Monthly Archives: August 2011

Monday, August 29, 2011

What to expect…. when you’re not expecting

I am a delinquent blogger.  As my mind fills up with all things baby-related, I find myself losing touch with how things were “before the belly.”  But it is very important to me to keep this blog true to its original intent – providing support for women who are trying and/or struggling to conceive.  Even though many of my readers are loyal friends and family who may want updates on my pregnancy, my desire is to be a voice for women for whom this doesn’t come so naturally.  And it sure didn’t for me.  I don’t want to lose sight of that.
There were a lot of things that I didn’t expect when I was going through infertility.  Land mines that came up that would catch me off guard and level me.  Insensitive comments or unsolicited advice.  Hearing women complain about their pregnancies or their kids.  Having a 7 month pregnant woman tell me I was “so lucky” to be able to wear normal clothes.  It was an innocent comment, of course, but I cried the whole way home.
One thing I really didn’t expect was how my facebook home page, as my friends and I reached this late 20s/early 30s stage in our lives, would turn into a stream of ultrasound pictures, belly bump pictures, pregnancy craving and aversion updates and new baby stories.  Let me be clear that I do not begrudge anyone the joy of sharing their excitement with the world in this way.  But I remember vividly the anguish it would cause me during my morning coffee, and this is why I’m choosing to keep my pregnancy news off facebook.  Another infertility blogger illustrated this experience in a much more creative and funny way than I could:
Another situation I found myself in a number of times was attending a baby shower as a very-much-wishing-to-be-pregnant woman.  You might expect that this would bring up feelings of sadness or resentment.  You might not expect, though, how self-focused you would feel throughout a soiree that has nothing to do with you.  Maybe it’s just me, and perhaps I was on high alert.  But every pregnancy related comment felt like a dagger through the heart, like it was aimed at me specifically.  And every darling baby gift that was opened seemed to taunt me, as though it was an item for which I would never have a need.
My whole life, I’ve been a fan of big pregnant bellies and the women who carry them around with such pride.  I have always jumped to open doors or just found myself smiling openly, with a tilted head, whenever I saw a mommy-to-be.  But I remember walking down the street sometime last year, passing a pregnant woman, and then rolling my eyes.  I caught myself just after and asked “who am I?”  Had I become so bitter that I could no longer appreciate others’ happiness?  It really bothered me.  I don’t know if it was right then, or soon after, that I decided to start praying for all the pregnant women I knew when I went to bed at night.  I figured it was good karma, and a way to focus my pregnancy-related feelings and desires in a positive direction.  It helped me mentally to remind myself why it is I wanted this so badly.  Because it really is a gift, and a miracle.  I continue to this day to pray for all the pregnant women I know – Stephanie, Erika, Johanna, and several friends made online – and I now happily include myself on the list!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The importance of a good partner

Time and again throughout this TTC, IVF and pregnancy journey, I have been reminded of this fact: it is essential to have a good partner.  A patient partner.  An understanding and forgiving partner.  And someone who loves you a whole bunch.  Let me be clear – this does not necessarily have to be someone to whom you’re married (although living in the same house helps – usually).  I know of strong, brave, single women who are going through this process with the intent of raising a child on their own.  But this message does not exclude them.  Whether it be a spouse, best friend or family member, a good partner is a critical element in the making-a-baby experiment.
I am fortunate to have married someone who was cool with having an emotional wife to begin with.  Oh, if he only knew what he was in for!  But surprisingly, he has not faltered in his devotion to me, even when I’m at my most hormonal, irrational, weepy and inconsolable.  Does that mean he doesn’t get frustrated with me sometimes?  Of course not.  Does it mean he takes all my crap without calling me out?  No way.  But I am certain that the ratio of times that he does push back, compared with the times that I deserve it, is very small. 
When you are TTC (and perhaps it is not going as well or as quickly as you’d like it to), very little else matters.  Your partner should understand this, even if they are able to keep a calm head and continue about their lives.  They are your safe place to empty out all the thoughts you keep to yourself throughout the day – thoughts about ovulation and cervical mucus, your next doctor’s appointment and whether or not you should try the latest fertility fad you read about online.  
Another important place for your partner is with you in the doctor’s office.  This can be a place of great anxiety and/or anticipation, and it’s good to have someone to keep you from jumping out of your skin.  John has sat with me to talk to multiple doctors and fertility specialists, accompanied me to numerous appointments and procedures, and helped me process diagnoses and next steps.  I needed him there, to keep me anchored to reality and to the task at hand.  (I have a habit of running away with worry.)
Your partner should be someone who is willing to administer your shots, should you get to that point in your efforts to have a baby.  At the very least, they should give you lots of love and sympathy for having to poke yourself with multiple needles a day.  And when you both suffer the hormonal consequences, they – hopefully – can remember the you they loved before the crazy set in and treat you with the kindness you deserve but don’t necessarily earn.
Those of you who’ve been following my blog know that early pregnancy is not a time of total bliss (even when it is something you’ve wanted for so long).  There is a lot of crying, both for emotional and biological reasons.  Your partner is the one you can open up to about your fears, day in and day out.  He or she should be at the ready to comfort you and baby you  – even if you’re someone who never needed much babying.  (This is not me, but I imagine others may operate differently).  Ultimately, you need a best friend to hold your hand as you face all these unknowns, to help you keep steady and to reassure you that you are doing fine.
This morning, John told me that he happened to see a “what’s happening as your baby grows” chart online and became engrossed with weeks 17 and 18, which is where we’re at right now.  He started telling me about how I might have pain in my abdomen because the ligaments are stretching with my growing uterus.  He then explained that our baby is now covered with “goo” that protects his or her delicate skin from the amniotic fluid and prepares him or her for birth.  I just looked at him with total adoration.  This is what a partner is for.  To comfort, to protect and – ultimately, when it’s finally your turn – to celebrate.