Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Greek Men Forgiven... well, almost

It's funny to see how this pregnancy has transformed my husband from the total workaholic to a kind and loving partner.
Even his parents noticed the difference; there is something bouncy in the way he talks. He kisses me before he leaves for work and when he comes home at night. He hasn't yelled at me for a week and today he even said the house "isn't so bad", when I have been so dumbstruck to do anything other than the dishes and the laundry for days now...

But the most amazing thing that happened is that my husband is quitting his second job so he can go freelance (like I have been begging him to do for the last year or so) and work from home so he can be with me!! He said so to our best friend on the phone. I heard him!! He said "now that Tina is pregnant, I want to spend as much time as I can with her at home".
I had to double check to make sure I was not the star in some episode of the "Attack of the Body Snatchers", but thats my husband all right, no doubt about it!!

So for now I forgive Greek men... they do seem to be kind and wonderful after all.
Oh please God, allow me to give this man a baby in 8 months from now... pretty please!!

Love my hubby!!

And baby makes three?

Have you ever given any thought to how exactly you will break the news of your pregnancy to your husband?
Have you ever daydreamed about it? Planned it over and over again in your head? And did you finally do it as you had planned?
I have... ever since I was old enough to know I am a person (and a girl at that) all I wanted to do was to be a mommy! A career mommy of course but a mommy nevertheless.
I had everything planned in my head and in the most part my life has gone according to plan. True, sometimes I needed to push and prod but things went along more or less like I had it planned.
Go to College: Check
Get degree(s): Check
Get job: Check
Be independent: Check
Meet and marry Mr. Right: Check
Buy house, create a stable base on which to raise family: Check
Have loads of children: ehmmm, can I get back to you on that?

I knew what infertility was long before I was labeled "infertile". I had gone through all the procedures, aches, pains, tears, hopes with my best friend and the thought of it ever happening to me terrified me.
I begged my husband to start trying as soon as we settled down and had a normal routine. We both had good jobs and we had been in this relationship for many long years before we got married.
But my husband had other plans. He wanted to wait and wait we did... two long years we waited for the "right" time and when the "right" time came we started trying... and we kept trying for another two long years... but no baby came.
And then I was 27 and infertile!
Be catapulted into insanity: Check, check, check

It was a long haul and I hope it will be another long haul, because somehow, in some mysterious, magical, wonderful way, after stabbing myself in the stomach with needles and expensive drugs, I recently found myself looking in total awe at this little stick with two distinct pink lines on it.
And boom... I was pregnant!!

Now if I had gotten this result two years earlier, this is what probably would have happened:
I would prepared my surprise meticulously. Hubby would be totally unaware when I presented my little two lines stick to him. In my fantasy, tears would fill his eyes and he would hold me tight and we would both cry happy tears. Then we would call everybody we knew, we would prepare the nursery, buy the stroller, buy a bigger car and I would have a blissful and healthy 9 months at the end of which I would come home with a pink, squirming, breathing, laughing, crying baby... This was my fantasy and for the most part that's what it remained. Reality was a little different...

We struggled with IF for 2 years. We saw 4 doctors, tried every non-invasine test and treatment available to man today, I gained 40lbs, hubby and I drifted more apart and on top of everything I had to watch every single one of my friends get happily pregnant and live out the above mentioned fantasy.
When I finally did get my two lines, I cried and then I thanked God, and then I cried like a hysterical person some more. Then I took another test and another and another....
And then I called hubby on the phone to tell him... and he said "I'll wait for the blood test thank-you-very-much".
That's what infertility does to you...

While you are trying to learn more and more about your condition and how to battle it, especially if you are hands on like me (hey its MY body after all and doctors ARE human to begin with!!), you come face to face with a bitter fact sooner or later: getting pregnant does not warrant a pink, squirming, laughing, crying baby at the end of 9 months.
In fact about 25%-30% of the times all getting pregnant means is a miscarriage and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it, except pray, have faith and take it one day at a time...

So here I am, 4 weeks 3 days pregnant, terrified and lost, waiting for yet another blood test to come back, praying my numbers have doubled, my progesterone is good and that I see a little dot INSIDE my uterus at my U/S tomorrow.
When did I come to know so much about pregnancy? How come I am able to quote every statistic on the book and why the heck don't I feel more pregnant? There is something potentially growing inside of me and I can't feel it. How on earth will I survive until the 6 week sonogram? Will I get a baby 9 months from now or an "I am sorry but..." speech a few days/weeks from now?
I don't know... nobody but God does.

