The Non-Scare

Oh, what a weekend I’ve had… Lest you worry, Chick and I are fine. Okay, CHICK is fine. I am fairly convinced my insides are going to fall out any minute.

Thursday evening was my 24 week check-up. As I drove to my appointment, I felt this strange burning pain right at my breast bone. Nothing incapacitating, but also very odd. Good thing I was going to my check-up, eh?

As I lay down on the table, I explained to the midwife what was happening. The usual “Does it hurt when I do this? What about this? Or how about this?” ensued. To which I responded, Yes, no, and no. Acute pain, but mostly localized to a 1 inch square. The midwife seemed worried.

“You see, that’s where your uterus is…”

“What? How did it get all the way up there?”

Concerned looks, either because I have no concept of pregnancy anatomy or because something terribly wrong is going on with my insides.

After conferring with a few others on staff, the midwife sent me home with instructions to rest and call immediately if things get worse. This is not something one wants to hear from a medical professional, though admittedly it could be worse.

At this point, the pain was really really real. I hobbled back to my car and went home for some rest. Though the pain didn’t get worse, it didn’t really go away either. Additionally, it traveled down slowly over the course of the evening until it landed right around my belly button.

Meanwhile, Chick was moving like a prize fighter. Had this not been the case, I wouldn’t have slept through the night. Ironic, isn’t it? My baby punching my insides made it easier for me to sleep.

Come morning the pain had not gone away. Midwife wanted me to come in for an ultrasound to make sure Chick was alright, and the soonest I could get in was 1:30.

Again, not something one wants to hear from a medical professional.

Holy balls– do you have ANY idea how long the wait from 8:00 to 1:30 was for me? As fortune would have it, I had a therapy appointment with Dr. Macaw that morning, and spent my entire 55 minutes crying. Though I rationally knew this would probably be fine, irrationally I could not handle one more fucking thing in my life breaking down.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have reached my limit for very bad things. No more. Not open for business. I wish I could say I’m some strong, courageous bad ass who can handle any and every speed bump with a smile. But let’s be real. This camel is one straw away from losing her shit.

Strangely, it felt really good to admit this to another person. Outloud. In earnest. Through lots of snot and tears. Between my mom’s death, my dad’s slow climb toward normalcy, my siblings and their own stuff, the completely unnecessary drama from Mr. O’s dad, and upheaval at work, I need this pregnancy to be okay. Perhaps the Universe would listen to me this time when I’ve said I have had enough.

Perhaps.

The next several hours at work were totally surreal. I had an “important meeting” that I couldn’t get to because it was smack in the middle of my ultrasound. Had a moment when I thought about conference-calling in, then realized that was completely stupid. I made my excuses and arrived back at my doctor’s office for the second time in 24 hours.

The ultrasound tech was the most beautiful, decent human. She was chipper and reassuring. With every snapshot she took of Chick, she’d say something like “Now we’re looking at the kidneys, which look totally normal…. This is the heart, which looks absolutely healthy…” And so on and so forth until we established that Chick is still fine. (And still very shy about their face. Someone is not ready for their close-up, Mr. DeMille.)

At this point, it was time to meet with another midwife (my dr/midwife duo weren’t available at this time, which was fine with me.) After looking at the results and examining me, I have been diagnosed with…. Diastasis Recti, or separated abdominal muscles. (Do not google this. It is gross. Or at least it is gross when you realize it is happening to you.)

Truth be told, I sort of forgot what the midwife was saying after she confirmed Chick was okay. I heard “Baby is okay! Mumble, mumble, Diastasis Recti, mumble, mumble, one finger apart, mumble, can get up to three, mumble, mumble…:”

Deep breaths. No one is dying. I’m just experiencing pain like a burning zipper up and down my abdomen. No big deal.

I spent the rest of the weekend wincing around my apartment, and having to ask Mr. O anytime something had to be lifted up or put down. It was tedious, and led me to one or two bouts of feeling sorry for myself.

My abs, once my pride and joy, have separated about one finger width apart. This is not uncommon in pregnancy– approximately two thirds of pregnant women experience this to some degree. It is, however, uncommon so early in a pregnancy or women carrying my size baby. If this were my third trimester or if I was carrying Gigantor, it would make more sense.

