Hearing the Heartbeat

Today I had my first appointment without the sonogram. Evidently Frijolita is big enough that they can use the doppler very easily, and that is what they did. It was my first time hearing the heartbeat and it was wonderful. Unfortunately Mi.Vida couldn’t be there but I did call him and he got to hear over phone. The heartbeat was 150, which is totally normal (anything between 120 and 160 is okay) and it was nice to finally know that it was fine. I have to say, after all these weeks of waiting, hearing Frijolita’s heart wasn’t the least bit anti-climactic. It was definitely love at first sound!

As for the rest of my appointment, I brought up three major concerns:

1. The Doula program at Kaiser SF. Turns out it’s not much of a program at all, which doesn’t upset me that much, as I assumed it wouldn’t be what I needed anyway. I’ve decided I want to hire a doula to accompany me during the birth, as I’m going to try to have a natural birth. I’d love one who’s worked at Kaiser before and knows what they allow and don’t allow. My OB was kind enough to look into the doula program and talk to other people at the hospital and got me a website to start searching for my own doula, which I appreciated. Now I have to see if I can even begin to afford all of this. I really hope I can, as it’s very important to me. I know that birthing your baby can be an amazing experience and it’s one I’ve wanted for a long time. I so wish I could give birth at a birthing center with tubs and all of that, but alas, my insurance is with Kaiser and so I have to work around that. At the same time, I hope there are options for me there and I want to explore all of them.

2. My weight gain. Well I stepped on the scale today and it’s official, I gained another 9 pounds this month. I’m not as worried about it as I was before, but I’m glad I’m seeing a nutritionist and trying to get more exercise. My ob recommends I keep a food journal for a week to get a better idea of what I’m eating. I think that is a good idea, though I’m kind of loathe actually doing it. After so many years of eating issues I don’t like to go back to this way of doing things. I haven’t thought one iota about what I’ve put in my mouth for the last four years and haven’t gained a pound. Of course now I am gaining lots of pounds, and thought I know it’s healthy for me and the baby, I want to make sure it’s for the right reasons. I’m hoping that I’m gaining the bulk of my weight in the second trimester and that it will taper off some in the coming months. If not, I’ll have to step up all my efforts on the weight maintenance front.

3. Second look at the baby’s sex. I don’t remember if I mentioned it on here, but when I asked my ob to take a second look at the baby she said she would, happily, at 35 weeks. I was not very excited about that and told her so. Anyway, today she told me that she said that because she is not really trained in the discrete science of determining the gender of a baby from an ultrasound, especially when the baby is still so small. She also said she would try again next time and then continue to try, but that she really didn’t know if she’d be able to give me any more of a definitive answer than I already got (“diagnosing girls is harder than diagnosing boys”). So that is both understandable and disappointing. I feel like once again we’ve come up against a problem that few others I know of has had. Of course it’s not really a problem, and I’m not trying to make it one, but I would love to know “for sure” what we’re having.

I guess that is all I have to report for now. I’m very excited to spend the evening at home with Mi.Vida, eating dinner and watching some TV. I hope all my blogging friends are having an equally restful Thursday night.

BUENAS NOTICIAS – Mi.Vida just tried out our new juicer. We went through a huge thing of carrots and oranges and it made a super yummy, super nutricious, juice! YAY! Just one more way to get through our CSA farm box veggies and fruits!

So they think it’s a…

… GIRL! But they’re really not sure (they told us not to paint any walls yet). The baby was not in a great position to get a definitive look but they didn’t see boy parts and they thought they saw girl parts… so we shall see. I’m not surprised that Frijolito (or should I start calling her Frijolita?) did not cooperate fully. That is just our luck.

Everything else looks great though, and that is really the important thing. I have to say, I’m so excited to be feeling the baby all the time, I really can’t be bothered to be upset by anything else. My students are going to be a little disappointed not to get a definitive answer tomorrow, though I don’t doubt the girls will take this as an early victory. The good thing about not being sure is I can push back the “name suggestions” for a little longer.

I’m having a hard time at work, just very unenthusiastic to be there. I’m not sure what it is, but this drab attitude hit after the winter break and seems to be going no where fast. Usually my anti-work moods are more negative than this and they last only a week or two. This has been three weeks now and it’s more ambivalence than negativity. It’s just that every day takes forever and I don’t really want to be there at all. I hope this attitude eases up soon or it’s going to be a long five months until summer.

