This year, my birthday crept up on me. Usually, come March 1st, I launch my annual campaign to remind the hubs at least once a day that my birthday is X number of days away and he better start shopping. Or I ask him to get me something from hither and beyond after he's just buried himself under a blanket on the couch "because it's almost my birthday." He likes to remind me that I am under the mistaken assumption that my birthday is a month-long celebration. I like to remind him that in my mind, it most certainly is.

But this year, other pressing concerns have occupied the spot where my pre-birthday jubilation usually resides. Namely, what the hell is going on inside me right now? How can it be 8 more days until my ultrasound?

I'm 32 today. And for the first time in my life, I feel every one of those years. Motherhood has been incredible, but the daily grind of what it involves has taken its toll. The brown hairs are fighting a losing battle against the gray. Even before getting pregnant again I was often exhausted at the end of the day, and now, that exhaustion just sets in by mid-afternoon. And a trip into any store inevitably ends with the much-younger-than-me cashier telling me to "Have a nice day, ma'am."

Ma'am? When did I start looking like a "ma'am"?

However, physical debilitation aside, I'm in a pretty good place in my life.

My career is going well. Almost too well (knock on wood). I'm thinking of quitting one of my contract gigs. The pay isn't great, it takes up too much of my time, and I'm finding it's causing me too much stress. Plus, once I do, I'll have more time to devote to the writing I really care about. Oh, and my kid too.

I'm slowly coming to terms with the fact that I cannot do it all, as much as I've always thought I could. I am asking for more help, and when at all possible, I'm trying not to juggle 42 things at once, as has been my way in the past. And I'm making it a point to take more time for myself. I've started reading again before I go to bed, instead of working right up until the moment my eyes shut. Even 10 minutes doing something I love has made a big difference in my quality of life.

And somehow, incredibly, I have ended up pregnant again.

Last night the hubs and I went out to dinner at an Italian restaurant we've been going to since we started dating 11 years ago. It's a bit far away, so we only make it there three times a year: my birthday in March, our anniversary in August, and his birthday in September. A group of eight middle-aged men and women were seated at the table next to us. They were hitting the sauce pretty hard, and were talking about sex, and loudly. At one point, one of the women turned around to us and said, "Whew. You don't have any kids with you. We were worried you would call CPS on us." We told her we had left the kid at home.

A little later, their server presented one of the men with a cannoli with a lit candle in the center. The room sang "Happy Birthday" to him, and then the tanked group began to talk about the cannoli as if it were...not a cannoli.

"Hey Harold, I'll have a bite of your cannoli."

"Judy, I don't think you could handle my cannoli."

"How about if I just lick it?"


The same woman who had spoken to us earlier turned around again and said, "You two know all about cannolis. You have a kid!"

A very big part of me wanted to watch her reaction when I told her there was no cannoli involved.

My Kind of Camping

I'm what you would call an "indoor girl."

I like taking baths and being clean and sleeping in a warm bed. I'm also fond of electricity and running water and my DVR.

I love running in the great outdoors, and I enjoy the occasional walk on the rare occasion when the child decides sitting in her stroller isn't akin to waterboarding, but pounding the pavement along the well-traveled roads of my suburban neighborhood is about as close as I want to get to interacting with nature. I went camping once. I shall not go again. Let's just say there was rain. Lots of it. And slugs on the roof of my tent. And while the company of two good friends was delightful, as was my grilled-cheese-on-a-stick, sleeping on the ground and hauling my arse 15 miles to the nearest bathroom in the middle of the night was not.

My daughter seems not to agree with me. Since she was about a year old, she's loved building "tents" in the living room. We throw a blanket over the chair and the couch, which sit perpendicular to eachother, and she loads the "tent" with books, stuffed animals, and toys, and then crawls in herself.

So, in lieu of an Easter basket, we bought Isabella her very own tent instead.

The tent has given Isabella plenty of opportunities to express her academic side.

Here she is trying to decide between Neon Carrot and Mango Tango to apply as shading to the orange she has just drawn (with a compass).

And here we have her practicing her sticker-decorating skills before we fill out her application for the Rhode Island School of Design next week.

Here's Isabella enjoying her afternoon snack in the tent while memorizing a bit of Proust.

And here, while it looks like peek-a-boo, she's actually hard at work assessing the diameter of the window in relation to her own noggin.

She invites me into her inner sanctum quite often. This is as close to camping as I'm ever going to get.

Here is Isabella in her Easter dress on Sunday. Since she decided to stand still long enough for me to capture a decent photo of her, which is rare these days, I thought I'd include it here for posterity's sake.

Thank you, once again, for bringing me back down to planet Earth with all your supportive comments on my last post. I tend to put the cart so far in front of the horse that it's in another zip code, and I just need to calm the hell down until I have reality to deal with, instead of just my own fears. Is it April 7th yet?

