Saturday, July 31, 2010

the rhoid less traveled

Don't get me wrong - I am not complaining about pregnancy. (Right now.) But this past week...oh, boy.

I spent the week in one of my favorite places on earth, an old copper mining town far up in the mountains which has been turned into a Christian retreat center. It's an amazing place - focused on intentional community, simplicity, local food and sustainable living practices, open-minded spirituality, and sheer joy. I love it there. There's no place like it on earth.

It's also completely disconnected from the outside world: no phones, no television, no radios. Lots of time for reading, knitting, talking, coffee breaks, and homemade bread. (Oh, the bread - there are no words.) Normally, I relish the break from ringtones and news broadcasts and email and the constant pressure to be busy and do something with yourself. Admittedly, though, the lack-of-connection thing can present issues. Such as...

So, I've still been taking the anti-nausea meds. Despite numerous trials, I haven't been able to go off of them without immediate return to morning sickness. Unfortunately, the joy of no-nausea comes with the side effect of terrible-constipation. And, as tends to happen, said constipation can result in dreaded-hemorrhoids. (Thus endeth any dignity I may still have had on this blog. Whatever.)

I packed everything I thought I could possibly need for this week, given that the remote location meant I could not simply stop at the grocery store for anything I forgot. "Go to the grocery store" from this location means a 45-minute bus trip down the mountain, a 2-hour boat ride into town, an overnight stay in said town because the boat only runs once a day - way too much trouble.

I thought about bringing the hemorrhoid stuff, really I did. But I haven't had problems with that for weeks. I brought the anti-nausea meds, the stool softener, a first-aid kit, protein bars, and my water bottle. I brought my new boyfriend, the pregnancy pillow which was totally worth the ridiculous $40 price tag, even if it practically is the size of a third person in the bed (hence the 'boyfriend' title). I had it all. I was prepared. Wilderness, just try to beat me; I dare you.

Bad plan.

Somehow, I developed a bad case of hemorrhoids. You'd think I'd remember the events which led to this, but I've apparently blocked that out. At any rate, by Tuesday morning, I was pretty miserable. Keep in mind that we weren't leaving until Friday, and there was no way off this mountain. There is a small store, so I girded up my "God, this is too humiliating" loins and went to get some "please put me out of this misery" cream.

Guess what they were completely out of? And would not be getting any more until at least Friday?

Yeah. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Nothing to deal with this problem. I raided the first aid kits; I went to the medic. The medic gave me some suppositories, which did absolutely nothing given that the problem was more...external, if you get my drift.

A short list of things which you think might help with hemorrhoids but don't work at all so don't bother trying: antiseptic pads (ouch, though), hydrocortisone cream, neo.sporin, soap and water, and calamine lotion. It just got worse every day. The pain is hard to describe. It hurt to sit down; it hurt to stand up; it nearly killed me to stand up from a sitting position; and I was walking like an eighty-year old man with a broken hip. Plus, you can't really admit to the problem. "Oh, I've got raging hemorrhoids" is not exactly polite conversation. "Back pain" is what I used as cover. WAY back, I thought.

But wait, you're saying: why did you have calamine lotion on hand? What a good question.

Also on Tuesday morning - the day which shall henceforth be known as "the day of biblical plagues" - I woke up with several bug bites on my back. Odd, I thought, but then again, there were lots of bite-y little creatures around. They had probably gotten me during the day and I just didn't notice.

The next morning, I woke up with several more. All of which were under my bra strap. "How did they get in there?" I wondered. My back was never exposed. How had they crawled under my shirt, camisole and bra? And why?

On Wednesday night, I lay in bed thinking about this. I started thinking about bugs. About waking up with bug bites. About bugs in the bed. About bed bugs. And fleas.

No more sleep that night.

Thursday morning: more bites. Thursday afternoon, I found two little black bugs in my bed. I killed one, went to the registration office, and told them my suspicions. They quickly gave me another room, washed all my clothes, and sent me to the medic for some itch relief. Staff went into my room and began to check it out. I took myself to the medic.

This, of course, is where the calamine lotion comes in. She treated me and sent me on my way. I went to take one of the best showers of my life. And then...

The medic came to find me at dinner. "You know," she said quietly, "I got to thinking about your bites. Remember how I noticed that they were all on one side? There's a doctor here this week and I want him to check you out. I'm worried that you might have shingles."


Yeah. Long story short: shingles. Good news: no effect on the baby (believe me, I asked numerous times about this as I sobbed in the medic's office); there is an antibiotic available which is safe during pregnancy; it's a relatively minor case; I'm not contagious given the location of the breakout.

Bad news: oh, the pain. And the itching. And did I mention the pain? And remember the totally-untreated hemorrhoids?