Everything else in life is going pretty well. I’m currently caught up on grad school work and school work (shocking I know!) and that has felt nice. I interviewed a cleaning lady yesterday and she will be coming for the first time tomorrow. We’re only going to have her come every 4 weeks for a “deep clean” as my mother calls it. I can do the sweeping and wiping down of surfaces in between. I feel much better about not having to do so much cleaning for the next five months, and after the baby is born too.

I started going to prenatal yoga twice a week and I like that very much. Most of the women are much bigger than me, and farther along in their pregnancies, which still feels a little weird (I’m not sure exactly why). But there are also a few other women around 18-22 weeks and that is always nice. It feels great to move my body and feel strong and limber again. I’m definitely going to keep it up throughout my pregnancy.

My belly is definitely getting “rounder” but I think I’m still just looking fat (with MASSIVE ta-ta’s). I definitely have been overweight before and this looks very much like that, which can be a little difficult. I know it will transition into “baby belly” at some point, and I’m not as impatient for that anymore, but the “thickness” is challenging my acceptance of my body. I went through a lot of body issues, and I’m definitely handling this much better than I ever could have before, but it’s still bringing up complicated emotions. But I’m really not complaining. I love feeling this baby move and if I need to look fat to feel it, then so be it.

I’m having lunch with my sister today. It’s still raining incessantly here in the Bay Area and I don’t look forward to trekking through public transport in it, but I guess I have no choice. California needs the rain so I will stop complaining.

I shall end this post with some pictures of Frijolito, who’s looking lovely as ever, I might add.

BUENAS NOTICIAS: Mi.Vida took me to dinner and a movie last night and it was really fun. I highly recommend Up in the Air.

The Dust Settles

First of all, I wanted to thank everyone who commented on my blog yesterday for your kind words of support. They really meant a lot.

I also wanted to assure those people that I have been seeing someone, weekly, about my anxiety. I actually made an emergency appointment yesterday and it was well worth it. At her urging (and because my OB is out of town) I’ve asked my old OB and left a message for the OB on call at Kaiser SF if I can take Zoloft starting now and not 2 weeks from now at week 16. So far my old OB has already given me the go ahead. I’m picking up the Zoloft today after school, whether I’ve heard from the attending physician at Kaiser or not.

If there is any silver lining to the debacle that was Wednesday’s appointment it is that I am more aware now of how out of control my anxiety really is. I’m saddened at the necessity to take medication but I do see it as a necessity. For my sake, for Mi.Vida’s sake and for my baby’s sake, I need to be on this medication. Hopefully by the time I get my results back it will have kicked in a little. Maybe, if I get ambiguous or upsetting results, that will help some.

I did file a formal grievance with Kaiser on Wednesday night. Interestingly, only 30 minutes later at 9:30pm, I got an email from my OB who is supposedly not checking her email while she is away. Either she was notified of my grievance or the perinatal doctor from the NTU contacted her about how upset I was. She wrote a very eloquent email about how it was just unfortunate luck because I had been seen within the appropriate time. I wrote back that it seemed very obvious that this would happen given than they scheduled my NTU for ONE DAY before the last day possible and my baby always measures 4 days ahead of schedule. So I went in at 13w5d for a test that can be done until 13w6d with a baby that was sure to measure at 14w2d. Not so shocking that the baby was too big. Of course I got the “I’m out until Dec 28” as a response.

Since then I’ve emailed my old OB and gotten almost immediate responses, both times, despite very late time stamps. I’m seriously considering going back down to Kaiser RWC, though Mi.Vida would be excluded from many appointments if that were the case. I don’t know what I would have done without him this Wednesday. It’s a hard choice, possibly better care (and certainly more attentive care) down there with less participation from Mi.Vida or less attentive care up in SF with his participation. I really don’t know what I’m going to do.

I had a serious panic attack on the way here about my genetic screening results. Suddenly I was sure I would get bad news. I don’t know what to think. I’m so sick of feeling this way. It makes me uninterested in almost every other aspect of my life. I want to not obsess about these things all the time. God, I wish I already had some answers. I know that accepting uncertainty is an important part of this process, but I feel physically unable to do that right now. I guess that is why I’m going on the medication. I so hope it helps.

BUENAS NOTICIAS – A coworker of mine just brought me in some homemade mac and cheese for lunch. I was commenting on how good it looked yesterday and she showed up with some for me today. That was very nice.