Multiple Concerns

Yesterday I received my third beta results. My hCG beta count, at 19dp3dt (19 days past 3-day transfer) or exactly 5 weeks, stands at 8,152, "nice and high" according to the nurse who called me over two hours later than my clinic normally calls with results.

Remember this post where I said I wasn't concerned that I was having more than one baby? Yeah, that was so six days ago, because now? Seriously. Freaked. Out.

Let me clear up a few things. It is entirely possible that only one embryo implanted. There are overlapping numbers in the beta charts of both singletons and multiple pregnancies. There is no "normal level" for singleton pregnancies, just as there isn't a "normal level" for a multiple pregnancy.

But, given that I like to freak out about things well in advance, and many times, as it has been proven, without good reason, I am beginning to have concerns about the possibility of being pregnant with twins or (yikes) triplets.

I know what you're thinking (or at least what the nagging voice inside my head is saying). "There goes the ungrateful infertile again, complaining about having too many babies when by all rights, she shouldn't even have the one she already has."

But here's the thing. I have to be honest on this blog. I can't self-censor and pretend I don't have very real worries about twins or triplets when they're crowding my brain. So, here goes.

A multiple pregnancy would seriously strain our finances. I would likely have to start selling platelets and non-vital organs.

We would have to move, as we live in a 1,500 square foot house (1,700 square feet if you count the finished basement, which is basically the cats' safe haven from toddler mania). We have three (very small) bedrooms and one bathroom. We have a tiny kitchen. Our living room and my office already look like a daycare with toys everywhere. Our house is just not big enough for more than four people.

We would need to buy another car. I drive a 2000 (paid off) Jetta. If there's more than one baby, I would need a bigger car. The hubs mentioned the word "minivan" last night. I promptly broke out in hives.

In all likelihood, I would be housebound for a good long time. How would I leave the house with a toddler and two (or more) babies? The logistics involved with toting massive amounts of gear and carriers and small humans is mind-boggling.

But the (relatively minor in the grand scheme of things) financial and personal issues aren't what really would trouble me about a multiple pregnancy.

What makes me most scared is the affect more than one new baby would have on Isabella's life. How would I possibly have enough time and attention to devote to her if I had multiple newborns to care for? We have a lot of fun during the day. She goes to storytime at the library. We have playdates with her friends. She's in a toddler gym class. All of this? Over with the needs of multiple infants to contend with. Of course, given my family's devotion to her, she would not lack for love and attention from them, but my relationship with her would inevitably change. Yes, this would be the case whether I'm carrying one baby or three, but the change will be much more drastic if I have multiples.

And then there are potential health issues. We have two sets of friends with twins. Both moms had very difficult pregnancies. Both ended up in the hospital more than once. Both were on bedrest weeks before they delivered. Both delivered babies who needed time in the NICU. How would this affect Isabella?

If this were my first pregnancy, I wouldn't be anywhere near as scared. We wanted two kids, and if we had two kids at once, well, that would have been two for the IVF price of one. But this time around, more than one baby, plus Isabella, would be a lot for me to handle for many reasons.

As a friend told me yesterday, I am capable of handling twins. I can even do triplets. But as I told her, motherhood is challenging for me. It hasn't come easily. I fear I am just not equipped. The possibility (and right now, it is just that) of having multiples is exciting, but it is also terrifying.

My ultrasound is Monday, April 7th, at 10am.

Easter in the Frozen Tundra

Easter is always a crazy holiday in our house. It starts with mass in the morning, followed by a trip to the hubs' aunt's house for brunch. Then we head home, where Isabella will take a nap, and I will make a lime trifle to bring to my grandma's house, where we'll go after Isabella wakes up, and have Easter dinner with 20 of my relatives.

It's supposed to be 30 degrees here today. Isabella's Easter dress is sleeveless. Do stores even sell Easter dresses with sleeves? I certainly haven't seen any if they do. I realize that in some parts of the world, it's a balmy 70 degrees on Easter Sunday, but I live in upstate New York, where it's not uncommon to have snow into late April.

This Easter cartoon made me laugh when my friend sent it to me earlier in the week.

We dyed Easter eggs with Isabella yesterday. She had fun and got extremely messy, which made me extremely nervous. I'm not yet one of those moms who can let loose and let their kids get filthy, and deal cheerfully with the aftermath later on. It is a goal of mine, and chilling the hell out is on my to-do list.

Can you see the 6-inch-deep tension lines in my forehead? Botox ain't gonna touch those babies.

At least my neurosis about messes didn't rub off on her. She was thoroughly dyed and dirty, and loved every minute of it.

Isabella at 19 Months

Isabella turns 19 months old tomorrow. It's been an interesting month, full of behavior-related battles. I really, really love my daughter. Honest, I do. But lately, her attitude has made wish her toddlerhood away so we can hurry up and get to the good stuff, like baking together and completing activities that don't end 5 minutes after they've started with both of us having a temper tantrum.

Good stuff first.

