Archive for Post-infertility pregnancy

Book recommendations for breastfeeding…

Two book suggestions, one for those who have breastfeeding in their future, one for those who are currently struggling with it.

Before I had the Nushka, I read “The Nursing Mother’s Companion.”  This is an excellent book to have… after the baby comes, as a reference manual.  I found it pretty confusing and overwhelming before the baby came.  I would suggest instead for getting the idea of breastfeeding the book “Breastfeeding Made Simple” by Nancy Mohrbacher and Kathleen Kendall-Tackett.  It is a great basic explanation of the principles of successful breastfeeding.  Sure wish I had read it a little earlier…

The book I would recommend to anyone currently breastfeeding and having difficulty is “The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers” by Jack Newman and Teresa Pitman.  Great, extremely detailed book that explains how to deal with many breastfeeding problems.  Jack Newman is the authority on breastfeeding.   This cuts through a lot of the bull you’ll find people telling you.

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Sometimes a carseat is just a carseat.

I did it. I made it over the giant purchasing barrier. I bought the first baby item – a car seat.

I had been dreading the research and the purchase, but it was strangely liberating. My major feeling was… holy poop, could we actually really need this thing? We, the people who have spent years and years and years sitting on the sideline, who had stopped thinking it was possible for there to be anything but sitting on the sideline? Will there really be a baby here in a few months who needs to sit in this? Sure, it’s kicking like crazy, but who knows, maybe I just have a really big and hyperactive intestinal worm. Or maybe something will still happen to it. Etc. But… a tiny feeling of elation bubbles up… you never know… maybe it will actually WORK!

I went to bed after placing the purchase and dreamt that I was in infertility treatment again. I had some kind of electronic gadget that you could program to do your IVF cycles (yeah, if only it were that easy). All you had to do was type in for each cycle whether you wanted to use your own eggs or someone else’s, and to make you commit to the cycle you had to type in the name you would give each embryo if it turned into a baby. I programmed the device to do 200 cycles, half with my own eggs and half with donor, figuring that that should be enough. I then started it and watched it go through the cycles for me (handily, on the gadget each cycle only took a second or so). The gadget started printing… BFN… BFN… miscarriage… BFN… chemical pregnancy… etc. until it got through all 200 cycles without anything sticking. It then printed an obnoxious message with the very low probability of that having happened, for a ‘normal’ infertile.

‘Cause let’s face it, that’s how I see myself still apparently. Despite the fact that all evidence seems to point to a little human being currently living inside the Nishkanu and arriving in the world outside Nishkanu in a few short months, inside my head I am still the person to whom such a thing would never, ever happen. And that’s what makes the leap of faith that the car seat represents such a thrill.

Plus, I now have a car seat, a bunch of onesies, and some diapers (the latter two items presents), so that means I can technically bring a baby home without having to buy anything else. And that’s liberating too!

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The shopping list

Those of you who have been reading here for a while know about my non-enthusiasm for all things baby-shopping-related. This is in part from the usual coping mechanism of “baby? what baby?” to keep me from freaking out about the possibility of there actually being a real baby that something bad could happen to, and partly from my bad attitude about consumer culture in general and in particular the “you must buy x,y,z, and get the fanciest one of each” siren call of consumer parenthood. I just don’t wanna.

Nevertheless I am now in the 3rd trimester and Mr. Nishkanu and I have come to accept that we actually will need to purchase or otherwise acquire some baby paraphernalia before said baby actually shows up. So, I finally sat down and worked out the giant baby shopping list, which I hope is more or less pared down to the bare essentials.

In the hopes that this might be useful to other people in a similar mindspace, here is my masterpiece. It was constructed using a combination of advice from mothers that I know and The Expectant Parents’ Companion, a very short, easy-to-read book that aims to simplify as much as possible life with baby and especially baby equipment – I highly recommend this if you have a similar attitude issue to me.