No one can quite figure out why this has happened when it did. As my loyal readers will know, this annoys me to no end. I want “Why?”, but it seems my body only responds “Why not?!” One speculation is that my muscles were so tight to begin with, there was little stretch in them. (I had similar lower abdominal pain weeks ago, which one nurse thought might also have been intensified because those muscles were well-developed. This is what 8 years of running does to you.)

I hope this doesn’t sound like a humble brag. Because I am sooooo not into this. Had I know that being in excellent shape with well-defined abdominals prior to pregnancy would lead to tearing? BLECH. I would have cooled my training and eaten more ice cream.

In the meantime, I have no idea what I can/can’t do anymore. From my midwife, I can keep running until my body says no. (But this isn’t no? What the hell does this mean? Talk about completely unhelpful advice…) She also suggested I ditch the pilates and take up yoga, but I’m still convinced this will just make matters worse. Maybe I should just become a bedridden shut in… In my most paranoid moments, I don’t want to breathe too deeply deeply because I’m pretty sure my organs will fall out. Which is shear nuttery but that’s where I live these days.

Just when I am on the brink of crying because I feel tender and sad, Chick tickles me from the inside out.

It is hysterical and glorious.

It is the yin to this weekend’s yang.

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The Perils of Letting Go

(Warning: This is kind of heavy. But then again, you’re reading an infertility blog. Were you expecting sunshine and rainbows?)

After a few month hiatus (brought to you by the letter “I” for Incompetence Insurance,) I’m back to seeing Dr. Macaw, my therapist. The timing could not be better, really. After my non-emotional tubing incident a few weeks back, I could tell that something wasn’t right. Luckily, Macaw has finally got Incompetence to accept her claims, though comically they keep sending her payments to a different address. Baby steps, my friends.

At last week’s session, I brought her up to speed on what has happened in the past few months. Mom is still in the hospital. I’m still infertile, though now at least I have some plan of attack. And yet I feel more detached from my life than before.

I started talking about my upcoming hysteroscopy. To be 100% open and honest, this scares the crap out of me. More than anything I’ve done in my entire life. This is not normal for me- I’m pretty fearless. If something scares me, that only gives me more reason to do it. Screw comfort zones!

I’ve been thinking about it since my appointment was scheduled last week. I didn’t used to be afraid of medical stuff. Why now?

“Because you think you’re going to die.”

The moment Dr. Macaw said it, I burst into tears because I knew it is true. I have never ever been afraid of dying– whenever that thought popped in my head, I would feel okay with it because I knew all the people I love know how much I love them. I could go out as long as I had that covered. I didn’t recognize this fear because frankly I’ve never felt it before.

I get that my fear is a smidge irrational. The risks from a hysteroscopy are so low. I’m having this done by a doctor I trust at a well-respected hospital in what is arguably the medical capital of the country.

But I cried anyway because it hit a nerve. As we talked more, it came up again and again. I can’t plan anything anymore. I don’t want to move on with my life. Get this, I’ve saved up more than enough for a down payment, but I have no desire to buy a house. I’ll drive by lovely homes that I could afford, and think “That’s nice… for other people.”

I know you all don’t know me that well, but trust me when I say that this is WEIRD. Not just the house thing, but all of it. I’m a planner! I make responsible life choices! Now I’m seriously entertaining getting a tattoo and picking up smoking again. Because who cares?

If I start working backwards, I can find the origins. I pull on the thread, following it back to November of last year. My mom went in for a routine test, woke up two months later. She has spent 10 months of her life in a hospital bed. My greatest hope for her is that she can get checked out by the end of the year, and into rehab. Not home, but into a rehab center. I dare not think much beyond that.

IF teaches us that nothing is certain. But right now LIFE seems to be telling me that all plans are for suckers.

So how do I let go without losing myself?