So all I can do right now is pray, not lift heavy things, cut back on sugar, eat my green leafy veggies, take my pre-natals, do my tests and have faith that this coming Xmas ... mommy daddy and baby, will make three.


Monday, March 28, 2005

A line is a line!!

I have more than once said that I would love to get a peek into the future.
Maybe if I did, I could devise a plan on how to cheat fate or do things differently and at least it would saveme from a few days of obsessing and wondering...

But I have my days when I wish I was blissfully ignorant. I get vivid visions of myself covering my ears, humming and slowly backing away... "I don't want to hear it, I don't want to hear it" I would say while I would hum away really loud, like when I was 3.

As I found myself holding the little stick in my hand, clearing sporting two lines all I could think of was that long list of things than can go wrong from now on.
This is the modern age... there is no "you got pregnant you will have a baby" guarantee. We obsessive TTCers (where TTC stands for Trying to Conceive) have read, studied and know our bodies and our reproductive cycle better than any other woman in any other day and age, ever. We are in a position now to even contradict our doctor!! The age of "this is what you have, this is what you do" is over. We now say "says who?" and we look for another doctor.

We think all we want to see is two little lines but having being engrossed so much in this TTC and IF game, that the joy of seeing two lines is brief. The longer you have been in the infertility roller coaster, the shorter the moment of your elation becomes because inadvertly the more time you spend looking for information, you also come accross some information you probably weren't looking for. The stories of those TTCers who got the second line, got pregnant but never became moms.

Suddenly you are not pregnant... you are having an ectopic, possibly miscarrying and most certainly the cramps you have been having are something bad, something you shouldn't be having and you bite your nails while you complusively test twice a day hoping for that second line to get darker. Then you have your first beta which confirms what the 20 home pregnancy tests have been telling you. You ARE pregnant... but its certainly not enough. Then you bite your nails some more while waiting for your numbers to double in 72 hours...
And this is just the first week...

Insert image of me running away with my hands covering my ears here, screaming "no, no, I don't want to hear it"

But I HAVE heard it and I had to live through two of them first hand when two friends lost their babies (one full term, one at 25 weeks) and the sad stories draw me like a magnet and no matter how hard I press on my ears and how loudly I hum, the possibility that the end result of my two pink lines might not be a screaming, writhing, pink baby, is very much always at the back of my mind.

When we go on a medicated cycle we are told all about the success rates. For me and my 12 eggs the success rate was 93% for singleton and about 60% for a multiple. But no-one ever told me what the possibility of something going terribly wrong is... When I asked my RE what happens after I get my two lines, all he said was that 75% of women go on to have a healthy baby. But those sad stories of poor women who did not, certainly look like much more of the 25% remaining percent.

I consider myself a logical person. I totally understand that how dark my second line on the uptienth HPT is, is no indication of the state of my pregnancy, even if I have heard the story that a faint line means a miscarriage is imminent. I tell myself that some woman indeed had a faint line and then miscarried but I know 20 more women who are moms now but 9 months earlier their lines were faint too.
Then I hear of the other woman who had a "fluke" ectopic (the baby grew in her tubes instead of her uterus) and she too had a faint line and of course not doubling beta and a pain at her side...
Then I freak out because I have aches and pains all over!! But I also have OHSS which means both my ovaries are filled with fluid so I might not be having an ectopic at all...
Oh yes.. You get your daily scare alright and its right when you wish that people with happy, healthy prengnancies would speak out more.
I wish I would hear more often from people like me, who had the same fears and misgivings but had healthy babies anyway... so I made a pact with myself...

I am pregnant. I am 4 weeks along. This is my first pregnancy and if its a multiple and all goes well, it might be my only one.
What is to happen will happen. If my baby has attached itself well and in the right place is out of my control. Whether the egg it came from was good quality thus has more chances of developing, if 2 weeks from now it has a beating heart, that's also not in my control... Talking or not talking about it, dreaming or not dreaming about it and being happy or not about it, won't affect the way this pregnancy will turn out. It will either do well or it won't and I will either have a baby in December or not. But if I am NOT happy about it now, if I am not talking about it and if everything turns out good and I have my twins in 9 months or so from now, how will I feel not having celebrated that for which I prayed, cried, paid for in blood for so long?

So hi baby... welcome to my uterus. Please stick around and grow fat and healthy for the next nine months. Feel free to use any of the nice gadgets around for your pleasure... but please, do stick around. We would give anything to meet you and hold you and love you....