This month, Isabella has gone all stalkerella with her interest in our three cats. She asks for them all the time ("See Chubbie!"), and when she does, she sprints to them, and wants to jump on them and hug them and maul them with love. The cats? Not so very much interested in this kind of attention. Yesterday, she wanted to give her sippy cup to Claudia ("Claw-la. Sippy cup?") She was kind of devastated when I informed her that Claudia no more wanted her sippy cup than she wanted to take a ride in her push wagon, which is what Isabella wanted Claudia to do earlier in the day.

Isabella is really into parroting these days. She's taken to saying, "Oh, God!" (which is something I say a lot, and which is a whole lot better than repeating "Holy fucking shit!", which is also something I say quite often). It's only a matter of time, though, before she lets loose with a choice word, and when she does, I will blame her potty mouth solely on her father.

She is saying a ton of three, four, and sometimes five-word phrases. Some of my favorites:

"Whoa! What is THAT?"


"There it is!"

I know many kids do this far earlier in their lives, but she has just this past month discovered the joys of jumping on the furniture, which has led to more than one ugly red mark and bruise on her noggin. And she's far more adventurous in climbing the inclined mats at her gym class than she used to be.

She's also able to follow Simon Says directions, or at least when she feels like it. It's been kind of awesome to watch this seemingly minor behavioral milestone emerge, but it shows that's she able to listen, comprehend, and move her body accordingly.

If only she would follow my directions as well.

For the past month or so, Isabella has been prone to temper tantrums. The slightest perceived injustice, such as refusing to give her a snack too close to dinner, or closing the door down to the basement so she doesn't tumble down the stairs, will set her off. I've learned I have to go very slowly with her morning routine, because if I have the audacity to place her on her changing table to try and change her diaper and get her dressed for the day before she's ready, all hell will break loose. Sometimes I feel as if I'm handling a 23-pound grenade that can go off (and does) at any moment. These temper tantrums are frequent. And frustrating. And I want them to end.

The food battles have continued too. Dinnertime is absolutely my least favorite part of the day, and I do everything in my power to avoid having to feed her this meal. Unfortunately, the hubs is seldom home when it's her dinnertime, so this chore (and it is a chore) is all mine. She often refuses to eat anything at all. Or screams, writhes, and turns her head away from me when I attempt to get her to eat anything. My mother is of the opinion that I should just give her oatmeal and fruit every night, since that's what she likes. And that kind of parenting, my friends, is part of the reason yours truly eats a grand total of seven different foods today. I'm not feeding my daughter only what she likes (and this changes constantly) on any given night. I am not a short-order cook. I will continue to serve her vegetables and whatever main dish I've prepared for that night. She has to at least try it. If someone has figured out the key to getting toddlers to eat consistently, please let me know, because most nights after her dinner battles, I want to take the nearest bridge.

Current Likes: Stickers, coloring, brushing her teeth (all 8 of them)

Current Dislikes: Diaper changes and nail clippings

953 Reasons to Celebrate

My new hCG beta number is 953.

Here's a little primer on this hormone.

It stands for Human Chorionic Gonadotropin and is produced by the placenta during pregnancy, beginning shortly after the embryo implants. It should double every 48 to 72 hours in early pregnancy. My doubling time was 40.8 hours and my doubling rate was 1.5 days.

Translation: This is good news! I have to repeat the bloodtest again on Monday.

Furious searches of Dr. Google following Monday's seemingly high initial beta number of 422 have led me to the following information: The rate of the rise and even the hCG levels themselves do not indicate whether there is more than one baby in chez uterus right now. The range of normal levels for a singleton pregnancy (and indeed a twin or triplet pregnancy) is huge.

That said, I am not overly concerned that I'm going to birth my own baseball team. Until an ultrasound confirms the number of babies I'm currently carrying, I'm going to operate under the assumption that there is only one implanted embryo. Thinking too much about multiples makes me feel a little queasy.

But that's a post for another day.

The Day After

I am humbled and thankful for all the supportive comments I received following yesterday's post. Wow.

And also, hello lurkers! I'm glad you outed yourselves and commented. Yesterday was like my own personal Sunshine Week around here. I hope you stick around and comment more often. Despite my vulgar mouth and my tendency to fly off the handle about things that piss me off, I'm actually a fairly decent human being. And I won't bite. I promise.

So, the news has settled in, somewhat. I called the hubs right after the phone call from my clinic last night, and because I was lacking the creativity and emotional composure to come up with anything beyond a blubbering, "It's paahshitive," that's how I told him. He channeled his inner Stacy London and told me to "Shut Up!" He is thrilled, of course, but has decided to join me in Camp Cautiously Optimistic, so we didn't spend all last night discussing how we're going to tell Mini Mussolini that she might need to share her throne at the end of the year, or anything like that. In fact, we barely talked about it at all, which I know must sound insane to most of you, but makes perfect sense to two people whose path to parenthood wasn't exactly strewn with roses.