And remember how there is no communication with the outside world here? Oh - and I should probably have told you that my husband wasn't with me, as he had to take a continuing education class the same week.

Which meant we had to use the emergency system to email him in such a way as to suggest urgency-but-not-panic (tricky), get him to call my ob-gyn for a prescription, then get him to email me back and hope that the medic had the drug on hand. I'll spare you the enormously complicated story of how this all happened, but thankfully, it did, and they did have the antibiotic, and my doctor also assured me that the baby would be fine. (More tears from me.)

I have never been so happy to be home as I was last night.

I haven't slept for three days. Last night I laid awake with too much pain and itching at those two key locations on my body, from 11:00pm to 5:00am. I burst into tears twice in the middle of the night, from frustration and exhaustion. My poor husband got up twice to put on more calamine lotion, and simply said "it's good practice for later" when I apologized for waking him up at 3:00am sobbing. Again.

As I keep telling myself, there are lots of good things here. The baby is fine. And will be fine. I now have medications for both problems. The worst should be behind me (pun intended, sort of). This will get better. This too shall pass.

Just remember: next time you go out to the wilderness, bring your hemorrhoid medication. Never had that problem in your life? Doesn't matter. Just bring it. Trust me.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

100 days to go

That's today's milestone: 100 days left.

Holy. Shit.

I'm sure I should come up with something more profound than that at the prospect of the birth of my first child, but right now, that's about all I've got. On the one hand, this pregnancy feels like it is taking forever. Like I have been pregnant for a year and a half - probably because of all the IVF preparation and build-up, but I suspect most pregnant women feel this way. Time. Is. Dragging.

Or it has been, until I realize that we are just over three months away. Somehow, "October" sounds like a long distance from now - as far away as the moon, or maybe Florida - but, before you know it, it will be August, and then September, and then...


On a different note, dear Rebecca at The Road Less Traveled is grieving the loss of her daughter, Lillian Grace, at 23 weeks of pregnancy, about three weeks ago. She and I had nearly identical due dates, and I think of her almost every time this baby kicks. If you don't know Rebecca, or haven't stopped by to check on her, please leave a note of support. Let her know she is not alone.

Friday, July 16, 2010

a new day

I became an aunt again yesterday, when my youngest brother and his wife welcomed their son into the world. He was nearly a week overdue, but arrived after only five hours of active labor; here's hoping his cousin takes notes on the speedy birth (listen up, baby).

He's lovely and perfect and kissable. He made a perfect first test subject for the new camera I had happened to buy that afternoon.

When we walked into the birth room, I thought immediately about my niece, now 21 months old, whom I had also seen within hours of her birth. (More like minutes, actually.) My laparoscopy had been only a few weeks before. I was preparing for our first IUI. It was among the lowest and hardest of infertility days, because I had started to hope again, and that felt particularly dangerous and vulnerable.

I walked in and saw her, and her poor exhausted mother (who had endured 47 hours of labor - again, baby, take notes on yesterday's birth). I stayed for about three minutes until it hit me: that might never be me. Ever. I might never sit in a bed with my new child in my arms, still panting from labor, exhausted beyond measure and joyful beyond reason. I might never be her.

I ran out of that room as quickly as I could, trying to make sure no one saw me, and stumbled, sobbing, into the lobby of the birthing center. My husband held me and took me home, crying all the way. I loved that child, and I very nearly hated her at the same time, because she was everything I wanted and, at that moment, it had never felt so far away.

Last night was different. Oh, infertility reared its ugly head - I panicked on the ride home until I felt the baby kick, worrying that I'd suffer some horrible irony and my child would die the same night its cousin was born - but it didn't take over.

I'm quite sure you never get over infertility. But I also think it's possible, at some point, to put down the burden of it and walk on. It will have changed your posture forever. But it does not have to define me.

Believe me, I'm quite aware that I say this from a point of great privilege; and that I might feel very different under different circumstances. All I know is, I'm grateful that the tears last night were of joy.

Happy first day of life, baby nephew.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

nope. not today.

In answer to the question, "will 24w6d be the day I can finally go off the anti-nausea drug?" I would like to report the following:

Sadly, no.

Epic fail.

Will try again next week.

And, to all those who claim that 'morning sickness should start to taper off after about 12-14 weeks,' (I'm talking to you, pregnancy book authors), let me say this: bite me.

Friday, July 9, 2010

I am not making this up.

Scene from the grocery store last week:

Grocery Bagger (lady probably in mid-60's): When are you due?

Me: October.

GB: You have a long ways to go!

Me: (Trying to discern whether this is a dig at the size of my belly) I guess so.

GB: What are you having? A boy or a girl?

Me: Well, we're not going to find out. We want to be surprised.

GB: WHAT? Why aren't you going to find out? Nobody's going to throw you a baby shower if you don't know because they won't know what to get you!

