Friday, February 27, 2009

A Vomitting First

Yesterday, while on line at the bakery, I felt a sudden and uncontrolable urge to vomit. I quickly excused myself from the line, found a relatively quiet corner and proceeded to empty. I did not even have the time to make it to a restroom.

I cleaned myself up a little, and went back on line.

What amazes me more is not that this is the first time this has ever happened to me in public, but rather that I was totally unfazed by the prospect, and recovered quite well and quite quickly.

I have my meeting next week to determine which, if any, genetic tests will be run on me.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mom Slips, Slightly

I must commend my parents for the overwhelming and warm emotional support they have given in the last few weeks. After a year of struggling with their unspoken and spoken fears and judgement, they have figured out what to say to me, how to say it and how often.

Most of the time.

In speaking to my mother this week, she took on a sudden and serious tone, and said, "I need your help." Her concerns of "what will the neighbors say" have returned, and she feels that requires an automated response, when people in her community of Boston start asking her how it is that I got pregnant. (Well, the Daddy sperm meets the Mommy egg, they get it on and nine months later a baby comes out...)

My reaction as always was to remind my mother that it is nobody's business in terms of the private deliberations and considerations that have consumed the last two and a half years of my life. The most appropriate - though rude - response is just that.

But I understand that my parents live in an insular Jewish community, one which feels that your business is everyone's business, and that there is no line that cannot be crossed in the pursuit of gossip. This is also a conservative Jewish community which frowns upon extra-curricular sexual activities, and it is most unacceptable to them that a woman of any age should enter into motherhood without a proper husband, the candidate for said marriage vetted by both the family and the community.

I gave my mother the one-liner she needed: "I have not yet found my husband and hope to some day, and until such time, did not want to miss out on the miraculous and amazing experience of becoming a parent." The bonus line, in case my mother feels the extra shame, is to mention that all this was done under halachic supervision.

After getting this nasty topic out of the way, my mother then spent the next ten straight minutes overcompensating, screaming down the phone how much she loves and supports and me, and how much she knows she will love her new grandchild.

Ironically, I later met with my friend Michal, who comes from an equally intolerant Sephardi religious family. Michal (who is a lesbian and has a lovely long-term partner named Yael) has been asked by her mother to lie and say that she got pregnant with a boyfriend who is no longer in the picture. The other option Michal's mother gave her was to enter into a sham gunshot wedding with a man and divorce quickly, and miraculously emerge pregnant.

I am told by many that despite hideous parental behaviour across the board, as soon as the child enters in the world, all issues melt away, and all that is left is Love. Here's hoping.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Genetic Testing

I started the process of IUI over a year ago, and at the time, I remember a brief discussion as to whether Tay Sachs should be screened. Once it was determined that Tay Sachs (a Jewish Ashkenazic trait) would be ruled out in the sperm donor, I chose not to do that test. Other genetic testing - as Ashkenazic Jews carry tons of recessive and dangerous genetic diseases - was not discussed nor suggested at the time.

Yesterday, at the first visit to my OB GYN, Dr. Dani wished very much for me to do some baseline Ashkenazi genetic testing. In other words, now that I have a child growing inside me with no real intention to take extreme action against the fetus, I should check and see if I maybe possibly could have passed down some recessive gene, that may or may not manifest at some point in this child's life.

Add to that, this service is not at all covered by the HMO, and each individual genetic test costs; there is no Ashkenazi group package.

Other than Tay Sachs, which is a free test and not of real concern to me, I am tending toward a big "No" on this one. What good will it do me to know who I am, 40 years into my life, when the baby growing inside me is a feta complet. This testing should have been done before I even started the fertility process.

Having spoken to my parents and been informed that my grandfather's sister had children with Cystic Fibrosis, I am considering doing that one test, even though it represents a long shot, and there is not telling if it came from her husband's side, rather than our genetic chain.

Monday, February 23, 2009

As a Regular Pregnant Person

For approximately the past two weeks, I have lived knowing that I have a child growing inside me, and knowing that I do not have to run to Hadassah at six in the morning for various tests. I have also lived with the fact that if I do not have a bowl of cereal as soon as I wake up, I start vomitting. (The fetus prefers Honey Nut Cheerios.)

I have lived every hour of every day in prayer, hoping that this child is developmentally and genetically healthy, that we both will get through all the upcoming invasive tests in peace and quiet; and that by next September, I will be a Mom. I have never prayed so hard in my life.

Today I had my first appointment with my OB GYN, to hear and understand the course of events for the next seven months, and to schedule the crucial tests which will give me the information I need, and yet on some level don't want to hear. I can already tell that we will have an interesting relationship, with Dr. Dani talking me out of many theoretical hysterical discussions of the "what ifs", for the next seven months.