My mom called and she asked me if it was okay to congratulate me now. Ha! (Karrie-you rule.) I said it was. She is very excited, and asked how soon we would be sharing the news with the family. The answer is that I have absolutely no idea. Getting a positive pregnancy bloodtest is one small step on the road to the big dance. Tomorrow's bloodtest is another small step. And the one I'll probably have to get on Friday is yet another. We'll probably reassess then when we might consider sharing our news, assuming everything is going well.

I have to stay on both my injections and my vaginal suppositories (even the words are repulsive), so nothing changes there.

I cannot even begin to describe how incredibly and ridiculously blessed and lucky I'm feeling right now. I don't need to tell you that I did not feel positive about yesterday's outcome before I got the call. Shocking, given my rainbows-and-roses personality, I know. But in all seriousness, and if things continue to point in the direction of a successful pregnancy in the next few days, I will feel like I have struck the lottery twice.

And trust me when I tell you that I will never, ever take this fact for granted.

The Luck of the Barely Irish

I've always identified more with my Italian ancestry than with my Irish.

But today these 25% Irish eyes are smiling (and brimming over with tears) because my pregnancy test was POSITIVE.

My clinic called shortly before 2pm. My beta number is 422, which, um, is high. My beta number with Isabella at 12 days following the transfer was 187.

This means there might be more than one. But maybe not.

I have to have repeat bloodwork done on Wednesday to make sure my beta number has doubled by then. I'll probably have to repeat the test again on Friday.

Right now, I feel like the luckiest girl in the world. I can't even stand it.

I'm pregnant again.

Maybe Baby

I have 24 hours of wishful thinking left.

Tomorrow morning, I'll bundle up Isabella, drive to a lab about 3 minutes from my house, and have my blood drawn for my pregnancy test. Somewhere between 1 and 3 tomorrow afternoon, my clinic will call me with the news.

I haven't slept well the last two nights. My mind has been churning.

A negative test result means several things.

We would have to drain our savings account to try another IVF cycle.

I would have to prepare myself for the rigors of a fresh cycle, more intensive and much more physically and emotionally draining than a FET cycle.

I will have to share my emotions and feelings with my mom, as this time around (for better or worse) she was included in the inner circle.

And most difficult of all, I will have to find an appropriate coping mechanism for myself. I'm not sure what I'll allow myself to feel if this doesn't work.

I am so fortunate to have my daughter. I will never, ever forget that. And you, my wonderful readers, have taught me that it's okay to want another. That just because I experienced the miracle of one child I thought I'd never have, it's not selfish to want another.

But is it okay to mourn the loss of that potential second baby as greatly as I would the first? I'm not sure.

And what if this is the end? What if I'm never able to conceive again?

I know some of my fellow IF sisters are able to approach their bloodtests with excitement. These women have endured far greater trials along their paths to motherhood than I have, and yet their steadfast positivity remains until their clinic tells them it's over. I'm not that woman. In the two years of trying for Isabella, I was never that woman.

I sobbed buckets before each and every procedure I had during the diagnostic phase, certain they would find something horrible and tell me I would never be able to conceive or carry a child to term.

They didn't.

I approached my 5 IUIs with an initial two-day period of hopefulness, which quickly spiralled into anger and sadness, and then depression when one after the other failed. I was certain we would never be able to afford IVF, the end of the road for us.

A freelance writing gig fell into my lap, and we did.

And I spent almost every day of the two-week wait between my 1st embryo transfer and my bloodtest crying for one reason or the other, and sometimes, for no reason at all. I was convinced it wouldn't work.

It did.

This time around I haven't spent (much) time wallowing in my own negativity. But if I'm being honest, the only reason is because I simply haven't had the time. It isn't because I feel any more positive about tomorrow's outcome than I did 27 months ago, when I was waiting for the news of my first IVF cycle.

I'm sorry if you stopped by here to wish me luck only to have to wade through the muck of this post. It's not all bad. To answer L's question in response to my last post, this visit with mamacita has been blissfully free of "critter" propaganda-speak, thanks to a discussion my kick-ass sister had with her. My mother arrived late Friday morning. It is now Sunday morning, and she has yet to bring up the topic once. Hallelujah. And Karrie-thank you.

I'll post my news at some point tomorrow. I want to thank each of you for your amazing support and kindness throughout my FET cycle.

Bring on the happy ending.

Tom Petty: Lyrical Genius

I have had the week from hell. Projects due almost every day. A big newspaper article for Sunday's paper that had major complications. Sick husband. Sick baby. Sick Kristi.

The upside of this is that I have had very little time to think about my bloodtest on Monday. That's not to say it hasn't been on my mind. It has. But compared to the first time around, when I didn't have a needy toddler to care for and myriad clients to satisfy, and I had ample amounts of free time on my hands, I haven't obsessed. Much.

