Pregnancy: 9 week ultrasound and update

Disclaimer: I asked my mom to read through this blog post before I published it to screen for “snarkiness.” She said, “It seems a bit angry at the beginning…but I understand why.” So know that I’m about to have an attitude. I’m about to vent some schtuff. And this is hard for me to do. A people-pleasing, conflict-avoiding, “yes” woman. I’m proud of myself for putting my gunk out there. This is not directed at any one person. I just needed to get it off my chest. Mmmkay?! Oh! And there’s a fun 9-week ultrasound update halfway through too.

I am 9 weeks + 4 days pregnant.

Every day, loving people ask me how I’m feeling and if everything is going okay. I am asked about my physical pregnancy symptoms.

“Are you feeling okay?”
“What are your cravings?”
“How can you be at the gym right now?”

I always come out with a socially acceptable response to their questions, but what people don’t know is that there’s a lot more I want to say…a lot more I wish people knew about how I’m feeling.

I say: “I’m tired!” and smile.
What I want to say: “I’m tired. But to be honest, I’ve been tired for eight months now, ever since the start of IVF, so this really isn’t anything new.”

I say: “Sometimes I feel a little nauseous…like motion sickness on land or a hangover without the party.”
What I want to say: “This nausea is actually a lovely break form the hormonal fog I’ve been walking through these past eight months. IVF medications destroyed my cognition for a long time, and that was brutal.”

Our gummy bear baby sure is cuter than the pics of needles I’d post back during our IVF season.

Our gummy bear baby sure is cuter than the pics of needles I’d post back during our IVF season.

I say: “I get mild headaches in the evening.”
What I want to say: “But they’re nothing compared to the headaches I got with Menopur or Lupron. Those were debilitating. And no one knew about them. I suffered alone, with only a handful of people curious about how I felt then.”

I say: “I'm bloated and have gained a little extra lovin’ around the mid-section.”
What I want to say: “I’ve been bloated for nearly a year. Weight gain happened with IVF too but no one advised me on what to wear or how to handle my expanding tummy back then. In addition to dealing with the physical, emotional, and financial weight of IVF, I simultaneously had to work on accepting my physical weight. I had to work on my relationship with my body as I watched it change in front of me from the landslide of hormones injected into my body twice a day and the lack of exercise I completed due to my fatigue.”

In comparison to my pregnancy symptoms thus far (and I know everyone’s pregnancy is different), IVF symptoms were much worse. And why does that matter? Why is my heart beating rapidly as I feel a wave of catharsis wash over me as I share my heart with you?

Because I can’t help but think back to that isolated girl just eight months ago. The me that was going through IVF. Supported online (thank you to my Unicorn community!), isolated in the real world (except for some core people). The “IVF Kristen” that was going through a process most people didn’t understand. Very few people asked me how I was feeling (in real life) during my IVF cycles because they just didn't get it. They couldn’t empathize with the experience like they can with pregnancy. They probably didn’t even know what to ask. During my infertility journey, I had an invasive surgery, two ER visits, one overnight stay at the hospital, two egg retrieval procedures, multiple injections daily, and debilitating symptoms that made me want to crawl under my desk most days. But I dealt with it alone (with Cory and a core group of people). I carried on. I cleaned my house. I did my grocery shopping. I cooked my meals. It felt like most people didn’t truly get what 2018 was like for me.

But most people understand pregnancy. Most people can empathize with “Pregnant Kristen” making it easier to reach out to me and ask me how I’m feeling. (And I am so grateful for the care and concern, really, I am!)

Our baby…in 3D!

Our baby…in 3D!

Or maybe people didn’t ask me how I felt when going through IVF because IVF is kind of a bummer. It means struggle and pain and sadness. And maybe people are uncomfortable with those emotions. And maybe people do ask about my pregnancy because pregnancy is to be celebrated! It means joy and hope and life. And maybe people are more comfortable with those emotions.

And that, my friends, is why writing is like free counseling.

