix is at 3.3 cm, which is down from the last check at the OB's office, but well within good/normal standards. The peri complimented himself on the lovely stitch, but then said seriously that it was creating the stable platform for the internal os that we wanted.

- AFI (amniotic fluid index)is over 15, which is good. The numerous worries over whether or not the ridiculously copious amounts of discharge are too copious or too watery are laid to rest. Amniotic fluid levels are fine (and consequently, so is baby's digestive system).

- Baby remains the same sex baby has been. Not that it matters tremendously, but after all the weeks of calling baby 'Oliver' or 'Vivienne' it would be a shock if that changed.

- Baby was breech today, but that doesn't mean anything, since baby was definitely head-down earlier this week. S/He is moving around with no problem - I feel more distinct kicks/thumps when baby is head down - once or twice s/he has moved transverse and it feels weird and baby doesn't seem to care for it much either. I anticipate more flip-flopping over the next few weeks. It's such a cool/weird/stomach-dropping on a roller coaster ride feeling.

So, all in all, peri is quite pleased with the normalcy of the progress. I'm quite pleased that things are well. I stopped in the ridiculous overpriced baby boutique in the building (which houses all manner of women and children's health specialists, a baby boutique and maternity store in addition to a couple of other prenatal things) - I managed to avoid the ridiculous frilly dresses and complicated sailor suits (ha! you thought I'd spill here?) and the overpriced practical clothing (seriously, I don't pay that much for my own clothes and I don't vomit or poop on them regularly), but I was suckered in by the softest (duck or chicken down soft) yellow blankie. I could have bought a bouncer for what I paid for it, but since I will not be making one, I couldn't resist. I love it.

And, for the record, kiddo is pretty good looking. I admit this isn't the best shot ever, as I took it of the picture with my iPod, but still. We love baby - I keep staring at this in both awe and a vague feeling of 'creepy' because these are sort of creepy, really. Also because there is an echo in the picture where you can see what looks like another face and DH is taking great pleasure in pretending it's an evil mirror twin giving baby evil instructions (like 'Kick the bladder harder! hahahahaha!'). But still, seeing baby and tracing baby's features and comparing to Gabriel (I can't get over how different they look - a result, surely, of both Gabriel's gestational age at birth and the fact that he had DH's long, narrow face with higher cheekbones, while baby has inherited my rounder face and chubby cheeks).

Really, in the midst of an awful, shitty week that has had me feeling beaten down and trampled over, this was a good day.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Weird dream

I frequently have weird dreams and pregnancy has made that worse. Usually I lose part of the plot so they make no sense when I try to share them, but this one was worth sharing, especially when I finally remembered why I wasn't totally freaked out.

I dreamed baby came early, like this week. Which you would think would be scary and awful, but instead everyone was really relieved. I remember telling DH that it was much better this way because now I could go to work without worrying about the stress levels or blood pressure or anything. And I remember DH and I were excited that we got to watch baby develop.

But then I figured out why we weren't upset - we would put the baby back. So it was sort of like daycare - we'd take the baby out and put the baby in NICU for a day or two and then put the baby back inside me for awhile so the baby got the best of both worlds.

So freaking bizarre.

Friday, January 20, 2012

BDSM is really more my thing, plus updates

Right - over 24 weeks! Yay! Viability! Yay! I meant to update Monday with a new bump picture and yeah, it didn't happen. And then all sorts of shit happened at work and I've had about three meltdowns in which I cried, declared myself a failure, cried some more, wondered what the fuck I'm going to do, etc.

The answer - no fucking clue but persevere, and something will work out or something will break and so long as it isn't my sanity and I continue to have a job, then I'm sort of 'whatever' about it at this point.

As for what the hell the title means, well. The gist of it is this: I write fanfiction, of the Harry Potter variety. I know I've said this before, and it's no secret. I have also explained before that I generally prefer a pairing of Hermione with a twin and really don't dig Ron and Hermione. Frankly, I think it was lazy of JK Rowling, but whatever. She's the author, she's got the money, she doesn't care what I think and I've got fanfiction to correct what I find amiss. But I recently began publishing a story (a canon compliant Ron/Hermione story) that dealt with pregnancy loss and infertility and it was really personal and holy fuck.

Because my profile said I prefer twin/Hermione pairings, and because my teaser hinted George might have a solution to Ron and Hermione's infertility problems, you'd have thought I personally insulted the mother of some of these people. It got significantly worse when I posted chapter 2 and there was a two sentence exchange after George shows Hermione a copy of an ancient ritual he's found that might help them get pregnant, and Hermione realizes a third person has to be present to cast an incantation while the couple are intimate. That's all I said. I didn't say they'd do it - she and Ron agree to consider it. It's very dangerous, potentially illegal, etc. And it was two sentences out of 6500+ words - but it's what people latched onto. I got some really negative responses (reviews and PMs) and it honestly really started to upset me. Like in a bad way. I feel stupid because, dude, there is no universal approval and it's fucking fanfic. But it really was bothering me, especially when I was called perverted. I mean, I write smutty stuff, I write some kink, and not only has it been well received, but this particular piece is one of the least smutty/explicit adult fictions I've written, ever.