But Tom Petty was right. The waiting is the hardest part. I'm adhering to the dietary restrictions of someone who is pregnant (no caffeine, aspartame, deli meat, etc.). I'm waking up at 6am every morning to get my injections before the hubs leaves for work shortly after. I'm trying to not lift heavy things (my 23-pound kid notwithstanding). I've even laid off the hard drugs.

And yet I have to wonder if it's all for naught. I'm not feeling positive about the outcome. Of course, that's more indicative of my Debbie Downer personality than it is about any hard (or soft) evidence of whether or not I'm pregnant.

I went to BRU on Wednesday to look for alphabet magnets, and I felt illegitimate. It was as if the 18-month-old sitting in the cart seat wasn't even there. I'm avoiding the pregnant bellies in the grocery store and in Isabella's playgroups. I almost considered not watching Lost last night when I realized the entire show was focused on pregnancy. It's as if it's 2005 all over again, and I'm still waiting to become a mom. Old infertility scars never really heal, I guess.

Luckily this weekend I have plenty of things going on to keep me occupied and quasi-distracted. My mom is coming into town again. We have a St. Pat's Day party to go to. And I have work to keep me busy.

Three days to go.

The Music of My Formative Years

It's been all baby business all the time here for the past few weeks, so I need a change of pace, and I'm sure you would like one too.

A few weeks ago, Pru did a fantastic meme that piqued my interest.

Here's how it works. You visit the Billboard charts and for each year you were in high school, you list the songs that correspond to the following categories: Favorite at the Time, Actual Best, Worst, Zeitgeist, and WTF.

I graduated from high school in 1994, 14 long years ago, so I decided to complete this meme for 1991, 92, 93, and 94. Like Pru, my musical tastes often deviated from Top 40, especially in my later high school years, but plenty of the popular songs resonated with me as well.


Favorite at the Time: Losing My Religion by R.E.M

Out of Time was one of my favorite albums in high school. My sister and I were obsessed with MTV music videos and going through a particularly cruel phase when we jokingly asked our mom to show us how to dance like Michael Stipe in this song's video. Here's a refresher, in case you need it. She took us seriously, and demonstrated it with reckless abandon.

Actual Best: Wicked Game by Chris Issak

I will confess to liking this song. His voice was hot. And the video was hawter.

But honestly, the best song for this year is "Smells Like Teen Spirit." No suprise, but it's not on the Billboard list.

Worst: Rico Suave by Gerardo

"That's the price you pay for being a gigilo."

Enough said.

Zeitgeist: Shiny Happy People by R.E.M

Gas was $1.14/gallon and Roseanne was still on tv. Good times.

WTF: I Touch Myself by Divinyls

A song about mas*turbation? Awesome. But also, seriously?


Favorite at the Time: Stay by Shakespeare's Sister

I was heavy into teen-angst music in 1992, and while this song pre-dates my goth stage, its morose vibe intrigued me: "I'll go anywhere with you. Just wrap me up in chains."

Actual Best: All I Want by Toad The Wet Sprocket

I didn't discover the Toad until college, but something about their music really appealed to me. Are they even together anymore? Anyone? Anyone?

Worst: Achy Breaky Heart by Billy Ray Cyrus

I bought this album. I am not proud. Not.Proud.At.All.

Zeitgeist: Baby Got Back by Sir Mix A-lot

Men everywhere were made to reassess the quality of their woman's behind. The year's most important work, by far.

WTF: Warm it Up by Kriss Kross

They wore their clothes backwards. WTF, indeed.


Favorite at the Time: I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston

I really stopped listening to Top 40 this year, as my interests began to move left of center (NIN, Sisters of Mercy, The Smiths), so this pick was a closet favorite. Please do not tell anyone I loved this song. You will ruin my street cred and I will hunt you down.

Actual Best: Ordinary World by Duran Duran

Second only to "Rio" in my book of favorite Duran Duran tunes.

Worst: Nothin' My Love Can't Fix by Joey Lawrence

Can someone please tell me why "Whoa!" Joey Lawrence tried to launch a singing career?

Zeitgeist: Whoomp! (There It Is) by Tag Team

This song had staying power long beyond 1993. Tell me you haven't heard this played at just about every sporting event you've attended. Who knew?

WTF: Informer by Snow

Does anyone honestly know any of the words beyond "InforMER"? If so, email me!


Favorite at the Time: Stay (I Missed You) by Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories

This song pretty much personified my summer between high school and college. My boyfriend had just dumped me. I rocked this tune from my car's in-trunk 10-disc CD player in the wee hours of the night as I drove past his house sobbing my brokenhearted brains out. But we all did that in high school, right? What do you mean, not you?

Actual Best: Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm by Crash Test Dummies

Loved them because I had absolutely no idea what they were singing about half the time. They had the same appeal that Tori Amos has.

