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Several times over the last five months I’ve been composing a blog post or two in my mind, but it’s taken me this long to actually sit down and write something. It seemed like there was always something more important to do – you know, eat, sleep, clean, shower, pump, wash bottles – stuff like that. But now I realize that writing this post is important, too. J and I recently decided to go ahead with a FET and try for a sibling to Faustin, probably sometime later this year. I’ve been aware for awhile that I have a lot of unresolved feelings about how Faustin’s birth and breastfeeding went. My confidence that my body will do what it’s supposed to do – already shaken by infertility – is pretty precarious now. Though I’m certain I want to give our frosty a chance, I feel really ambivalent about getting pregnant and trying to give birth again.
I know that I – and I think many women – have certain ideas of motherhood instilled in our imaginations. We take for granted that we’re going to live out these vaseline lens tableaux we have in our minds – surprising our husbands in some clever way with the joyful news that we’re pregnant, having our brand-new baby put in our arms after we’ve done that so exhausting but rewarding feat of pushing them out, cradling the tiny, cozy body to our breast to feed it. None of those things happened for me.
I’m still very aware of how lucky I am and that I’m not nearly alone in mourning these relatively small losses. Most importantly – and I’m very grateful for this – I never had to worry about Faustin’s well-being. He was always sturdy and happy in the womb and during delivery. The notes at his birth describe him as “vigorous,” so I was blessed with the most precious thing – a robust baby. I always hold very present in my mind friends who were robbed of that basic security or who lost their babies. I was also lucky to have healed from my c-section well. The birth may not have proceeded the way I had hoped, but there were no complications. I feel a little embarrassed to feel any emotion BUT gratitude knowing as I do some seriously courageous women who have gone through SO much more to bring their babies into the world.
The truth is that my birth experience is kind of a blur; I can’t quite remember what happened when. I asked labor and delivery to send me my records, so I can try to put it all together. This is how it all went down.
Little “Faustin” wasn’t so little near the end of my pregnancy. Even though I had passed the Gestational Diabetes tests (just), they were treating me as if I had GD – I guess “glucose intolerance” – because my numbers were high, my fundal height was measuring 2cm ahead of what it was supposed to at every check-up, and the fluid was a little elevated (I guess also a marker of GD). The growth scan confirmed that Faustin wasn’t a tiny baby. I’m a pretty petite woman – 5’1″ on a good day – so in the final months I was literally reluctant to go out in public, because I was getting sick of the comments I was getting from strangers. “Wow! How many you got in there?!” “Gee, were you due like yesterday?!”. I’m still not convinced his size had anything to do with GD. He has never been a chubby baby, but is a tall, long-limbed little dude. No wonder I looked so huge; the guy had nowhere to go but OUTWARD on my short torso. After Faustin’s birth, I looked back at my donor’s profile (I thought size wasn’t going to be an issue, since she’s only 5’5″), and she had quite a few very tall relatives. Oh well, who knows…
I remember talking with my doula about the growth scan and the midwives’ concerns that Faustin was a big baby. She told me that my body was designed to birth the baby it grew. I wanted to believe her, but I had some serious doubts. First, there was a lot my body was supposedly “designed” for that it didn’t seem to do too well, like I dunno, ovulate and menstruate…or produce eggs worth a dime. Plus, was my body designed to birth a baby made from someone else’s genetic material? Can anyone even know that?
I was dedicated to giving natural childbirth a shot, and I didn’t want to rush this baby out, regardless of how uncomfortable I was. I tried to console myself during those last, uncomfortable, sleepless nights by thinking he was getting more time for his brain to develop and for me to feed him fish oil. Whatever mind tricks work, right? I figured he’d come when he was ready, and if he needed more time to cook then who was I to say otherwise? And the weeks crept on and on…and on. Finally, at 42 weeks minus one day – Monday, October 22 – I reached my midwife practice’s final deadline. I had to go in to be induced.
I had my bag packed full of the well-thought-out supplies recommended by my childbirth class teacher – snacks to keep my energy up, a light robe, scented oil to mask the antiseptic smell of the hospital, my favorite ultrasound photo of Faustin to focus on during contractions, audio meditations loaded onto my phone. Little did I know that going into childbirth armed with these props was kinda like battling a dragon with a Twizzler. The teacher told us that by this point in our adult lives we knew how to comfort ourselves and to relax, so we already had all the tools we needed for labor. That’s bullshit. Scented oil, my ass. Thank god we hired a doula, because I and J were completely unprepared to get me through the really painful parts.
The hospital I chose is known for being extremely supportive of natural childbirth. Even with my induction, they began with the gentlest method first – inserting Cytotec – and then slowly ramped up from there. I was given the first dose of Cytotec late that morning and then again two more times at 4 hour intervals, so I think this lasted from late Monday morning until that night. J and I watched shows he had downloaded onto his computer. Occasionally I napped. Nothing happened. The next step was a Foley balloon catheter (something I REALLY hoped not to have to do when I had read about it, because I experienced serious pain during invasive exams like HSGs. Apparently my cervix often did NOT like things shoved up the wrong way). It turned out not to be that bad, though, not nearly what I had feared. And really, there wasn’t any option, so up it went.
As various catheters were being inserted and removed from my body, I remember thinking that J unfortunately had plenty of experience being discreet and giving someone privacy while something like that was happening, since his mother was confined to a hospital bed for the last years of her life due to Multiple Sclerosis. I remember wondering at the time if seeing me like that brought back memories of his mother and made the birth experience more painful for him.
The Foley balloon went in sometime late that night, I believe, and was removed late the next morning (the midwives don’t all have great handwriting, so it’s hard to decipher some of the notes). After all that – a day of waiting and two methods of induction/dilation, I was still only dilated 2-3 inches. Bummer. So, onto Pitocin. I think at this point I was having occasional, mild contractions I had to breathe through, but nothing major. They were careful to introduce the Pitocin very gradually, so I don’t think I had the awful hit-by-a-truck Pitocin contractions, but I really don’t have anything to compare it to. After several hours of manageable contractions my water broke, and that’s when the real pain began. We called in the big guns – my doula – to give support.
I had debated whether or not to have a doula since I was already at a facility that supported natural childbirth. I didn’t need someone to advocate for me and to make sure I wasn’t bullied into procedures I didn’t want. I’m extremely glad I had Maria there, though. There’s no way my husband (who I love dearly and who was a great, supportive partner the entire time) would have known how to go about coaching me through that pain. It also helped hugely to have someone who’d been through it before and who knew what to expect. I spent a lot of the worst time in the bathtub, lying on my side with my head barely out of the water. Maria told me to breathe out a long “Hah” sound in a low register with every contraction. I would take a deep breath and make that sound until I ran out of breath, then repeat. Inside, I’d be counting. I knew that after I made that sound for 23 counts (I remember that number better than many other aspects of the birth) the contraction would be over. I remember banging hard on the side of the tub when it hurt really badly. Now that I think of it, that must have been a pretty disturbing sound for my poor laboring neighbors.
It’s funny, because before this all happened, I was concerned about things like: What on earth will I wear during labor? Will I – not the most immodest person – feel uncomfortable being naked – or partially naked – around my husband plus one or more people we don’t know well? In the end I retreated so deep inside to deal with the contractions that I don’t know if I would have noticed a whole gaggle of residents tromping in and out of my room. Most of the time my eyes were shut.
After about 7 hours of contractions, I began to have an overwhelming urge to push. My doula said it was a good sign – that often that urge comes hand-in-hand with the necessary dilation. So, we hauled me out of the tub and did a cervical check. Nothing. No further dilation. I was still only at 2-3 inches. I don’t think I dilated more than 4 inches the entire time.
I kept trying to weather the contractions and to breathe through – and resist – the urge to push. Not an easy thing. I did that for several hours, and finally begged for an epidural. I have to give J, my doula, and the midwives credit. They did a great job of trying to keep me strong and support my desire to attempt labor without meds. I finally had to beg over and over, “Please, I want the epidural, I want the epidural, I want the epidural.” My morale had taken a big hit with that last cervical check. I may have been able to keep on longer if I had seen some progress, but I couldn’t keep on with no signs of improvement at all. I’m no masochist and had no interest in winning a natural childbirth badge of honor. If labor wasn’t progressing, I wanted help with the pain.
What I didn’t know before was that after you ASK for the epidural, you still have to WAIT for the epidural. They finally brought the anesthesiologist in, I think I signed some forms, and I breathed through contraction after contraction as he attempted to stick me in the spine. He had a tough time getting the spot right, I think partly because my huge belly made it difficult for me to curve my spine out enough for him.
It looks like I had hard labor for about 8 hours without the epidural and then for 3 hours with it (not nearly the marathon many women go through). Because we were there for one whole day of induction before labor began, we’d now gone through several shifts of midwives and nurses. The midwife who was on at the end of my labor was, as far as I can remember, an ex-hippy lesbian, veteran midwife who was as dedicated as anybody to natural childbirth. She was also extremely kind, personable, and funny. She told me that she was in for the long-haul if that’s what I wanted, but that it didn’t look promising. It was starting to seem really unlikely that I’d have this baby vaginally. Instead of dilating, my cervix was just swelling as Faustin’s big noggin was banging down on it. I guess all that fluid had kept him buoyant. Once my water broke, he just came crashing down on a tiny window too small for his prodigious head.
The midwives all said that Faustin looked great on the monitor. Through it all he was just hanging out, happy and mellow. Because he wasn’t in distress, I could have tried to labor longer had I wanted to. I decided to go ahead with a c-section, though, because I figured I’d rather have a calm procedure early on rather than risk waiting until Faustin was in distress and I was forced to have a panicked, frightened one. I knew I was blessed not to have to worry about him, and I wanted to keep it that way. Neither the midwife or the doula thought it was likely to end differently if I labored longer, so I saw no reason to push my luck.
The OB on-call was a really nice man with a great bedside manner. He made sure I didn’t have any other questions or doubts before proceeding. We all – the midwife, my doula, J, and I hung out and waited. I remember feeling badly that the doula had to be at the hospital for so long, but I guess that’s her job, right? I also remember making sure that J handed out brownies to the midwife and our doula. We talked about the presidential election. It was pretty leisurely. I was numb, after all. Finally, they had prepared the OR.
They rolled me into the operating room, and I guess the epidural made me sick, because I promptly threw up. I hate throwing up. It’s just a few places down from cervical catheters on my “Things I hate and Try to Avoid at All Costs” list, actually. But worse than the puking was the fact that the drugs were making me shake uncontrollably. My teeth were chattering so hard the entire span of the procedure that my jaw seized shut. I didn’t feel a thing when they pulled Faustin out (I know some people feel a tugging). I do remember that moment of relief all mothers probably feel when I heard his cry. They made an attempt at skin-to-skin, but I was out of it, shaking uncontrollably, and there was a big curtain up to keep my incision sterile. It wasn’t exactly a bonding moment.
Faustin was born at 1:15am on Wednesday, October 24th. He was 9 pounds, 4 ounces. There are photos of that time in the operating room – J clamping the umbilical cord or holding a red and angry baby, Faustin getting his first bath. Apparently, Faustin’s big “hello” to the world consisted of his peeing all over everyone. What’s weird to me is that so much went on that I wasn’t a part of. I had to hear about so many of Faustin’s first moments from J. You can see a little bit of my forehead in the photo of J proudly holding our little baby boy. I’m lying there, probably being sewn up, a pale, inert, beached whale.
I know my experience is far from unique, and far, FAR from the traumatic experiences that many women have in childbirth. But I guess, even given that, I still have to mourn that things didn’t go the way I had hoped. Maybe it meant more to me to have that imagined birth because so much before that had been difficult and compromised. I had finally come to terms with the fact that I wasn’t going to have my own genetic child. But to also not be able to give birth in the “normal way,” to miss the first moments of bonding I was taught to want and expect, and then on top of THAT to not be able to breastfeed (that’s it’s own blog post). I guess it’s hard not to feel like my ideas of motherhood were slowly being chipped away, one by one. It was also hard not to be angry, “You mean, I don’t get to experience THAT, either?!” I was left with little to stand on. There were times when I wasn’t sure Faustin would know I was his mother. With most of my mind and heart I’m certain he knows I’m his Mama, but sometimes doubt creeps in.
So, I hold onto the moments when I’ve felt most like a mother to him – his smile as he greets me in the morning and his clinging to me when I lift him out of his crib, his looking into my eyes for reassurance as I lowered him into one of his early baths, his eyes following me around the room when other people are holding him, him smiling and reaching up to touch my face as I’m feeding him. But there are still moments when I’m particularly exhausted or down and a nagging little part of my mind wonders if he’d be just as happy with anyone who can hold a bottle. Does he know I’m his mama as fully as he would if everything – his conception, birth, and feeding – such important and essential steps – had gone differently? And though I love my little boy so much it hurts, I still sometimes mourn (though I feel incredibly disloyal for doing so) seeing a tiny copy of my own features – a little piece of me – looking up at me.
You know, this post originally ended with the paragraph above, but it was haunting me. It felt like a crime to end Faustin’s birth story with ANY sense of loss when he gives me so much joy every day. I didn’t like to think about it floating around in the universe that way. This felt wrong not only because I remember so palpably a time when I would have gladly birthed a baby out of my EAR in order to have one of my own, but also because I so dearly love the specific person he is – his dogged determination, the goofy noises he makes, the serious scowl on his face as he inspects something new. I’m incredibly grateful – not just to finally have my baby – but to be mother to this unique, strong willed, curious, smiley guy.
Thought I’d do a quick post with photos of Faustin’s room. I’m really happy with it. I certainly have had a lot of time – years and years – to do research, gather ideas, and secretly hoard books and decorations for it. I wanted something filled with color – kind of inspired by the colors of fall (worked out nicely that he’ll – eventually – be born in the fall) and full of beautiful things – art, nature, science – things to wonder at.
Now we just need Faustin to decide to show up. I’m trying hard to be patient and to go with the flow.
I’m getting ahead of myself, of course (that’s nothing new – it’s my MO). The baby’s not overdue yet. But I’m preparing myself for that eventuality – reminding myself that I want him to come out when he’s ready and done cooking. I’m fine waiting – so far. For some reason, I always assumed he’d take his time. So, we’ll see. The surreal thing is that I STILL find it hard to believe that I’ll have a baby within a week or two. Does that ever seem normal to anyone?
I haven’t written in awhile, because I haven’t felt like I had anything really relevant to say. Mostly, I’ve been letting myself go into baby-prep-nesting overdrive. I’ve had a few annoying pregnancy symptoms, but mostly I can’t complain. I feel incredibly lucky, especially knowing how brave and strong other women have to be to bring their babies into the world. Those women – and all they have to overcome – are always very much in my thoughts.
So, today I started writing a tweet that kept going on and on…so I thought maybe it was meant to be a blog post instead.
I was thinking today of asking J to tell his father and siblings before the baby arrives about our using a donor egg. We haven’t done it yet. We meant to tell them much earlier, once we knew all was going well with the pregnancy, but J’s mother passing, of course – and rightly – took focus for awhile. And then we just never got around to it. I know that as soon as he arrives, there will be the inevitable speculations about who’s chin or nose or forehead the baby has. While comments like that from random acquaintances won’t bother me, I think I’ll feel awkward if close family members are unknowingly putting their foot in it all the time. I know they would regret unwittingly saying anything that could hurt my feelings, so we need to prevent that.
Not surprisingly, thinking about this makes me feel emotional, but hell, everything is doing that these days. I’m afraid of their pity. I’m sad to be reminded that my eggs are crap, that I had to take steps that no one would CHOOSE. The reassuring thing is that Baby Faustin is very much HIMSELF in my mind and heart now. It doesn’t matter who he’s genetically linked to. This one specific person – with all his likes, dislikes, tendencies, and quirks – is who’s going to join our family.
There are still some questions that swirl around in my mind occasionally. J and his family are very connected to their cultural heritage. They want Faustin to learn about it, which I think is great. It makes me wonder, though, about his other half. Is my heritage Faustin’s, too? Does that count? I guess it’s helpful that I’m pretty much a mutt, with no strong heritage at all – SO much a mishmash that there’s no one strong heritage left. A little Russian Jew, French, Irish, Scottish, German, Native American, Polish…the list goes on and on. It’s just one big stew now. So, no great loss there. Any traditions I pass on will be part of how I organize my family and celebrate holidays at home. And my family is his family because their love will claim ownership of him, even if he doesn’t (thankfully) inherit my father’s baldness. But I guess part of me occasionally feels like he’s got strong ties on one side and a blank on the other. That may not entirely be because of the DE – maybe it’s partly because my family isn’t close-knit and hasn’t made an effort to hold onto family traditions.
And then all the speculation about Faustin’s size has made the donor more present in my mind lately. How big was she when she was born? How big was her own baby boy? Were her brothers large babies? I can’t remember how tall her brothers ended up becoming. Mostly, though, these thoughts and questions flit in and out and haven’t bothered me too much. They are occasional pokes, though. My doula will say things like, “We are built to birth the babies that we grow.” Part of my mind asks, “What about when science intervenes? Is my body built to birth genetic material that isn’t mine? Did my baby grow to a certain size because my body grew him that way or because he was genetically wired to grow that way?” I know there are no answers to these questions. I don’t mind TOO much that I have to have these questions, because I’m in this odd, sci-fi situation of relatively uncharted territory where some things we take for granted just don’t apply.
Mostly, I’m excited to meet little Faustin and to finally look into his little face. After over four long, hard years, and mere months away from my fortieth birthday, we’re finally going to have a baby join us. I can’t wait to meet him.
So, I had the growth scan this morning. The baby (we call him Faustin for now – long story) looks fine & is actually only in the 67th percentile, so he’s lightly bigger than average, but not crazy huge (phew). In my statistics-limited mind, a 67 is only a C+ or B-, so seems really average to me. I have slightly more amniotic fluid than average, too, but again it’s not outside of normal, but excess fluid can point to GD. So, it’s all borderline. Since it’s borderline, to be safe I can try to eat more of a GD diet to avoid spikes. I could do the whole glucose test again, and I could do finger pricks, but I’m not sure what the point of all that would be. I know how to eat healthy carbs and a balanced diet, and I don’t want to be funneled into high intervention care for no real reason.
The thing is, Faustin’s HEAD is in the 98th percentile – huge – so that’s gotta be skewing his overall size average, too, right? I’m not exactly sure how that works. Big heads run in DH’s family. He actually jokes about how a big head is the baby’s birthright. Since I’ve gotta push that big noggin out, I’m a little less thrilled about the huge head, but I guess baby’s making good use of the Omega 3’s I’ve been taking and it’s all going to his brain. DH’s sister – also petite – managed just fine with her three big-headed babies, so I’ll probably be fine, too.
I’m glad I made DH go to the scan with me. I go to most of my appointments alone, but in case there was disturbing news (the “in case” an IFer always has in the back of her head), I wanted him to be there. He thought that the take-away of the whole visit is that Faustin is perfectly normal and healthy, and that any tangent the MFM went on about diabetes and finger pricks was just provoked by my questions and visible worry. It’s hard for me to say. I guess that’s why it’s helpful to have someone a little outside, observing things.
The thing that stuck in MY head the most from the visit (and this came out of the MFM’s mouth, mind you) is that ice cream is an ideal sweet treat, because there’s fat along with the carbs. I’m not forgetting that bit of medical advice, that’s for sure.
I’m going to try hard to get the peace and equilibrium back that I had earlier in this pregnancy, and just assume everything’s progressing normally. I wish I could send some peace to my tweeps, too, especially Calamantha and Endojourney, who sure deserve some after all they’ve been through lately.
Ok, I’m not promising a well-written or even a coherent post here. I’m just dealing with a lot right now and have nowhere – other than my super supportive Twitter community, that is – to go with this. I just got off the phone with my sister, who after prefacing with “I need to tell you something, but don’t get mad, ok?” told me that she got pregnant around last Thanksgiving and had an abortion. She slept with some random guy she went out with just a couple of times, they used a condom, but it slipped off. She had an abortion at seven weeks.
I know she was afraid to tell me because she was worried about hurting me. Hell, she kept that awful experience to herself for 6 months. She was waiting until things with my baby looked good before sharing it with me, and said how relieved she felt to finally tell me about it. It helped me hugely that she said she was angry at the irony of it all. I was able to tell her I was sorry she had to go through that, that she shouldn’t beat herself up for it because it could happen to anyone (well, not to me, clearly), and that I wished I could have been there for her. She didn’t have the money at the time for the abortion and her friend paid for it. Because she felt bad about taking the money, she didn’t want to add on the extra $150 to be put under. She said she also felt like she deserved the pain for getting herself in that situation. My poor scarred, alone, stoic sister.
But I still have to say, “What the fuck kind of twisted sense of humor do you have, Universe (or whoever the fuck)?” My sister is 35, has smoked like a chimney for years, done tons of drugs, NEVER WANTS KIDS, and actually didn’t really think she COULD get pregnant because of an infection she got after surgery on her cervix years ago. And she got pregnant after one random fuck????!!!!! I had my eggs harvested FOUR TIMES, carefully injected with the best looking sperm in a petri dish, delicately placed back into a cushy lining and STILL no pregnancy.
Of course, hearing this unexpected news is like ripping a scab off a deep wound. I have really, truly come to terms with using donor eggs to get pregnant – as much as anyone can, I think. No one CHOOSES that over using your own eggs, after all. I adore my baby already and know he’ll be all mine, but for a moment it seems like it SHOULD be possible for me to have my own biological child, because SHE can. I can’t help but wonder, what happened to fuck up MY body? Why does hers work and not mine? It is how it is, though, right? I have a dimpled chin and freckles while my sister doesn’t. I’m left-handed and my sister isn’t. Hell, I have two cystic fibrosis mutations and my sister doesn’t. My sister has regular periods and I don’t. My sister can get pregnant with her own eggs and I can’t. So there you go. Let it go.
I’m so unbelievably, completely depleted. DH is back in Louisiana, waiting with his family in the hospital for his mother to pass on. He needs me to be doing well and to be strong for him, so when he called I pretended I was fine, of course. I just feel so alone. This all is so fucked up. I know that’s not the most articulate thing to say, but that’s how I feel. I want to just be happy and thankful and to relish with my husband the fact that I have a healthy baby boy wriggling around inside me. It just seems like every day now something huge and overwhelming pops up to distract from that. Not just your normal everyday stresses, either. Big, ugly drain-you-of-everything-you’ve-got stresses.
I’m meeting with a woman this evening who might be my doula (shit, in an hour – I’d better shower and do something with my tear-blotched face). Hopefully, that will help me focus on all that I have to be thankful for, so I can forget all that isn’t fair and all that might or should or could have been if things were just a little different. Please let me just be able to focus on my baby-to-be for awhile. Just let me focus on being blissfully pregnant, like I’ve dreamed of being for so many years. I fucking deserve that you mother fucking asshole sadist Universe fucker!
Yesterday, I picked J up from work to go to our 19 week anatomy scan. I was nervous and excited. It felt like we were practically going to meet our baby. As we drove to the hospital I casually asked him if he had talked to anyone while at work. He mentioned that he spoke to his dad, and that his mother had been taken off her ventilator a couple of hours ago (J’s mother has severe MS and has recently become seriously ill with infection and has been in the ICU). I said that was a good sign. I thought it was encouraging that she had been breathing on her own for two hours. I thought that meant she had improved. Of course, I didn’t have all the information. J abruptly told me that if something went wrong they weren’t going to put her back on the ventilator. All this on the way to meeting our long-struggled-for baby.
I was hit by a wave of the most child-like, petulant emotions: “Why can’t I just have this one day of excitement and joy? Why did J have to bring it up right then? Couldn’t it wait an hour or two? Why did the universe have to make his mother seriously ill right NOW? Why!!?? J is supposed to be able to be focused on and excited about his baby now, not consumed by other things. It’s just not faaaaaaiiirrrrrr! Can’t I have just ONE special day in my life the way it’s supposed to be?” I try hard to tell myself that nothing is storybook perfect or protected from hurt/death/loss, and that I just have to accept the complicated mess of it all. This is what life is really about – joy and pain mixed together into a precious but SUPER uncomfortable concoction. I know in my deepest core that that’s true. And I try to my best to shove those angry emotions away so I can show support to J. He’s grappling with the possibility of losing his mother, and I absolutely can’t leave him alone there. Not surprisingly, I get a lot quieter; there are a lot of emotions too unhelpful to be expressed.
We see the baby. Reassuringly, he’s (it’s a boy!) moving around a lot, looks incredibly beautiful, and all his parts seem intact. Phew. Just like anyone else who’s survived IF, I don’t take any of that for granted, and am relieved and grateful. The sonographer gives me photos of my baby, and I can’t stop looking at his face. I’m in love with him already and immediately start imagining the little guy in our lives.
