Tuesday, April 29, 2008


21 weeks. Approaching the end of Month 5. It's suddenly occurring to me that we do not have an infinite amount of time to get things ready for the baby. The nursery is still not cleared of junk. Other than a small subset of big items (mainly nursery furniture) we have made zero decisions about what we will need to buy or register for. Stacks of pregnancy, labor, and baby care books are piled around our house, but the majority remain unopened. (The ones from the library I've renewed twice already, without reading them.) S and I have still not seriously discussed a single name. I'm starting to think that Barack's little kicks aren't so much friendly "hellos" as much as they are annoyed reminders: "Mom! Start getting things ready for me already!!"

I went into a bit of a frenzy last night. I made lists of what we need to do, assigning due dates so that everything will be done in time. I measured the nursery, looked up furniture dimensions of the things we're thinking of using/buying, and then made a scale map of the room and furniture so that I could play around with different places to put things ("If the crib is along this wall, then the glider has to go over here..."). S laughed and said that I was nesting, but I don't think so. If I was nesting, things would actually be getting done. But nothing "real" is actually being accomplished. I'm meta-nesting. I'm in a frenzied state of getting ready to nest. I feel so post-modern.

Monday, April 28, 2008


Only semi-panic because I wasn't the one panicking -- it was everyone else around me. (How's that for a change?!) The reason? Those damn rolling balls of light. Holy cow, please let this be the last time that I have something to say on this topic.

The quick recap: I've had migraines since I was 19. I usually get 1-2 migraines each month. Very few of them (maybe once each year) are "mildly classic migraines" which means that, a few hours before the headache, I get visual disturbances ("auras"), usually opaque blobs of color floating across my vision. During my first trimester, I had zero migraines. Woo hoo! Several weeks ago, they returned, but noticeably different than usual. For one, they're suddenly much more frequent, averaging ~4 each week (yep, that's a frequency of every other day). And second, the visual disturbances are happening several times a day, every day, in the form of little rolling balls of light on the periphery of my vision.

I fully believe (and several commentors on an earlier post agree) that the balls of light are migraine auras, accompanying my newly frequent migraines. But, just to be sure, I mentioned it to my doctor at my last appointment. After consulting with every obstetrician in the office that day, and a few that weren't, my doctor concluded that it was nothing wrong with the pregnancy, it was probably migraines, but I should see my general practitioner to rule out any neurological problems.

My general practitioner ran every neurological test she could think of that wouldn't involve irradiating my baby (though S did mention that having little Barack born with super powers, like Spiderman, might be kinda cool). Her conclusion: I'm totally fine neurologically. It's probably migraines. (There's a worthless copay I'm never getting back.) But then she adds this: it's also completely consistent with a partially detached retina. I need to make an appointment with my eye doctor ASAP, but whatever I do, do not let them dilate my eyes. (See previous notes about not doing things that will kill the baby.) At this point, everyone in my family panicked, convinced that I was going blind. (Everyone except me, that is -- see previous point that it's probably just migraines.)

Okay, appointment made with eye doctor. Appointment then moved up when eye doctor calls back in a panic to say, "OMG -- you DO probably have a detached retina! Someone needs to see you as fast as humanly possible!!!"

So, I end up seeing an eye doctor I've never met before, because she had the earliest open slot. She notes all of my symptoms, does a full exam, and then gives me the news. Actually, it's probably not a detached retina, it's probably migraines. (Duh.) My symptoms aren't as consistent as originally thought, because the ball of light wouldn't be moving, I'd see it just about all the time, and (most importantly) it would be accompanied by vision loss. Also, she examined the 90% of my retina that she's able to see without dilating, and everything looks healthy.

Now, the fun part: she's not ready to let me go, though, until she's looked at the last 10% of my retina, just to be sure. So ... (you saw this coming, right?) she wants to dilate my eyes. And I refuse. And we argue. A lot. The decision seemed really obvious to me: if it is a detached retina, then any vision loss could become permanent, but since I don't HAVE any vision loss, there's no risk to waiting. Combine that with the inconsistency of the symptoms and the 90% already OK'ed, and it really just doesn't seem worth the risk to my baby.