Worst: I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That) by Meat Loaf

Meatloaf = ick. I will admit to singing "Paradise By The Dashboard Light" at my wedding reception though. I was drunk. That's my story, anyway.

Zeitgeist: Loser by Beck

Although my relatives will attribute my anti-establishment ways to my having graduated from a "liberal" college, my roots actually formed during my later high school years. This song was one of my favorites from the 90s.

WTF: Said I Loved You...But I Lied by Michael Bolton

Is this a love song? I was never quite able to figure this out, even after many a lonely hour holed up in my blacklight-lit bedroom pouring over the lyrics.

If anyone decides to do this meme, please let me know so I can read your responses.

Please Stop Talking to My Stomach

I am beginning to rethink my decision to share the news of the FET with my mom.

She arrived on Thursday afternoon, and I will first say that she was an amazing help with Isabella over the past few days. I haven't had to lift her or strain myself doing any of the myriad physical tasks moms do on a daily basis. She's entertained her constantly, and it's very cool to watch the little bond between Isabella and her "Ammy" (Grammy).

That said, the second she saw me laying in bed on Thursday afternoon, she went right to my stomach, tickled it, and said, "Hi, Little Critters!"

There are no Little Critters in there. I have a chance for Little Critters to be there. But they may have other ideas. I told her this, and informed her that I in no way wanted to talk about anything that may or may not occur before 3/17 when I have my bloodtest. She said she understood.

A few hours later we were eating dinner together, and we had the following conversation:

Mamacita: "So when are you going to tell your grandmother and aunt that you're pregnant?"

Me: "I'm not pregnant."

Mamacita: "I know that. But after the 17th, when do you plan on spilling the beans."

Me: "I'm not pregnant."

Mamacita: "Right. But you'll know you're pregnant on the 17th, and the following Sunday is Easter. Will you tell them before then? Or maybe, on Easter!"

I understand how difficult it is to grasp the complexities of IVF and infertility if you haven't walked in my shoes. I honestly do. I'm happy to answer questions about the drug protocol, the transfer procedure, the science behind embryo creation, and even how I'm feeling about the possibility of having multiples. But please don't talk to me as if I am already pregnant. Yes, there are embryos inside my uterus right now. Yes, I am very much hoping at least one implants. Yes, I am nervous, excited, and stressed out all at the same time.

But I am not pregnant right now. I am not thinking about names, or due dates, or telling my family. If my clinic calls me with a decent beta number on the 17th, then yeah, maybe I'll believe it then. But certainly not before.

And even after I very calmly and patiently explained the finer points of how IVF works, that nothing is guaranteed, and the details of my strict constructionist adaptation of what's going on inside me right now, she still insisted on saying goodnight to the "critters" before she went upstairs to bed Thursday night. And she started again with the pregnancy talk the next day.

Mamacita: "The baby will be due sometime in November, right? If you could schedule your C-section for the Friday before Thanksgiving week, I could take the whole week off."

Me: "I'm not pregnant."

This is precisely why I didn't tell anyone in my family the first time we did IVF. I should have told my sister. She would have known how to handle things. But as my mom is obviously demonstrating, she is not only a bit clueless about how infertility has affected the way my mind works, she is also becoming emotionally invested in the outcome of my cycle.

And if the outcome isn't want I want, well. She's going to be hurting too.

99 Peeling Paint Chips on the Wall

Bedrest is a fascinating world of wonder, let me tell you.

Here's what I've accomplished so far today:

I watched the sun come up from behind the shade in my bedroom because I awoke at 5:30am and could not get back to sleep.

I have clipped my toenails.

I have finished work on a marketing brochure.

I have watched political pundits on tv try to back-peddle on their pre-Tuesday assertions that my girl was finished (wrong, suckers!).

I have read email messages, and was actually able to answer most of them promptly, instead of putting them off until the child is otherwise occupied.

And I have not made a meal for my daughter, nor have I done any other household chores, in 24 hours.

Holy crap. Am I on vacation?

Nope. I am "taking it easy" and "trying not to move" for at least the next 16 hours.

As Thalia so wisely pointed out in her comment on my last post, there is conflicting evidence on the subject of bedrest when it comes to post-transfer activity. I very well might be restricting myself unnecessarily. But, I bought the couch potato school of thought advised by my doctor during my last IVF cycle, and I was blessed with Isabella. Whether my inactivity helped, I'll never know. I'm doing it this time around because for me, it seems like the right thing to do. Plus, I have absolutely no idea how I would handle Isabella without being hyper-aware that every little muscle exertion or heart rate elevation could be causing a problem with the three within. This Type A is erring on the side of caution.

I've hauled my ever-expanding, no-running-allowed arse out of bed exactly four times today: once early this morning to get my progesterone injection downstairs, once later on for a bathroom trip, another trip downstairs to get some coffee, and finally, a hugely exciting 5-minute shower.

