Sunday, 14 September 2014

Looking for trouble

Infertility is such a mindfuck.  Even when you start to think that you've kinda, sorta started to leave it behind you, you realize how badly it's messed you up.

Case in point: on Thursday M and I met our OB for the first time to have our nuchal translucency (NT) scan.  It had been a month since our last ultrasound, so I was nervous going in but I'd been having enough ongoing pregnancy symptoms that deep down I thought everything would probably be OK.  And it was.  Our OB very quickly told me that I could take a deep breath because everything looked great.

Seeing our baby wriggling around on the screen was nothing short of surreal.  Both of us sat there, pretty much in stunned silence, as our OB pointed out various features and took measurements.  Almost as amazing as seeing our baby was watching M's face, filled with wonderment as he looked at the screen.  This was his first time seeing an ultrasound image in person and, as he told me later, he could have sat there watching it for hours.  I can't even explain how much I loved seeing him like that.

The NT part of the scan went fine, with a normal NT measurement (our OB didn't tell us exactly what it was) and a nasal bone clearly visible.  Then, towards the end of the scan, she started looking at the umbilical cord.  She got quiet for a while, and explained that she was trying to make sure that "all three vessels" were there.  After more poking around, she nonchalantly said something like "well I can see two, so I'm sure there's a third" and then she moved on.  At the end of the scan she congratulated us and I headed to the lab to have my blood taken for the rest of the first trimester screening tests.

We left the hospital walking on air.  We stopped for lunch and called our respective moms and told them the great news.  Then, back at the office, out of curiosity I Googled to find out more about the umbilical cord and the "three vessels".

That was a mistake.

In a nutshell, the umbilical cord is supposed to have three blood vessels in it: a vein which carries oxygen and nutrients to the baby, and two arteries that take waste products away from it.  Sometimes, in about 1% of cases, there's only one artery.  Most of the time this isn't a big deal at all, but on occasion it can be a sign of chromosomal or other defects, ranging from the minor to the fatal.

Now, let's just stop for a second and realize that my OB seemed completely unconcerned  about this.  At no point did she actually say that there were only two vessels, just that she couldn't see the third, which I'm sure is completely normal at this early stage.  The rest of the NT scan was perfect.  But what do you think I ended up obsessing over for the rest of the day?

M could immediately tell something was up, and I told him what I'd found.  He told me to stop worrying, but I didn't.  I kept Googling and making things worse.  By that evening, all of the joy that I'd experienced that morning had been sucked away into a vortex of "what if".  And the worst part?  It had started to affect M as well.  The happy, excited dad-to-be of that morning was gone, replaced by a husband getting increasingly pissed off that his wife just couldn't be positive for a change.

Later that night, he called me out on it.  He said that it felt every time we got some much-needed good news, I found a way to undercut it.  It was like I couldn't just let us be happy; I needed to find some problem to worry about or some way to bring us down a bit.  And he was absolutely right.  I've been doing this from the start, turning our high beta into an imaginary molar pregnancy or a day with a lack of pregnancy symptoms into an impending miscarriage.  None of which has come to pass.

I'm trying really hard to figure out why I do this, and of course it all comes back to three years of infertility.  How many times have I read about bloggers not being able to accept that they'll have a healthy baby in their arms until so late in their pregnancies?  I would always offer words of solace, and tell them that unless their doctor told them they had something to worry about then they should start trying to be happy and enjoy their pregnancies.  And now here I am, needing to listen to my own advice.  Not only for my own sake, but for my husband's too.  He deserves to have a happy pregnancy every bit as much as I do.  And I'll be damned if I let my insecurities take that away from him again.

32 comments:

  1. Maybe this isn't much, coming from someone in the same tribe, but I don't think you are behaving abnormally. You sound like you are being pretty hard on yourself right now! Would like to offer a virtual hug and a normalizing word or two. It sounds to me like perfectly reasonable worry and research, considering all you've gone through, and also considering the fact that you are *growing a human being*---I mean wow, anyone who is pregnant gets caught up in ocurrences that are not straightforwardly 100% perfect. Your husband's feelings are valid, but I just don't think he's right....You're not intentionally undercutting your own happiness....