A shopping list for someone who doesn’t want to get a lot of baby stuff

? = optional, at least doesn’t need to be in hand before baby comes

FURNITURE
? Dresser (not baby dresser, a regular one)
Changing pad
? and something to secure it tightly to dresser if you plan to use it on a dresser
Crib
Waterproof mattress cover – for us
2 waterproof sheets for crib – flat
2 quilted mattress pads
4 crib sheets
? Rocker/Glider
? Footstool for nursing
Laundry hamper

TRANSPORTATION
Baby carrier
? Stroller
Carseat
? Shade for car window

HYGIENE [Note: we will be using diaper service + some disposables]
Baby bathtub
Cloth diaper covers for diaper service
Disposable diapers
Baby laundry detergent (no perfumes etc.)
Diaper pail (does not need to be officially for diapers)
Diaper bag (does not need to be officially for diapers)
– A portable changing pad if there isn’t one built into the bag
Wipes
Bum cream
Shampoo and body wash
– For soap you can also use neutrogena, dove, and similar – does not have to be “baby” type

? Fine-toothed comb
? Soft brush
Baby nail clippers
Baby oil

SAFETY
? Baby monitor (need depends on size of house)
? Play yard
First aid kit:
– Cotton swabs and alcohol
– Rectal thermometer plus disposable covers
– Petroleum jelly to lubricate previous
– Nasal aspirator and saline drops
– Infant-strength tylenol
– Calibrated dropper and measuring-pouring spoon
– Ice packs
– Hydrogen peroxide
– Band-aids in various shapes
– Gauze pads and first-aid tape
– Antibiotic ointment
– First-aid book

FUN
? Pacifiers
? Swing
? Bouncer seat – not expensive
– Only get one of swing OR bouncer.
? CD player for nursery
? Rain sounds CD (soothing for baby)
? Mobile for over crib or changing table

CLOTHES – get clothes in size 3-6 months, not newborn
Swaddles
1-2 hooded towels
2-4 washcloths
3-6 undershirts
4-8 body suits – short and long sleeve
4-8 lightweight sleepers – “stretchies”
2-4 rompers/coveralls
2-4 infant gowns / kimonos
2-4 blanket sleepers
1-2 sweaters
3-6 pairs of socks
2-4 hats – 1-2 should be lightweight cotton newborn caps, 1-2 heavy cotton/acrylic/polar fleece that cover ears for outside
1 snowsuit or bunting

NURSING [Note: planning to nurse plus pump]
? Soft light (e.g. dimmer on main light, or nightlight, or lamp with low-wattage bulb) to allow changing at night
Nursing bras – buy 2 or 3 in the last weeks of pregnancy and wait with the rest until you know what size you need
? Nursing coverups
? Nursing shirts
? Pyjamas comfy for bed + nursing
? Nursing pillow with covers – Boppy or My Brest Friend
? Cooler to keep by bed with snacks and drinks
Medical-grade lanolin
? The Nursing Mother’s Companion

? Storage bags for frozen milk
? Bottles
? Nipples (slow, medium, and fast flow models)
? Breast pump

Now that isn’t really too bad…. I hope. And hopefully I can beg, borrow, or steal most of that.

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Things I did not know about being pregnant

Although I have been pregnant several times before now, I never made it past 7 weeks.  Now that I have done so a whole new face of pregnancy has been opened to me.  Here is a list of things I have learned since I got pregnant.

  1. I am physically capable of gestating a real, live baby through the entire 1st trimester.  That is a f*cking miracle which I definitely did not believe before this pregnancy.
  2. I have a great hubby.  OK, I knew that beforehand, but 5 weeks of bringing me easy-to-digest chow on the sofa and caring for me with true love really cemented the deal.
  3. Pregnancy gives you an uncomfortably stuffed-up, snotty, bloody, clotty nose.  Who knew that was a pregnancy symptom?  Are people in the 2ww going “I had to blow my nose for 10 minutes when I woke up, I must be pregnant!”?  Well, they should, because it is one of the most insistent pregnancy effects.
  4. Your first pregnancy bump is not made of baby, but of fat and bloated intestine which your uterus shoved out of the way and whose digestive prowess has been massively reduced by the progesterone your body is pumping out and/or getting pumped in.  Even if you were reasonably thin to start out with and do not gain weight in your early pregnancy.  And the bump is way way bigger in the evening than in the morning.  You can plan that in if you want to be able to leave the house without people knowing about your state – just remember, you turn into a pumpkin after dinner.  Literally.
  5. Pregnancy is physically really demanding.  Don’t get me wrong, emotionally, it is obviously a million billion kajillion times better than a failed cycle.  But naive me thought that you could just go through pregnancy following your usual life, do lots of exercise, etc., maybe slowing down in the end when you get to be the size of an elephant.  OK, some people can do that, but lots of people have to go to bed at 7pm etc.  It is unbelievable how wiped out a tiny little parasite less than an inch long can make you.  A couple of weeks ago, prior to the hyperemesis debacle, I had posted that I want twins.  Can I tell you how happy I am that it is a singleton?  I really don’t know how I would have physically survived a twin pregnancy.  Sure, I had read before the blogs of people who managed to get knocked up through infertility pregnancies, and I had read about long bed rests, hospital stays, IVs, etc., but the misery they went through was always eclipsed for me by their incredible fortune to be pregnant.  I never really heard it.  And it is a fortune, don’t get me wrong, but that also doesn’t take away that it is a real physical challenge.