Last night, I listened to Isabella screaming and crying "Mommy" while the hubs did her bedtime routine. As hard as it is on me to have to lie here and not move, and to be unable to pick up and cuddle my daughter, it is a million times harder on her because she just doesn't understand why her mommy isn't rocking her before she goes to bed, or dancing with her in the living room. She is lucky to have a great daddy who is simultaneously caring for both her and me, but I'm the 24/7 constant in her life, and I've taken myself out of commission.

She's since started asking the hubs, "Mommy? Coming?" and telling him, "See Mommy!" She visits me up here in solitary, and we look at photos of "Baby Bella" on my laptop. Then the hubs takes her back downstairs to play, and she waves bye-bye to me while calling my name.

As much as I am loving the time away from the muck of childcare, I miss her.

Next up: A post on the number of threads in my sheets (don't trust the package advertising. It lies! Conduct counts by hand!) and fun toys you can make for your kids from a single tissue.

Zero to Three in 20 Seconds

Meet the three embryos currently residing in my uterus.

The transfer went well. All four ended up surviving. Embryo #1 (the one in the bottom-right portion of this picture) is 7 cells and is compacting, which means the cells are melding together and growing. This is good. Embryo #2 (the one in the top-left) is 6 cells, and Embryo #3 in the center is 4 cells. The embryologist told me that numbers 1 and 2 looked great, and #3 looked okay, but obviously at 4 cells, it wasn't growing as quickly as the other two. That said, all 3 experienced growth since yesterday, so that is a good sign too.

The decision to transfer 3 embryos was not one we made lightly. If we hadn't chosen the maximum number my doctor told us he would transfer, and it ended up not working, we always would have wondered, "what if we had done 3?" The remaining 4th embryo was 10-cells (which means it was dividing well), but it was fragmented and oddly shaped, and therefore the embryologist recommended not transferring that one. It will be discarded. My clinic doesn't refreeze embryos.

For those curious about the process, here's a brief synopsis:
I had to arrive at the clinic with a partially full bladder. A full bladder exerts pressure on the uterus, which enables my doctor to see it better when transferring the embryos. I was a bit too overzealous in my water consumption prior to our departure, and by the time we arrived, my bladder was pretty near explosive levels. I feared projectile peeing once my feet hit the stirrups. I decided to try and relieve a bit of the pressure so I hit the bathroom. We checked in, and I immediately realized I hadn't gone enough. So I went again, came back, and refilled my bladder with some cups of water from my clinic's cooler. I might as well have been injecting fluid directly into my bladder, because within 5 minutes, the need for relief was again urgent. I went yet again, and then a 4th time just minutes before the procedure began. Oh, sweet relief.
I laid back, feet in stirrups, and the nurse practitioner positioned the ultrasound wand on my stomach. My doctor inserted the speculum, then a test catheter up through my cervix and into the uterus to make certain she could reach it without a problem. She then called for the embryologist to bring in the catheter with my embryos floating around inside, and then she transferred them to my uterus. The speculum stayed in while the embryologist took the catheter back into the lab to make sure it was empty, and once she said it was, out came the speculum. I laid on the table for 20 minutes, and then got up, and we left.
I'm now relaxing in bed. I've been here less than an hour, and while I can honestly say I have dreamed of having this much time to do absolutely nothing and have zero childcare responsibilities for the next 5 days (my mom is arriving tomorrow and staying until Sunday to help out and the hubs is off from work today and tomorrow), it is hard. There are 50 million things I should be doing right now. I don't "relax" well. My brain never really shuts down. But I also know I have to.
For the next two days, I'm supposed to move very little. No picking up Isabella. No going up and down the stairs 457 times a day, as I normally do. It's me, the tube, my laptop, and some work I have to finish. I may even have time to read a book, which I haven't done since late last year.

I also need to wrap my mind around positive thoughts for these 3 embryos hopefully developing inside me.

Grow, little cells, grow.

A blood pregnancy test on 3/17 will let me know if the FET was successful.
Thank you for all your encouragement, prayers, candle-lighting, meditation, cheers, what-have-you for me in the last few days. Please keep them up.
In the meantime, I'm going to be very busy counting the cracks in my bedroom ceiling and trying not to go stir-crazy. Checkers, anyone?

29 Hours 'Til Transfer (*updated)

Yesterday morning I got the call from the embryologist that all four of my embryos survived the thaw. This is good news, but with IVF, success is measured in small milestones. The first 24 hours post-thaw are crucial, as that's when cleavage (or cell division) begins to happen. I am hoping and praying that I have at least a couple 8-cell or better embryos on Wednesday. Isabella was an 8-cell embryo. The embryologist told me I would show up on Wednesday and my doctor would let me know how many were available for transfer. I asked him to call me tomorrow, because I Must Know. Even though I have no control over this process, I like to convince myself that I do. I'll give an updated embryo report here at some point today.