So let me state here for the record, set it straight - Incestuous voyeurism is not my preferred kink. As I said above, BDSM is really more my style.


Baby seems to be enjoying the music I'm playing right now, and is dancing inside me. Sort of nice, as baby had managed to turn in such a way that I wasn't feeling nearly as much movement. Dance away, little one!

I'm still receiving the shots, things seem good. Baby is definitely growing, and lord do I get sore during these growth spurts as my uterus grows and my abdomen separates to make room. Those are the times I'm glad I'm restricted, because if I were doing this while maintaining a normal activity level, I think I'd want to die. Pregnancy is painful.

I stumbled onto this song on my iPod today, and given the way work has been going, given the way I've been feeling about my writing overall, given a lot of things, but especially the confusing feelings that swirl about my babies - the one inside my belly and the one inside my heart - that I really am not ready to write down and analyze, but hover between joy and fear and pain and love - this song seems appropriate. I've played it several times today, and I think it's my song for my kids. Do you have songs that represent things? I have tons of theme songs, if you will.

This one is (of course) by Noel Gallagher - The Masterplan. I dunno that I believe in a masterplan. I railed against the idea of such a thing after Gabriel died, but sometimes. . . I don't know. I just love this song.

Take the time to make some sense
Of what you want to say
And cast your words away upon the waves
Bring them back with Acquiesce
On a ship of hope today
And as they fall upon the shore
Tell them not to fear no more
Say it loud and sing it proud
And they...

Will dance if they want to dance
Please brother take a chance
You know they're gonna go
Which way they want to go
All we know is that we don't know
What is gonna be
Please brother let it be
Life on the other hand won't let you understand
Why we're all part of the masterplan

I'm not saying right is wrong
It's up to us to make
The best of all things that come our way
And all the things that have been have past
The answer's in the looking glass
There's four and twenty million doors
Down life's endless corridor
Say it loud and sing it proud
And they...

Will dance if they want to dance
Please brother take a chance
You know they're gonna go
Which way they want to go
All we know is that we don't know
What is gonna be
Please brother let it be
Life on the other hand won't let you understand
Why we're all part of the masterplan

Monday, January 2, 2012

22 weeks, a new year and shame

Today equals 22 weeks. Yay! And also, nail-biting. It is good to be beyond the point I lost Gabriel. And it's scary to think that if anything goes wrong in the next two weeks then I will face the same thing, hear the same words and cradle a body for far too little time. My friend T has been faithfully emailing me each week with a countdown to viability. I admit, hearing 2 more weeks! is lovely, but I just need it to be here already so that I can relax more.

But as little one is very squirmy, I feel some relief. I just hope what I continue to refer to as copious amounts of discharge is really just that and not a slow fluid leak. Er, not that I'm paranoid or anything.

Let's see. A new year started. We celebrated with sparkling grape juice. It was tasty, but not quite the same as champagne. There really isn't much to add. Returning to work was not fun, but at least I'm feeling like there is a possibility that I may not be behind forever. We'll see if that changes tomorrow. I wish things were easier, but it's better not to dwell too much on work, lest I have another breakdown.

Beyond that, if I've made any half-hearted revolution, it's to write more. I've been fairly shut down this pregnancy - between the pregnancy and work, I just don't feel like expressing a lot. I certainly feel a lot, I turn over posts in my mind, start crafting them. I wish to find the right words but when I re-read it later, everything feels repetitive and difficult. Likewise, I have not updated my stories in months. I've re-read them, started working on new chapters and then . . . nothing. I just do not wish to work much on them, and the bit I write feels shallow, rings false. It's frustrating. I know I can do better, but it's not flowing right now and I don't want to post crap for the sake of posting something.

Switching tacks with no warning, we went to BRU (it was hard not to hyperventilate - will these reactions ever stop?), and finished the registry I started. Well, probably still needs some work, but really, for all intents and purposes, it's fine. While there, we bought a teddy bear for the baby. We've bought clothes, but those don't really feel like they are for her, per se. But the teddy - I didn't realize why I was so drawn to it until we got home, but the ribbon around the teddy's neck was the same color that I'm using for the border on the name-letters. It was meant to be, I guess. We spent some time Saturday night going over all the clothes, organizing them by size, taking stock of what we need yet (3-6 month is the short answer - with spring/summer stuff coming out shortly, it should be easy to add in). It felt like a game, more than anything. But it's been several days with nothing bad happening, so it's likely to continue that way. I hope.

