Saturday, May 29, 2010


Things I'm trying really really hard to ignore right now: constant morning sickness; aversions to most food that S suggests for dinner each night; a horribly aching back; the pending arrival of both sets of parents in less than two weeks; and the dawning realization that I need to hire a lawyer to handle the medical claim against the other guy's auto insurance.

Things that I'm vainly attempting to focus on while ignoring those other things: my thesis. Which needs to be turned in to the university in approximately ten weeks.

So far, I have written 148 pages of my thesis. These 148 pages are very much a draft, and thus are in varying degrees of "doneness". Some of those pages are in excellent shape awaiting comments from my committee. Other sections are still in early draft form, and will probably be rewritten once or twice before going out for review.

I separate my thesis into ten major chunks, and seven of them are at the 90%-or-more done stage, with maybe one minor section in each that I'm still tweaking. (Chapter 2 needs a better conclusion; Chapter 5 needs a little more polishing in its transitions; that sort of thing.) I estimate that the thesis draft itself is approximately 75% done, with most of the remaining 25% needing to happen in the last three chunks, which are at much lower levels of doneness. (For example, my concluding chapter doesn't exist yet. At all. 0% done. I hate conclusions.) Also, the 75% number might be wildly optimistic if my committee hates what I have. Though my committee will only be able to hate what I have if they ever freakin' read the darn thing!

To date, I have sent exactly one chapter out for review. My committee unanimously agreed that they want to see my introduction, then they want to go through several rounds of revision with me on the introduction, and then they want to see the rest of the thesis all at once. So, I dutifully finished a draft of my introduction and sent it out for review. AdvisorB had many thoughtful comments and changes. I updated the chapter slowly while waiting for comments from other committee members. When it became apparent that nobody else was reading it, I sent out a new version and asked my committee members to review the new version. AdvisorB is meeting with me on Monday for another set of reviews. Everybody else: deafening silence. In particular, AdvisorA, my primary research advisor, has given me zero feedback. None. I keep sending her reminders, asking her if she's had a chance to look, and she's completely ignoring me. Last week, I got an email from her, out of the blue, asking me what I'm working on, and if there's anything that she should be aware of. I quickly responded with YES! I'm writing my thesis, and I need your feedback! Please read the chapter I sent you! Nothing.

Also, writing a 200 page document in 20-minute intervals does not work very well, but 20 minutes is about the limit of how long I can sit in front of my computer before my back gives out and I have to walk around and stretch a bit. Back injuries suck. I've been trying to think of a worse time for this car accident to have happened, and I can't think of anything. Pregnant, writing my thesis, planning my dissertation defense, looking for a job, and planning a move. Yeah, excellent timing.

Anyway, ten weeks. Yikes.

Friday, May 21, 2010

All Systems Go

Big sigh of relief. I finally had my first prenatal appointment, after holding my breath for the last week plus, and everything looks fine. Nice strong heartbeat, baby measuring more or less where it should. Based on my IUI, I had placed my due date at January 7; based on the ultrasound measurements, the due date is January 9. I'm actually amused by the two day difference, because the same thing happened at my first ultrasound with LL -- I insisted that the due date should be September 9, based on my IUI, but the measurements placed it at September 11. At the time, we went with my date, but then he was born 10 days late, on the 19th, so... maybe that early measurement was closer after all. This time around, we'll go with the measurements. January 9. Which means that I'm only 6w5d today (holy crap that's early!).

Mostly, I don't care what the date is, as long as the baby is growing well and the heartbeat is strong. Thank goodness. I know that I won't be truly relaxed about the pregnancy until after the first trimester, and even then I'm likely to be a bit jittery throughout, but at least this first hurdle has been passed.

I also had the first of what I'm sure will be many discussions with Dr. M about VBAC vs. scheduled cesarean. Dr. M's preference is to schedule a c-section at 39 weeks, but support me doing a VBAC if I go into labor naturally before that, if I want to. If I'm fully committed to try a VBAC, he'll support that, too. I have no idea what I want at this point, but it's good to know that I have options. Mostly, I asked him for reassurances that the recovery from a scheduled c-section is likely to be easier than it was last time. With LL, I had 23 hours of labor, including more than two hours of pushing, before diagnosing CPD and needing the c-section. My recovery took a long time (I wasn't feeling physically better for a full eight weeks) but I don't know how much of my recovery was slowed down by the long labor. I remember how uncomfortable and sore I was last time, unable to drive or lift things or bend down or even walk comfortably, and I can't imagine also taking care of LL in that condition.

As for me... I saw the orthopedist this week, who confirmed that I injured a vertebrae in my lower back. He has no way of knowing whether it's fractured or just bruised, since he couldn't do an x-ray, but given my overall condition, he said that he wouldn't recommend surgery even if it is fractured, and that this type of injury usually heals fairly well on its own, given time. I also have a lot of soft tissue damage all through my lumbar, which isn't helping. The idea of a fractured vertebrae has me a bit freaked out, but I guess it just is what it is.

