Minipost: The Story of Us

You guys…

I owe you all a post because I have things to saaaay. Nothing too terrible exciting, just some massive realizations about life and stuff. You know, the usual emotional vomit I’ve made the very cornerstone of my blog.

But I’m busy. And last night I got 5 hours of sleep between a fitful baby and a brain that could not stop obsessing over this terrible anniversary party I have to throw for my in-laws this weekend that I’m convinced they are going to hate. Maybe they’ll hate it so much, they’ll stop talking to me? I feel alarmingly ambivalent about that outcome.

In the meantime, I’m still reading your posts. And I’ve just got to say… I love us. For serious, guys. I love our stories. I love the relative honesty we have about our lives, our struggles, the tiny triumphs of putting our lives back together after grief, loss, frustration, and disappointments.

Thanks for letting me follow along.

A More Perfect Union, Indeed

I know I owe you all a much longer update, which I’m hoping to get to this weekend. In the meantime, join me in being overjoyed by today’s Supreme Court ruling guaranteeing the right to same-sex marriage.

Love– no matter where you find it– is a beautiful thing.

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right. –Justice Anthony M. Kennedy

Running for Two

Throughout my pregnancy, I have maintained my practice of running. After I was given the all-clear post-IVF, I put my running shoes on and started out again. Slowly. Very Carefully. With just a hint of trepidation.

At first, I had to stop and walk a lot. I was tired and out of practice for the first time in 7 years. This annoyed me to no end. I am a seasoned runner, damn it! Walking is for sissies! Rationally, I got why I was slowing down. But as any runner will tell you, it is a mental game more than anything, and mentally I felt like I should be pushing myself harder.

I had to change my expectations. Instead of running with my gadgets that calculate distance, time, and pace, I just run for time now. I set the clock for 35 minutes, then run/walk until I’m done. This sounds so simple, but it is huge shift for me.

It has also helped me reconnect with this sport I love so much. I run now for the grace of it. For the joy of being outside. For the clarity I get on each run. It also reminds me that even as my body changes, I’m still incredibly strong. Sure, my glutes and quads are not what they used to be (let alone my abs. HA!) But I’m out there and this requires a particular kind of courage: To do my best that day, no matter what that day brings me.

Exercising while pregnant is weird because it follows the opposite path of what you’re used to. Instead of improving over time, I have been slowing down or having to modify workouts. Instead of getting stronger each week, I’ve had to figure out what I can’t do anymore. It’s a downer if I think about it too much. I’m used to literally feeling the progress that comes with exercise. Again, it’s about changing my expectations. So now it is less about performance and more about simple movement.

I realize at some point running while pregnant will not be a good idea. As my doctor put it, my body will tell me when it is ready to stop and I just have to listen. I’ve also started adding pregnancy pilates to my work out. Truth be told, I find it exceedingly tedious, but it is good for me. It keeps my legs and core strong, and it keeps me moving. At the moment, I’m running 2-3 times a week, and doing pilates 2-3 times a week.

On this morning’s run, I was feeling electric. The weather was perfect– 50 degrees and sunny. Chick was cooperating by keeping movement to a minimum. I felt strong and empowered, even as other runners breezed by me like gazelles. “Yeah, but are you running and carrying a baby? I AM A WARRIOR!”  As I stopped mid-run to stretch, I took a photo of the view from where I stood: My running shoes peeking out from my baby belly. Feeling good about where I was at that moment, I posted it to Instagram and finished my run.

Which is when I realized that I kinda, sorta forgot about my and Mr. O’s “No Social Media Pregnancy Announcements.” I also forgot that there are some people following me who don’t know about Chick. So I got a flood of “likes” and “OMG” style comments. In my exuberance, I inadvertently outed myself as pregnant. Oops.

It isn’t that I want to avoid social media altogether. It’s just that I remember being ambushed by the announcements of friends. I hate the idea that someone saw my picture and had a similar reaction. I also want to be so mindful of Chick’s own privacy– Chick may not want a kabillion pictures all over the interwebs before they can even get born.

Thankfully, Mr. O didn’t seem to mind my slip, and was one of the first to “like” my photo. Along with 23 other people… and counting.

Well, Hello There!

To make a long and painful story short, Incompetence denied the request to go through the lab for the Panorama test. I will spare you the gory details, and summarize:

My doctor’s office says that there is one lab (Natera) that does this test. Nope, no one else.

My insurance says their preferred lab does the test too, so won’t accept Natera.

They are incorrect, but I’m fairly certain they have yet to update their files to reflect the change. This, sadly, has happened two other times, resulting in delays in treatment.

Sigh… This left me with only one Downs screening option and exactly two days to do it in. This screen, consisting of an ultrasound and blood work, has to be done between 11 weeks and 13 weeks 6 days. Today I am 13 weeks 5 days. If ever there was a reason to utter the phrase “Fuck my life,” now felt like the time.