I am sleepy now. Being sick last week took a lot of me, and I have to get up early because I have to go talk with the parking department at work. Apparently, the state-issued temporary parking tag is not sufficient to park in handicap parking on my campus. I have to further register with parking and get a secondary decal. Annoying.

Actually the whole disabled parking tag has been a fiasco. It was recommended back in November, and I was told in mid-November that my OB would in fact support the request by signing the forms if I completed them and brought them in. Since I didn't see her until mid-December, I didn't get the necessary paperwork until then. Which was fine, I didn't yet feel I really needed it. Once the paperwork, including a prescription from my doctor, was complete, I had to take it to the county tax office in order to get the state-issued permit. There is a branch near us which is supposedly less busy than our downtown/central branch. It's attached to where we got our marriage license, and where we recently went to get the car registration corrected. I thought then that it was busy because of the near hour-long wait in line the day before Thanksgiving. I was wrong. Early morning on a Friday was worse. The line was wrapped through the building.

I miserably told one person why I was there ("To get a temporary handicap placard" - that will be important later), and was directed through the building, with sympathy, to the back of the line. About an hour later, I was in the main room I needed to be, where another employee was directing traffic between three sets of windows (to give credit to the branch office, they had at least 9 windows open and seemed to move as quickly as possible). To properly assess which line was the correct one for me, she asked my business and I repeated what I said earlier - "I'm here to get a temporary handicap permit." - and was summarily sent into another line.

About twenty minutes later, I remark to Dh that I've been standing for about an hour longer than I should. It starts taking a toll on me. I was getting warm and uncomfortable, and shifting a good deal, and started feeling as if I might faint. I began muttering to DH that I needed this to hurry up and I needed to get out of there. About twenty more minutes elapsed before we finally got to a service window. I lean against the counter with some relief, slide my paperwork through to the lady, who is coincidentally the same one who helped with our car registration. She asks if I am the disabled person seeking the permit, and I confirm that I am. Incidentally, the paperwork didn't indicate whether or not it could be submitted by someone else, which is why I stood in line the whole time; if I had to be there, we didn't want to waste a trip. The nice lady looks up, blinks, and then asks why I went through the entire line.

Apparently, I could have skipped the line and requested special assistance because of my disability. I could have cried. There were no signs posted or instructions; apparently, the little blue universal handicap sign hidden by the front door ought to have been clear enough by itself. The woman sent me to sit down, and said my husband could take care of the rest. They chatted as she confirmed the paperwork was in order, the prescription was valid and the doctor was licensed in Texas. DH told me she got very irate when she found out that two employees had been told my purpose there and didn't bother to ask if I were the disabled, probably because I was ambulatory (at this point she shook her finger at DH and said, "And that is why you have to ask, because you just never know!"), and she was really irate when the license number for my physician confirmed she was an OB/GYN. Apparently, she got her supervisor involved, and they were both horrified. Lovely, but too late. I didn't care though, because sitting down was such a relief.

I did get the permit, and I have guiltily used it a couple of times now. I make it a point not to use it if there is equally decent parking available, and I don't use it if I am not getting out of the car, because that's cheating. But all my scruples are in vain, because I did use it Saturday at the grocery store. Keep in mind, I rarely go into the grocery store, because I am a terrible impulse buyer and we wasted food and money when I did a lot of the shopping. DH by himself is faster and easily $50-100 cheaper than I am, and if we have less variety, we likewise have less waste. Anyway, Saturday isn't a great time for the store anyway, and being NYE afternoon, it was insane. There was little parking available, and I felt no hesitation in taking a handicap spot, since I was planning to go in with DH for at least 15 minutes. Because I have a temporary permit and not tags, it's easy not to see the permit if you are behind the car. Between that, and the fact that I look more elephantine than pregnant if you don't know me, and I am clearly not elderly, we got a lot of nasty, nasty looks when we got out and walked into the store. It was wildly uncomfortable. I wished very much for a sandwich board or a card that said "Hey! High-risk pregnancy here! No really!" and the flip side would say something like, "Dead baby in my history, trying to keep this one alive." Perhaps I'd feel less guilty then?

I know I need this, which is why it was suggested and why my doctor signed off. It's getting harder to walk and the heavier the baby gets, the more pressure that is on my cervix. The longer we can keep pressure off, the better off we are and the more likely we are to a) avoid modified to full bed rest and b) stay pregnant longer. But the restrictions weigh on me. I hate feeling useless or as if I am just being lazy or promoting terrible stereotypes. Logically, I know that's not true, and yet. . .

and yet, baby is well. Moving a good deal. Lots of squirms and stronger thumps when they come. That is where I need to focus, I think.

Bonus for you for sticking through this all (in the most vain possibly way to mean bonus), here is me and baby at 22 weeks: