Sunday, December 20, 2009

Honeymoon over?

Something changed over the past few weeks. Ever since we got pregnant after our first IVF, I've been on a chronic high. Life suddenly seemed GOOD. The other stuff faded into insignificance. Career not going great - eh, who cared? I'd be a mother soon! Husband didn't take out garbage - well, it could wait until next week. After years of struggling with IF, I was giddy with happiness and gratitude that we might have our own baby after all!

Well, last night, as I was putting tabasco sauce on my burrito, the husband quips: "baby doesn't like tabasco". And how do you know, I asked. Since he refuses to read up about pregnancy, he has no idea that eating spicy food is fine during pregnancy.

Then later, when driving home, he insisted on blaring classical music really loud so that "the baby can hear and it's good for the baby". Never mind that the music was splitting my ear drums or that I was getting absolutely sick of listening to nothing but classical for several days in a row and he hadn't given me any solid evidence that it was in fact making any difference to the baby.

He's been leaving heaps of clothes around the house, stuff lying hither thither. I asked him to devote 30min today to putting his clothes away. He spent 5min hiding some of them behind doors and in closets and claimed he had done what I asked him to. I shouldn't mind this small stuff, but it is bugging the hell out of me. The euphoria is gone, it's back to arguing and fighting now.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

MSG-less post

Yesterday I had a discussion with a few ladies on the DailyStrength forum. The topic was MSG - is it bad, it seems to be in everything, so how does one avoid it? The consensus was that it is bad and the only way to avoid it is to make food from scratch. Now this is great advice, except that it is hard to put it into practice in real life for working couples.

We try to eat at home as much as possible and I cook often - weekends for sure and a few days during the week. The other days are left over days or the occasional take out. Now, when I am cooking on weekdays, after a long day at work, there is only so much time I can spend in the kitchen. Add to that the fatigue of first trimester and it takes a Herculean effort to cook anything. The husband can only do so much himself, after taking care of dishes and laundry and the million other random chores.
So I often resort to pre-made sauces and soup mixes, which of course contain what? MSG. It's in broths, pastes, sauces, chips, anything that tastes good and expedites the eating process contains MSG. I do make several dishes 'from scratch' that don't have MSG, but there's only so many times one can make them without slowly drifting toward MSG for more variety. I've been craving jalapeno chips for months. I finally gave in and bought a big bag, which is also a big bag of MSG.

Yesterday's conversation however got me thinking. I mean, I really want to avoid this stuff. Sure, there's no concrete evidence one way or the other, but why take a chance? We've worked so hard for so long to come this far, why even risk jeopardizing the baby's health now? So I decided to get more organized about my MSG-less recipes. Usually I just wing it. I'll see what's around the house and throw something together. I don't pay attention to which meals I'm throwing in MSG and which not. Now, everytime I make a MSG-less meal, I'm going to record it in my blog so I can quickly search for them the next time. That way I'll have a quick reminder about the MSG-less possibilities that exist and hopefully I'll be able to steer myself away from the evil white powder. I hope others find them useful too. Here is what we had for last night's dinner.

Green salad

Ingredients (2 servings)

2 handfuls of mixed greens
Approx 12 grape tomatoes (or 2 vine tomatoes), halved or sliced
5 sprigs of cilantro, chopped coarsely
Red pepper, chopped (optional)
2 tbsp of olive oil
1 tsp of balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper


Mix everything. If you have the time, allow it to sit for 10min or so, but it's not required.

Baked Salmon

Ingredients (4 servings)

1.25 lb salmon
1 tbsp olive oil


Wash the salmon and place it on a baking dish, skin down.
Coat the upper side with the oil.
Add salt, pepper, herbs (all optional).
Bake at 400F for 10min.

Note: I skip the salt if I plan to eat this with rice. In that case, I like pouring a bit of soy sauce on the fish when eating it.

Sauteed Bok choy with eggplant

Ingredients (2 servings)

1 lb bok choy (the ones with lots of green leaves), chopped coarsely.
1 large eggplant (chinese or american), sliced into half inch thick rounds.
1 big clove garlic
1 tbsp oil
Soy sauce or salt to taste


Heat the oil in a skillet.
When hot, add the garlic and eggplant. Stir and keep covered for about 3-4min.
Add the greens. Stir and keep covered for another 15min or until the eggplant is soft.
Add the soy sauce when done.

We ate the salmon and bok choy with rice and a bit of soy sauce. Each of these things are very easy and fast to make. This was tasty and nutritious too. No excuse for MSG in that meal!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Finally told parents

I've been hesitant to tell my parents that I'm pregnant in case something went wrong with the pregnancy. I've been constantly paranoid about one thing or another. Until I hit second trimester I wasn't going to feel safe. Well, second trimester is just 2 days away. Then there was the Down syndrome test from last week. I get the results on Mon. I could wait until then, because what if something bad comes back? Then there is the 2nd birth defect check at 20 wks. Apparently termination is still an option at that point, so really, nothing is final until then.