When we get home that evening, J mostly talks about being excited about the baby. He shared at work that we were having a boy. I think sharing the news and being congratulated helped make it all seem more real for him. We relax at home, and I start browsing online (I want to make sure my plans for the nursery are relatively gender appropriate). J sits next to me and calls his father on the phone. I look over at him at one point and can’t tell if he’s laughing or crying. You see, he was doing such a good job at trying to focus on the baby, he lulled me into thinking things were ok – at least for awhile. I’ll never, ever forget seeing him silently cry like that. When he gets off the phone he explains that she’s still there, but it’s only a matter of time now. She could go tomorrow or a week from now. I just can’t believe he’s really going to lose the mother who’s so precious to him and I wish SO FIERCELY that I could take away his pain. We try to focus on how much she wanted this baby for us, and how incredibly happy it made her to hear that I was finally pregnant.
Not surprisingly, I don’t sleep well, so here I am, writing this post at 4 in the morning.
Meanwhile, I have a lot of complicated emotions about having a boy (yes, I did buy myself a bunch of mini lemon bundt cakes to shove in my mouth after dropping J back at work). Again, it seems like there’s no space to express these emotions, so I hope I can work through them safely here. I just need to figure out what they’re all about. I think I always imagined as I was growing up that I would have a girl. I’m sure it’s not uncommon to imagine a “mini-me” or what’s familiar when you imagine a future child. And I’m not exactly a tomboy. I once went to a superhero-themed costume party as Super Femme, after all. Frankly, for awhile there, I didn’t imagine any husband. I’d just picture me and my daughter. No doubt that’s largely because of the fucked up (excuse the language, but it’s true) dynamic in my family. I had a (I know now) pretty dysfunctional relationship with my mother. We were super close, she relied on and confided in me much too much, causing me to become estranged from my father. Sounds healthy, right? In teasing out my feelings about having a boy, I realized I was worried about being left out – my son and husband would go off doing guy-like things and I’d be left alone. I’m sure much of that fear comes from the fact that I have my own parent-child relationships as models. I don’t want to repeat what I had, though. I’m not going to be giving birth to a new best friend – a ready-made shopping partner who’ll share my hobbies and listen to all my woes. No doubt, whether a boy or girl, my child would share some of my interests and we’d have countless amazing times together. But my mother used me to fill a gap where her own interests and friends – and frankly, an actual partnership with my father – should have been. I don’t want my child to have to do that.
My personal experience with boys is limited. I have one younger sister and no male cousins I was close to. But friends of mine have a boy, Nathan, who I’ve known and loved for ten years now – from three to thirteen. When he was little, he’d put on “Singing in the Rain” inspired tap-dance routines for us. Recently, in preparation for his Bar Mitzvah, he decided to live on a $5/day food allowance for two weeks so he could better understand first-hand what it’s like to be hungry. He’s a sweet, sensitive, super smart person I’m very proud to know.
I shared some of my irrational fears with J – that I’d be left alone while the two of them go on snowboarding trips and off peeing in the woods. He talked about how much our boy would adore me. How, when he was older, it’d be hard for him to find a girl as good as his mother. How he’d miss his mother horribly when he went off to college. And I knew as he said all this, he was talking about his own mother. I watched J with her in the hospital. I saw him gently stroke her hair and wash her face. I have – oh so vividly in front of me – an example of how tenderly a son can love his mother.
These two things happening at the same time are teaching me – yet again – that truth the perfectionist-planner-control-freak in me wants to ignore and deny – that when life doesn’t look like what glossy bridal/baby magazines show us – that’s when it’s the most heartbreakingly beautiful.
I can feel my little baby boy wriggling around inside me.
So, I’m 16 weeks (4 months!) pregnant on Monday. That feels really official. I still don’t believe it, and I’ll have moments when I glimpse myself in the mirror and am momentarily confused by my thickened waist. What!? Have I really been indulging in the occasional french toast and crepes THAT much? Then I remember – I’m actually pregnant. It’s a crazy thing, and I’m not sure when I’ll really believe in the reality. I actually already made the appointment for our anatomy scan. On May 14th we find out what gender our baby is – and I’ll be almost halfway to meeting him or her! That’s truly unbelievable. Luckily, I’ve been pretty anxiety free most of the time. Being pregnant through DE helps a lot with this. I know I’d be much less certain with my own weathered, crotchety eggs doing the job. Part of my brain is aware that anything can still happen, of course, but mostly I just feel secure (knock on wood), happy, and incredibly, immeasurably thankful.
Last night J and I were catching up on “Mad Men”. We’re behind because I was traveling for work. He’s a good husband, so he waited to watch them with me. Hopefully, most of you who watch the show have seen this old episode already, but I’ll keep my description vague just in case. Betty Draper is waiting at home for a really important phone call. Tensions are high. The phone rings and she reluctantly but valiantly goes to answer it. It’s a pretty simple scene. I don’t even LIKE Betty Draper much, but I’m immediately in tears. They’re not just trickling down my cheeks. I’m choked with sobs and can’t catch my breath. I was immediacy plunged back, waiting for those horrific calls from the clinic – when I’d find out that only one or two eggs fertilized or that I wasn’t pregnant – yet again. It was frightening how immediate it all felt, how all that is still stored inside me, not very far from the surface. I guess it’s not too surprising. We all talk about how you never “get over” IF, but it still was incredibly upsetting to feel how much it could hurt me. It made me feel vulnerable, scarred, and exhausted.
Other than that incident – and the crazy spring allergies that are plaguing me these days – things have been really good. I’m finally back home after being away for a month – for work and then a much-needed trip to Hawaii. I finished my last, horrific freelance job, which may actually be the last job I ever take in that career. The day it ended, I felt like running down the street crying, “I’m free!, I’m free!”. I’ve been a little (serious understatement) burnt out on that whole line of work. I’m transitioning to the job of mommy and then hopefully, when the time is right, will find my way to teaching. Mostly now, I’m just getting into the groove of being back home after being away for so long. Exercising, eating well, and beginning the herculean task of transforming my studio into the nursery.
Hawaii was really wonderful. I have to say, though, that my favorite thing about the trip was being able to spend a lot of time with our friends’ adorable year-old son. Being able to pick him up, snuggle him, and squeeze his chubby legs was priceless. That joke about a baby being “baby TV” is so true. I – and J – couldn’t take our eyes off him. Luckily, the friends we stayed with knew about our years of struggles and the DEIVF, and they were very supportive and kind. They know how hard and long we worked for this pregnancy. Very sweetly, they made a point of taking us to an ancient birthing place on Oahu. Women used to make a pilgrimage to this beautiful site to give birth, because it supposedly would auger an auspicious life for their child. We arrived there at sunset, and you could see that people still left flowers and leis on the birthing stones as offerings. It was a really wonderful way to transition into my life as a (maybe not so regular) pregnant lady. I figure, between it being a dragon baby and having paid a visit to that site, I’ve got a pretty formidable baby on board.