Mom and Dad

Friday, March 18, 2005

Greek Men - a Vent

Greek Men are raised to believe they are Gods.
Male children as so worshipped in Greece that despite all the appearance of a modern city, resembling in fact New York, Athens is populated still by people who think having a female child is misery.
In fact in some areas in Greece, a boy is a child and a girl is a ... girl. So if you had a "child and a girl" you just had a boy and a girl.

Sometimes I am so amazed when I sit down with my girlfriends and we discuss our husbands, with the similarities I find between my husband and theirs. Do they all come through the same mold? Or are they all issued a little handbook at birth entitled "You are a Greek man - Here's how to act"?
To give you an example: almost 95% of all Greek women complain because all their husbands do is work yet they demand that everything is done for them.
If you are a housewife, there is no way in Hell you won't hear from your darling's lips "You are tired? How can you be tired? You have been home all day!!"
Yeah, jackass, and who do you think scrubbed the floor, cooked your elaborate food and desert, ironed you zillion shirts, took the kids to ballet class or football practise, did the shopping, paid the bills .... ?

If you are a "career" woman, all is well until your job starts interferring with all the above and God forbid you make more than your husband!! Instant divorce reason!

It seems when we women tried to become equal to men, we changed. However no-one seems to have alerted the men to change with us here in Greece.
Truth be told, Greek men work. And they work... and they work some more. This is all they have been taught to do! Sure, they baked the occassional cake as children and sure their moms tried to teach them how to cook or clean but it has been drilled into their skull and engraved into their genes that as soon as they marry, a woman will do all these things for them and all they will ever have to do is work...

I am sure generations of women before swore their boys would grow up to be different and for some time maybe they are. My husband swept me off my feet when we were younger. He was kind, he was caring, he took me out, we went dancing, we had drinks. No outting was too far for him, no favor was denied... and then we got married.
I swear, if I had met my husband and he acted like he does now, I would never, ever have married him.

In those 3 years we have been married he got comfortably fat, eating (no, gobbling is a more appropriate word) the carefully prepared food, moaning occassionaly. No "darling this is great" or "well done"... just gobble, gobble, gobble.
He will then take his clothes and disperse them all over the living room, and sit in the couch. If I tell him he needs a shower because he hasn't had one in days and he literally stinks he will probably snap back that I am not his mother.

Can I help it? The guy acts like a 2 year old!! He no longer infuses any other feelings to me, other than a mothering instict! Apparently he is not capable to cook for himself, clean himself and he needs to be reminded to cut his toenails!!
Whenever he gets his "tender" side to show, I snap at him because I feel I have given him all I have and now he asks for more (sex).
I wonder who the heck ever told that very first Greek man that he is a God... If I had him right here in front of me, I would pummel him to death!!

When I complain (he says I am nagging) to my husband that he works too much he will usually say that he is doing it for me so that I can spend my day doing whatever I want because our money is secured.
Then why have I been paying all the bills, the food, our high-tech gagdets, our once-a-week outting and even the gas, insurance, tax of my car which YOU are driving and wrecking and work my butt off, since you work 14 hours a day so that I can stay home!?!?
Why do I grow white hair trying to sell my products so that I can have a little $$ so that our fridge is stocked?

Yes, yes I know. The company you work for have some problems and are not paying anyone right now. I DON'T CARE!!! BE A MAN AND GET ANOTHER JOB THAT ACTUALLY PAYS!!!
And if you don't at least DO something to make it up to me for busting my butt and enduring all these things so that you can be a father, have a house, clean clothes, food on your table and in your fridge...

I HATE Greek men!!!


The crazy, the obsessed and the pregnant...

Friday, 4DPO

This title is what characterized my day; not the date, not the time, not the weather but Days Past Ovulation. Today its Friday... and its 4DPO.

I woke up this morning and lugged my body from the bed to the couch where I have spent the large part of my week. I had fallen asleep on the couch the night before and the night before that, and the night before that, because I could not stand my husband's insesant snoring and also because I feared my wonderful, but big and clumsy hubby would hurt my swollen and aching belly in his sleep.
He woke up at 5.30am, when he got up and in a sleepy voice he said "are we never going to sleep together again?"
It just broke my heart... I don't remember if I replied but I dragged myself, hugging my pillow to the bed and in seconds I was asleep again. After George had gone to work, Beau our cat-baby, joined me, still licking his lips from having his pre-breakfast. Within minutes he was comfy and we both fell asleep.