However, I decided to tell them today because, really, there will always be another source of worry around the corner. I have to celebrate each milestone as it comes. Ultimately that's all there is - a string of milestones, the journey.

I don't think parents have been as happy about anything else I've ever told them in my entire life. They've been closely involved during our trip through IF land. They've shared all our sorrows and ordeals. So glad I could finally give them this news. After the initial cries of joy, they immediately launched into what I should be eating :) Parents will be parents.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

12 wk ultrasound

Today the baby was screened for Down syndrome, Trisomy 13 and 18 (other genetic disorders). I went in bleary eyed and sleepy at 8:30am to the high-risk pregnancy center. The reception area smelled pleasantly of something perfumy, much like when you walk into the perfume dept at Macy's. A nice touch, maybe to help with morning sickness.

They explained to me that there are a few things they can see on the ultrasound that indicate the risk of a genetic disorder. One was the thickness of the fluid at the back of the baby's neck. Anything greater than 3mm indicated high risk. Absence of the nasal bones indicated high risk. As they explained all this to me, I got very scared. I hadn't even considered all this as a possibility. So far, "birth defects" had been a vague problem without a face, but hearing these details made it suddenly very real.

I lay there, stiff with anxiety. With every ultrasound, there's a moment before they confirm the heart beat when I fear the worst. She saw the heartbeat and I relaxed a bit. She checked for the presence of arms, legs, hands, feet, stomach, bladder, etc. So far, everything looked good. We could see the baby swallowing as the jaw was moving. That was supposedly a good sign. Fluid in stomach and bladder - good signs. Nasal bones in place, spine fluid was 1.3mm - what a relief!

The baby had its feet curled up for the longest time with its arms in front of its face. So we had to try to look at it from various angles until we could finally see and record the feet.

I was vastly relieved when everything was confirmed to be normal. There was still the bloodwork - they were going to check for certain proteins in my blood. I have to wait a week before that comes back.

I spoke to some friends who had babies before 30 and they didn't have to go through any of this screening. The perils of waiting until post-30..

Monday, November 30, 2009

Stuffed up and nowhere to go

It's been 6 days now that I've had a cold. I sneezed through Thanksgiving and it only seems to be getting worse.

I've been drinking lots of hot water with honey and lemon juice, apples, oranges, almonds. Last night I made a turkey soup out of leftover turkey, so I'll be drinking that for a few days now. I've tried walking in fresh (cold) air, I've tried staying in, nothing seems to be helping. I feel pretty miserable. I saw this list of 10 foods to eat when one has a cold on cnn. I've been eating a lot of them - probiotic yogurt, almonds, chicken(turkey) soup, red pepper (though very small amounts), green tea (again in small amounts because of the caffeine. What else has worked for people?

I was reading about listeria today and the symptoms of listeriosis. They say symptoms are flu-like. I keep thinking about the brie and cheesecake that I ate on Thanksgiving. It was downright careless of me to eat that brie. I just completely forgot about the soft-cheese ban and so did my husband. We are so used to eating that kind of thing (and so unused to being pregnant) that I happily gobbled it up as a matter of habit. I'm hoping that it was pasturized and that the cheesecake was baked and had no half cooked eggs in it. But every time my cold takes a turn for the worse I can't help thinking how horrific it would be if after everything we've been through, a bit of brie were to undo it all.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Week 11 - The dream is alive!

Had my first u/s at the OBGYN office today. The baby looked great - alive and kicking, literally. It seemed to have long legs and was thrashing them around quite a bit. I'm going to be relieved and happy for a day now until some new worry creeps in.

Doc said that they'll schedule my C-Section about 7-10 days before my due date since they don't want to subject my current surgery scars to any amount of labor (for fear of uterine rupture). So I won't even get to experience labor. Not complaining too much about that.

About the fatigue that assaults all pregnant women - doc mentioned that progesterone was a fatiguing hormone. Luckily, progesterone is produced in big quantities only upto around 20 wks. After that, we are supposed to feel fine, with our usual levels of energy. I'm looking forward to that!

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Gray skies and rain all day. It's cold and an unshakeable gloom hangs around the trees outside. Haven't spoken to a soul all day, on account of working almost non-stop and husband being out of town. Except for the breaks to sleep and walk outside. That was very refreshing, even though my head ached a bit in the cold. No one was on the streets, except for a cold wind and Click and Clack on my podcast. I bottle away any cheer I can find.

Listening to Madeleine Peyroux singing 'Weary Blues'. The best rendition I've heard so far. So many plans I had for today, but somehow the energy has slipped away. They say that the baby has a go at nutrients first, which may explain the sapped feeling. I've been eating all through the day, but I'll admit that some of it was junk. It's hard to find stuff to eat with low grade nausea humming in the background.