Attempting to deboard the worry train (with little success)

I’m sorry that I haven’t posted in a while. I’ve been struggling a lot lately with anxiety about my pregnancy (shocking huh!?) and reading about more late term miscarriages at 18+ weeks on other people’s blogs has me again seriously questioning whether I need to take a break from the blogging world.

It’s Saturday night at 7:15. I’ve spent much of today working on a grad school paper that was due last Sunday. I’m actually getting through it more quickly than I expected and although it’s not very good, it will get the job done. I’m taking  a much needed break now to write this post. I have to admit, I also might do a little book shopping on Amazon.

This Wednesday I went to another ultrasound appointment. I just went to one a week ago, an “emergency” appointment that I requested when I mysteriously lost all my pregnancy symptoms. I kept this Wednesday’s appointment because it was with my actual OBGYN and I’ve been so eager to talk to her and ask her some questions. I also had an appointment after my ultrasound with someone from the mental health department of the pregnancy unit.

Anyway, all day Wednesday I was a wreck, worried I’d get bad news. I don’t know how I can get myself so worked up every time I go in for an ultrasound! By the time I got home from both appointments I was exhausted; I didn’t get off the couch for five hours (and Squeaks can attest to that).

Anyway, my appointments went well. It was kind of intense reviewing my entire mental health history with the woman who I ended up seeing first because my OBGYN was running late. We talked about my past episodes with depressions, when I was in therapy, when I was taking medication (and what I took), my past issues with food and weight, and finally my crushing anxiety about losing this pregnancy. She was very kind, compassionate and sympathetic, but never in a demeaning way. She concluded that I did not need to meet with her again (because I already see a therapist weekly) but urged me to make an appointment with my psychiatrist towards the end of the pregnancy to discuss putting me on antidepressants before I deliver so they will already be in my system to ward off possible postpartum depression (for which I’m at a higher risk). I told her I’d definitely do that.

At my OBGYN’s I got my first pants-on-tummy-ultrasound. I guess no more dildo cam! I felt like I had graduated when she pulled the regular ultrasound out. Frijolito looked considerably bigger than just a week ago, with fingers and toes clearly visible. He/she was also moving around quite a bit, so much so, in fact, that the picture is not very good at all. After the ultrasound I got all of my questions answered (mostly because I had emailed them to her ahead of time, at my therapists recommendation). I have to say, I am sad that being a part of Kaiser, I have very little control over my birthing experience. I’m trying not to think too much about that, as I have many months before I need to face those issues.

At the end of the appointment my doctor suggested I cancel my existing December 3rd appointment and push it back, at which point I broke down crying and basically begged her to let my keep it. I told her that I still have so much anxiety about losing this pregnancy and coming in every two weeks to get it checked out goes a long way in easing my mind. She was very kind and said that was fine. By December 3rd I’ll be two days away from the famed 12 weeks so I hope that everything looks okay then. Since this appointment I scheduled my NTU, which is part of the genetics screening I will be doing. That appointment had to be made in the middle of December so I will have another ultrasound 2 weeks after the next one. I hope by then I’m feeling confident and I start getting annoyed at coming in all the time. These appointments are at very annoying times and because they are in the city, and I work on the peninsula, I have to take the entire day off, no matter when they are. I guess it’s a good thing I won’t be taking any maternity leave because I’ll have very few sick days left by the time even my first trimester is over.

All joking aside, I’m beginning to realize that I have a serious problem with anxiety and it only seems to be getting worse. I thought by 10 weeks I’d be feeling better. I have a book on miscarriage (Avoiding Miscarriage) that cites a “very large study” that concluded that women who saw the heartbeat at 10 weeks had a 1% chance of losing the pregnancy. Even armed with that statistic I’m still sometimes paralyzed with fear that something will go wrong and it will completely destroy me, my relationship and my life. I’ve been operating under the assumption that this anxiety would lessen after the first trimester but as I get closer it only seems to get worse. For the first time I’m feeling frustrated at my own anxiety and also fearful that it will adversely affect my pregnancy. I know I need to find ways to introduce calming thoughts into my repertoire of constant worry, but I don’t know how. There are surprisingly few books dedicated to anxiety during pregnancy, and most deal with issues that arise much later during the third trimester. I’m sure I’ll appreciate those books in three or four months but right now I need something very different.