So, four survived. My doctor led me to believe that one of the four wouldn't make it, so I never thought to ask what would happen to the 4th if it, too, made it. Of course, on Wednesday, I will likely not have four perfect embryos from which to choose. Odds are that some will have cleaved better than others. Some will be better suited for transfer than others. But what if by some chance they are all identical and exceptional quality embryos? I don't know my choices for #4.

On Sunday, the hubs started administering the progesterone injections. Holy hell, I had forgotten how much those hurt, and how sore my arse is for days afterward.

I have a busy week planned, which is partly by design. Yesterday I conducted an interview for my newspaper gig, took Isabella to her 18 month checkup (23 pounds, 8 ounces, 32.4 inches long), and went to storytime at the library. Today, I have a client meeting, and more interviews to conduct. I'm trying to clear up all major work commitments and responsibilities by tomorrow, so I don't have to exist as a bundle of stress post-transfer.

Tomorrow the hubs is taking the afternoon off of work. My grandma is coming over to watch Isabella because we have an "appointment to refinance our mortgage." At 12:45pm, I'll arrive at my clinic with a "semi-full bladder" (how, exactly, does one measure that?), and somewhere around 1pm, hopefully at least one embryo will make itself comfortable in my uterus, and decide it's a fine place to stay for the next 9 months. Then, we'll go home, and I'll be on what is essentially modified bed rest for the next day and a half.

Thank you so much for all of your kind words, support, and encouragement. I am nervous and anxiety-ridden right now, but I am ready.

I will post an update when we get back home tomorrow.

*Update: The lab called and all four of my embryos are doing well. I have two 4-cell embryos, and the other two are between 2 and 3 cells. All four are cleaving well for Day 2. Hopefully, they'll continue to divide even further for the transfer tomorrow.

February Goal Review and New March Goals

Somehow February has ended. Even with an extra day thrown in there at the end, it seemed to me as if the month flew by.

While my February sanity wasn't compromised by never-ending deadlines and piles of work that kept me up and working into the wee hours as it was in January, I was still busier with work than I wanted to be. I'm still getting used to this freelance work/life balance thing. If anyone happens to have figured that out, please do clue me in.
Here's where I stand on fulfilling February's goals, most of which are strangely similar to those I set in January. Hmmm...
Goal #1: Create a writing schedule.
While I do not have a formal schedule crafted, I have put to good use a small desk calendar my sister gave me for Christmas. I'm listing my due dates for the week, any meetings I have scheduled, and important work-related items I need to remember. It sits to the right of my laptop, and next to the spot where I put my mug of vile decaf coffee each morning. I cannot miss it, and so it's done a good job of keeping me on-track for the month.
I am awarding myself half a point for quasi-achievement.
Goal #2: Clean and organize my desk, and maintain it once I've finished
I have actually attained this goal. And buried underneath the mounds of paper, sticky notes, Little People figures, crayons, and mugs with two-week-old coffee still in them I found...the envelope containing the Christmas money my relatives gave me two months ago!
My desk went from looking like this:

To this:
Goal #3: Write my first query
No. And I have no idea when I'm going to find the time to do this. As much as I hate to admit it, I may have to shelve the idea of getting published for awhile. Between my business freelance commitments, which are continually expanding, my new (unpaid) writing gig for the editorial page of my city's newspaper, and the Clingon child permanently affixed to my leg, I am busy. I won't stop jotting down my ideas and outlines, but as far as devoting any serious time to this ever-elusive dream of mine, I don't know when it's going to happen.
Goal #4: Post more frequently on Mush
Unfortunately, no. But I swear to you with three sleeping cats as my witnesses, I will do my best to write a post there this week. And given that I'm going to be laid up like a Victorian woman who's taken to her bed with ailments of mysterious origin for a few days later this week, I hope to have a little more time on my hands than I normally do.
Goal #5: Find a good relaxation technique

Oddly enough, I've found that reading about other people's misery in the newspaper relaxes me, and makes me feel damn grateful for what I have. A few months ago, my newspaper offered a me a promotion to receive the paper every day (we're longtime weekend-only subscribers). Of course, anything free is good, so I said yes. I used to let the weekday papers pile up on the kitchen table until the weekend when I recycled them, unread. Now, though, staying on top of the daily news in my city is part of my responsibilities for my writing gig. So I make it a point to read the paper while I eat lunch.

I have accomplished 2.5 of my 5 goals for this month, a big improvement over last month.

I've decided to take Thalia's advice and set one new goal a month. Given my pathetic track record so far this year, this seems like good advice to me. So, my new goal for March:

Get knocked up

Yeah. That's about it.

On an unrelated note, my frozen embryos are being defrosted today. Keep your fingers crossed that they stick around long enough to take a trip into my uterus on Wednesday.

Quick Snapshot:

  • 34-year-old writer and
    mother to a daughter
    born in August 2006 following
    IVF and girl/boy twins born in October 2008 following FET. Come along as I document the search for my lost intellect. It's a bumpy ride. Consider yourself warned.

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