My world changed in the last 3 weeks so fast I am still trying to get a grip. We were catapulted from trying to conceive on our own, to being an "assisted conception" couple. It felt like an author in a similar situation said, that our love was rapidly jumping from the bed to the laboratory.
Like so many other women that craved a child, yet were unable to conceive one, I endured test after test, sonograms with a condom covered probe and I gave myself injections, dutifully, every evening, at the same time, praying to anyone who could hear me for hours every day, that "please let me get pregnant and have a healthy baby".

My prayers became more and more detailed. I wanted to get pregnant, keep the baby and deliver it healthy and I wanted to get pregnant this cycle and deliver the baby this year.
In some twisted way I thought that God was like a genie; ready to grant your wish but with a twist. As a child I often spent hours thinking up ways to make a wish to a genie, but to be so specific that no matter how witty the genie was, he couldn't outsmart me and trick me.
My prayers started sounding like a legal contract with no little windows... Does God know what I am praying for, even if I don't say it? And is God like a witty genie? Giving you what you want but with a twist? If that was the case, would God help me get pregnant, but in 10 years from now? And if I got pregnant this cycle, if I forgot to tell God I wanted to keep the baby, would I have a miscarriage?

This new little strange world I was embarking to, everything felt so strange yet familiar somehow. When I was told I was infertile a couple of years earlier, somehow I knew it already. I had feared it as a child; or maybe I had sensed it, like I have sensed so many other things that happened in my life. But for all the diamonds in the world, I could not sense if a baby is growing in my belly right now or not.
Injections became a daily routine. Popping 3 pills the minute I open my eyes also became routine. Checking CP and CM was routine already since I used FAM. This was the world of "assisted conception" and we now lived in it.

I was thrusted into this world which entailed a lot of things, one of which was massive amounts of money. Now was the time I needed all I could get and now was the only time I could not work! At first I couldn't think of anything other than the injections, their possible outcome and my visits to the RE (reproductive endocrinologist). Then I was so sick and uncomfortable because of the hormones, I couldn't work if I wanted to.
But somehow, feeling uncomfortable made me feel comfortable as well. It meant that something was happening inside of me. The goggs of my female machine which had been jammed for the last 2 years, were now slowly turning again. So what if it hurt to breathe, move, cough. Who needs to do those things anyway if you are having a pink, beautiful baby to show at the end of it?
When I had my trigger shot, I couldn't help myself and a few days later I took a pregnancy test. I was injected with the same hormone that the pregnancy test detects so I knew it would be a false positive, but I so wanted to see two lines for the first time in my life, I didn't care it was false.
When the pain got too much those first few days I would look at the test and think "this is what you are fighting for"...

And Friday 4DPO dawned. I got out of bed, gingerly, careful not to shake my aching body too much but after the first few steps towards the bathroom I realized my body wasn't aching anymore! How odd!! I felt much, much better and I was even able to have a BM!!
I popped my pills, had my breakfast, my fruit and my glass of milk and plopped down on the couch to read a book. "I am getting some work done tonight" I told myself as I started reading.

When you are trying to conceive, you obsess; and the longer you have been trying the more you obsess.
You read every little symptom you can find in online or printed publications and try to see how many of them you have.
You pinch your nipples twenty times a day to see if they hurt still and if they do hurt, is the pain more or less since last time. More pain = good. Less pain = bad.
You freak out every time you have a cramp that signifies you might be getting your period.
You pray and you make bargains with God. "Please God, let me be pregnant this time and just let me have a baby.. just one! I promise I won't mind if I never have another one"
You get mad at women who whine about not being able to conceive their 5th baby in their late 30's while here you are in your late 20's and you can't even conceive your first.
You are no longer dating the days by their calendar numbers. Its no longer Friday 18th March. Its Friday 4DPO (or CD20).
And the worst, if you have been trying long enough, you are subjected to the cruelest torture of them all: having to live through the experience of your friends getting pregnant and having babies and be expected to be blissfully happy for them.

Men don't react the same as women to this. Most will raise their eyebrows at the news of their wives IF problems and wonder how much its going to cost them and once the treatments begin, most will complain about their wives nagging and make their demands no less than before. They do not care their other half is subjected through a zillion tests or is injecting herself in the bathroom in hopes that in 2 weeks from now, she will be able to shake a pregnancy test in front of her husband and announce to him he will be a daddy soon. They don't give a damn if their wives spend hours thinking up the perfect way to break the news to them... all they care about is that their meal is hot, their clothes ironed and their houses clean.
A baby? They couldn't care less if the stork brought it and left it outside the door... I had the misfortune to hear my husband say to me that if he had married another woman, he might have been a father by now.

