The factory is silent. Its assembly line stands motionless. Somewhere off in the darkness, a buzzer sounds. One by one, lights begin to flicker and illuminate on long-unmanned diagnostic panels, giving a sense of enormity and complexity and scale to the machinery. The low hum of power supplies warming up comes next, followed by the higher and louder whine of turbines and electric motors. A whistle sounds, and one by one, employees begin to file in and take their places at the controls. Purposed for a single task, whose time has now come, the factory slowly comes to life...

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Recovery, Part 3

We got to the hospital later Thursday morning, and were already impressed from the outside. It's a brand new facility, probably finished within the last year or so. I had been hoping to not have to see it firsthand for another 7 months or so, but at least now we know when we go back that it's an excellent facility.

Hospitals are usually well-signed, and this one was no exception. But, better yet, as soon as you walk in the main door, you see a reception desk 15 feet in front of you. We asked for outpatient services, and the volunteer pointed us in the right direction. There seemed to be a lot of senior volunteers working there. I guess checking people in makes for nice easy work, and something to do to pass the time if you're healthy and retired.

They have this amazing check-in and tracking system. They assign each patient a number. With that number, the person accompanying the patient can sit in the waiting room and watch a status on an overhead monitor for that patient. It shows when they are checked in, and when they're in surgery, when they're in recovery, and when they are allowed to have a visitor again a smiley face appears next to their number. Very people-friendly, cuts down on the questions for the staff, and gives the waiting person something to "do."

So we got checked in, and almost immediately they called us in to registration. The woman was friendly and courteous and professional, and when we told her what doctor was doing the procedure, she too said, "Oh, he is wwwwooonnnderful..."

Once back out to the waiting room, it wasn't but a minute before they called for me to go to the prep room. The volunteer led us back, but told Craig he had to wait there. After a shuffled exchange of things out of the tote bag and a kiss, I was off.

I got back to the prep area and the nurse rolled her eyes and said my husband could have come with me, so she picked up her phone right away and had them send him back. They took my blood pressure.

It's normally about 110/70. It was 145/85.

The nurse said, "Don't even worry about that number today. You're just nervous; it's totally normal. Don't even think about it."

She put me in a curtained area where (little did I know) I was going to spend the next hour and a half... By that time Craig had come back, and I met the nurse who was going to be taking care of me for the day, Cathy. She told me to get naked and put on the gown open to the back, and the little slipper socks with the grips on them, and have a lie down on the gurney. It always feels weird to get undressed in an only semi-private area (like a dressing room,) and more so to get completely undressed, but...Craig got a free show!

Cathy tried to start my IV in my hand. They are kind enough to give you a stick of lidocaine before they start, but she was unsuccessful in getting the bag to drip. So she had to get some more lidocaine and give it a try in my arm. That seemed to work fine, and the fluid began to drip quickly.

Cathy also gave me a purple strap bracelet, which she said identified me as a fall risk, and they give one to everyone who has anesthesia. Craig found this hilarious, as he knows what a fall risk I am every single day...

Begin medical history and list of questions, round one. Most of the questions revolve around how healthy you are and how you expect you may react to anesthesia.

More medical questions, round two. Family history, previous surgeries, etc etc ad infinitum. I understand, they're trying to be thorough. Cathy told me I would meet the anesthesiologist, and the doctor, and when she saw who was doing my surgery, she too just cooed over how nice he is! I made sure she knew about the fact that I was prescribed doxycycline, and she said we would be sure to bring it up with the doctor!

Time passed with a lot of waiting. More questions, more people to meet. Nurses, anesthesiologists. Everyone was professional, yet friendly and kind. I was really feeling good about having the procedure done at this point, all things considered.

The doctor was outside my curtain and behind a wall, and I saw Cathy tell him about the prescription, and she looked over and gave me a wink...

The doctor came in and talked to me and Craig, and I could immediately see why everyone liked him. He was relaxed, and respectfully sympathetic, and went through and explained everything to us that would be happening, and what we could expect after the procedure. I was calm, and ready after that. Cathy came in and gave me some Pepcid in my IV; she said it was to help with any nausea I might feel from the anesthesia.

Two more young and fresh-faced anesthesiologists came in, introduced themselves, and stood by my gurney, and I met my "transportation nurse." It was almost time to go. I felt like the center of attention, like I was the guest of honor at some bizarre party. Pretty much the whole experience showed me why some people develop things like hypochondria, or at the extreme, Muchausen's Syndrome. You just feel so important and cared for and like everything is going to be better when they're done seeing you...