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The Wall

When I started this blog it was as a saying good-bye to infertility treatments.  I wanted to write up what I had learned through my cycles as I kissed them good-bye.  Never in a million years did I think I would be sitting here, 3 months later, contemplating how we will manage child care and which health care provider I should choose to deliver my baby.  (No worries, I am still painfully aware that that baby may never come, but still, at this point we can at least say that the odds are in our favor and it might be smart to start thinking about these things).

It is Mr. Nishkanu and my 5th wedding anniversary today.  That also marks 5 years of TTC – five years of ups and many, many downs, hope followed by crushing defeat, not-knowing-how-to-continues followed by somehow-scraping-it-togethers.   Those five years are written on my body and soul and they will never go away, even as their pain fades in the background with the wonder that something – miraculously – seems to finally have worked.

Nevertheless, I sense it – the wall that divides me from the folks that are still trying, that are still in the trenches, that still live with those ups and downs every day.  I’m not sure when the wall goes up exactly, it builds up gradually and almost invisibly, and one day you turn around and see that it is there.  Some of it I noticed when I started getting nervous about leaving some bloggers in the trenches comments, thinking they would be irritated if they clicked through to my blog and saw my story – “Yeah, sure, easy for her to talk, it worked out for her.”  Some of it I notice in my own attitude when I read others’ stories of their latest effort to break through the Infertility Barrier – “you really can make it!  there is really an other side!” I cheer along, an attitude that had gone sadly missing in my own path through infertility.  Some of it I notice when I write my own blog posts, and wonder who I am alienating, what I can say and what I can’t say, whose toes I might be stepping on and how I might be able to avoid doing so, and feeling like I am starting to lose the ability to tell.  And some of it I just notice when aspects of being knocked up start to become normal – when I stop being horribly embarrassed and self-conscious to shop for maternity clothes, or when I can mention to random people (e.g. my singing teacher) that I am pregnant without feeling like it is some kind of weird taboo.

It makes sense if you think about it in terms of movie plots.  Imagine you are sitting through a movie where the hero goes through lots of ups and downs, adventures and problems, but ends up with a happy outcome – you know you are in a Hollywood feel-good movie.  But if you are in a movie where the hero goes through lots of ups and downs, adventures and problems, and ends up with nothing resolved – ah, a painful French drama.  One of the things that makes infertility so hard to deal with is that you never know if you in the Hollywood feel-good movie or in the French drama.  And there is a big, big difference between the two.   It throws a totally different light on the struggles along the way, even if the struggles are actually the same.

In the many years of TTC I developed a very exact conception of what it is like to live in the land of the infertile.  I imagined that we are all ship-wrecked on an island together, all desperate to return to the regular world.  Every cycle was an attempt to build a raft, to paddle it through the rocky surf and past the big reefs, and, if you were very lucky, to continue paddling out into the wide blue ocean, back to safety and normality.  Unfortunately, often those escape attempts would end up with the paddler wiping out, washed up on the beach, wiped out and feeling too tired, for a while or forever, to continue.    When I read people’s stories on-line or listened to my friends around me, I was cheering from the beach, hoping and praying that they would make it through as they attempted to make it over the breakers.  Whenever one of “my” people made it off the island, I was proud and happy for them, even as I watched them paddle off into the distance and away from my world.  They gave me hope that maybe one day, I would make it off the island too.  When one of my real-life infertile friends got pregnant a few years ago and asked me if the news upset me, I said “No, I am always happy when someone makes it off the island!”  I didn’t have to explain any more, she knew exactly what I meant.