So I continue to struggle with sometimes crushing fear and doubt. I’m working closely with my therapist on this, but I’m finding it increasingly upsetting. I really hope that I don’t have to take some kind of medication to control this anxiety in the near future, but I will be open to that if it’s suggested to me by professionals. In the meantime I’m going to try other methods and hope they work. If anyone can suggest any resources to help me with this, I’d very much appreciate it.

I hope you’re all doing well. Thanks for hanging in there with me through this winding road. I hope I don’t sound ungrateful for what I have, because that could not be farther from the case. I am just struggling to accept uncertainty with grace instead of rage against it with unrelenting worry.

BUENAS NOTICIAS – I watched Changeling the other day and really, really enjoyed. I’m still thinking about that movie. Also, I only have work for two days next week! You can’t beat that!

From “Freaking out” to “Resolution”

The first part of this blog was written at work today… when I was freaking out. I never got around to finishing it and posting it, but I feel like I should include it here, so people know what I where I was emotionally. It was a tough day. The second part of this post is being written after my appointment at Kaiser. I’ll let you get to that part.

FREAKING OUT

Well I’m officially freaking out. I don’t really feel sick anymore and now I’m freaking out. At just 8.5 weeks my morning sickness seems to be gone. This morning I even felt really hungry without a twinge of needing to gag. I know I should be happy about this, but it’s only making me very, very nervous. Of course when I google “disappearing pregnancy symptoms” I get pages upon pages about miscarriage. I don’t let myself open those, but their simple presence sends me into panic mode. Then I find the random strand on some website where a ton of women post about having lost pregnancy symptoms here and there and I feel better. But only marginally.

Before I go any farther I do want people to know that I booked an ultrasound for 3:40pm today. I am so relieved to have that appointment but it is also making this day tortuous!  I guess it would have been anyway. So keeping in mind that I will definitively know is everything is okay or not later today, I will proceed.

I went to therapy again last night. I realized talking to my therapist how terrified I am for my appointment next week (now today AND next week). I am so terrified to loss this pregnancy. The last loss was so devastating and it took me all summer to get over it. Now I don’t have the luxury of a summer break, instead I have a full time teaching job with grad school on top of that. I don’t know how I would ever get over a miscarriage with that scenario. I really don’t.

I guess I would have to though. That is the reality, I will have to get through it. I mean what other options are there?  Be institutionalized? Commit suicide? I’m not trying to belittle either of those things, I know people, people very close to me, who have done both. Maybe that is why I’m so afraid, because I know how bad it can get for people. Also, I’ve suffered from depression long enough to be worried about suffering from it again. And losing this pregnancy would definitely have the power to throw me into a really horrible depression. Which would require going back on medication, which would be hard to work TTC around. God, why am I being so morbid right now?

I know there things might be okay, could be okay. I know this. I’m hanging on to that hope. But this is the first time I’ve really been afraid that my pregnancy could be over. I’m so scared.

RESOLUTION

Getting through today was torture. My god did the periods drag on! I skipped out a little early and barely made it to Kaiser on time. Of course I ended up waiting over an hour to be seen. I didn’t have any reading material and had to play countless games of iQuiz Movie Edition on my iPod while I waited. I finally won the last game! (Me:1 iQuiz: 27)

Anyway, the OBGYN came in and she was so nice. Her face and demeanor were very kind and I immediately liked her. I was so glad that she was going to be the one seeing me in my super anxious state.

She got right down to business, brandishing the “dildo cam” as I’ve heard it called on other people’s blog (I’m sorry that I’m blanking on who exactly to give credit to, because credit is certainly due). For what felt like an eternity she didn’t seem to be able to find what she was looking for. The yolk sac was definitely there, and something was inside it, but I didn’t see anything resembling the heartbeat and she didn’t say anything to assuage my fears. It was the longest, most excruciating minute of my life. Then finally she pointed out the heartbeat and also that the baby was moving. Frijolito has a distinct baby shape now, with limbs and everything! And he’s moving around. It was so surreal to see him move. And we definitely saw a heartbeat. I asked again about measuring the heartbeat and this time she told me that she didn’t even know how to do it on this machine. WHAT?! But she did count it for me herself and said it looked just fine. I couldn’t believe how much bigger Frijolito looked. Two weeks can really change things.

So now I get to be excited that I don’t feel sick and that I generally feel more like myself. What a relief! All day I was almost hoping to feel sick and now I can spend tomorrow, which is a holiday for me, eating when I want because I’m hungry and not because I’m worried I will dry heave. What a refreshing concept.