One of the anesthesiologists told me he was going to put something in my IV to make me "not care", and sure enough about 10 seconds after he pushed the plunger, things got a little fuzzy.

I don't remember saying "see you later" to Craig. I sort of remember being wheeled through some doors into a hallway. I remember the room with the big surgical lights, which weren't turned on yet so I thought they looked strange. I kinda remember them giving me a breathing tube for my nose with the tiny tubes that hang out in your nostrils...but nothing else until the recovery room.

I have a slight recollection of waking up in recovery and being aware of the beeping of my monitors, and the tube in my nose, and that I was still very sleepy. At that point they told Craig to come back and see me, and next time I opened my eyes, he was there. I was still pretty groggy though as the nurse asked me how I felt, and took me off the monitors, and took off the oxygen. Craig told me the doctor had come to talk to him after the procedure, and he had some things to tell me later about the experience, and it was a good thing he didn't try to tell me then because I doubt I would have remembered it.

The doctor came in to check on me, and he smiled, and said everything had gone really well. But he said he had something kind of funny to tell me... (And Craig said something about it being one of the things he was going to tell me too.)

The doctor said that during the procedure, everything was going along fine, except then somehow in the middle of it I said to him, "I feel kind of crampy..." And he asked the anesthesiologist, "...Why is she talking?..." and they made sure I was back asleep soon. He said it was during a part of the procedure where, if I had been awake I probably would have been uncomfortable, it was just odd that I chose to tell him about it! I, of course, don't remember it at all.

Of course those who know me know that I talk and even laugh in my sleep. And those who went to college with me know that I used to have a BAD sleepwalking problem... So maybe those kinds of things are related!

The doctor gave me follow up instructions, and said he would see me for a checkup in 10-14 days. After a while I regained more consciousness, and decided I had to get up to pee. They told Craig he would have to come to the bathroom with me to make sure I didn't fall down in there. I was absolutely too dopey to be embarrassed at all at that point (and I really had to pee) so I complied with no trouble.

When I got out of the bed, I realized:

1. My butt was suddenly cold. I was still naked under that gown. Yike. Craig helped by retying my gown straps.

2. I had made a mess out of that sheet on the gurney. What was that yellow business? I guessed it was betadyne. (antiseptic used to prep for surgery, made of iodine solution)

3. Someone had haphazardly slapped a giant mattress-sized maxi pad in between my legs! I was like WTF?? before I realized that maybe I should try to leave it there on my way to the bathroom, just in case. I knew I wouldn't be taking any long steps anyhow...

I did what I needed to and came back. They told me I could get dressed at this point, and they could get ready for me to go home. I was very glad I wore sweatpants. They sent Craig out to get the car. And then they had me sit in the wheelchair so they could take me to the front door...

It was weird being the person in the wheelchair. I've seen lots of people in wheelchairs, and even wheeled other people before, but to BE that person was...strange. There was something self-conscious and unsettling about it. When we got to the front door, I saw Craig coming around with the car and... It's like that moment where someone greets you and you don't know if you're going in for a handshake or a hug, or a hug and a cheek kiss, or what. It was like I didn't know if I was supposed to keep sitting there, or if they wanted to help me, or could I get up and wait. Finally, Craig parked the car at the curb and I shuffled myself into it. We had a nice quiet ride home, where I settled into my bed and slept for the next 5 hours or so...(after I called mom and dad to say that I was okay!)

The last week has been rolling in a sine-wave-like cycle of good and bad, bleeding and not bleeding, cramping and not cramping, happy and depressed. Every time something scary-looking happened, I had been telling Craig about it until I realized it was freaking him out. I forgot that I've been dealing with my body doing bizarre things on a monthly basis since I was about twelve, but this level of intimacy was all new to him. And it worried him, whether or not I was worried. So I've stopped disclosing so much...

Friday morning I came downstairs to try to work a little, and I saw a beautiful bouquet of flowers on my desk:
They had come for me that morning from my bosses at work in a big box, but they weren't arranged when we received them. Craig had taken them all out and trimmed and arranged them in the vase and set them up on my desk so I would see them the first thing when I came down...