I finally did it. I made an appointment with a midwife. It made me so happy to do this, and it’s making the pregnancy feel more real. I still have a hard time owning words like “pregnant,” but hopefully I’ll get over that. I’m lucky to live in a city that has a lot of childbirth options, but that made the research process a little more overwhelming. I first joined a local mother’s online board (crazy that I can do that) to research others’ experiences at the local hospitals. I also found the names of some doulas that were recommended highly. I talked to one on the phone, and she was so eager to help and answer my questions, even though I haven’t committed to her or anything. She strongly recommended the hospital and midwife practice I was already leaning towards, but gave me really specific information about the policies at all the hospitals. I felt like I was pretty well informed about what a birth experience would be like at the different places. At my final RE appointment, I asked the doctor what he thought of my choice, too. He said it’d be a great place to go, assuming I was in good overall health. I almost said (but didn’t) that I was in fine health other than having dud eggs. It felt good having the recommendation of a doctor at a big, conservative hospital, too – someone who’s not exactly a card-carrying member of a natural childbirth advocacy group. I want to do what feels right for me, but it helps to have outside validation that what I’m doing is smart and sound.
This decision about where to deliver involved quite a bit of tumult. Not as much internally, but with my (mentioned in earlier posts) so-called therapist, Dr. HamandCheese. She’s the doctor who prescribed the Zoloft for me when I was having a tough time after IVF #3 failed. I would see her occasionally to check in, but never felt that the sessions with her were particularly helpful. Now, I knew early on that Dr. HamandCheese and I weren’t on the same page about everything (she was very much for my staying on Zoloft during pregnancy while I was against it). And I was aware that she strongly voiced her opinions in sessions in a way that I thought was incredibly inappropriate for a therapist. But she’s not really a therapist. She’s a psychiatrist who’s interested in helping women cope with IF. The problem is that she’s clueless about pretty essential boundaries and forms of etiquette that should be part of a therapy session. I’ve been aware of this for awhile, and I don’t really know why I didn’t break up with her earlier. I guess breaking up with a therapist (or even an almost therapist) isn’t an easy thing to do.
So, last week was a pretty hectic week. I was getting used to this whole being pregnant thing, and trying hard to believe that the embie wouldn’t get dislodged every time I coughed or sneezed. I had been told by my RE to investigate where I wanted to continue care and deliver. I was a little overwhelmed by all the research, and then on top of all that, my grandmother died. It wasn’t a surprise, and the woman I knew as my grandmother had really been gone for many years already. But this kind of event brings out all the neurosis in a family, you know?
So, I was coping with all that. That’s where I was when I went to Dr. Hamandcheese last week. I sit down in her office and mention that I’m a little overwhelmed with all the prenatal care/delivery research (not even getting to mention my grandmother yet), and she totally starts in on me! Immediately she starts to question my leanings towards a hospital that is known for supporting natural childbirth, and that’s supposed to have an amazing team of midwives. She even says, “I don’t understand how, after what you’ve gone through, you wouldn’t want to have all the medical support possible to keep the baby safe.” Dude! You’d think I had said I wanted to give birth in a PASTURE! IT’S A FUCKING HOSPITAL, A HARVARD TEACHING HOSPITAL, WITH OBs, NOT GOATS, ON THE FLOOR, IF NEEDED. I was shocked and completely blind-sided. Clearly, (and in keeping with her feelings about Zoloft), Dr. Ham is in the more-medicalization-is-better camp, and I’m just not. I understand that these are heated, devisive issues. I believe that a woman should be able to choose the options that make her feel safest. But it’s a personal decision, and any educated person must understand that thinking people can be on either side of the camp.
Dr. Ham just wouldn’t let it go. She would tell me my research and information was anecdotal, and that I had to be aware of the source and then she’d tell me two anecdotal incidents that happened with her patients and midwives (like there aren’t anecdotal negative stories out there involving OBs). She got specific and argued in favor of episiotomies after I told her that even her big, fancy, high-risk hospital did a study showing that the rate of c-section and episiotomies goes down in midwife-attended births. She even shared how she argued her daughter-in-law out of her original non-intervention tendencies (poor woman, to have such a bullying mother-in-law). At one point, I literally had to say (exhausted), “I really don’t want to be arguing about this with you right now!”
What’s crazy is that my desire to try for a natural childbirth (as long as it’s safe for me and the baby) is part of my effort to have faith that this can and will be a normal, healthy pregnancy, even though I struggled to get here. I believed in natural childbirth before IF, so why shouldn’t I now? The important question is, why should this pregnancy be driven by fear??? And there I was, with this woman (who’s role should have been to laud my attempt to stave off needless anxiety) saying I should try to pile as much medicine on as possible, because I must, as a IF-surviver, be fearful for my baby. It just seems insane and wrong-headed, don’t you think?
I left that session feeling WAY more stressed than I did going in. Stopping at the restroom on the way out, I noticed that my cheeks were bright red from arguing with her. I was WORN OUT. Needless to say, I’ve broken up with Dr. Hamandcheese.
Frankly, I think I’m in a better, more balanced place regarding medicalization than I was before coping with IF. As I’ve mentioned previously, I originally had a really antagonistic, fearful, non-trusting attitude towards anything medical. Now, I think I’ll be able to go with the flow more. I’d like to have as much support as possible, to try to make a natural childbirth easier to have, but if it’s necessary, I don’t think I’ll view a medical intervention as my enemy. I’m happy about that, because I know you can’t control how your childbirth (or much else) will go.
I’ve been thinking about this post for awhile. I don’t know for sure that I’m out of the woods yet, which is why I feel a little more comfortable using the past perfect in the title rather than the simple past tense. At any rate, I’ve been thinking I’d like to share the things that helped me get through 4 IVF cycles and 1 DEIVF cycle, in the hope that they might help others just starting out.
1. I let go of my fear of the clinical nature of IVF and all of its medical trappings.
This no easy feat for me and I wasn’t able to do this at all until my second IVF cycle. Other people may not have such a hard time with this one. Normally, I hate even taking medicine, and because of having a couple of run-ins with incompetent doctors in the past, I don’t have unquestioning trust in medical professionals. During my first cycle, I could actually feel my stress levels surge as we’d walk towards the hospital building. I felt broken and unwell because I had to take medications and do injections. I simply hated the sight of all the medical paraphernalia. I was angry and upset to be doing IVF at all.