Me: (flustered) Um, I guess they'll have to stick with green and yellow. (Faint smile, look away in pathetic attempt to change the subject.)

GB: Turn around.

Me: What?

GB: Turn. Around.

Me: (completely flustered) O....kay. (Turns around.)

GB: I can't tell you're pregnant from the back. So you're having a boy.

Grocery checker: No, she's having a girl.

Me: (silent. Wishing had bought less stuff.)

Bagger: No, boy. I can't tell from the back. So, boy.

Checker: No, her neck isn't dark. Your neck gets dark if you're having a boy, so she's having a girl.

Me: (committing faces of checker and bagger to memory so as to avoid this particular line in future) Well, I guess we'll find out in October.

Checker: Would you like help out to your car?

Me: NO. No thank you. No. Thanks.

Bagger: Have a nice day!

Me: Thank you.

Coincidentally, we are rapidly running out of food at our house and I am loathe to go to the grocery store for replacements. I wonder why.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

adventures in registering: the debriefing

I've been simultaneously eagerly awaiting, and dreading, registering for baby items. Look back at four years of infertility and it's probably not hard to understand the dread part: too many trips over those past four years to Big Box Baby Store to buy Darling Registry Item for Yet Another Pregnant Friend While Trying Not To Burst Into Tears in the Diaper Aisle, or something like that. On the other hand, it's an experience I've longed for myself - not the registering part, but what it signifies - and I wanted to enjoy it.

So, step one in the enjoyment process: leave husband at home. Don't get me wrong: my husband is very, very excited about this baby. I can hardly go five minutes at home without him chasing me down to put his hand on my stomach to see if the baby will move. (The baby is apparently very aware of this and has already started to play 'hard to get' by ceasing movement the second dad gets near.) But this is a man who hates shopping. I save my energies to drag him out once a year, before school starts, so we can update his wardrobe. And it's all I can do to make that trip happen without killing him MY GOD JUST BUY THE DAMN KHAKIS ALREADY WHY CAN'T YOU MAKE UP YOUR MIND.

I, being the daughter of an inveterate Consumer-Reports-Reader (thanks, Dad) had prepared in advance by devouring Baby Bargains, which I highly recommend. I admit to feeling fairly self-righteous upon entering Babies R Overwhelmingly Expensive, with my prepared knowledge about "all the crap I won't need, because I refuse to fall victim to the Baby Industrial Complex." (Can you tell I am going to use cloth diapers? Yes. Let the lessons in humility begin.)

It was surreal, being there with my list of Stuff You Will Absolutely Need Otherwise Your Baby Will Surely Perish And We Are Not Kidding. Fighting my way through the crowds of pregnant women and small children and utterly bored dads (while congratulating self on leaving husband at home). I took my price gun and my slightly punctured pride over to the bottle/feeding section.

Some advice: don't start there. I had no idea how many kinds of bottles there were. I knew what brand I thought I wanted, but it's not quite that simple. BPA-free? Yes. Newborn size? I guess so. 3-pack? 6-pack? Special Newborn Starter Pack? Colic-prevention? Nipple Confusion Deterrent? (I don't think that one actually existed, but I got kind of lightheaded there for awhile.) What kind goes with the breast pump I want? Oh, wait...where are the breast pumps? And they come with pads? And bags? So, do I get bags and bottles? Because the kid can't drink out of a bag, right? But then, are the bags a waste of money? Or will I be up at 2am crying because the only thing I forgot to register for is a bag for the breast pump and now I'm a complete failure as a parent?

I skipped the bottle aisle.

Surely we will have better luck with bibs. How hard can that be?

Never utter that last phrase in the Big Box Baby Store. It will beat you to a pulp and leave you weeping in the corner.

Okay, skip bibs. Go to strollers. Surely easier.


Hmmm. Have not actually registered for a single item. Surely will have better luck with carseats. I know exactly what I want. And yes, indeed, I found it, clicked on the bar code, and voila: the registry is officially started. Breathe a sigh of relief.

It did get slightly better after that. I wandered around clicking on crib sheets and mattress pads, white onesies and a tub spout cover. I skipped a lot of things we don't want or need, and undoubtedly I left off things we'll realize we should have gotten on day one - but that's all a part of the adventure, I suppose.

I'm sure I looked like a perfectly ordinary pregnant woman, with my clipboard and list and price gun. If it were possible to register for "more relaxed attitude," that would be great: but, alas, that appears to be the only thing unavailable for purchase.

Meanwhile, month 6 kicks off tomorrow. Summer weather has finally arrived in my part of the world. I do not have to return to Big Box Baby Store for quite some time, as I can sit at home in my pajamas and play around with this registry online (and don't think I haven't).

According to the ticker, we have113 days to go. Hard to believe.