We also got flowers from Craig's mom and dad, and a lovely mass card from my parents. Our friends have all written very kind emails or called. This was exactly the support we were hoping for when we told everyone about the pregnancy so early. It's the people who truly love you and care for you who are there in your troubled times, not just the good ones.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Recovery, Part 2

Wednesday the 23rd was a tough day. We knew we had to get up early and be at the doctor's office by 8:00 am. I don't think Craig or I slept very much that night.

Lying in bed, I couldn't turn my brain off. I had a feeling in my heart that the first ultrasound told the truth, and that this second one was just going to be a formality.

But somewhere in the back of my noisy head, I wanted hope. I wanted to believe that maybe, just maybe, someone was wrong. We couldn't possibly be so unlucky. We were just so lucky to get as far as we had, so easily. This baby seemed so right, and couldn't have come at a better time, and we were so excited. Our family and friends were so thrilled and supportive. It wasn't fair. What had we done to deserve this? Something seemed so wrong, horribly wrong, about a miscarriage, like it was never meant to go this way. I had no sense of WHY this was happening to us (and still don't.) My heart ached, but somehow I eventually got a little sleep.

So the morning of the 24th, we were led into the exam room area by a different ultrasound tech. She was shorter than me, and quiet-mannered, and when we got to the room she had me sit on the table. She asked me if we wanted to know the sex of the baby today or not. After a somewhat stunned pause, I said, "I'm not sure that's going to be an issue today..." and I briefly explained what happened. (Why don't these people get briefed beforehand???) She said oh, and okay, and gave me the sheet so I could step into the restroom and get ready.

Sure enough, after she got the wand into position, there was our baby again. There was no change from last time. She pointed out the bump where the heart would be. But again this time, it was still. Craig squeezed my hand. Somehow it was so much less shocking this time, but it still really hurt. I asked her more questions about what we were seeing, because I couldn't help but be curious. She pointed out the head-end, and the foot end, and that there was an arm visible, and the heart bump. She tried turning on the colors and the Doppler sound monitor, but there was nothing but my own activity visible anywhere. She said she was so sorry for our loss. She asked if we wanted a picture, but I said, "No, thank you."

I know I will carry that picture in my head for the rest of my life, and that is enough for me.

(I realized later it was somewhat insensitive of me to not ask Craig if he wanted one, though I am always sure that he will respect whatever my wishes are in this situation. I did ask him after the tech had left the room, and if he had told me then that he had wanted one, I would have done it for him.)

The tech stepped out to let me get dressed and to give us a moment alone. Craig and I had decided in the intermediate week that if the results were the same I was going to go through with the D&C, and we agreed on this again.

On the one hand, I wanted my body to figure it all out on its own. It seemed more "natural" and like it would be better for me if my hormones just got themselves sorted out and made the miscarriage happen. But I had heard it could take weeks. And it also seemed a bit dangerous, and like it would be pretty painful.

And the absolute worst mental image for me, in the whole thought of the "natural, at-home miscarriage" process was this:
If my body went through with it in its own way, and I cramped and contracted and passed the baby out of my body at home, what was once our future baby would end up in the sewer. Ugh. Wrong. That didn't seem right at all, or dignified. And while I'm blissfully unaware of what happens to "medical waste" after they take things out of your body in a hospital, somehow that seemed more...right, and...respectful. Or something. It's so hard to think about a situation like this in purely logical terms. So I had told Craig that I wanted it to be when we say, and not like some awful surprise, and that I was ready to accept having the D&C done, now that I had lived a week with the bad news. And again, in his loving way, he said if that's what I wanted, he would support me fully.

The tech came back for us and led us down the hall to talk to the doctor. She told us again she was so sorry, and that she would pray for us. The way she said it was so hushed, and sincere, that it made me hurt for *her.* How hard it must be to do her job sometimes...

Craig and I waited in the exam room, and had a few more minutes to talk. We thought of a few questions for the doctor, and decided that if they could do the procedure the same day, we would go through with it. I hadn't eaten anything since early the night before, because I was thinking about the surgery, and I had only had a sip of water in the morning to take my thyroid meds.

And then at that point Craig and I made some small talk, because by then, after the last week's intensity, everything else had been talked about already.

The doctor came in and told us we could have the procedure done that day. She told us what doctor was on call at the hospital, and that we would love him because he is "so sweet." And again it seemed like she was on her way to float out the door.

I stopped her and asked some questions. Was it normal that, even though our baby only made it to 7 weeks, my body was still trying to hold onto it like that? She said yes. And in fact, for some women it can take 4 to 6 weeks before anything happens!