I didn't tell my mother I was having (yet another) fertility treatment.
I am sure she would react like the last time when I was on fertility pills. "But you are SO fat; how can you even think of getting pregnant?" or "of course you can't get pregnant! You are SO fat!!"
Yeah mom, thanks. That coming from the woman who delivered me at 4lbs because she was starving herself during pregnancy because she didn't want to get fat. In fact if that doctor hadn't refuse to give you another abortion because you just had one the month before, I wouldn't even be here right now. Wish I knew who he was so I could say thank you for allowing me to live.

But for all my bravado and "steady steps" and reading and knowing all I could about the treatment, deep inside I was petrified so I told my mother in law.. I needed someone on my side and though she too is not the most supportive person, at least she is easier to be wooed to my side.

The days roll by so slow and I don't feel pregnant. I pray but in my heart I know we failed.
I interpret every sign, every cramp, every flinch, every pinch...
I know and I know and I know that this is all a waiting game. I know and I know and I know with the same certainty that the sun will rise every morning from the East that there are no guarantees, no percentages and that all I can do is wait.
But the part of me that is not influenced by facts, still goes on to analyze my bodily reactions, trying to figure out if the $2,000 treatment that left me so sore and aching, worked.
I wish I knew... To alleviate my worry, I imagine myself as having a tiny microscope looking inside my uterus right now... and I could potentially know right now, what has happened.
Whatever was bound to happen, is done. There is nothing I can do to influence the outcome of the beta test scheduled for the 27th. I have no control and that drives me crazy.
All I can do now is pop my pills dutifully, not lift heavy object, not stress, eat healthy and pray...

Why can't I be allowed a glimpse into the future?
I am one of the people who would ask someone who has already seen a film before me, how does it end?
I am one who would like to know when I will die... I want to know my future beforehand but I can't.
I keep reminding myself that time will go by because time really has no choice. Like me, he is doomed to stomp forward with every passing second, Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock... he cannot stop to make a good moment last a little longer and he is not allowed to rush forward to make a bad moment last less. He must move with the same pace ... a second at a time.

So here I am, 27 years old, TTC #1, doing extraordinary things in an ordinary day, to get what most people achieve without second thought and even abort, murder, dump or treat badly... a baby.

Am I crazy? Am I obsessed? Is this normal?
Probably I am normal... A normal person in an abnormal situation trying to keep a sliver of hope, something to justify the amount of money spent, the pain endured, the tests done...

Am I pregnant?
Honestly, I don't think so. I want to believe in miracles but one has never happened to me. Every little thing I can say I achieved in this life, I worked hard for. Just this once, only this once God, I would like to get my way the easy way. Answer this prayer God... and if you think I have asked too much, too often in the past years, then surely you owe a favor to my husband, or my mother in law... if I have fallen from your Grace for any reason, please allow my baby to be conceived and born so that they can become a father, a grandmother, an uncle, an aunt...

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Home watching TV

In the last few days, I have made it a habbit to sleep on the couch.
My abdomen is so distended and sore and George snores so much, I simply cannot share a bed with the big oaf who happens to be the love of my life...
The couch isn't bad really; its big and comfy and I sleep nicely in it until 6am when he gets up and allows me the sole use of the bed.

Its been 4 days since I did the trigger shot and I feel somewhat better. I still can't sit in a chair though but last night, oh miracle of miracles I finally went!!!
I felt better but I paid the price later; my poor bowel hurt like crazy later!

I had such a strange dream last night. I was getting some prescription filled at some pharmacy and I wanted something else too and I ended up leaving with a big bag of drugs!!
I woke up famished and with a headache!
Dian's package arrived yesterday and the kind, kind woman had sent my favorite candy! Smores!! You can't them in Greece!! She also sent me Easter Peeps. The bunnies are pink this year; last year they were purple. I gave those to Niki because she loves and I must watch out what I eat too... Of course a Smore and a few Cheetos for breakfast is certainly not healthy but I so craved that!!

I then (carefully) laid myself on the couch. My abdomen hurts even when I breathe. I need to work but I can't!! I can't sit in a chair and I need the money!! I am down to $100 in the bank! If only I finish that doll I can get paid... I hope I feel better later in the day...

Gotta go get something for my head... and take a shower. Water calms me down!!