Ultimately, I signed a release saying that I'm going against strong doctor's orders, and if I go blind, I won't blame them. (I will, obviously, blame Barack.)

So. It's migraines. Shocking, eh?

Friday, April 25, 2008

It wasn't relaxing...

So let me say first that my mother-in-law (MIL) is great. She definitely has her passive-aggressive moments, and there are times when I get frustrated with her relationship with S (neither one of them is ever direct with each other about anything) but she's also sweet and considerate. When she becomes overbearing, I can ask her for some room and she understands and steps back, so I never really feel like she's imposing anything on us. I also give her huge props for the way she and my FIL handled S's decision to convert to Judaism. I've heard horror stories about parents who never forgive their children for this decision, but they were both incredibly supportive, buying books on Judaism and meeting with a rabbi on their own so that they could learn more about it. They flew out here for S's conversion ceremony, and even came to town this year to celebrate Passover with us -- the first time they've ever attended a Passover seder. They still don't quite grasp that we don't celebrate Christmas, but overall, they're amazingly supportive. Now that we're having a boy, they're also very excited about being at their grandson's bris. (I don't know many Jewish people who can actually say that -- I'm certainly not looking forward to it!)

The main problem that I've had with my MIL has been her desperation to become a grandmother. S's sister, age 29, recently broke up with a long-term boyfriend, and has been declaring for years that she never wants to have kids. Thus, S and I are very likely MIL's only chance at grandchildren, at least for the foreseeable future. And she's been incredibly impatient. I've already written here about how hard it has been to listen to her comments, particularly during the last year or so of us trying. When we told her that we were expecting, we held off on telling her about the struggle we went through to get there. This past weekend, we filled her in on some of the details.

There were 3 interesting aspects to her reaction. First, she said that she suspected we were having trouble, because she thought that we wanted to have a baby early during grad school (ie, 3 years ago) rather than now, when I'm almost done. Second, she brushed aside the information that we needed medical help, insisting that we probably just needed to relax. (Yep, that ole chestnut.) Third, she informed us that she and several other relatives had "back calculated" from our due date, to figure out when we would have conceived, and it has apparently become a family joke that we probably conceived while staying in S's parents guest room when we visited them last December.

One at time, here's why every aspect of this reaction made me sad, not to mention pissed off. First, if she strongly suspected that we were having trouble conceiving, why the hell did she spend more than a year trying to make me feel guilty for not being pregnant? If you think someone is trying to get pregnant, why do you spend energy convincing them that they should have kids? How could it not occur to her how hurtful those comments would be? Before, I had avoided getting too mad at her about those comments because she didn't know what we were going through. But if she actually DID know? That's inexcusable.

The "just relax" comment I probably don't even need to talk about. But the way she brushed aside everything that we actually went through in order to get pregnant really hurts, particularly when she's so willing to blame the whole thing on me just being up-tight.

As for the last part... it's not even about the embarrassment, which isn't a big deal. I know that we did not conceive at their house because I ovulated and had the successful IUI 3 days before we flew to visit them. Not that I would care if we DID conceive there (and we did have sex in their guest room, so, you know, ... whatever). And if the bawdier members of the family want to laugh a bit about the possibility, then fine. Have at it. But my MIL kept making jokes, after knowing about the fertility treatments that ultimately got us pregnant, for the entire time she was here. She had a part to play in the conception of her grandson, because of her magic guest room. Doctors and tests and drugs and months of pain and anguish? Not important. All it took was the magic guest room. Every time she mentioned it, it pissed me off a little more.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Today I reached the halfway point -- 20 weeks. Woo hoo! The last several days have been incredibly crazy, but things should finally start calming down now, and I can get back to what passes for normal life these days.

S's sister arrived from out of state on Thursday, followed quickly by S's parents, my parents, my grandfather, and my uncle, traveling here from anywhere from 850 to 2000 miles away. They were all visiting for Passover, which started this past weekend, and since everyone except my sister-in-law bought their plane tickets before finding out we were pregnant, I can honestly say that they came to visit us, not because of the baby. Probably the last time I will be able to say that.