    Your brain is working normally. We are conditioned by experiences, for better or worse. It takes a long time, and lots of counter-experiences, to break the spell of conditioned responses. Having conditioned responses does not = insecurity. I love to think of this when I get down on myself for not being able to relax at times! It's just what the brain does in order to protect the organism from further harm.

    I've been following ya for a while and think I can say with some authority---you're a pretty damn good coper, in my book. (:

    So glad everything looked awesome with the babe---yayeeeeeyay!

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    1. I am hormonal and this comment made me weepy. Thank you!

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  2. I think we've all been there. Even those of us who have used donors still worry. I really didn't stop worrying until the third trimester when there were no more ultrasound to stress over!

    Did you get any pics of the baby to share?

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    1. Unfortunately the u/s machine printer wasn't working, so M snapped a screenshot with his phone but it turned out all blurry and wonky. Hopefully we'll get a better one later!

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  3. I used to get a little annoyed when pregnant or formerly pregnant moms would tell me that I'd never stop worrying. I used to think, "But surely after 12 weeks..." "Surely after 20..." "Surely in the third trimester..." NOPE.

    Dammit, they were all right! You never stop worrying (well, I didn't). Yes, it sucks, because it does steal away a piece of happiness and you fought so long and hard to get here, you should just be blissfully enjoying yourself. But let's face it. Being pregnant doesn't chance the past, and it doesn't change that part of your mind that has been conditioned to expect the worst, if only to protect yourself. I'm sure it is annoying to the hubs, but he needs to understand it's not your fault. This is just what it's like for someone who has had so much disappointment.

    I wish I could tell you it gets better, and it does a little I guess, but I worried every single day. Every day. I googled all the wild and wacky things that could go wrong (and happened to like 2% of people in the universe, but was still convinced could happen to me) and tried to brace myself for anything. Even now... even holding a baby on the outside, I sometimes think that it's not actually happening and that I'm looking in on someone else's life. Or that I'll lose her to SIDS, of course (which is why I wake up every two hours and scare the shit out of her by slapping my hand to her chest to check for breathing). The worrying? It just comes with the territory.

    That said... I'm sure your little one is perfectly fine and that third vessel is in there and pumping away just as it should. If you figure out the magic formula to take away all the worry, please share! I'm dying to know.

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    1. Ugh, SIDS...I'm going to be like that too. I'll probably have a mirror in under his/her little nose!

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    2. Get a baby monitor with a motion detector. Having that totally gave us peace of mind let us get some sleep. Because we were constantly checking on them the first few weeks.

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  4. It's so tough not to be worried. We're so used to being on survival mode and not-so-good news... and we have fought so hard for so long that any little thing could worry us. I don't blame you. I just hope that as time moves on you'll start to feel more and more safe about this pregnancy. I am quite confident that little baby is safe inside you, thriving and growing. Congrats on the very good NT scan! Another hurdle down. :)

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  5. The fear never completely goes away, but it will lessen over time. If baby is growing on schedule, one or artery or two, no need to worry.

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  6. So let's pretend for a second that there are only two vessels. I watched a friend go through this with her son. First off, he's completely fine (kicking ass on a daily basis) and secondly, beside her being monitored more, the reality was there is nothing that she could do to change the situation.

    I agree with all the commenters above that it is so natural to worry, especially after infertility and loss. But what is hard is to analyze WHY we worry. If worrying will result in action and a change in care, then I say follow your gut. But if there is nothing that comes of it, then I do think there is something to be said about reassessing why one worries.

    For peace of mind, my vote is you call your OB tomorrow and have a chat. I think the results from the NT scan really do indicate that all is well with your baby. But talk with them about the two vessels and stress that it concerns you. After all, peace of mind is the goal.

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    1. I thought about this myself a lot. I knew there was nothing I could do, and yet I felt like the continuous research was somehow preparing me so that, if in fact there is a problem, I'd be able to handle it. I'm not sure that makes sense but it's how I felt at the time. Sadly, my OB is off this week but I'm planning on asking her when we see her the week after that. We'll have the results of my bloodwork back then too so we should have more information to work with.