Deep inside me, I still needed validation for how f-ing hard IVF was.
Deep inside me, I still needed to share how isolating infertility can be.
Deep inside me, I still needed those wounds to be seen.

See my pain. See my suffering. See me.
(And at the very least, I see my pain. I see my suffering. I see me. And that’s healing too.)

And please, please, please see your suffering friends. Reach out to someone you know who might be going through something less-than-sparkly. Maybe you know someone who has had a cold for the past few weeks. Text them a funny GIF or a healing poem. Let the know you see them. Maybe you know someone who has been trying to get pregnant for awhile. Text them, letting them know you’re thinking about them. That’s all. Maybe you know someone who’s struggling with school, or their job, or their relationship. Don’t offer advice, just send a, “I got yo’ back,” text.

Or maybe…maybe you know someone who’s going through IVF…or an IUI…or a medicated cycle…or a miscarriage. Don’t feel shy. Reach out. I promise you even if they don’t reply, it’ll mean the world that you even dared to enter their suffering.

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.
— Henri Nouwen

* * *

And now for the sparkly pregnancy update!

Cory and I had our 9 week ultrasound last Thursday, and everything went great! The baby is growing right on schedule. His heartbeat was strong at 175 beats per minute. Apparently a fetus’s heartbeat peaks around 8-10 weeks. (He’ll chill out and stop sprinting in the next week or so.)

Fun fact:
Our son’s heartbeat at 7 weeks was 113 beats per minute. If you round up to 115 beat per minute, this would mean his heart was beating at the same tempo as the song “Staying Alive” by the Bee Gees. (Please take a few second to enjoy the rhythmic groove of this song below.)

Funner fact:
Our son’s heartbeat at 9 weeks was 175 beats per minute. This would mean his heart was beating at the same tempo as the song “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins. For those of you know who Kristen circa 2003, you’ll know that I was super proud (and still am!) to play the flute and clarinet in the pit orchestra for my high school’s rockin’ rendition of Footloose! Good times in the pit. Good times.

At 7 weeks, he was staying alive. Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin' alive, stayin' alive.
At 9 weeks, he’s gotta cut loose, Footloose, kick off the Sunday shoes. (He can wear shoes now by the way…he’s got legit feet! Way to go, baby!)(Thank you to Cory for discovering these fun and funner facts!)

Back to the 9-week ultrasound!

This was our final appointment at our fertility clinic. We have officially GRADUATED. Our next appointment is with my maternal fetal medicine (MFM) doctor (aka: high risk OB; aka: perinatologist; aka: flippin’ qualified doctor who knows how to deal with a unicornuate uterus) in a couple of weeks.

Action shot of me walking out of Conceptions. (This is exactly how i walk. I always say, ”Elbows at 90 degrees and a fist pump to our Maker!” Always.)

Action shot of me walking out of Conceptions. (This is exactly how i walk. I always say, ”Elbows at 90 degrees and a fist pump to our Maker!” Always.)

Two very happy and relieved parents leaving their fertility clinic for good! (Or until we’re ready for baby #2!)

Two very happy and relieved parents leaving their fertility clinic for good! (Or until we’re ready for baby #2!)

And now for the best heart…our little gummy bear’s heartbeat. Enjoy this little snippet from our 9 week ultrasound!

Our little baby will soon be a walking?…crawling?…poopin’ billboard for Conceptions, our fertility clinic. Ha!

Our little baby will soon be a walking?…crawling?…poopin’ billboard for Conceptions, our fertility clinic. Ha!

Thank you for reading our update and letting me vent! I look forward to sharing our 11 week update with you in a couple weeks!

And remember - consider reaching out to someone who might be struggling. And PS: they’re probably the person who looks the most put together.

For ideas about what to say to someone who is struggling, check out this website:
https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/have-the-conversation/talking-to-someone-you-are-worried-about

For ideas about what to do for someone who is struggling, check this out:
https://everydayfeminism.com/2017/03/support-someone-struggling-now/