According to our discussion today, here are the tests that are to be done:
1. Nuchal Fold (to check for certain baseline symptoms of Downs Syndrome): Between weeks 10-14
2. System Scan #1 (to check organ by organ): Between weeks 14-16
3. Amniotic fluid/Genetic testing of baby: Between weeks 16-20
4. System Scan #2: Between weeks 20-24
5. Glucose/Gestational Diabetes: Between weeks 24-28
6. Ultra sound (to check for anmiotic fluid levels): Week 33

There are, of course, other optional goodies for testing, but for now, this seems appropriate.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What Works for Nausea

Here's what has worked for me so far: Ginger + Vitamin B6 (80% of the time), acupuncture (has an affect for about two- three days) and sleeping on my stomach.

The cracker thing isn't working, neither is the small meals throughout the day, as I have very little tolerance for most foods. I have found, however, that dairy products which normally affect a lactose-intolerant person like me, they seem to work better as a food source.

If anyone has any brilliant suggestions, I am most open to hearing them.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Value of a Child

I don't understand what has happened in the world. I have felt the need to be a mother for at least the last several years, and have taken this entire process extremely seriously, considering all angles before trying to get pregnant. I have seen the same with my friends.

And yet, the news reflects a very different and altogether terrifying reality.

Arabs send their children to become martyrs, with joy. Why bring children into the world, other than to educate them religiously to blow themselves up and take some Jews with them?

A woman, who already has six children and at the moment, no husband, somehow gets classified as "infertile," and her negligent doctor implants eight fertilized eggs, all of which develop into babies, the largest of the group weighing about three pounds. Who will support this woman and her football team financially and emotionally, and what the hell was her doctor thinking? (In Israel, IVF procedures dictate returning no more than two fertilized eggs, for the sake of the children and the mother's body.)

This morning, while dropping my car off at the garage for its annual check-up, I saw a story on television, reported from England, about a 12 year old boy and a 15 year old girl who just gave birth to their child. I would not necessarily trust a 12 year old to babysit a newborn, never mind have one of his own. Where were the parents in this story?!

Children are a gift, and it is truly a sad statement on our society when fertility is treated like an irresponsible shopping spree.

Reading Can Be Dangerous

Having spent all day today in bed with nausea, I had the occasion to read a book called, "The Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy." Half humorous and half helpful, this book gives you the dirt on being pregnant, the kind of things your friends would tell you rather than your doctor.

Some of the content made me laugh, and some reminded me of all the concerns I have for myself, and for this child. Is the baby healthy? Will I be able to get through another month of nausea and vomiting? As a single mother, will I have the kind of support I will desperately need, according to the book? Will I ever have sex, with a man, after I give birth and my body is in a good place?

And mostly, will I have enough of a pain threshold to get through labour and delivery, and the apparent fatigue and mess that comes afterward?

I obviously want this, and yet am grateful to have another seven months to get used to the idea, and to pray.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Transition to the Next Phase

I went to the hospital to say good bye and thank you to the staff at the Hadassah IVF/Women's Clinic. The deepest irony: the same doctor who told me I was not pregnant was the person who gave me my final consultation and walking papers, for transfer to my regular OB GYN.

You see, I am approximately eight weeks pregnant today.

The nurses and doctors and I all had a laugh about how they had already set up an official IVF program for me, "We all make mistakes, ha ha..." Thank goodness I avoided the mega hormones and surgeries and strains of egg super-stimulation and extraction. My favorite nurse (Chava) commented on all the ups and downs of the last few weeks, and said, "You know, you should write a book."

I saw my baby on ultra-sound, with a strong heartbeat and an umbilical cord, and shape that looks like the tiniest human. According to the books, my baby opens its eyes in the womb in the next few days.

Now, if I could only eat something, that would be fantastic. Right now the only things that I can keep down are mozarella cheese and cucumbers.

I must also decide which OB GYN will be doing follow up care for the next approximate seven months. I have a choice between a younger and more sympathetic doctor and a more pedantic one, both qualified in terms of years of experience.

Please G-d, watch over me and my fetus. Give him/her health, joy and a full life, from conception to ripe old age.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A New Twist

Yesterday I spoke to the IVF department at Hadassah to confirm my ultra-sound tomorrow (still have not gotten my period) and to make sure that I will get a turn on the more advanced machine, which will perhaps see something the other did not.

With the amount of nausea, 24/7, constipation and mucous I have been experiencing, I am finding it hard to believe that this is an empty pregnancy sac.

What concerns me, however, is the new piece of information I received yesterday from one of the nurses: apparently, when the doctor told me last week that I would get my period naturally, she left out the part that they are intending to induce it with an intra-vaginal injection. I can't agree to that, until we all know for certain that this fetus has stopped developing.