Monday, July 25, 2011

Viability!

I surpassed the elusive 24 week mark this weekend, and I can’t believe it. I’ve looked up viability a bit, and this is when the chance of life starts to become greater than 50/50. This is when the NICU docs will fight for my baby to live, because she has a fighting chance. This is when she might be able to come out and live. But I’d rather not. She needs to stay in there for quite a bit longer, keep cooking and growing, for a few more months.

I went to the doctor for a nice boring appointment this morning. My fundal height is right on – 24 cm. Baby Alex’s heartbeat is a nice strong 140, and my blood pressure is 122/78, all good. He approved me to fly to Denver in a few weeks, and gave me a note to carry my shots, so I should be ready to go.

I’ve been reflecting on my pregnancy, and it really has been so easy. Besides the anxiety, which I think I’ve been managing fairly well, everything is good. I don’t feel too awful (besides the minor symptoms), and there have been very little scares after the beginning progesterone and bleeding issues. I’m so very lucky to have made it this far, and I’m just thrilled to be able to carry little Alex around for the next few months. And I really hope this “easy” pregnancy thing continues.

After the doc left my room and I was waiting for the note to be able to fly with shots, I could hear him go into the next room for a patient that was around 24 weeks as well, and everything was fine with her. But then I heard the ultrasound tech tell a nurse in the hallway, “I have a 10-weeker with no fetal heartbeat. Need the doc.” And they all just waited until he was done with the patient, and grabbed the doc to go help the 10-weeker with no fetal heartbeat. That poor woman, sitting in that ultrasound room, waiting for the doctor to come and confirm her baby has no heartbeat, and talk about what to do next. I remember that wait, sitting in the ultrasound room crying and hoping for some miracle, something the doctor would be able to see when the tech couldn’t. I closed my eyes, and wished for that miracle for that unseen patient, or at the very least, some peace. I was thankful though that she was going to have the talk with my doc, he was really good with me when it was my time, and he was great at the D&C.

I made it out of the office after paying and making my next appointment, but when I got to my car, I burst into tears. I cried for that women whose heart is breaking, I cried for my baby that I lost last year in the same way, and I cried with joy that my Alex is alive, and her heart is still beating. I’m so very lucky to be 24 weeks pregnant, and although I didn’t necessarily need a reminder, I certainly got one today.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Budgeting

First, I wanted to say thank you to everyone for their amazing comments on my last post about my body, weight and self-image. I never talk about my weight, especially the specifics, to anyone – not even the hubs – and I felt very vulnerable putting it all out there for everyone to see and comment on, as this was very out of character for me. But everyone was so nice, and it was interesting to see how many people have had similar experiences as I have. Once again, this community has shown me how accepting and wonderful everyone is!

So now I’m bringing another topic up that I normally don’t talk with others about: personal finance. I’m ashamed to admit that this is not my forte, and both my husband and I are terrible at it – and we’re accountants! We can handle the finances of multi-million dollar companies, but not our own. Those who can’t do teach, right? Now our personal situation isn’t awful – we don’t have huge debt, and we have some savings, but the overriding theme is we spend way too much. We have both worked very hard at school, and then our careers, so we both have good, well-paying jobs, but that means we have more money to spend. I know, I sound ridiculous talking about this. We’ve never really budgeted ourselves. We pay our bills, we put some money in savings, but really only the stuff we’ve pre-designated, and the rest it seems we spend, without any thought. There were months when we would tell ourselves to cut back, especially when we were going through fertility treatments, and especially before our new insurance became effective which covered most of the treatments, but we never budgeted. This year I finally started tracking our spending, and which categories we have spent on, but we never controlled ourselves, and it’s obscene! We’d talk every once in awhile about it, lament about how awful we were, and just go back to it. I’d suggest something, then he would suggest something, but we’d never really budget anything.

But we have some things changing in our lives. There’s a baby coming. And although I plan to go back to work after having little Alex, I know there will be big expenses. And more than anything I want to feel like we’re not spending everything we have, and I want to build up some more savings. I’m feeling nervous about not having a large accessible savings. Yes, we have decent 401(k)’s, and some other investments, and equity in our house, so we’re doing better than most, but I want to have money sitting there – just in case! And I don’t feel like it’s there and ready for an emergency, which makes me feel insecure. We’re about to start spending around $1,000 per month on daycare (wow!), and we’re about to buy a new car (whole other post, but we’re seriously considering a minivan – never thought I would do this, but even with one baby, it makes a lot of sense for a baby and 2 dogs that combined weigh 210 pounds). And I have a not-so-secret dream of going part-time with my job. Hubs has definitely not agreed to that, and it would be hard financially, especially considering I make more than hubs, but it might be possible. Maybe after Baby #2…

So all this led to some serious conversations about spending. I finally proposed an idea, which hubs agreed to, that may change all this. Starting a week ago, we each have a certain amount of cash that has to last us one month. This cash covers all meals, groceries, gas, clothes, everything that we individually spend. I get a little more cash because I buy all the groceries, but if we can stick to these cash amounts, we will save SO MUCH MONEY! We’ll probably spend about a third of what we were spending before, excluding the fixed costs like mortgage and insurance.

I’m really excited about this cash project of ours. So far, it’s going great. I’ve started clipping coupons, and planning meals using items that are in the freezer and pantry, and the like. But I wanted to see if y’all have any good ideas. Where do you find your coupons, for those that use them? I got a Sunday paper last week, and there were no coupons! WTF? Turns out they are in the Wednesday paper in Houston, or maybe Thursday, online discussions disagree… That was $2 wasted. I’ve started to find some websites, but any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. And what else are your save-money suggestions? So far I think I’m doing a great job with money-spending, or rather saving, but it will be interesting to see how this goes after the initial excitement wears off. It’s only been a week…

Also I’d love to hear how your family budgets, and anything you have found works well. It’s amazing, I’m 36 years old and I’m finally trying to grow up and be more responsible…

Friday, July 15, 2011

Making up with my body

I’ve never really liked my body. From being teased at about 11 years old for my gorilla legs (my mother wouldn’t let me shave), to being teased for not having breasts (I developed a little late, but the real issue is I was younger than everyone in my class, as I skipped a grade and had a June birthday), to hating my fat thighs and arms, which started around 11 as well, it has always been a battle. I look back at pictures of myself in high school, when I thought I was fat, and I want to shake that girl – she looked great! I graduated high school at 5’4’’, and weighed 120 pounds. I wanted to lose weight.

In college and grad school, I gained and lost some weight, but it wasn’t too bad. I wasn’t happy with my weight, and wanted to lose, but never seemed to be able to do that. I remember telling my grad school roommate that at least I was stable, and I didn’t think I would ever gain any more. I was 130 pounds.

When I started working, I worked in a public accounting firm, and would work up to 80 hours a week. In public accounting, the joke was that in the same week, we would eat a 5-course meal at a fancy restaurant and a meal from a vending machine, and this was very true. We went out to eat all the time, and brought in meals when working late. I had no time for exercise, and didn’t take care of myself. And getting married and divorced, and having serious depression did not help. About six years after starting work, I was up to 170 pounds. I went on Weight Watchers, lost about 15 pounds, started dating the hubs, and quit public accounting. We were both at our skinniest in awhile when we started dating. But then we started going out to restaurants, and we’re awful influences on each other. We both gained a bunch of weight, and I got up to about 175. Then we got engaged, and both working on being healthier.

For our wedding in 2009, I got down to 160. I would have loved to be skinnier, but I think I looked good. With a good pair of Spanx, I had a flat belly. And even the hubs wore a tank top that held him in a bit at the wedding! We got ready together, and we laughed as both of us struggled to get into our undergarments – we were meant for each other! I had been tanning, so my skin glowed. I felt very pretty, and comfortable in my own skin. But on the honeymoon, I threw away the diet pills that I had been taking, and said I didn’t want to take those anymore. Hubs teased me that I was a stereotype: throwing away the diet pills while pulling out the prenatal vitamins.