I know that things are not definitively okay, but they are for now. Seeing a heartbeat at 8.5 weeks makes me feel pretty good, hopeful would be an accurate word. So I will leave you all with feelings of gratitude that things are okay and hope that things will continue to be okay.

I tried to post a picture before but I needed to download new printer/scanner drivers since my 10.6 install (best thing I ever did by the way!). The scanner is now working again and here is the newest picture of Frijolito! A definite baby shape, right?!

8w4d scan

BUENAS NOTICIAS – I had a great moment in class today during a “story” that I was telling in Spanish. In the story the student had to “llama por teléfono” or call on the phone, so I gave her an old cell phone of mine that is broken to use as a prop. One of my students stood up and said, “Is that a Jitterbug phone?” I laughed so hard! How old do they think I am? The reality is it does kind of look like a Jitterbug phone. If you don’t know what a Jitterbug phone is, it’s a cell phone for older folks who can’t use cell phones. There are two kinds, one with giant numbers so those with failing eye sight can press the right buttons and a second model, for those of the I-can’t-use-this-confounded-technology persuasion, with just a giant button that calls an operator who connects you to your contacts (which they keep on file)! How insane is that?! If you come across a commercial while searching online, I highly recommend you watch it.


Prenatal visit

Yesterday I had my prenatal visit. It was with a RNP and I didn’t like her much at all. She was 40 minutes late (most of that time I was naked under one of those paper sheets) and then she steam rolled in with no apologies, talking a mile a minute, and seemed to be incredulous that I had a page full of questions to ask her. She chided me for not asking for a mask because of my cough (I swear neither of us saw the signs telling us to do that), pretty thoroughly shot down my hope of going to Thailand with my girl friends in February and made me feel silly for asking most of my other questions. She wouldn’t measure the babies heartbeat because we hadn’t been suffering from infertility and when I expressed my intense anxiety about miscarriage she said I should just be thankful we were seeing a heartbeat in the right place. Now, I am very, very, very thankful for that, but that doesn’t mean I’m still not worried about other issues as well.

So I just made another appointment with my doctor on November 18th. This is about half way between now and my 12week appointment in early December. I’m really glad to have this appointment because it means I can talk to my doctor about my concerns. It seems strange to me that I should be asking a woman I’ll never see again my important questions.

I also got the bad news that Kaiser San Francisco does not have a midwife program, like Kaiser Redwood City does. I just assumed that they all had it, but evidently Kaiser SF is a teaching hospital. The RNP obviously sensed my disappointment and immediately started rattling off all the great things about Kaiser SF but I felt like I had no idea who would be delivering my baby there, possibly a student doctor?! So now I’m both disappointed that I cannot be a part of the midwife program and also concerned that I will have no say over who delivers my baby. I could always move back down to Redwood City, but then it will be next to impossible for Mi.Vida to be a part of our appointments and I really want him there. Oh, I forgot to mention. I can have a doula but I have to pay $500 for that (said the RNP in what I took as a disapproving tone). Well I’ll definitely be looking into that is if I stay in SF.

My anxiety and fears have been pretty bad lately and I’m realizing that part of it is the Pregnancy after Loss board on FF. Reading about people who went in at 12 weeks only to find that the baby died 2 weeks before is starting to get to me. I know that that might happen to me, but I feel like everywhere I look these are the stories I see. I never see the stories of pregnancies that progress normally and people who enjoy each step along the way and I feel like I need to see those stories too. I don’t know. I think I might stick to books right now and the occasional email to my doctor. FF has been an amazing resource for me but it taught me more about the bad things that can happen than the good. I need to remember that it is not an accurate representation of pregnant women’s experiences.

I know I wrote earlier about being overwhelmed. If that was the case on Tuesday, I can’t even tell you how bad it is today. I have been so exhausted from my cold this week that I’ve done nothing at home except veg out in front of bad TV. My house is a disaster, I’ve been eating take out for three days straight. I haven’t even cracked my grad school work open all week and I’m so behind on grading my 7th/8th graders papers that I had to apologize to them about it today. It’s not a pretty picture. I had to ask my mom to make my sugar skulls icing (which she was amazing enough to do) and I had to ask my dad to pick up more meringue powder and icing bags so I can pull it all together this afternoon and tomorrow morning. I lucked out and got an extra prep period today because the 6th graders are at the King Tut exhibit at the DeYoung in the city so I better go use it wisely and grade those papers.

BUENAS NOTICIAS – I got an extra prep period today!