Then I told her of the plans Craig and I had discussed during the week. We are not going to let this stop us. We understand that for a first pregnancy, no one at the doctor's office watches you very closely because they don't expect anything to go wrong. But I told her now that I've had a miscarriage, we're going to seriously approach getting pregnant again quickly, and next time, I'm going to do whatever it takes to make it "stick." I'm not going to come in for a positive test and then just sit and WAIT for 4 weeks to see a doctor again! I about lost my mind the last time. I realize that there's not much they can do for you to make anything happen or not, but I want to be aware of it the whole time.

And the doctor sort of balked. She more or less asked me what I expected them to do next time. And I told her I didn't care if I had to come in twice a week for blood tests to check hCG and progesterone levels. I'd be willing to take supplements if necessary. I told her that our endocrinologist was already on board, and we're looking for the right OBGYN who's going to work with us, and I needed to know if she was that kind of doctor.

She then explained to us the more technical aspects of what they try to do to maintain pregnancy, and how it sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. And she let us know she was glad we might try metformin, (though it seemed like our problem wasn't likely ovulation!) And she told me in a pretty tactful way that if I wanted to get pregnant again I should also try to lose weight, which...yeah, I KNOW. Like she's the first doctor to have THAT idea. (Where's my eyeroll emoticon when I need it??)

We asked how long the procedure would take, and she said it was quick, like 10 minutes, but the prep time at the hospital could take a while. She said she didn't think they'd be able to do it before 11 am, but if we got to the hospital by 9:30, we should be okay.

She said she would get us scheduled at the hospital and come back with a couple of the prescriptions I would need after the D&C. And then on her way out the door she poked her head back in to say, "Sorry again for your loss." We didn't see her again after that, as the nurse came in instead.

The nurse gave us our "orders" for the hospital in an envelope, and handed us two prescriptions. The first was for some Motrin 800, for the cramping that I was going to experience later, and the second was for an antibiotic: doxycycline. Craig and I checked out, and got ready to go home. He was going to arrange to be out of work for a few hours, and I would tell my job to not expect me back for the rest of the day.

We needed to pack a few things, to keep Craig's mind occupied while he was waiting for me, and maybe a snack or two to keep his stomach busy too.

I also wanted to check out that prescription antibiotic. "Doxycycline" sounds a lot like "tetracycline", to which I have a pretty icky allergy. It gives me horrible stomach pains, and last time I took it I didn't find out if it did more than that because the pains were enough to get me to call the doctor, at which point they told me to stop taking it and gave me something else!

Sure enough, the internet told me they were from the same family, and that people who were sensitive to tetracycline shouldn't take doxycycline. My allergy is clearly listed on pretty much every piece of paper at the doctor's office because they ask about allergies *every time* I see them.

It was at that moment I decided we wouldn't be seeing that particular doctor ever again, if I had anything to say about it. (And if you know me, you know I absolutely will.)

Part 3 tomorrow...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Recovery, Part 1

Well, the worst is over.

We waited the requisite week to go back and have the second transvaginal ultrasound. We did not go in expecting different results, but there was always a glimmer of hope in the back of our minds for a "miracle."

It seems the only miracle we'll be allowed this time is the ability to heal and get through this, and have the courage to try again.

But let's back up for a second.

After the bad news last Thursday, Craig and I spent many, many hours talking and thinking about what we were going to do next. We cried, and talked some more, and asked each other questions. We must have spent an entire afternoon just laying on the bed and working out our thoughts.

We considered going to see a different doctor because of our negative experience with this one: she seemed dismissive and almost cold, whereas everyone else at this group practice had been wonderful. It would also give us an opportunity to be subject to a different technician, and different equipment. But in the end we decided that the disadvantage to it would be having to start at zero with a new doctor's office, and midway through something we had already started. Plus, all my *other* doctors are affiliated with Carolinas Medical Center in some way. I'm part of the "system." It's just easier to stick with it.

And we decided to give the doctor the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she was just having a bad day.

On Tuesday the 22nd, I went to see my endocrinologist. She is fantastic, as she's one of those doctors who will sit and listen, and you feel as though she has all the time in the world for you. And while you're talking she may be taking notes but you can practically see the little gears turning in her head, like, "How can I best help this person based on what she's telling me?" And then she asks good questions to follow up, and the whole experience is like an excellent dialogue. It's...well, like what going to the doctor *should* be.