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    2. Been checking back and thinking of you. Any news from your OB?

      I completely get the need to research. I do the same thing. Usually to a fault. Infertility robbed me of a carefree pregnancy. That was easy. The hard part was refusing to allow it to rob me of the joy. Hang in there. You're already an amazing mother.

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    3. No, we go in to see her Wednesday. I've been pretty good at putting my worries out of my mind for now. I'll keep you guys updated!

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  7. You are so right. Infertility absolutely ruins our mindset. It's impossible to believe anything good will happen after going through what we've been through. But I promise you- good things CAN happen and they do! You are so blessed with a healthy baby growing inside of you and I'm sure everything is OK!! Looking forward to all of your mama to be posts and updates! xo

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  8. I'm just going to echo what others have already said: the worry is normal (for us, anyway). A carefree pregnancy is just one more thing infertility steals from us. I admire your efforts to rein in the worries moving forward, but don't be too hard on yourself if you slip up. Those of us who've been there know how difficult it is. And if you don't want to burden your husband with those worries, you can always come here. That's what we're here for. Having said that, I look forward to reading all the positives of your pregnancy in the coming months--and stay away from Dr. Google!

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    1. Good point...I considered not saying anything to him at all, and I think in future unless it's something concrete then maybe I should keep my worries for the blog. You ladies understand where I'm coming from sometimes better than he can.

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  9. I didn't stop worrying until Amelia was out, crying and safe in my arms. Then I started worrying about all kinds of other stuff. It doesn't stop and is totally normal.

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  10. Yup. This is me too. My doctor left a message on my phone after my first ultrasound, basically saying everything looked great. He ever-so-casually mentioned they did find a small cyst on one of my ovaries, but in his exact words: "That's very common, and nothing to worry about." You better believe I googled the crap out of cysts though. Since I've been nauseated 24/7, as soon as I get an hour or so break with no nausea, I'm convinced I miscarried. I have like 8 more months of this. I'm going to go crazy. At least I'm in good company.

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    1. Lilah, I've had a cyst on one of my ovaries since the beginning of starting treatments. It didn't keep me from getting pregnant (with IF treatment and an egg donor of course) or staying pregnant. Just thought I'd offer that up for you!

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  11. What everyone else has already said: this is perfectly normal and understandable and you need to cut yourself some slack. Sure, it would be good if you could worry less, but please don't beat yourself up if you do find yourself worrying. That's what moms do! I know it's frustrating for your husband, and you may not want to confide all of your concerns with him because of this, but he needs to be understanding of where you're coming from, too.

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  12. All of this sounds totally normal to me. In fact, I am a whole other level of crazy and would have called by OB / gone back in for another ultrasound. After having a stillborn daughter, there will never be a point when I "relax and enjoy" pregnancy until there is a living, breathing baby in my arms.

    That said, I try to enjoy what I can of the pregnancy journey because it is wonderful and miraculous. But if your joy is tempered with a bit of fear, so be it. You are doing the best that you can.

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    1. Having just read your post about L's birth, I don't blame you one bit. I don't think you can call it a "whole other level of crazy" given what you've been through. I hope things keep going well for you with this pregnancy!

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  13. I can tell you from my experience that the fear never went away. It was always one thing or another throughout the whole pregnancy and now the fear of micro premies. It sucks! I know at a certain point we are suppose to trust in our bodies etc, but after so many disappointments throughout infertility and working So hard to get to this point, it is hard work!

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    1. I guess the worry never ends...we're in it for the next 20 years or so! I hope the girls are continuing to do well and that's you're recovering nicely. I can't believe you are even commenting on blogs! Supermom!