The jazz on radio cheered me up a bit, but even that can get tiresome after 5 hrs of it. Feel strangely ungrounded - acutely aware of how a thin wooden door separates the warm interior from the howling wind outside, the fragility of spaces and lives. My mind tends to come just a bit unhinged when I'm alone. I read that 1 in every 4 pregnancies end in a miscarriage. That's not counting those who never make it to a positive pregnancy test. Lives that just disappear, fluttering hearts that beat for a few weeks and then go quiet. Each of them is probably a tiny piece of a giant jigsaw puzzle, one that is so big that we'll never be able to see the big picture.

Tomorrow, husband returns home. Maybe the sun will be out too!

Week 11 - Still not showing!

The other day, I looked big in the mirror and thought, ah finally I'm showing. A couple of days later I shrank again. So either I'd just eaten too much that day or I'm not pregnant anymore. Can't wait to get past first trimester so I'm not in a constant state of paranoia about losing the baby.

The Bella band continues to be my new best friend. I don't need it because I'm pregnant, I need it because I became fat after surgery.

The things that give me hope that I may still be pregnant are:
- the smell of roasted chicken in the deli yesterday grossed me out and I couldn't escape it fast enough
- I feel pukey at random times through the day, especially after drinking water in the morning
- I'm sleeping 11 hrs, but that could simply be laziness (it's happened even when I wasn't pregnant)
- having to pee often (though again, I did that before too, but that was probably caused by the uterine fibroids)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Nov 20 (Fri) - Feeling underachieved

It's one of those days when this feeling hits with such intensity that I'm paralyzed. I'm 34 yrs old and feel like I've achieved nothing in life. I'm halfway through life (if I'm lucky) and have done nothing memorable - no big career success, created nothing, made no impact on any walk of life.

Ok, so I'm finally carrying a human life, and that's something, but it's the quality of that life I raise that matters and just starting to do that in the second leg of my life, burdened with endo and fibroids and adhesions and what not, I'm starting late in a game that everyone else is finishing up.

All this is making me very weepy and upset. I'm blaming the pregnancy hormones for that.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Nov 15 (Sun) - Last PIO shot!

I hit the 10 wk mark today. Which means no more progesterone shots!

Starting from Aug 27, I've taken 28 stimulation injections, 10 suppressant injections, 1 HcG trigger shot and 57 progesterone injections. 96 injections over 2.5 months!

After my husband gave the last PIO shot, we went into the garage with the syringes with needles and threw darts at an old carboard box. It was fun to hurl those needles with a vengeance :)

No more planning our social life around those hateful shots, having to give myself shots in hotel rooms while a conference raged downstairs, and most importantly, no more horrific ice packs on butt every night. Whoo-hoo!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Nov 14 (Sat) - End of a tiring week

The 9 wk ultrasound went well last Tues. Saw fetal movement and the heart fluttering for the first time. Was reassured by these positive signs. The euphoria lasted about a day.

The rest of the week, my entire body was sore and aching from the PIO shots. The bowels remain uncooperative. Was so tired some days, it was hard to imagine ever getting up from the couch.

On a different topic, I'm going to try using visualization techniques to swallow my huge pre-natal vitamin everyday. Every morning, I take a gulp of water, pop the vitamin, wait until my throat feels ready, attempt to swallow, gag immediately and swallow again. Along with the vitamin going down (or staying stuck in my throat), water gets into the air pipe and I spend several secs doubled over, coughing violently.
Today, in the waiting pre-swallow phase, I imagined the throat muscles relaxing and the monstrous vitamin going down in one smooth gulp. It worked, no gagging.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Nov 10 (Tue) - Crippled by Progesterone

9 wks of "Progesterone In Oil" shots add up. They should be called PIA shots, not PIO. I'm completely sore on both sides, full of bumps which hurt when I lay on them or pull up my jeans and it grazes them.

Just walking hurts when I get out of bed and hobble to the bathroom like a 80-yr old arthritic woman.

When I used to go for a walk right after the shot in the evening, it was much better. But now that it's gotten colder and it's raining in the evening all the time, the walks have been abandoned, with consequences. Well, just another 5 days to go and I'll be done with these hateful shots! Can't wait!

On the positive side, the austere diet from yesterday paid off and the constipation was better today. Not gone, but better. Now if only I can resist the temptation of the shiny lattice apply pie sitting on the kitchen counter...

Will have my second OB ultrasound today (9 wks) in a few hrs. Very nervous.

Nov 9 (Mon) - Revenge of the Refined Carbs

All that white bread, pie and icecream bit me badly today. My colon rebeled furiously and I'm limiting myself now to prune juice, fruits, whole wheat and chicken. And more prune juice.