So I spent the ENTIRE DAY running around signing consent forms and finding the one office that had an opening today for an ultrasound. (Weather in my next of the woods is shit right now, so many offices are closed.) Luckily I was able to get an appointment at 1:30 today– again due to the weather, this office had a cancellation so I could slide right in.

I walked into the office and thanked them profusely for getting me in. I was exhausted, had not showered, and was hungry because I hadn’t eaten anything except some oatmeal I picked up at Starbucks between stops. Not to mention that I was anxious because I was worried that they would tell me there was something less than perfect* about my wee one.

I was, essentially, a train wreck.

And then. Oh, ladies and gentlemen, and then… I saw the little thing that has set up camp in my uterus. It is real. Like, really real. It has hands and feet. Hands! And it waved. (Okay, it was probably passing gas or something, but I prefer to think of it as waving.)

It waved at me. It said “Hi, I’m here.” (Okay, it didn’t saaay anything, but I was having a moment.)

That’s when this whole pregnancy thing became so motherfucking real to me. This is happening. And it is awesome.

As should come as no surprise, there were some oddities. Mostly that it is on the longer side. Depending on which range you use, it is either a wee too long or just right. Baby Ostrich is either right on schedule or 14 weeks 1 day.

I couldn’t figure out why this mattered, so I kept pressing the nurse. She gave me some pat answer, so I made it completely clear. “What I’m asking is there anything I could Google and freak-out about later?” She assured me that no, there was nothing to freak out over. And she is right. I have Googled and there is nothing terribly conclusive about these ranges.

[Aside: This seems weird to me. Different labs use different ranges? Wouldn’t something like baby growth be fairly standard and generally accepted?]

But in case you thought I couldn’t find something to panic about… I learned that I have actually lost weight in my first trimester. Lost weight. Aren’t I supposed to be gaining weight? I suspect this is because I have been backed up a lot, what with the rampaging constipation. To put it bluntly, it is really hard to put food in when it won’t come out. Or maybe it is grief. Because, you know… I’ve heard that can put a damper on one’s appetite.

Again, I find myself wondering if the cause even matters. Ultimately, I need to find a way to get more in my belly.

Barring a natural disaster, I will be heading to California tomorrow. It seems like a delightful way to spend the week wait until I get the results of the blood work back. Not to mention, I hear they have amazing food trucks where I’m headed.

And I could certainly use the sunshine.

*I hesitated to use this word because I don’t think there is anything wrong with people who have Downs or other disabilities. If I am being honest, there is a part of me that would be upset if my child had Downs. Not that I wouldn’t love them or care for them. But every parent wants the easiest road for their child, and I would be disingenuous not to recognize that this was all tumbling in the back of my head in the waiting room.

This is what winning looks like

Years ago, I ran my first half marathon. I trained like a mad woman, followed strict schedules, nutritional guidelines… I did it all “right.” And though I finished, my performance stunk. This was mostly to environmental factors, but it still stung a little at the end. My best efforts did not yield my best results.

Over the past few years, I’ve trained for several half marathons, but didn’t actually complete them. Once I got sick the weekend of. Another time, I injured myself the week before. So I learned to love the process of training, if not the race itself.

With the promise of ARTs looming, I decided to try for a half one more time. But I was so disorganized about it. I staggered my long runs, didn’t do a ton of strength training. I also trained with Mr. O– which I didn’t love (but didn’t really hate either.) When you race, you’re out there alone. So training with another person, I wasn’t sure if I was also building my mental endurance too.

The night before I was nervous– and I have NEVER been nervous for a race. Ever. Other things continued to go wrong, like my phone battery couldn’t hold a charge. This meant that I couldn’t use my running app to gauge my pace and was without Spotify for music. So I loaded up an old iPod with the most random 3 hours of music I own. I had run out of my mid-race fuel of choice, and had to scramble for a back-up. Mr. O announced that he was thinking of taking the morning to run errands, rather than wait the two hours it would take me to finish. (Insert sad face here.)

Things were not looking good.

As I lined up, I honestly didn’t believe that I was about to start. There must be something out there that would smote me. The gun went off, and I started to run. I could hardly believe it. I was finally here. I was doing this thing I’d wanted to do for years. I almost cried.

I held it together, because mile 1 is not a time to lose your shit. I had 12.1 more miles ahead of me, and I was still vaguely convinced that something was going to happen that would prevent me from finishing.

And here is where my luck seemed to turn. It was a beautiful day for a run. A perfect 60 degree day, sunlight bouncing off the fall leaves. I still had no idea how I was pacing– I just ball parked it off the time at each mile marker. And I was making pretty good time, based of my math.

During my training, I had only gotten to 10 miles on my long runs. This is doable, but not ideal. Prevailing thought is that you’ll be able to finish it, but you usually want more from your training. So when I reached mile 10, I went a little bit quiet. At this point, I had to trust my body– not my training.