Over the next two years, as we tried to have a baby, and did fertility treatments, and got pregnant, and had an ectopic, and then got pregnant, and then miscarried at 8.5 weeks, my weight increased and fluctuated quite a bit. My heaviest was 185 pounds, which was shortly after the D&C. I was disgusted with myself, so I started a “Couch to 5K” program, and promptly sprained my ankle. I hated my body. Not only for the weight, but even more because my body killed my baby. And was completely broken. I felt the worst about myself that I ever have last summer after the miscarriage. I couldn’t get pregnant, and when I did, my body killed the baby, I was fat, and I couldn’t even exercise because of the sprained ankle.

Throughout my life, I have always hated my body. I would feel fat, and unhappy with myself. I hated shopping for clothes, hating how everything looked on me, and waiting until I lost weight to buy clothes, which never seemed to happen. And all this was made worse by my infertility.

I always wanted to become pregnant at a low weight, as I wanted to be one of those cute skinny women with the bowling ball bellies. Skinny arms, skinny legs, big beautiful belly. I am definitely not that woman. But as my belly increases, I’m starting to like my body again. Yes, I have big thighs, big arms, chubby face, etc., but I also have this big beautiful belly that is housing my baby. And my body is nourishing and growing my baby girl, and everything is on track. I am one of the very lucky ones whose skin looks better while pregnant. After about 10 weeks, I have had very minimal blemishes, I don’t have any stretch marks (yet) or linea nigra (yet – I know these can come), and everything is looking good so far! Every morning I lather on some oil over my growing belly, and I love the way it looks, even while naked! (Except for the Lovenox bruises – those are never pretty.) Everything looks so bizarre and funny, and my eyes go to my belly and breasts, instead of the rest of my body. My breasts are big with protruding veins and my nipples look weird, but I know all this is in preparation to feed my baby girl, and I’m so excited that I get to continue to provide nourishment to her even after she’s born. (I hope this goes well!!!)

I’ve received some not-so-lovely comments from people, from my friend telling me I’m really big for 5 months, and it’s going to get a lot worse, to a couple people telling me I’m growing across and they can tell my hips have spread, even from behind! And the hubs doesn’t help – I put something on the other day and asked if it looked ok, and he shrugged his shoulders. I then said I feel like a huge pregnant woman, and he agreed, saying "well that's what you are!" I haven’t seen my mom yet during this pregnancy, but she just told me all about some woman at her gym who was farther along than me and was barely showing at all! So I probably shouldn’t be showing much, right?

But for some reason, for the first time in my life, I don’t care what people are saying. And yes, I still feel fat, but more than that I feel pregnant. And I like that. My body is doing exactly what it’s supposed to do, and I love it. When I look in the mirror, I see my belly, and I’m happy to look like a pregnant woman. I started this pregnancy at 178.4 pounds, and this morning on the scale I was 187.4, so I’ve gained 9 pounds at 23 weeks. Yes, it might be a little much for someone who started out with a BMI classification of “Obese” (but just barely!), but I’m fine with it. My weight gain is not out of control, and it’s been steady after an initial weight loss of a few pounds due to morning sickness, and my doc does not seem concerned. I’m reading a book called Big, Beautiful and Pregnant: Expert Advice and Comforting Wisdom for the Expecting Plus-Size Woman, and I like it. There’s nothing ground-breaking in there, but I like the emphasis on being healthy and enjoying your body, rather than being super restrictive and mean, like a lot of the normal books are regarding bigger pregnant women. And I really like the advice on embracing your body with maternity clothes, and the stories from women who finally like their body.

That’s how I feel – for the first time in my life, I’m feeling good about myself and my body. Sure, it would be nice to be skinnier, but right now, I’m happy with my size. I love my belly and my breasts, and all that it means. I guess I’m feeling very confident considering I’m sharing all the weight details on my blog! And I wanted to write this down so later in my pregnancy, when I’m feeling huge (because let’s face it, the time will come), I could re-read this and remind myself to love my body for what it’s doing – it’s making a baby!!! So in honor of my new good feelings about myself, today I took my first pregnancy photos, and I’m sharing them with you. Check out Jackson in the background…



Thursday, July 14, 2011

I Cheated!