The weekend was full of cooking, cooking, and more cooking, interspersed occasionally with some furniture moving. We had the first Passover Seder on Saturday night, with just the 9 of us. Our traditional Second Seder on Sunday night was 26 people. I cook for this every year, so I'm used to the quantities and I have the timing down by now to make sure everything is done and hot by the time we start the meal, but it was nice having the extra help this year, because I get tired so easily. (To give you a sense of the menu: the 9-person seder had the usual symbolic seder foods, followed by chopped liver, fish, lamb, potatoes, and two vegetable dishes. The next night, the 26-person event included the same symbolic seder foods, plus matzo ball soup, brisket, lamb, two vegetable dishes, and 3 different kugels, all in huge quantities to feed so many people.) I cut corners this year by asking several friends to make the desserts, so that I didn't have to bake as well. Still, I think it's safe to say that I'm over my no-cooking-during-pregnancy streak. And with so many family helpers this year, the clean-up was done in record time (and with very little participation by me -- can't beat that!). Oh, and the furniture moving: in order to fit 26 people in our house for a sit-down meal, we have to move all our living room furniture into other rooms of the house. Thank goodness S has strong and helpful friends, since I'm not really in couch-lifting shape right now.

On Monday, with the last of the clean-up in the capable hands of the men, the two future grandmothers and I went shopping. I found a few cribs that I like, a changing table that I'm happy with, a glider that I absolutely love, and I'm almost settled on a stroller. Not bad for one day! All are contingent on S going with me to the stores sometime to look at everything himself, but I know his style by now, and I'm pretty sure he'll like the picks. Progress is being made!

All the out-of-towners left this morning, so we have the house to ourselves again, at least until September. I have a ton of work to catch up on (being out of the office and away from email since Thursday morning leaves quite a backlog by Tuesday!) and am feeling a quite a bit overwhelmed, which is odd -- you'd think the feelings of being in over my head would have happened before the family visitors and 26-person meal, not afterwards. So, though I have lots of pregnancy and fertility tidbits to report, they'll have to wait for future posts. Brief sneak preview of topics:
  • S's mom reacts to the news about our fertility struggle; it includes the phrase "just relax."
  • Sometime last year, S's mom secretly snuck Japanese fertility dolls into our house, hidden inside other gifts. Not because she knew about our infertility, but because she thought that we didn't want kids, and thought that she might be able to make it happen anyway by accident.
  • Barack's future nursery is closer to being emptied, but we've been accused of owning too much stuff (true, but we're handling it), and of not working on it enough (ouch!).
  • Lots of discussion with family members on furniture, health, cars, names, childcare, and circumcision. Several of these discussions reached the annoyingly pushy level.
  • Negotiations continue over grandparent visitation after Barack is born.
Fun stuff!

PS -- Migraines continue. Lack of appetite continues, despite the abundance of good food. Kicks are getting stronger. Exhaustion, backaches, swollen ankles are all mild annoyances but supremely manageable. Overall, I'm feeling great!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Heirloom Tomato

19 weeks. We had another appointment today, with a different doctor since Dr. M. was out. Things continue to be perfectly normal and boring, just like I like them. Uterus height is exactly where it should be (exactly up to my belly button). My weight gain is still below average, but for the first time, it was up a respectable amount from 4 weeks ago, so things are growing like they're supposed to. Blood pressure normal. Nothing bad in my urine. I'm good for another 4 weeks.

The only "glitch" was that I finally asked about those rolling balls of light in my peripheral vision, accompanying my increasingly numerous migraines, and totally stumped the doctor. She looked through my chart, ticking off possibilities. ("Blood pressure normal, so it's not that... gestational diabetes checks all came back negative... weight gain is low to normal... growth is perfect... all other tests normal..........") Then she left the room to consult someone else. She came back and said nobody knew what to say. She's concerned, but she has no idea what could be causing it, so she's not sure how concerned she should be. She finally called Dr. M. to see what he thought, and called me back an hour after our appointment. The official answer: nobody knows. I've been sent to see my normal primary care doctor (appointment next week, after all the family visitors are gone) to do some sort of neurological work-up. But now that all the known pregnancy complications have been ruled out, I'm back to assuming it's just really bad hormone-induced migraines. Which kinda sucks, but is better than all alternatives I've thought of.