It was hard to sit in that waiting room. There were the requisite old and young people, but there was also a woman with a stroller with two little girls in it. They were cute and energetic, and it was hard to watch them and not feel sad and envious. By the time the nurse led me in and checked all my vitals, and I sat in the exam room on the table, I felt a little better. Until I considered the fact that I had made this appointment 4 weeks ago, when things were exciting and happy and new. This was supposed to be a GOOD visit, a checkup on how things were progressing, and looking forward to the next 7 months. And now, just...hurt.

So the doctor walked in and introduced herself, and I said we had met before. She looked puzzled and said, "I *thought* you looked familiar; why did I think you were a new consultation?" And she looked at her notes and said, "Oh yes, primary hypothyroidism...and...Oh, you're pregnant!"

And I just shook my head, and she got a look on her face I can't quite describe and said, "Oh no. Bad visit. This is turning out to be a bad visit so far! Tell me what's going on with you."

And I told her the story. I talked about what we'd been going through and what happened and she looked back at her notes. We had done some lab work in April, and she wasn't entirely pleased with the results back then, but let me go try to fix things on my own, with the promise to see her in six months OR when I got pregnant.

After a long time of thinking and asking questions, she suggested I go next week for an oral glucose tolerance test. This will help her possibly uncover any insulin resistance I may have going on, which may hinder ovulation. She said I did not have all the classic symptoms of PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) but she wanted to think about ways to help us succeed in our next pregnancy. She said if I show insulin resistance, she'll start me on metformin (aka Glucophage) which is normally a diabetes medication, but they also use it off-label for women who are having trouble ovulating regularly.

So I left her office feeling positive. The OGTT is kind of a lengthy process though, and I'm going to be at the lab for several hours. I'm looking for a good game or something to do next Wednesday while I'm there...

Part 2 tomorrow...

Friday, July 18, 2008

Quality Assurance at The Factory has found a fatal flaw with Baby 1.0

The visit to the doctor today was not good.

To try and allay my fears (and for what she said she would code as "paternal sanity,") the doctor said she would flag down her ultrasound tech and see if they could give a look inside today. They were able to accommodate us.

It was strange to see the little orbs on the monitor, the gestalt effect of the monochromatic shapes ebbing and flowing as the tech moved the wand. She thought she saw the flicker of the heartbeat and tried to point it out to us, and my heart leapt a little to hear her say that!

But when she moved in closer, she could no longer see it...

She asked about dates, and looked again. She tried the doppler. There was no sound audible. She seemed pained, and said she would go call the doctor in to take another look.

The doctor confirmed what the tech saw. There was no heartbeat. The embryo size indicated that should not be a problem at this stage, but it was not there.

The doctor started throwing around words like "miscarriage" and "D&C" and my body went numb and I couldn't register anything else. She said we could do a follow up scan in a few days just to make sure, if I was still having doubts, and I said I wanted to do that. I could not live with myself and the doubt I would suffer if I didn't take the chance of double checking, to be sure. We've scheduled the follow up for next Thursday, though she warned me not to be alarmed, and to call the office right away, if I started bleeding before then.

Then the doctor apologized and bolted from the room, excusing herself because she was still with another patient. The tech was warm and understanding, and left us alone to talk for a few minutes. Craig and I mostly stared at each other in what can only be described as shock.

I don't have the words yet to describe how I'm feeling or even to talk about what happened. It's been a very difficult day for both me and Craig. I'm exhausted, but I can't sleep now; the brain is much too loud.

Suffice to say at this time your prayers and thoughts are welcome and needed.

Monday, July 14, 2008

I'm a Deadbeat Dad in Training

Kathy accused me recently of having abandoned this blog.

I assure you, that's not the case. It's just, in all honesty, between not allowing myself to get too excited (for fear something bad could still happen) and not being able to see anything tangible yet (aside from the violent effect progesterone has on my otherwise calm wife), there's not that much to write about.

We're going back to the doctor Thursday for our monthly appointment. I'm confident they'll have good news for us (of the "nothing's wrong" variety). I'm confident because I have no other choice. I can't feel the things Kathy's feeling right now. I know she's probably much more worried than I am, because she can feel everything that's going on in her body (or not going on when she thinks it should be).