I’ve been so good in this pregnancy, watching everything that goes into my mouth. I haven’t had any raw fish (I miss you sushi!), or soft cheeses, and no caffeine, well almost no caffeine… Up until a few weeks ago, I hadn’t had one drop of caffeine, which I miss terribly. Prior to TTC, I loved getting up in the morning and making myself a cup of coffee, and enjoying it over the news, which I would do every day. Then later at work, I would often get a small latte in the mid-morning. While TTC, I would stop for awhile, go to decaf for awhile, cycle back and forth, never really giving it up. I finally gave it up completely in November last year, preparing for my first IVF cycle. When my IVF failed, I had a couple cups of coffee for a few days, but I quickly abstained, knowing the FET cycle would be coming, and I didn’t want to get addicted again.

So I haven’t had any coffee – ALL YEAR!!! Up until a few weeks ago… I’m sure you all remember how I went to the doc for a 20 week ultrasound, and they couldn’t tell if my baby was a boy or a girl. Well the doc told me to drink some caffeine before I came in for the next ultrasound so the baby would be up and moving around. I was so excited. It almost seemed worth it – I didn’t know the sex of my baby, but I got coffee! And a few days later when I counted down the minutes until I went and got that mini-latte, I definitely thought it was worth it. I was pretty excited about finding out the sex, but I also got a latte! Oh wow – what a great day!

But just like any good addict, one taste, and that’s all I can think about. Since that doctor-recommended latte, I catch myself thinking back to that time when I felt so good drinking it. It’s not only the flavor (which of course is fabulous), but it’s the feeling that everything is so right with the world! Most days I’m pretty tired throughout the day, and I’m functioning, but with coffee I’m SO MUCH BETTER! But I held off, telling myself that I shouldn’t drink any. Granted, my doc said I can have two cups each day, but I’m better than that, right? I don’t need silly crutches like caffeine – I’m a good pregnant woman – no coffee necessary! Or at least that’s what I told myself until yesterday…

Monday night I was up late, as hubs got home late and we stayed up talking. So I was tired on Tuesday, but I was fine, I’m used to being tired. Tuesday night we spent four hours in the ER, waiting for the hubs to be seen, and finally giving up at 11:00. (Long story short: he has a huge welt on his arm, he went to his work clinic during the day, who told him it is a brown recluse spider bite, and he needed to go to ER that night, apparently the ER disagreed since they wouldn’t see him, but wouldn't tell us that, they just kept us waiting until we gave up. Then he went to another clinic during the day yesterday, and they think it’s a MSRA staph infection, not a spider bite. They sent a sample away for testing, so we’re not sure what it is, but either way it could be very bad if left untreated, but he’s on some serious antibiotics and ointment, and I’m hoping it’s not a contagious staph infection…) So anyway, back to me – I was tired. So very tired yesterday afternoon at work, I could barely keep my eyes open. And I was about to have to lead a meeting, which does not allow napping for some reason. And so I did it, I went and got a latte.

And it was wonderful. Throughout the meeting, I sipped on my latte. I was planning on drinking only half of my small cup, but somehow all of it disappeared. I could feel Lil’ Alex waking up, and she was kicking like crazy, which was fun. And my brain was clicking like it never does! I started talking faster, and thinking faster, and everything was fantastic! I was happy, and it spread throughout the rest of my day. I got a bunch of work done in the hour remaining after the meeting, ran a few errands, then went to my therapist appointment and talked about my mom without crying or anything! Then I called my mom and told her what I had practiced with my therapist (“You have an open invitation to come visit, I’d really like you to come, but I’m not going to ask anymore, so please let me know when you’re ready to come visit.”) and went home. I cleaned up a little, and then worked on a new cross-stitch project (can’t believe I started another one, especially with Alex coming, but I missed doing it!), and stayed up WAY TOO LATE! I forced myself to go to bed at 10, but read a book until about 11 when the hubs came home. Then I got up and talked to him for awhile. I finally got to sleep around 12:30, and didn’t sleep well at all. And now, I’m exhausted…

Moral of the story is don’t drink caffeine in the afternoon. Or really ever, as it obviously does a number on me as my tolerance is so low now. But I can’t wait until I get to go back to my little habit – it will be wonderful!!! But when? I probably shouldn’t while breastfeeding, which I plan to do for a year, and then I’ll be weaning right when I will probably want to start TTC again. Ugh – when do I get coffee??? Yes, my name is Alex (kinda), and I'm an addict…

Thursday, July 7, 2011

My IF Craft Project – Finished!!!