Also in the news: yesterday was our big ultrasound. It didn't go exactly as I would have chosen, but you can't argue too much when you're getting good news. The ultrasound tech was incredibly brusk. She acted annoyed when asked if I would get to watch the images (and indeed, her answer was "no" -- gee, thanks). She had a sarcastic answer when S. asked if he could watch (though he happily ignored her, so at least one of us got to see what was going on). She sat in stony silence for the entire 30 minute scan, except for about 15 minutes in, when she happened upon the "money shot" revealing the gender, and suddenly just blurted out, "By the way, it's a ...." I know she probably does a bunch of these each day, but is it really too much to ask for a smile, a "congratulations!", or even just a tone of voice not dripping in acid? At the very end, she finally turned the monitor so that I could see it, but after showing me all of two things, someone else walked into the room to give her a personal message, after which she just snapped off the machine and announced that she didn't have time for more. The end.

The only additional info we got out of her: the baby's length is measuring a full 6 days ahead of the due date, which is 8 days further than just a month ago. More alarming to me: she estimated a current weight of 13.5 ounces, which is way above the website estimates for 19-20 weeks, which say that "normal" is 8-10 ounces. The doctor today told us that it's too early to conclude anything about birth size, and they tend to grow in "spurts" anyway, but I'm now having painful nightmares about giving birth to a giant baby.

As to the gender: I definitely don't have a gender preference (just please please please be healthy), so I knew that I'd be thrilled either way, but I've been feeling for several weeks (based on absolutely nothing) that it was going to be a girl. Well, it turns out that my mother's intuition sucks. It's a boy! Our families are all thrilled, as are we. :)

Our next challenge: hiring a mohel....

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Getting Stuff Done

I know I'm not alone when I say this, but here's a confession: when I started fertility treatments, I became incredibly lazy. I stopped cooking, I stopped cleaning, I stopped getting stuff done around the house. More often than I like to admit, I would look around our house and see chores that normally wouldn't be a big deal, but that suddenly seemed monumental. And then I did almost nothing about them. S picked up some of the slack, but he was still recovering from knee surgery, so we took a "triage" approach and together, we did the bare minimum that we had to in order to keep the house sanitary enough to live in.

Things did not improve much once I was pregnant. I was exhausted, I became dizzy if on my feet for too long, and I was easily nauseated by smells and appearances. Normally we have people over fairly regularly, but we all but stopped entertaining because wow, that seemed like a lot of work.

I've been feeling better lately, and more able to face those mundane tasks that used to be no problem. I also have a forcing function, because we have many out-of-town visitors arriving later this week. So, this past week, I've gotten off my butt and Accomplished Stuff. Some were small, some were big, but I'm claiming credit and success on all of it.
  • I cooked dinner twice this week, for the first time in more than 6 months. Admittedly, one night was fish sticks and the other was frozen lasagna, but neither involved calling a restaurant and both involved turning on the oven.
  • I called, got estimates, and hired an arborist, culminating in someone finally coming out to prune our trees. This was beginning to be a safety hazard, because one of our totally out-of-control trees also sports 3-inch long thorns. It is now safe to be in our yard again.
  • Our city does extra garbage pick-up twice a year, where they'll take everything you drag to the curb, no matter how big or how much. We normally forget to plan for it and so don't get to take advantage. This year, we had a mountain of trash waiting.
  • Similarly, I drove a completely packed car to Goodwill and donated a shocking amount of clothes, electronics, and household goods. We have another load, of books and movies, ready to donate to the library, and another pile of (broken) electronics for e-waste recycling. So happy to be making progress on the Make Room For Baby front!
  • I posted several large items for sale on craigslist. We've wanted to sell this stuff for a long time, but I finally made the effort to take photos, decide on pricing, and write up descriptions. Hopefully everything will be gone soon.
  • We cleaned the house, top to bottom. All piles of stuff have been put in their proper place, layers of dust removed, counters scrubbed, floors washed, windows cleaned, surfaces polished, cobwebs removed. It rocks.
Some of this stuff (eg, cleaning, pruning) is basic maintenance. Some of it (eg, donations, extra trash) is for the goal of getting the nursery into shape. All of it, though, is part of the process of preparing for this Thursday, when my parents, my uncle, my grandfather, S's parents, and S's sister all arrive from out of state. My family hasn't visited in a little over a year. S's family, almost three years. Both sides at the same time: never. We have a lot more work to do between now and Thursday, but it feels great to be making progress.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Bell Pepper