I never learn. I went through this same thing a month ago. I swore I'd never touch refined carbs again. But it magically resolved itself and slowly and greedily I started eating potatoes and Italian bread again.

I don't know what I'd do without prune juice.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Week 9 - New Bella Band!

Bought my first Bella band (knockoff) today. My pants have been tight for the past 6 mths. I blame it on the laparotomy surgery I had earlier this year and the ensuing weight gain and bloating.

Since the pants aren't going to get any looser any time soon, I decided to invest in this modern wonder that folks on my forum have been raving about. I'll have an opinion when I try it tomorrow. I'm looking forward to not depending on rubber bands to hold my pants up. They kinda work, but still squeeze my stomach when I sit, and I still have to zip up the jeans (getting exceedingly uncomfortable).

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Week 8 - Sleepy!

I'm at 8.7 wks today and all I want to do most of the time is sleep. There are a few hrs in the mornings when I have my old energy back. Then I go to work, eat lunch and it's all downhill from there. It may be only 12:20pm but my day is as good as over.

Some activities I've come up with: go out for a short walk in the rain/cold air, get cups of hot water or tea, chat with co-workers. None of which helps me get any work done, but at least it keeps me awake.

Luckily, the nausea has been only slight, but noticeable. The only time that I have more energy than a half dead slug - in the mornings, I sit chewing on dry matzah and sipping cold water (something that I normally cannot stand).

Cramps have subsided a lot. Those and the adhesions/pulling sensations still appear, but rarely.

Have to do something about the tight pants. Running out of things to wear.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Aug 19 - Infertility

Husband and I went for an IVF seminar this evening. They mentioned the 'insurance package' which covers 6 cycles for a fixed high price and gives a big portion of the money back if we don't take a baby home at the end.

At the end of the seminar, husband asked what I thought of going in for that. I had told him before that I wasn't going through a second cycle if the first one didn't work. The whole thing was too invasive, stressful, expensive, physically and emotionally exhausting and it was taking over my life to the point that most other major things were on hold (like my career).

"Career stuff is not as important as this", he said.

"My life doesn't end if I cannot have kids, it's more important for me to bring up a child, regardless of whether they are mine". Of course, as I said that, I knew that the adoption process wasn't going to be any easier. That would come with its own set of problems - long waiting times, an endless application process, custody issues, exorbitant prices, etc.

We walked to an open air bar. It was a warm summer evening and the streets were full of people. Normally, both of us would have loved to soak in such an evening, but a gloom had settled over us. Husband was over-worked, tired, eyes blood shot. He was irritable and complained about minor annoyances. I stopped trying to make conversation. I felt guilty. Guilty and weak for not wanting to try indefinitely, guilty that I couldn't have the kids that my husband so desperately wanted.

The twilight was deepening outside; yellow lamps and neon signs started to come on. As I looked out over at the bustle on the street, I felt old and broken and above all, helpless.

There were multiple factors working against me - age, low egg count, endometriosis, fibroids. I had done everything I could upto this point, including a full abdominal surgery to get rid of fibroids in preparation for IVF. But even after all that, my chances with IVF were less than 45%. Less than half!

The source of all my problems, of course, was that I had waited too long. Sure, people my age were easily having kids, but then they didn't have decreased ovarian reserve or all the other problems I had. I looked back at the forks in my road, at all the decisions I'd made that led me to start trying only in my 30s.

I wondered, for the umpteenth time, what it was that could have caused the endometriosis and fibroids. My sister doesn't have these. All the women in my family have multiple healthy children. I have always been physically fit and active and eaten a healthy diet. Maybe I've always had endometriosis and it would have been a problem even in my 20s. Second guessing the past was a losing game.

We paid and walked silently out, past babbling kids and cheerful families. I was drowning in self-pity.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Aug 6 - Beginning of a surreal journey

My husband and I went to the doctor's office early this morning for our pre-IVF blood draws and semen analysis. I was extremely nauseous from the birth control pill that I had started taking the night before. I sat around the waiting room with watery eyes, feeling pukey.

I've taken birth control pills only twice in my life - once in preparation for my laparotomy 5 months ago and now, in preparation for IVF.

My nurse - a sweet stable looking woman, drew up a calendar for me and went over the IVF procedure. I hadn't realized just how much the entire process was about to take over my life. IVF seminars, Injection seminars, signing consent forms, medication to suppress the ovaries, medication to stimulate the ovaries.. Three weeks of injections in my stomach, 8 weeks of injections in my back that my husband had to give me, everyday, at the same time. The bumps and lumps that the progesterone injections were going to leave me with..

I'd have to take a day off for egg retrieval when they'd send a needle up transvaginally, to the ovaries to retrieve eggs. Make decisions about the number of embryos to transfer (assuming there will be any), the risks associated with multiples, etc.

The whole thing feels like a bad sci-fi movie. Surely, tampering with nature to this degree is going to have its consequences.