In November 2009, I made my first appointment with an RE. We had tried to get pregnant for almost a year, and it wasn’t going well. I had tried for a year with my ex in my 20’s, and that didn’t go well either. And so I was sick of the waiting, the longing, the constant thoughts that go through my mind. At the time, my hubs had a very stressful job, one that would often keep him at work until midnight or later. So I had many evenings by myself, with nothing to do but stress. I expected to go to the RE, magically get fixed since that’s what docs do, and have a baby soon! Oh how na├»ve I was… But I knew I needed to figure out something to do while waiting for my baby.

I scanned the internet, looking for a cross-stitch project which I could love. I really enjoy doing cross-stitch, but most of the designs out there are very country-looking, or kitschy. I wanted something that I could proudly hang in my house and would look a little more contemporary to fit with the rest of the house. I looked up modern cross stitch, and found gecko rouge. If you’re ever looking for a modern cross stitch pattern, take a look at gecko rouge – they have a shop on etsy with lots of great designs.

The whole thing, with the pattern, fabric and thread, cost less than $30, but I have spent countless hours on this project. It is 14 inches square, and made up of 40,000 stitches. Most nights since November 2009, I’ve worked on this project. It made the time go by quicker. So many nights, I would be counting the days until the next treatment, until the next shot, until the beta, until the whatever… And this cross stitch project would get me through. There were months when I wouldn’t touch it – after the miscarriages, during the hopeless times, somehow I couldn’t bear to work on the project. But when I got back in the TTC saddle, and started treatments again, somehow I would be drawn to this project.

I didn’t know where I was going to hang it, as there is absolutely no pink in my house, but I figured I would remodel a bathroom or a guest room all around this project, once I got it framed. But now, I’m having my little Alex, and I think it will go great in her room. I spent countless hours working on this project, waiting for her to arrive, so now it will be a perfect addition to her room. Here it is:



And a close-up of the stitches:

Friday, July 1, 2011

Confession

I have a confession. My name is not Alex. Well, at least not to most people in my life, who call me by my first name. My middle name is Alexandra, and I’ve always wanted to be known as Alex. When I was six years old, I told everyone in my life to now call me Alex. They never did. After awhile, I was resigned to the fact that nobody would call me anything but my first name – after all, you can’t change your own name! But a few years later I figured out that I could control someone’s name – if I ever had a girl, I would name her Alex. When I had a “Flour Baby” (bag of flour dressed up as a baby) in high school for Religion class (went to Catholic boarding school – whole other story…), I named her Alexandra and called her Alex. And every guy I’ve ever dated, if it ever got serious, I made it very clear that my first daughter would be named Alex. But honestly, it never occurred to me that I would have a daughter! I don’t know why, but I always thought I would have boys. But this little girl surprised me, so now I’m finally having my Alex.

Over a year ago, when I created this blog, I wanted to be able to write anonymously. So I picked a name that I’ve always wanted for myself: Alex. And being the completely uncreative type that I am, I chose a generic title: Alex’s Adventures. I figured I would be one of the lucky ones (it took me longer than I thought, but I still ended up one of the lucky ones!). I’d start an infertility blog to talk about my struggles, and very quickly get pregnant! So I wanted a generic type of blog name, so I could talk about my life after infertility too. Well, it’s taken awhile, but I’m fully in my pregnancy (21 weeks tomorrow!), which is fabulous. I don’t think I’ll ever move past infertility – the other day someone tried to tell me I was no longer infertile, and I quickly corrected them… But I’m excited to talk about my new baby girl Alex, and other things in my life.

So it may get complicated, because in this blogland I love so much, I’m keeping my name, and I’m adding a new character: Baby Alex, or Lil’ Alex, or whatever you want to call her, as long as it’s nice! Yes, it may be a little complicated, but I think we can figure it out – y’all are smart! Now if we could only figure out a middle name – anyone have a good suggestion for a short (preferably one syllable) middle name that goes with Alexandra?