With my second cycle, I was able to let go of that fear and anger, partly because the routine was familiar to me. This change in mind-set made that cycle exponentially easier to get through. I also then had a nurse who was warm, funny, and seemed to really care. I learned that the injections were really no big deal. It became routine – a known quantity. I learned I really could pack my Gonal-F pen in my purse and do an injection in the bathroom of a movie theater. I didn’t have to angst about it all the time.
It also helped to find a new way to phrase what we were doing. I would say to myself, “we’re just getting a little help getting pregnant”. Saying that in my head made the whole process feel less catastrophic and earth-shattering. I’m telling you, my mental state was SO different in my second cycle. If I could have gotten there sooner, it would have saved me a lot of stress and pain.
2. I organized my meds and made my injection station as attractive as possible.
This tactic is partially related to my medical-fear issues above. Because it upset me to see a sharps container in my house, I put it in a little paper shopping bag. For most of my cycles I even clipped a pretty art postcard to the outside of the bag (I didn’t do it for the DE cycle, because, superstitiously, I just wanted some things to be different so I’d have a different end result). I finally ended up with a set-up where the sharps container and a mini trash bag are neatly kept together in one larger bag. They live next to my bed, and my injection supplies live in my bedside table. I used a pretty tray to lay out the supplies I was using at the time – the syringe, alcohol swab, etc. for that one injection. It just made me feel better to have things orderly and pretty looking. It also helped to have everything organized when the injections were new to me and I was nervous about screwing up.
3. I listened to audiobooks – a lot.
Normally, I like to read a lot. But when you’re anxious, depressed, negative thoughts are spinning in your head, and you really need to sleep but can’t, it helps a lot to have a distraction that works for you when you’re lying down with your eyes closed and the lights are off. Audiobooks did that for me. Now for me, ’cause I’m a dork, 19th century English novels did the trick. Give me 30 hours of listening time to an Anthony Trollope novel and I’m set. Even during really tough times, I’d eventually get caught up in the story, get distracted from my worries, relax, and eventually fall asleep. It was also helpful on walks, while doing boring housework, when commuting, etc. I have a membership to Audible, so I would download a long, juicy novel about once a month and make sure it was loaded onto my phone. I swear, the audiobooks could relax me despite myself, when nothing else could.
I’ve amassed a pretty impressive collection of meditation CDs by now. I have the usual suspects – Zita West and Circle and Bloom. Sometimes, though, I’ve found it more relaxing to use a meditation that is not IVF related – to take a break from my IF reality. There are a lot of mind-body programs near where I live. I found a CD at the Domar Center and another I really like at the Massachusetts General Hospital store (both available online). My very favorite relaxation meditation is on one of the MGH CDs, and is narrated by Dr. Ellen Slawsby. In it, you visualize a room with a fireplace and a warm bath. There are even the sound effects of a crackling fire. I also downloaded a free meditation app for my phone. There are a lot of options out there.
5. I made a playlist
Initially, I made the playlist for the times I did pre and post transfer acupuncture. I began it with the appropriate pre or post Zita West meditation and then filled out the time with music I found particularly soothing and familiar. I ended up using the music part of the playlist a lot more, though. It was helpful having a collection of music on hand that would instantly calm me – for whenever I was waiting in the RE’s office, when waiting for transfer, and during some of the sleepless times.
6. I spelled out to J – in slow motion and with hand signals – how he could give me the emotional support I needed.
Our first IVF cycle was an absolute disaster for me and J, as far as our interactions went. I’ve never felt so alone and hated my husband SO much as during that cycle. My stress levels were off the charts, and my being so upset basically freaked him out. It was a really ugly combo. It escalated into some seriously ugly screaming fights.
I ended up having to tell him EXACTLY what to say or do when I was upset about the IVF, because what I needed was not what he would need or want in my position, necessarily. None of it was intuitive to him, and he was also panicking at seeing me so unhappy.
This is what I had to say: “When I’m really upset/anxious/worried I need you to give me a hug, because that calms me down and makes me feel safe. I need you to say that you understand how [ ] could be upsetting/anxious/worrying, and that I’m doing a great job.” I literally had to be this specific.
I also had to say: “When you get angry at me when I’m upset or if you try to tell me I shouldn’t worry or be anxious, it only makes me feel alone and judged, and will only escalate things. THAT’S when I really lose it.”
Things got way better, and I have to say he was the most loving, supportive husband possible during this last 2ww. The credit has to go to him. He really listened, and worked hard to give me what I needed.
7. I took an anti-depressant/anti-anxiety medication for awhile.
Now, this is one is very tricky and personal. I’d never advocate taking medication, because each person has to make that decision for themselves. But I do think it’s helpful for me to be open about the fact that I did – and that it helped me through the most painful time in my life. As I mentioned above, I’m actually really reluctant to use any medical intervention. I’m the kind of person who normally will only take a Tylenol if I really, badly need one. I’ve sought therapy in the past when going through tough times, but I’ve always been adamant about not wanting to be medicated. I didn’t want to change myself, and I wanted to feel what was real, even if those feelings were difficult and painful. In my opinion, that’s what living life is all about. And the thought of feeling groggy or fuzzy-headed freaked me out.
But then my 3rd IVF cycle failed, and we had repeated low fertilization rates, despite using ICSI. I crossed that boundary from “the RE just needs to find the right protocol for you” to “clearly there’s something seriously wrong, and you might be one of the women who just can’t get pregnant “. I would have super long crying jags, I wasn’t sleeping, and what was most worrying, I was aching all over. My hands, arms, scalp, shoulders, and legs just hurt so much. Nothing I did could get me to relax my body, because I was in so much emotional pain. I knew that, besides the fact that I was miserable – and consequently J was miserable – there was NO way I was going to get pregnant when my body was so wracked by stress and depression. So, I saw a psychiatrist who specializes in helping women coping with IF and I went on Zoloft.
It helped hugely. What was surprising is that I didn’t feel groggy or “drugged” at all. I felt like my normal self, but with a more protective emotional skin. When things were really bad and before the Zoloft, I’d think something negative or something upsetting would happen and I’d feel this instant physical “pang” in my chest or belly. With the Zoloft, I could have that same thought but the “pang” wouldn’t happen. I’d have a moment to deal with that thought or emotion – to choose to act on it or to reason it away. It was like I had a new buffer. It helped me heal and to put other coping mechanisms in place.