At the orthopedist's suggestion, I started physical therapy today, to hopefully relieve some of the pain and strengthen my back before it gets stressed even further by the pregnancy. And the physical therapist was very good, and even thinks that my soft tissue damage was less severe than it otherwise could have been, because the relaxin (pregnancy hormone affecting muscle tissue) floating through my body actually makes it easier, in most cases, to recover. She walked me through a lot of good stretches, massaged my back, and talked about things that should help my back at the various stages of the pregnancy. Apparently, when it comes to back pain and muscle injuries and pregnancy, you want/need to do different things at 7 weeks vs. 14 weeks vs. 21 weeks, because relaxin peaks at 14 weeks, and the weight of the pregnancy starts becoming a factor around 21 weeks. Good to know. So, twice a week physical therapy for as long as I feel like I need it. The time commitment is a little daunting, but if it means that I have an easier time caring for LL and playing with LL and working on my thesis and contributing to the household and growing a child... hard to argue with the results.

All I really remember from my first pregnancy is that I had back pain for just a few days at a time, every 1-2 months, until it settled in for good around week 37. I was worried that it would be worse this time around, because of the car accident. But the physical therapist said that I'll actually likely feel less back pain this time around, because I can start purposely strengthening my back now, ahead of the real problem points.

She actually told me that a car accident at 6 weeks can be an awesome thing, because it gets insurance to start covering physical therapy at exactly the time in the pregnancy when you want a professional helping to whip your back into shape. How's that for a glass-half-full approach to life?

Thursday, May 13, 2010


I need to whine. A lot. Bear with me.

Car accidents suck. Car accidents while pregnant suck even more. Car accidents while none of your friends or family know that you're pregnant are even worse.

My back is still killing me from the accident, and all I can take is Tylenol. All of my friends and family keep eagerly asking me what I'm taking for the pain, and when I tell them that I'm just taking Tylenol, they think that I'm nuts, since they don't know that the pregnancy is limiting my pain relief options. Several have told me that I should angrily call my doctor and insist that she prescribe something stronger for me. My options for dealing with my friends: either lie to them and tell them that my back isn't that bad, so I don't need anything stronger; or lie to them and tell them that I am taking something stronger, even though I'm not. Either way, it's pretty obvious when you're with me for more than a few minutes that I'm awfully uncomfortable, so I don't know that either lie will be at all believable.

Several of my friends have had experience with neck and back injuries from car accidents, and they're asking me all sorts of questions about what my x-ray showed. Um, I haven't had an x-ray. There's really no way to x-ray the lower back without shooting radiation through my defenseless 6-week-old apple seed. (S wants me to get the x-ray, in the hope that the radiation will produce a child with superpowers. I think he's kidding. But he might not be.) But when my friends hear that I haven't had an x-ray or an MRI, they're outraged. They're positive that my doctor is negligent, or stupid, or both. But I can't explain to them that my doctor is not being negligent, she's being respectful of my desire to protect my child, because they don't know that I'm pregnant.

I'm tempted to lie and tell them that I did get an MRI, and it showed nothing, just to get people off my case. But you know what totally stupid reason is stopping me? I desperately want sympathy. And if I tell people that I have good strong pain killers and nothing seriously wrong, then nobody will give me any sympathy at all, even though it's obvious to me that something is wrong, and I'm in a lot of pain.

I'm seeing a specialist on Monday, who will hopefully be able to diagnose something, or at least rule out my primary care doctor's worry that I fractured my back. I don't know how much he'll be able to do, though, without an x-ray or an MRI. I'm kind of scared that he's just going to say that without an x-ray, there's nothing he can suggest for me, and send me on my way.

Also, I'm terrified for my ultrasound next week. I know that my little apple seed is well cushioned, and should be completely immune to any effects from the accident, but still... I hate not knowing for sure. And I can't just ask for an early ultrasound, because an ultrasound right now wouldn't actually show anything yet, it's still too early. If it were a few weeks from now, my doctor could have done an ultrasound immediately after the accident, and I'd know that everything was fine. But having to wait? Sucks sucks sucks sucks sucks.

I'm also terrified that I won't be able to make it through nine months of pregnancy with a back injury. I had lower back pain on and off during my pregnancy with LL, and that was just from a normal pregnancy. Going through that with an injured back and pre-existing pain? With no options for relief? I don't know how to cope with that.

And I really hate that S is the only person I can talk to. Don't get me wrong -- S is great -- but I hate not being able to talk to other family and friends. I was tempted to just tell my mom everything, but then I get upset that this isn't exactly how I wanted to tell her about the pregnancy. ("No, Mom, I haven't had an MRI, because it's not safe for the baby. Oh, did I not mention that I'm pregnant?") Also, S is very very into the first trimester secrecy thing. He's already upset that so many people know. (He complained to me that the police officers at the accident scene knew about the pregnancy before our family. Um, not a lot I can do about that.) So telling people about the pregnancy isn't really a good option.