As I closed in on the last 800 meters, I was on auto pilot. My legs knew what they were here to do. I had closed out the rest of the world. Which is why I hardly noticed Mr. O cheering me on from the sidelines. I was over the moon when I saw him, and those last few strides felt like flying.

As I hobbled over to Mr. O at the finisher’s tent, he delivered the great news. I hadn’t just beat my previous record, I had CRUSHED IT. I literally shaved an entire minute off my pace time, finishing well ahead of my previous time. I screamed. I jumped up and down. Then I ate a hamburger. And a protein shake. And a banana.

Running has taught me so much about patience, endurance, and mental toughness. I am so profoundly grateful that I found this sport 7 years ago.

There is a part of me that feels like this is my swan song. If all goes well, I will be pregnant soon. Running will become harder and harder- let alone running 13.1 miles. This half marathon couldn’t have happened at any other time. Or at a better time.

Even though thousands of other people finished before me that day, it still feels like winning.

Tis a Gift

When I was a kid, my family took many road trips. The epic “National Lampoon” kind of road trips. In retrospect, I really love them, though at the time it felt akin to being trapped in a vinyl-covered prison with two other sweaty inmates (i.e. my siblings.)  Not only has this provided my family with some hysterical stories, I also got to see a lot of the country in a more intimate way than hopping from one airport to another.

On one of these trips, we went to a Shaker village. They have some great ideas, like the belief that god is both male and female, which leads to more equal leadership in the church.  The Shakers also have some crazy ideas like no babies (Hm… maybe I’m Shaker…)

Anyway, there is  Shaker hymn that I’ve always loved since that trip, “Simple Gifts.”

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free

‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

Tis the gift to be simple, tis the gift to be free…  To come down where we ought to be, not where we want to be. Damn you, Shakers! If it weren’t for that whole celibacy thing, I’d join up right now.

In an effort not to sink deeper into crabbiness while I wait to move on to IVF (because I WILL MOVE ON TO IVF, DAMIN IT!), I hereby decree this the “Gift” post. These are gifts in my life, big and small. I will make every effort to be thankful for them. In no particular order:

1) Breathing, the act of filling my lungs up with air.

2) The sparrows I saw on my walk this afternoon.

3) Sweatpants. Come to think of it, any pants with elastic waistbands.

4) My cat yawning.

5) Holding my mom’s hand.

6) Napping. I have never woken up from a nap unhappy. EVER.

7) Cheesy grits. You can take a girl out of the South, but not the South out of a girl.

8) Spending a day at the beach.

9) Red lip stick.

10) Running. I honestly believe it is the closest we humans get to flying.

11) Summer. Even the stinking hot parts.

12) Singing loudly, and in my case poorly.

13) Watermelons.

14) Listening to my dad tell jokes about drunk priests. REPEATEDLY.

15) Friends who know which circumstances call for pizza and which ones call for beer.

16) Meditation.

17) Fall in New England. I swear there is no more beautiful place on earth.

18) Waking up to the sound of birds singing.

19) Iced coffee.

20) My dear Mr. Ostrich. Almost everything about him. 

21) Good writers.

22) The National Park system.

23) LIBRARIES.

24) Live shows. I do love an excuse to be loud and rowdy.

25) Thunder storms.

26) Croissants.

27) My hair. Seriously, I have great hair.

28) Pencil skirts.

29) Human kindness.

30) My belief that every day starts fresh.

 

Sometimes Su Casa es Mi Casa

Over the past several weeks, a few bloggers I follow have announced their pregnancies. (Seriously, there must be something in the water… and I’m clearly not drinking it.)

To be 100% honest, I have been over-the-moon excited every time. No lie.

I don’t mean to come off as self-righteous. Because for every pregnancy announcement, I’ve also read posts from non-pregnant infertiles who can’t take one more. And I get these folks too. Believe me, I understand that gnawing, aching feeling of being left behind. (Aside: Is this what prisoners feel like when their cellmates get released? Happy and sad at the same time?)

My motives are entirely selfish. Over the past year, I’ve seen so much mother fucking sadness that I’m done. From my mom’s health challenges, my father losing his mind to despair, my sister’s diagnosis, and my own soul-crushing infertility… My life has become a maelstrom of shit. One big swirling storm of TERRIBLE.

The way I see it, I need to celebrate joy any where I can find it. Or else I will turn into a hot, quivering mess of cynicism and hostility. If that means being grateful for a morning run, bring it on. If that means devouring an ice cream sandwich, I’ll take it. And if that joy is your pregnancy, I will shout it from the metaphorical rooftops, my friends.

So for the record, please do not feel the need to apologize for being pregnant. I’m so happy for you that I don’t have the words to describe it. Conversely, do not feel the need to apologize for feeling a tiny bit (or a shit ton) sad. I know that feeling. On my worst days, I am the physical embodiment of that feeling.

When it comes to IF, I don’t think there are any rules. We do whatever we can to get through it.