I'm 18 weeks along today. The start of month 5. Things are getting exciting around here! I'm feeling the baby kick more and more, though it still feels more like little bursting bubbles then recognizable movement. S is starting to get jealous that I can feel it but he can't. I've offered to reach over and kick him myself whenever I feel the baby move, but he doesn't seem completely satisfied with that option. So, he has to settle for other ways of sharing in the pregnancy experience. Like, I'm not sleeping very soundly, so he's not getting much sleep, either. (That sounds fair, right?) And he has uncharacteristically started getting headaches of his own, out of sympathy for me (and, I'm guessing, the aforementioned lack of sleep). Though he doesn't need to rub it in quite so much that he gets to take pain killers for his headaches.

We reached another milestone this weekend when we actually went to a baby supply store. Not to shop, but just to browse and to start to feel each other out for what we like, don't like, and don't care about. We limited our browsing to a few select items:
  1. Strollers. I like the "travel systems" that integrate a heavy-duty stroller, infant car seat, and car base into one coordinated unit, but mostly because I'm too lazy to pick things out individually. I'd like to find a car seat that isn't too heavy to carry around, and will fit in a normal-sized sedan. S, being the ever-committed engineer, was mainly interested in examining all the hinges and latches and critiquing the folding mechanisms. We both like neutral colors. Still need to do a lot of research before we're ready to commit to anything.
  2. Cribs. We both like natural wood, in not too dark of a stain (no dark cherry). We like ones that look and feel more sturdy, as opposed to the ones that just look spindly. We also like cribs where the front can be dropped down to make it easier to get the baby in and out. These requirements still leave a whole lot of options that neither one of us has much of an opinion about.
  3. Changing tables. S heard from various people that changing tables are optional, but I'm very much not a change-diapers-on-the-floor type of person, so I'm insisting that we get something. I like ones that have some top surface area beyond the changing pad, to hold changing supplies in easy reach. I made S stand in front of a changing table and pretend to change a diaper ("Now you need wipes. Now you need a new diaper. No, that hand is keeping the baby steady. Do you really want to put that down on top of the squirming baby?") and I think I've convinced him. He is also now insisting that shelves are better than drawers. Not a whole lot of options have this design, so this one might take some hunting.
  4. Nursery themes. I'm not sure how far I'd want to take it, but I at least like the idea of matching crib set, wall border, and lamp. Maybe matching curtains. So, we browsed what they had. I'm against anything too "girly" for a girl. I have no problem with a flower or a butterfly, but anything with lace or ruffles we both rejected. Same with anything trying too hard to be masculine. (When the kid is under one, he's just not a baseball player. Sorry.) Or anything too yuppy (eg, yacht themes, seriously). We were left with lady bugs and frogs. I also like teddy bears and alphabet themes. S liked a muted jungle thing because he thought the lion was really cute. He also fell hard for a dinosaur theme, which I didn't like much at first, but it's starting to grow on me.
  5. Gliders/Rockers. Okay, this wasn't really on our browsing list. We were just tired and wanted to sit down. I really liked the big squishy ones that look more like overstuffed armchairs, but S challenged me to try to stand up out of one of them while holding a baby and he was right, I couldn't do it. That brought us back to traditional gliders, of which only a small set felt comfortable against my back. But let me tell you, there are worse things than test-driving gliders.
We have no plans to register or shop for anything anytime soon, but I feel confident now that I can browse on my own and have an idea of what S will like. I'm also confident that we'll be able to find things that we're both happy with. (When we shopped for a new bedroom set for ourselves several years ago, to took us ~18 months to find something we both liked, but we have a bit of a deadline this time around.)