The only downer was that it did affect my sex drive, which I really didn’t like. I didn’t like having any part of me altered like that. I guess a buffer can work both ways. But things were so rough that J and I felt it was worth it. We needed to get through the IF whole, even if it meant getting through it on a little less sex.
Now there’s conflicting research about the safety of using Zoloft during pregnancy. We didn’t want to take any risks, so I was going to taper off if I got a BFP on my 4th IVF cycle – which didn’t end up happening anyway. I was then able to taper off completely before beginning the DEIVF cycle. By that time, I think I had done a lot of my grieving, and could fall back on the coping strategies I’d picked up by then.
Again, it’s something each person needs to weigh carefully for themselves, but I just wanted to put my experience out there.
We’re lucky to live near a lot of green space, so it was easy for me to go out for a long walk regularly. It helped enormously to just open up my world and to remind myself that there are countless of other living creatures busy doing their thing. It also helped me to be around beauty and to breathe in fresh air.
9. I was selective about my social interactions.
The friend who’s been the most supportive of me through all this once said that I needed to, “insulate, ignore, protect, and proceed.” I’m sure she didn’t realize it at the time, but in that moment she made up my driving motto for coping with IF. My biggest priority was getting through this with my sanity intact, and if that meant putting blinders on, so to speak, then I would do that without any guilt or regret.
I stayed in contact with friends who were supportive and who made me feel good, and I distanced myself from people who were threatening or who deep-down I knew I couldn’t really trust. I completely avoided Facebook for years. It was important for me to not compare myself to what others had, but to focus in on my goal.
I found immense solace in the blog and twitter community, but I tried to pay attention to when I needed to step back and focus in. It’s a mixed bag. It’s amazing to have support with an illness that’s so incredibly isolating, but it’s also frightening to learn more than you normally would about what could happen and it’s painful to be left behind. I guess we’re always figuring out how to negotiate that. Ultimately, I’m incredibly grateful to have met so many courageous, generous, and amazingly strong women.
10. I defined my faith.
I’m not a religious person, and I don’t really believe in fate. So, it was really helpful for me to figure out what I do have faith in – what I know I can rely on. Through all the grief and disappointment, I had faith that J and I could get through it together, and I had faith in my strength to endure and heal. The most valuable thing I’ve learned through dealing with IF, and something that I’m sure will serve me throughout my life – because life is fucking hard – is that there’s a huge, unfathomable store of strength in each of us.
So, it hasn’t sunk in yet – that I’m pregnant, I mean. I’m not sure when it will. I asked a pregnant IF friend of mine when it would seem real, and she joked, “Oh, at about 20 weeks.” When I first got the call about the BFP, I was overjoyed and incredibly relieved, of course. J and I were hugging, I was crying and smiling at the same time. It was what you’d expect after four years of struggles. I was surprised by the feelings I was having right after that, though. I realized that I was a little anxious, and that I was focusing more on the odd way my body was feeling than anything else (crazy bloated, burping more than I thought possible for one person, nervous-making deep inside cramping, and boobs that seem to glow with pain). What hit me is that I haven’t been nearly released from the clutches of IF yet. I’m still thinking the way I did during my IVF cycles: How is THIS hormone going to make me feel? What weird side effects are going to crop up? What time of day should I take which medication? What should I do/avoid? I want it all to go well, and I want to do everything right.
It hit me that what WASN’T in my head was that A BABY (OR BABIES) WILL RESULT FROM ALL THIS. A baby who gazes around at everything wonderingly, who giggles when I tickle her belly, who grabs at my face with his clumsy fingers, who falls asleep on J’s chest. I think it just takes time to get there after struggling with IF for so long. I’m not concerned. In time (God, Universe, Whatever-willing and knock on wood), this pregnancy will be mine. Eventually, it will be about me and the baby/babies, and not about the RE, injections, and estrogen patches. Eventually, we’ll have baby things around instead of a sharps container and syringes. It’s just funny to realize that a transition does have to take place.
I think this transition has to happen for my family, too. We’ve already told my parents and my sister. They knew we were doing a donor egg cycle, and knew about all the other failed attempts. Since they were so acquainted with this cycle’s schedule, there wasn’t any way to wait until the second trimester to include them (though I warn them repeatedly that things are far from certain yet). I think right now they’re mostly relieved that we might not have to suffer anymore – that we might have finally reached the other side. My mother said she is only just letting herself imagine being a grandmother. She had just wanted me not to be in pain anymore. The end of suffering was the goal. Again, the end result of an actual baby was kind of lost in the struggle.
J’s family is different. We haven’t included them in any of the details of our IF struggles, partly to save his mother (ill with MS in a nursing home) the worry, and partly to give me some privacy. They were impatient for us to have kids, were worried about us, knew we were “doing our best” in some vague way, and knew not to bring it up. That’s all. My initial instinct was to wait until the second trimester to announce to them, but somehow it’s feeling wrong now to keep them at such a distance when friends – our supporters through all this – already know. It seems wrong to hold them at arms-length, even if it means that they have to mourn with us if things don’t go well.
I’m excited to experience their relief and joy, almost more than with my own family, oddly. It’s complicated and scary, though, because we’ll be telling them a lot at once – that we went through 4 rounds of IVF, that we ended up having to use donor eggs. I’m a little intimidated by it all. For some reason, I get all old-school when it comes to my in-laws, worrying that they think I’m a bad daughter-in-law when I gain weight or because I couldn’t produce a baby. I worry that they’ll think less of me because we had to use donor eggs. I don’t know where that fear comes from, because they’ve only been loving and supportive of me, and after all, we DID use their son’s sperm.
J was thinking he’d tell his father first, and can explain the whole situation to him then. Then I can have the honor of telling his mother (his father will be there, too, because he’ll be holding the phone for her). For some reason, it’s very important to me that J tell them how very hard I tried. At the moment, we’re thinking we’ll tell them after the first ultrasound, when we know exactly how many critters are growing in there. We’ll make it clear that it’s still very early, that they need to keep it to themselves, and that things are far from certain yet. It makes sense to include them in that “inner circle” of supporters, the people who will be there for us if – well, just if. They deserve that. It’s just kind of huge. Telling them will definitely make it seem more real.
Meanwhile, I’m going to focus on being positive and excited. To continue to choose hope over fear…and to relish a blessed puke-free window of time.