Thursday, November 13, 2014

On Bodies and Babies (Part 1)

First a little theme music: Donnie's Beautiful Me, an ode to loving our bodies.

I posted here and there about pregnancy, but I finally feel like I have enough distance to really talk about it.  Little Miss TJ 3.5 months (yikes!!! It's happening too fast!!!), and I'm finally ready to start losing some weight.

While signing up for Weight Watchers the other day, I started thinking about all of the changes my body has been through in the last year and a half.  I'm in awe of the body's ability to heal and repair itself.  I am a true testament to this. 

This blog post started getting really long (and heavy), so we'll just call this Part 1. 

I've never had any major health issues, so the journey to pregnancy and birth introduced me to the world of hospitals and needles and doctors.  After trying for over a year to conceive, my husband and I decided to try IVF

----Before I continue ----

I have gone back and forth and forth and back about whether I would disclose this information.  I've finally decided to share because I know that hearing my story will bless someone.  I've been shocked by the number of women who have emailed or called me to ask questions once I mention that we used IVF to conceive.  Infertility brings about shame and stigma that it shouldn't. I'm telling my story to encourage others. Ok, I digress...

I don't like needles. AT. ALL. So the poking and prodding associated with IVF took it's toll.  I can remember going for blood draws/hormone level checks every other day on top of the daily injections of drugs I had to administer at home. One particular morning, my vein just wouldn't cooperate as the nurse tried to draw blood, and I just lost it.  The tears wouldn't stop.  I had just finished my dissertation and started a new job, and there I was staring another huge life change in the face. I'm so grateful for the love of my husband.  In the beginning, I was so afraid I wouldn't allow him to give me any injections. I thought that my hand was the most steady, and that I knew best how not to make the injections hurt. Boy was I wrong.  My husband took the sting, literally and figuratively, out of daily injections.  The more I write about this, the more it's coming back to me. I would mix the prescriptions while he would dim the lights and put on some relaxing sounds like ocean waves or the rain forest. He would ice my tummy, say some encouraging words, help me breathe and encourage me to close my eyes.  He would be done before I even realized it.  

IVF happens in stages.  First we had extensive health exams.  We were tested for everything under the sun.  At the conclusion of it all, we learned that we had unexplained infertility. Once all of the testing was done, the next phases involved hormone injections to develop healthy eggs, harvesting the eggs, and fertilizing them.  Well, we got through all of those phases with a lot of prayer and deep breaths.  The next phase would be to transfer the embryo(s) and wait to see if we were pregnant. Given my age and health, my doctor suggested that we try to conceive using only one embryo for the first round.  In some cases, doctors transfer two or more embryos, which sometimes leads to multiples.

Once we had embryos, it was time for the waiting game.  The fertility clinic continued to monitor my hormone levels, and to my surprise, I got "the call" a week earlier than I anticipated.  I remember the day clearly.  My best friend and I were shopping on a Sunday evening around 5pm.  I was trying on clothes, but on the fence about buying anything because I knew that a pregnancy could be on the horizon.  The fertility clinic called to say that it was time to take what's called a "trigger shot." This is the shot that alerts your body that it's time to prepare for the embryo transfer. I continued to shop and tried to remain cool, but I was having a complete freak out on the inside. It was time. Lord!!! IT WAS TIME!!! So we wrapped up our shopping session. I ended up buying a loose-fitting dress that I knew could take me through the first trimester. I called my husband on the way home to let him know I got "the call."

Once again, Dr. Hubby came through. I mixed the prescription, and with loving and steady hands, he gave me the injection.  Fast forward two additional hormone level checks, and it was time for the actual embryo transfer.  I remember trying to draft an email to my students to let them know that class would be canceled.  I wanted to write, "Hey y'all. I'm about to embark on motherhood!!!" Instead, I gave a brief and vague explanation for canceling class at short notice and anxiously looked forward to the transfer.

Transfer Day was rather uneventful. The whole process took about 10 minutes (if that). Once they transferred the embryo, we went home, and though I didn't have to, I decided to rest.

Then came another waiting game. We had to wait 2 weeks for a pregnancy test.  That meant 2 weeks of acting like I was pregnant in the case that I was.  I'm sure I got a side eye or two for refusing cocktails at a few parties we attended.  We were advised not to take a pregnancy test at home, and though we really wanted to, we didn't.  I now laugh at my naiveté.  Given my lower back pains and frequent, long naps, I don't know how I didn't know I was pregnant.  The day we were to find out, we went to the clinic for a blood test.  To kill time, we did a little light shopping, but soon enough fatigue kicked in, and I was on the couch asleep.

The Big Call woke me up from my nap.  We were pregnant. On the first try. With one egg. Ain't God good?!? We were super excited, but we decided to hold off on telling everyone so we could just sit with the news for a while, plus my graduation brunch was on the horizon, so we decided to share the big news with all our friends and family at once.

Pregnancy took my body on one long a$$ roller coaster ride . . . More on that in another post!

Until next time . . . I'll be marveling at Little Miss TJ.