I'm not completely without context for her worry, however. When I went through chemotherapy starting almost five years ago, each subsequent follow up appointment was met with as much dread as (if not moreso than) the last, in spite (or because) of the fact that everything had been fine the previous visit. Given enough time without a reassuring pat on the back, I inevitably devolved into a state of worry every six months while I waited to be re-scanned, no matter how confident I'd been the last time I received the "all clear".

I'm afraid that, until the baby (screw you, Dr. House, I'm not calling it a fetus) becomes developed enough to move around, kick, and generally make a mess of Kathy's insides, there's going to be a modicum of the unknown which can (and probably will) lead to doubt or even fear. There's so much we can do at this stage, we're told, to ensure our baby is born healthy (and at all), and yet so much seems to be out of our hands.

So to me, just as it was when I was going through my treatment, it's just a waiting game for now. I'll be happy for Kathy's sake when we get some good news on Thursday, but until then you'll find me staring at my watch.

* Note to self: delete this entry before the kid is old enough to read or we'll have to shell out for a therapist because "Dad just compared me to cancer!"

Beans, beans, good for your uterus...

(I hope you think my rhyme is humorous!)

As we are now in week 8, I've got the kidney-bean baby! Not only does the baby resemble a kidney bean in size (a little less than .75") but it's got that characteristic bean shape we all know and love in a fetus!

That tail we were talking about has now almost disappeared. Eyelids are forming, limbs are getting longer, and we even have knee joints by now.

Early pregnancy time wasting activity #1:
My lack of symptoms has (of course) caused me to spend endless hours scouring the internet for other people who are NOT barfing their guts up all day, who don't want to ravenously eat everything they see, and who can still fit into their old pants. All this time-wasting has actually proven valuable though, as I've found I'm not at all alone! Many women get NO 'morning sickness' and go on to have happy and healthy babies. And if this is a first time pregnancy, there may be little-to-no outward sign that there's something going on in the lower abdomen. (Women who have already had babies have loosened up those muscles, and may show much sooner.) Weight gain in the first trimester may be as little as one pound, or some women even find they lose weight from eating more healthily.

I do have the unfortunate symptom of being not hungry...not hungry...not hungry...RAVENOUS!!!!! And then when I go to look for something to eat *nothing* seems even remotely appealing. So I've been trying to grab a piece of fruit or a little something with protein when that happens.

The more I read about it, the more I realize I am just having the "normal" amount of anxiety. I feel *less* anxious, but I know I won't feel much better until Thursday.

Early pregnancy time wasting activity #2:
What color will the baby's eyes be?

I found two very nice "calculators" online. (Do I have to say "For Entertainment Purposes Only"?)

The first is a very simple one, and was created by Athro, Ltd:

Inheriting Eye Color
It's fun without getting too "science-y" and lets you see the averages if you just keep clicking "Produce Child." (Careful - before I knew it, I had about 30 children!)

The second one LOOKS to be a really nice tool, but I can't get it to calculate. (It seems to have lost the server to which it's supposed to connect.) I sent an email to the company that created it to let them know its broken so they can either repair or remove it. (It's posted seemingly everywhere on the "mommy-net" and it doesn't really make them look good as a company if the thing they created doesn't work!) Here it is for reference, and I'll post an update if I hear back from them.

What Color Eyes Would Your Children Have? by Ideum

The problem with ALL of these is that we have no idea what color eyes Craig's parents had (have) as he is adopted. And Craig's got a really interesting eye color to begin with as well: not quite hazel, not quite green, or brown... Wikipedia described the color fairly accurately as "amber."

Interesting factoid: (most) Caucasian babies are born with blue eyes. Why?

The color of your irises is determined by melanin. Melanin is the same protein that determines the color of your skin and whether you tan well or not. It's reactive to ultraviolet light, and how much you get is coded in your genes. When you are born, the melanin has not been fully deposited in the irises and has not yet reacted to ultraviolet light, hence the light-colored eyes. Most babies develop their eye color by about 6 months, but eye color can change over the course of one's life.

I guess we'll just have to wait and see like everyone else!

Future time-waster: baby hair color

Monday, July 7, 2008

Not a Zygote, Not yet a Fetus

Week 7, according to most things out there, marks the last of the Embryo Days. The week the baby officially becomes a fetus varies, depending on whom you consult, from about 8 to 10 weeks. I've always been ahead of the curve, so I choose to think on the early side...