Now I am on the raft, paddling away from the island and starting to see the far-off land in the distance, and for the first time I am realizing that there is really a whole new world out there, a world that is different from the one I’ve been living in so long, and a world that will soon become my unaccustomed home.  Like, I suspect, most people who have spent any time on the Infertility Island, I’ll never fit into that world in the way someone does who never had to leave it.  “My” people are not the people in this new country, but they are also not the people left standing and waving from the beach, as near to my heart they and their fates are.  The people who are with me are the ones on the other rafts, paddling alongside me hopefully towards a brighter future.  I hope and pray we can pull more of the Island inhabitants off with us towards the new world.

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Suggestions for dealing with severe morning sickness (preg ment)

I thought it might be helpful for some other folks out there in Internetland to note what things seems to be working for me to help with severe morning sickness. Everyone reacts individually, so you have to do some experimentation to see what will work for you, but maybe some of the stuff that worked for me would work for you.  But first, let’s talk about when you might need some professional help with your morning sickness.

When should I seek help from my doctor about my morning sickness?
We all know that morning sickness is a normal part of pregnancy.  This makes it hard to recognize when it might be so bad that you should really be talking to your doctor about it.  I was paranoid in the beginning that I just was wimpy, not that there was really anything wrong.   But here are the major things I noticed that turned out to be warning flags that this was not just regular morning sickness.  I would think that any of these signs should be enough for you to go talk to your RE or OB about whether you might be suffering from hyperemesis (severe morning sickness):

  1. Severe vomiting and/or nausea that makes it impossible to take in enough fluids (64 oz. or 2 liters/day, minimum).
  2. Loss of 5 or more pounds of weight.
  3. Nausea/vomiting interfering substantially in completing routine everyday tasks such as showering or going to work.
  4. Walking becoming difficult.  In my case, Mr. Nishkanu kept asking me “what’s wrong with you, did you hurt your leg?”.  I would answer “I am too tired to lift my feet.”  Mr. Nishkanu was sure this was psychosomatic but it turns out to be one of the symptoms of hyperemesis.
  5. Extreme exhaustion, difficulty getting out of bed or off the sofa to engage in any everyday activities.
  6. Looking white as a sheet.

The ‘standard’ signs for hyperemesis include vomiting up to 50 times per day, and inability to keep down any food or liquid for 24 hours.  I did not have those standard signs – I did not vomit that much (usually not more than 5 times per day) and I could always keep some food or liquid down – but it was by no means enough, which blood tests confirmed.   So in general I would say that if the nausea seems to be much more difficult to handle than you had expected pre-pregnancy, it is always a good idea to talk to your OB or RE and tell them about your problems.  You do not have to struggle through just because “it happens to everyone.”

My doctor didn’t take my morning sickness seriously, does that mean I am just imagining things?

At the least, your doctor should ask you how much weight you have lost, test your urine for ketones (substances that are excreted when your body is living off your stored fat and muscle instead of from the food you eat), and test your blood for dehydration.  If your doctor dismissed your concerns without checking whether the situation is in fact serious, you should get a second opinion.  It is unfortunately common for doctors to not take hyperemesis seriously.  That doesn’t mean it’s not a problem.

What helps with morning sickness?

Here are the things that are helping me the most with my morning sickness:

  1. An understanding partner who pitches in with everything in the household I can’t do without complaining.  A sweetie like Mr. Nishkanu is a gem indeed.
  2. A sympathetic doctor who takes my illness seriously and got me help when I really, really, really needed it.
  3. Meds.  I didn’t like the idea of taking meds during pregnancy but when my nausea/vomiting got to the point where I couldn’t get adequate nutrients/fluids, I definitely needed them.  My baby needs me to be hydrated, at the least.  Without the meds, I would have to stay in the hospital on an IV for weeks on end.  Thank god for the meds.  The ones I’m on don’t really reduce my nausea that much but they make the difference so that some food and water stays down.  The ones I’m not on actually give me a real appetite and take my nausea totally away, even at the kiddie dose level – what a fantasy that is.  Unfortunately they also slow my heart down dangerously, so I’ll stick with the ones I’m on, thank you.
  4. Focus on getting the fluids in.  The best thing a pregnant person can do is eat a broad, varied, healthy diet.  If you can’t do that, just focus on getting enough calories in.  And if you can’t do that, forget about food and focus on getting in at least 64 oz./2 liters of fluid a day.  You can live for a couple weeks without eating, you cannot live for long without fluids.  Your little one will not starve if you are not eating, but it will have problems if you get dehydrated.  In my case, I was trying desperately to get calories in before I went into the hospital, but was still losing 1 pound per day.  After I got out, I just focused on fluids, and my weight stayed stable as long as I got the 2 liters in, even if I hadn’t eaten much of anything.
  5. Preggie pops.  They are ludicrously overpriced and unavailable in the country where I live, but my brother brought me some as a present when he came to visit.  And what a present that was.   Each preggie pop = 20 minutes of comfort.  And knowing I could get comfort when I really couldn’t take it anymore was a lifesaver.  I don’t leave the house without them any more, and it has saved me from several otherwise embarrassing public puking moments.
  6. Breakfast in bed.  You will read on pregnancy websites that a good tip against morning sickness is to eat a couple of crackers in bed before you get up.  I would do that, the crackers would go down, I would feel all right, then I would get up and massive nausea would ensue.  After a while I figured out that if I just stayed in bed longer, I could postpone the massive nausea part.  I switched to eating my entire breakfast in bed, and then lying there for another half hour or so at least before getting up.  This really helps me to get some more food/liquids in.  The understanding partner who is willing to bring you your breakfast is a major plus here.
  7. Showering.  This may sound strange to those of you who know that taking a shower is my major athletic challenge of the day, but I find that when I am really nauseous and/or really stressed about the morning sickness, it helps a lot to get in the shower, lie down on the bottom or sit down and lean on my knees, and let the shower spray down on me.  Somehow the feeling of the shower water pounding against my skin distracts me from the nausea and gets me into a meditative, relaxed state.  For a while this was the only thing I could do that would give me any physical comfort whatsoever.  It’s terrible for the environment, I know, but I regularly spend a good 20-30 minutes in the shower before I go to bed.  I usually feel a lot better afterwards, although I am also so tired that I have to go straight to sleep.  If I could figure out how to sleep in the shower, I would.
  8. Lying down.  Another tip against morning sickness is to sit up, since supposedly gravity will help you hold the food in your stomach.  I found that 99% of the time, lying down would really help my nausea, whereas sitting up in the worst phases made the nausea go from 0 to 60 within about 10 minutes.  So lie down I did and frequently still do.  Obviously this tip is somewhat incompatible with maintaining most forms of paid employment.
  9. Instant soup.  Mr. Nishkanu found me a local cheap-o brand of all natural, no MSG instant cup of soup which I really like.  Often I found that even if I couldn’t get water or ginger ale down, I could get the instant soup down and often it would actually give me a bit of an appetite for something solid as well.  Instant soup may not be your miracle substance, but it is worth experimenting with different hot and cold liquids to find the thing that makes it the easiest to get your fluids in.
  10. Peppermint.  The favorite home remedy suggested by doctors in this country is ginger in all its forms.  For me, ginger does diddley squat against nausea, but peppermint really helps.  Eating a peppermint tic-tac seems to momentarily overwhelm the nerves that are shouting “Hey lady, get this chow out of here now!” and gets them murmuring “mmm, minty freshness” instead for a while.  Peppermint tea is my best almost-always-stays-down morning beverage.
  11. Eating whatever you are craving at the moment, even if it doesn’t seem particularly digestible.  I am sure that tuna fish sandwiches and french fries with mayo are not on the approved list of foods for people with stomach problems, but when I had strong cravings for them I could really, truly eat them, and eat lots of them, and keep them down.
  12. Recognize that what works will change.  For the first few weeks of morning sickness, my go-to food was pretzels – I could always manage to get a couple down, no matter the situation.  Then one day I opened a new package of pretzels, reached in and…. ew!!  Pretzels had suddenly become a non-food item.  I moved on to animal crackers.  Now I am in the transition phase to toasted white bread.  These shifts annoy Mr. Nishkanu a bit, since our kitchen is getting full of the detritus of food items that used to work but don’t any more.  Today he tried to convince me to eat the rest of the chicken instant soup before buying another flavor.  “You don’t understand!  I can’t eat chicken instant soup anymore!  I have to have mushroom flavour!”  I don’t claim that it’s rational, but whatever my belly is willing to digest, it’s gonna get.  Even if that is totally different from what I could eat yesterday.  Sorry, Mr. Nishkanu!

If you are suffering from severe morning sickness, you have my utmost sympathies.  I hope that some of these tips may help.

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