Our congenital anomalies exam (less formally and more hopefully known as "big ultrasound, and peek at baby's private parts") is in less than a week. In the lead-up to the exam, I'm again starting to feel nervous. I'm also unbelievably excited to find out the baby's gender. And not just because we'll be out of excuses to start talking about names.

Friday, April 4, 2008


S. had a dream last week. He was meeting coworkers for lunch, and they ordered a bottle of wine. As he was enjoying his glass of red, he suddenly stopped cold, realizing that he wasn't supposed to be drinking wine, because he's pregnant. And sure enough, he looked down to see his obviously pregnant stomach bulging in front of him. It then dawned on him that he had a beer last week. And a glass of whiskey a few days before. All without regard to his pregnancy and the health of his unborn child.

Now, I'm sure that many men, while their wives are pregnant, have dreams that they themselves are pregnant instead. But here is where S.'s dream took (I think) a bizarre turn. In his dream universe, either one of us could have been carrying the child, but we had some sort of family discussion and decided (decided!) that he should do it. So at this point in his dream, he became very upset. Not at himself, for drinking the alcohol, but at me, for letting him carry the child. In his dream, he yelled, "See! This is why Nicky is supposed to be pregnant, not me! I told her I wasn't as responsible as her, and now look what she made me do!" Then he woke up, still mad at me.

There's nothing quite like being pregnant, having a crappy night's sleep, and waking up to discover that your husband is mad at you for making him pregnant.

By the way -- thank you to everyone who commented or sent me email about my rolling balls of light. With regard to the possibility of high blood pressure: every checkup has shown my blood pressure to be smack dab in the middle of the normal range, so I'm thinking that you're all right: it's the migraines. Which is good, because there's probably nothing serious wrong (though I will bring it up at my next appointment). But it also sucks, because escalating migraines with no pain relievers in sight is a scary, scary prospect.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Today is 17 weeks. Other than the blinding migraines, I'm feeling good.

Our insurance company has a "Healthy Babies" program. You enroll in it during your first trimester. You have to promise to (a) let them send you lots of junk mail, mainly consisting of pamphlets on various pregnancy topics, illustrated with cheesy water colors of people dressed for the mid-1970s; and (b) chat on the phone once a month with a nurse, who makes sure that you're taking your vitamins and seeing your doctor, and then offers to answer questions. The idea, I think, is that having resources available to you makes you more likely to get proper care during pregnancy, which will decrease medical costs for everyone down the road. In exchange for not refusing the pamphlets or hanging up on the nurse, the insurance company mails you a check for $400 at the end of the pregnancy. Bottom line: chat with a nurse, and the insurance company will buy you a crib. Works for me.

Here's the only problem: the nurse is a moron. She called yesterday to check in, so I asked her a few questions. Some things I really did want to know, and asking her was easier than bugging my doctor. Other topics, I'm a little ashamed to say, I was just testing her on. Imagine how thrilled I was when, for each question, she said, "Hm... I'm not sure. Let me google it and try to find out for you." Thanks for the "expert" opinion, lady. That's real helpful.

So, here is the only question for which I'm not entirely willing to trust Nurse Google, but would love a more informed opinion. After 3 months of relief, my migraines are back with a vengeance. Not entirely shocking, since I knew this was a possibility. But, I've been having new and different visual disturbances. I normally get the occasional "floater" in my vision, but lately I've been experiencing bright, rolling balls of light on the periphery of my vision, only in my left eye. I usually get a headache within a few hours, also centered on the left side of my head (where my normal migraines are). So the little balls of light... normal escalation of migraines due to pregnancy? Indication of developing super powers? Or something else entirely?

Nurse Google went with "pregnancy migraines," and I'll admit that I'm inclined to agree, but informed input from others would be appreciated.