The baby-to-food comparison for this week is the blueberry. ("Violet, you're turning violet, Violet!) Strangely enough, the baby's limbs look more like flippers because the fingers are webbed, and it has something of a tail, which will (God willing) disappear in the coming weeks. Eyes are becoming more fully formed and have a retina and a lens. Intestines should be fully formed by now, and the baby's liver is starting to produce its own blood cells, complete with its own blood type. (Next week, when I go back to the doctor, I will finally get to learn my own blood type! Hooray!)

I'm starting to have paranoid delusions that there's something wrong because I can't detect anything going on. I'm just barely queasy sometimes, which I had before I was pregnant, and I find it hard to believe that I'm one of the lucky 25% that will get through all this without "morning sickness!" (which is a misnomer because you actually have it all day.) I'm bone-crushingly tired the last few days, but I have that any time I can't sleep, and I haven't slept well in weeks. (I generally sleep for a few hours, then wake up once an hour at 6 am, then 7, then 8, etc. even on the days I can "sleep in.") My one saving grace is that the boobs are killing me, and though they don't really seem larger because my bras still fit well, they seem "fuller", if that makes any sense.

But there's no sense in worrying about anything, because there isn't anything I can do about it now anyway. I go to the doctor next Thursday the 17th, and then they'll poke and prod and ask a zillion questions, and we'll just have to see what's what then. In the meantime, please forgive my crazy paranoia. Sometimes this feels like I'm on one of those runaway train rides, where you're just strapped into a cart and you have no steering controls so you're just along for the ride, and you're supposed to be having fun! (Actually, I do like those kind of rides a lot.)

Also, in the runaway train department, my emotions are pretty much spontaneous moment-to-moment, and I'm going through things that I can't control and will just have to rely on the patience of my husband to get through. For example, on Saturday morning, Craig and I were sitting in bed, and I told him I just feel like I have to cry. I wasn't sad, or upset, or in pain; I just needed to cry. So he let me cry on his shoulder for about five minutes, and then I was fine. It was such a weird feeling, like having the urgency of REALLY having to use the bathroom, and then that nice cathartic relief when you're done. And it was no more emotional than that either. It was just like a "function."

I'm managing the runaway mood swings (happy-sad-SO ANGRY-fine again, in the span of an hour) by attempting to do exactly what I did when I got myself off the antidepressants: Make a conscious effort to recognize that what I'm feeling is irrational and without base, probably completely hormonal, and that if I just give it a little time, it will pass.

This method also works well for staying out of fights with, and thereby wasting time with, idiots on the internet. Sometimes "ignore it and it will go away" really does work.
(Not recommended for dentistry.)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


When you're dealing with something that takes 40 weeks, I think it's important to break the time down into mini-goals, things to look forward to and plan for when "B-day" seems both agonizingly far away and terrifyingly close. My current one is: I'm really looking forward to the day we find out our baby's gender.

I find myself referring to our unborn child as "it" a lot... we both do. Not out of cruelty or coldness, but out of basic necessity. "What do you think we should name it?" "What color should we paint its room?" "Do you think it will be cute/smart/funny?"

To listen to us, you'd think we were referring to some sort of abstract idea, rather than the very real baby that's coming our way. I just can't wait until I know what to call him. Or her.


Okay, it.

For now.

My Fair Lentil

Here we are in week 6 and I almost still don't believe I'm pregnant. I mean, nothing's happening that I can *see.* Aside from the sweeping waves of "tired" (progesterone), and the rare but occasional queasies, and the trouble sleeping (progesterone), the odd bouts of shortness of breath (damn progesterone)... You know, I had all those things *before* I was pregnant! I'm daily resisting the urge to take that second pregnancy test *just to make sure.*

So Week 6 means that our offspring is now about the size of a lentil. (For those of you that don't know what a lentil looks like, that's a little bit like a baby pea, or about .2 of an inch.) It's got little dots where the eyes and nostrils are going to be, and little buds for arms and legs. If we had a really sensitive ultrasound done just the right way, we'd be able to hear the heart beating at about 100 to 160 bpm. If we also had a teeny tiny electroencephalogram (EEG) machine we'd even be able to measure brain activity.

I've started an easy walking and exercise program, and though it's hard to fit both that AND nap time into a day, I've been managing, and I haven't gained any weight yet. Craig has been caring and understanding as he always is...

We're having family and friends over for Fourth of July. Mom has cautioned me to not work too hard and to ASK FOR HELP. (Does my mother know me or what?)