So, I'm lying down a lot and taking Tylenol and trying to work, and I'm putting on a brave face for everyone around me and pretending that it's nothing, I'm fine, nothing to worry about. But I'm actually in a lot of pain, and I'm full of anxiety. I'll hopefully have some answers by the end of next week, after I meet with the specialist and see the apple seed on ultrasound, but in the mean time... this just really sucks.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Things that Sucked Today

1. Getting into an accident on the freeway this morning because the stupid car behind me didn't notice that everybody in front of them, including me, had already come to a stop.

2. Thinking that I could drive to work once the police finished writing up their report, only to discover that I had a flat tire, which necessitated me pulling over into a random parking lot off an unnamed frontage road.

3. Both the tow truck driver and the rental car guy getting lost on their way to meet me.

4. My cell phone company having an area-wide outage just then, resulting in my cell phone, and the cell phones of a few strangers that I managed to flag down, being completely unable to either make or receive calls. Thus, the tow truck driver and the rental car guy were both trying to call me to figure out where I was, but I didn't receive any of their calls, and I was unable to call them to figure out what was going on once I realized that I'd been waiting an awfully long time. Thanks for nothing, AT&T.

5. The tow truck guy arriving before the rental guy, requiring me to empty my car of all of my belongings, including LL's car seat, into the middle of the parking lot, then sit with them in the rain while I waited for the rental car. The tow truck guy was kind enough to contact the rental car place for me using his phone, to give them better directions, but was not kind enough to let me wait in his truck out of the rain. Because, you know, he has a schedule to keep.

6. The rental car company arriving with barely enough time to get me a car and get me back on the road to make it to the doctors appointment that I'd quickly scheduled immediately after the crash. How silly of me to think that 3+ hours would be plenty of time to make it to the appointment less than a mile away from the site of the accident.

7. My doctor informing me that, if I was already feeling whiplash pain in my neck so soon after the accident, I'm probably going to be feeling a whole heck of a lot of pain for the next several weeks, but because I'm first-trimester pregnant, I can only take Tylenol.

8. My doctor becoming extremely concerned about some tenderness in my lower back. She thinks it's possible that I fractured my back, but the only way to be sure would be to take an x-ray, which is a no-no during early pregnancy.

9. The orthopedic consult ordered by my doctor being booked for the next several months. They're going to try to fit me in sometime in the next week or two, but in the mean time, I've been told to report immediately to the emergency room if I feel any numbness in my legs.

10. Discovering that my local drug store is sold out of Tylenol.

On the plus side, I'm not having any spotting or cramping, so it's possible that my little apple seed is still safe and sound for now.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Yep, I'm ever-so-slightly pregnant. 4w5d. That scary hold-your-breath, don't-count-your-chickens period of time before you've even seen a tadpole with a little flickering pixel of a heartbeat on ultrasound. Tentative due date, pending confirmation at my first prenatal appointment in mid-May, is January 7.

Morning sickness set in much sooner than last time, and I am spending an unbelievable amount of my limited energy on trying not to toss my cookies. I was fairly nauseous for most of the first trimester with LL, but I never actually threw up even once, despite putting myself into some very questionable situations (several long and turbulent airplane rides, exposure to new and very smelly foods, and an ill-advised IMAX movie, to name a few). This time around, I'm already feeling sicker than last time, and I haven't even reached the point when I first started to feel morning sickness last time. Yikes! Not even five weeks yet, and I'm already carrying around saltine crackers.

When I was pregnant with LL, we waited until we were safely past 13 weeks to tell absolutely anyone about the pregnancy. (We told my brother around 9 weeks, due to some special circumstances, but that was it; even our parents didn't find out until Week 13.) We hope to keep this pregnancy under wraps as well, as much as possible. If I continue to be so much more sick in the first trimester, that might be tough. And, much to my dismay, one of my friends already knows. We went to her daughter's birthday party last weekend, and she served a lunch of cold cut sandwiches. I had just found out that I was pregnant, and hadn't reviewed all of the foods that I'm supposed to avoid eating, so I took a sandwich. And then remembered that cold cuts are no-nos. And I apparently swore quietly under my breath and tried to be subtle about returning the sandwich to the tray. But my friend noticed, and asked me later if I was pregnant. I tried to come up with some other reasonable excuse for putting the sandwich back, but I totally failed, so... yeah, she knows. She then told me that she worried about serving cold cuts, in case anyone was pregnant, but then decided that it would be a fun "test" so that she could discover any unannounced pregnancies before everyone else knew. Which is, um, clever I guess, but I kind of resent falling into her little trap. It's still very very very very early for us, and without even seeing a heartbeat on ultrasound yet, I really really hate that the cat is even a little out of the bag.

But, there it is. 4w5d. I'm thrilled, but trying very hard not to get my hopes up. Counting down to the first ultrasound at seven weeks.