Another CD1 = Another tussle with Incompetence

I keep hoping that I’ll be able to avoid IVF and the accompanying headache of dealing with my insurance by, you know… getting pregnant. I seriously hate this company. Just over the weekend, I got a bill from an appointment I had well over a year ago. They claim that they sent the check to me, and not the doctor’s office. Which is horseshit. And another story.

If these winners screw up perfectly run of the mill visits, imagine the wonderland of stupidity that awaits me now!

When Dr. Petrel suggested we go straight to IVF, I was cautiously optimistic. When I spoke with someone at the Infertility Hotline, they said that they required 6 cycles of something before they would approve IVF. Since I took Clomid for 6 cycles, I should be all set.

[But before I go on, I would like to pause for a moment to share some interesting information shared with me by Dr. Petrel. In the state where I live, most insurance companies (all the biggies) have moved away from a set requirement before IVF. Why? Because they crunched the numbers and found that most patients ended up at IVF anyway. Pragmatically speaking, it didn’t make financial sense to pay for treatments that have a lower probability of working BEFORE approving the one that has a higher probability of working. Logical, yes? Alas, my employer contracts with an insurance company out of TEXAS. And Texas may be many things, but rational about women’s health issues is not one of them.]

Anyway, as I was saying before I interrupted myself… I thought it would be a good idea to call and make sure I understood exactly what Incompetence meant by 6 attempted cycles with Clomid. Does it have to be done with IUI? Does it have to be done with accompanied monitoring? What kind of monitoring? Was I required to jump up and down three times before every cycle began? Rub my abdomen with juniper berries on every full moon?

So I called last week. I was on the phone for 45 minutes before someone told me that a specialist would call me back in 4 business days. This is the exact same crap I heard last time. 3-5 business days? How is this a HOTLINE, if I can’t talk to anyone for 3-5 business days? And did I REALLY have to wait on the phone for 45 minutes, only to learn I have to wait another 4 days? REALLY?!

Because the universe likes to kick me in the metaphorical balls, I get my call back from the Infertility Hotline the same day as I get by period. Let’s add frustration and elevated blood pressure to my pile of weepiness, desperation, and disappointment, shall we?

The good news is yes, my cycles with Clomid do count. This makes me feel a little bit better about the Great Clomid Experiment. In its own way, it has served its purpose. I just need to get something from my GYN saying that he did prescribe it. And provide some kind of “proof” that I took the medication and monitored it (OPKs count.)

Erm… proof? I started to panic, thinking I needed to have saved all my spent OPKs. I’m a pack rat, sure. But I have to draw the line at hoarding discarded OPKs. I mean, I PEED on those things.

In a delightful move back to civility, my word for it is proof enough. So I pull up my apps, report the dates of positive OPKs and scheduled sexy time. For the last 6 months. As I’m sure you can imagine, this took some time– 30 minutes to be exact.

The woman I spoke with was actually nice. Granted I waited 4 days to speak with her, so I sure hope she’d be nice. After we went through all the dates, she said she would start processing it so that I could be approved for IVF (pending some FSH test, I think? I dunno, whatever I’m getting done this week.) I hung up from that conversation not actively annoyed.

But just when you’d think that this could end on a happy note, I’m now embroiled in another bit of drama with my insurance company. Some of you may recall that I’ve been seeing a counselor to help me cope with “My Life”, aka the never-ending cyclone of very bad things I’ve experienced in the last year. Dr. Macaw has been so helpful. But because of a clerical error at Incompetence, they’ve rejected her claims so I’ve had to stop seeing her. I cannot fix said clerical error, Dr. Macaw has to. And they are not returning her calls, or sending her the forms she needs. Why?

Because they are assholes.

I’ve been okay with not seeing Macaw for now, but this shit is going to get cray once IVF becomes more real. I’ve already had one solid freakout after a Google session. (Sorry, but Egg Retrieval does not sound like a good time.) As one lovely friend pointed out, this might have to do with my total aversion to hospitals and medical procedures, thanks to my mom’s health situation. I NEED to talk about this with a licensed professional, but I can’t do it if my insurance company keeps denying claims because their records are out of date (and they seem to refuse to update them.)

Suggestions on how to strong arm your insurance company into delivering the services that you pay for are welcome.