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  14. praying its nothing! hugs!!
    http://ttcaftertr.blogspot.com/

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  15. I understand where your husband comes from, but, as so many others have confirmed, yours is a very normal response. My husband now is terrified of losing another baby whenever something looks slightly off. In a way it is "nice" because I feel I don't have to do all the worrying for the two of us (maybe that sounds weird...) but on the other hand I feel sorry for him. Because he should also be enjoying this time of anticipation.
    Hang in there. Share your concerns here, if that's better for your relationship. At least for me it's better to get it out than to keep them all to myself and go nuts about hypothetical scenarios...

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  16. Oh Aramis, it's impossible not to worry. I was going to suggest calling your OB, but I read in the comments about him being out of town this week. I'm glad you will be seeing him again next week, so it's not that long a wait, although we all know how loooonnnnnggggggg those week waits can be. I'm sure if there was more of a concern, he would have mentioned it during your appointment. I learned that the doctor's do tend to be pretty straight forward with concerns. I also thought I'd let you know that I followed another blogger friend, and she only had the two vessel umbilical cord, and her baby is one if the cutest I've ever seen and very healthy! Now, stay off google, and try to enjoy the GREAT news you got at the appointment! I'm sorry it turned into an argument with M. He makes a good point, but dammit, he doesn't understand what it's like to grow a human being inside of you and the extra worry that causes. That's what you have us for. Hang in there!

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  17. I'm so late on the comment train, but I second what everyone said. During my short-lived pregnancy, I really didn't enjoy it that much, meanwhile, B was better at enjoying the moment. I tried to keep it from him, but I wasn't always successful. I think to myself, with DE, it will be easier, I will be able to enjoy it a bit more. But honestly, I don't think so. There's too much that has gone wrong for me to think that something won't (even though I know the likelihood is so much lower). Hang in there.

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  18. First of all, step away from the Google. You are going to worry. There is no getting around that. We have been conditioned for failure and have learned to expect it. But, don't create even more worry for yourself. And don't beat yourself up over it when you do. Enjoy what you can of your pregnancy, but also know that it won't be all unicorns and rainbows. That's not the hand we were dealt. I also kind of think we need to ease up on the idea that we are supposed to be all blissful and happy when we are pregnant. I don't know anyone who was like that. None of my fertile pregnant friends are enjoying pregnancy. The difference is, I don't think they feel like they have to and somehow we do because we worked so hard for it. So, cut yourself some slack. I felt really guilty that I wasn't happier when I was pregnant and felt like I missed out on something, but I am slowly realizing I was probably pretty normal. Ok. I feel like I just went off on some sort of weird tangent in your comments. The girls' first birthday just really has me thinking a lot about my pregnancy.
    You said it, infertility is a mindfuck.

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  19. I'm glad you had a chance to enjoy baby wriggles and existential wonder during your ultrasound. As for the worry and googling....well, I think commenters above have already said everything I would have said. The worry and fear and anxiety are a reality and unfortunately they can't just be shut off. My only advice (which has already been mentioned above) is to talk to your doctor when you have fears or doubts. I found when I tried to talk myself out of worry about something, it just made it worse. Picking up the phone and asking, or even going in for a check up, was always reassuring. If it would make you feel any better, I can give you a list of the things I have called my OB/GYN about.....some of them were legitimate concerns; there are also a few that in hindsight, were, well, imaginary. But in every case making that call helped me to let it go. Wishing you much luck and happiness as the pregnancy progresses!

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  20. Worry is always a natural result of what we've been through. I have my own set of worries at every stage due to my infertility journey, but I was quite surprised that my husband was the one who worried more than me when we got our first BFP (which unfortunately didn't stick). You see, he had heard of so many sad pregnancy stories in his family and relatives, and so it came naturally to him. It is still hard for him to understand my worries and grief related to TTC though. At least we, with the help of online research, as well as direct medical advice at our fingertips, can decide how much of our worries are valid, and act accordingly. I for one know that I am invested in the ever growing worry bank as soon as I started thinking seriously about being a mom.
    Hoping that rest of your pregnancy goes smoothly!

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  21. It's so hard to trust that everything will work out after the disappointments and failures we've faced. I understand. Hang in there, my friend. I'm sure everything is fine. Hugs.

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I'm needy and your comments validate me. Help a sister out!