Friday, June 30, 2006

Full Circle

I had a very interesting experience today. I went back to visit the doctor's office that made little Baby Schnell possible. The reason for my visit was to drop off my leftover, unopened medicines and syringes to be donated to an IVF patient that doesn't have insurance. I won't mention the doctor's name here since I am unsure about the legality of donating medicine and I would never want to get him in trouble. However, he and his staff will get a full, fawning post at a later date because without them we wouldn't have a baby to blog about!

Anyway, for those of you fortunate enough not to know about the IVF business, the medicines are extremely expensive. The medicines alone for the cycles we did cost in excess of $7000. The actual procedures probably ran about $20,000 each. The actual submissions to our insurance company were over $50,000. There are many, many people who have absolutely no coverage for fertility medicines or procedures. They pay out of pocket for the pleasure of being poked and prodded at without any guarantee of coming home with a baby. I am not commenting on whether insurance should pay for this type of stuff, because I can understand how cost prohibitive it is. I am just sharing it as background. Not only is the process physically, mentally and emotionally draining, but for many couples, financially draining as well. I know of many people that take out loans, remortgage their homes, give up all discretionary spending etc. to save up for even one IVF cycle.

Luckily, we are fortunate that Adam works for a phenomenal company that not only paid for every dime of our procedures, but for all of the medicine as well. This coupled with the fact that we live in a city with access to some of the world's best doctors and labs made our journey much easier than others. Many people travel hours just to reach the one specialist that serves their area (and do this trip many times over the course of a cycle), and we had our choice of experts within 30 minutes of our home. For all of these things and more, we realize how lucky we are.

Anyway, I have had about $2000 worth of medicine sitting in our refrigerator for months. I had always meant to drop it off, but always hesitated for some reason. Perhaps I was waiting to be out of the woods, or for it actually to feel real and permanent. But it always bothered me that here I was hoarding something that I didn't even pay for, that could make such a difference in another couple's life. Now that I passed the six month mark, it finally seemed like time. And the medicines carry an expiration date, so I needed to get moving to ensure their usefulness.

I was a little nervous to go to the office. I was hesitant to walk into an office filled with couples currently struggling with fertility with a visibly pregnant belly. And believe me, this office is always filled. My nervousness may seem a little silly to some of you, but I think I can speak for a large majority of "fertility-challenged" people in saying that the site of a pregnant person does not bring forth unmitigated joy. These are people that live in dread of surprise pregnancy announcements, which usually include "It happened the first month!", baby showers, children's birthday parties and the incessant questions about when they are going to have kids. To bring it onto their turf seemed a little cruel.

I covered up a little bit with my extra large purse and asked for my favorite nurse, Sue at the front desk. I heard her talking in the background with our doctor, so I was excited to see them both. They both came to the front and seemed genuinely pleased to see one of their "graduates," especially one bearing a computer bag full of expensive medicines. I spoke with the doctor briefly about how things were going and then went into a back office with Sue and another nurse. They were both very happy with the things that I brought and assured me they could be put to good use. Sue then asked about my progress and inquired about how things were going with our new apartment. It made me happy to realize that she remembered things that we had spoken about and that we were not just a number in her busy day. She also made me promise that we would bring the baby to the office to see her, instead of just sending the requisite picture and birth announcement for their "wall of babies."

As I left, I felt a little sad for the people that were still sitting in the literal and proverbial "waiting room," who were still not sure how their journey was going to end. But I also felt a sense of closure for us, at being able to put that part of our life behind us, at least for now. I then had a little celebratory lunch at the diner that Adam and I often used as a meeting place before appointments, or went to breakfast after early morning exams. It was nice to just go there and have a peaceful lunch, and not have to be worried about what was to come or mulling over seemingly bad test results. It felt that a weight had been lifted and that we had truly come full circle.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Random Musings on Pregnancy...

  1. More men than women ask to touch your stomach. Actually most people don't ask. (And no, it doesn't bother me. I think their curiosity and interest are touching)
  2. People are shockingly nice to pregnant people. A teenager apologized to me the other day after he spit on the sidewalk.
  3. I get offered a seat on the subway 99.9% of the time. The other .01% of the time the people just haven't noticed yet. Who says New Yorkers aren't nice?
  4. I forget that I am pregnant about 25% of the time. I am always surprised when people notice my stomach right away. I find myself purusing wine lists and bar menus looking for a drink and then realizing that I can't have one. (And yes, I am well aware that most doctors say that a moderate level of drinking is OK. Since I am a Virgo, I am a little Puritanical about certain things and choose to abstain. For the record, my doctor is firmly in the anti-drinking camp.)
  5. I am shocked by the low level of medical intervention. Doctor's appointments last 5 minutes or less (Standard: Pee in the tiny cup, write your name on it. Bring it to the poor lady whose job it is to collect them. I leave it in the bathroom if she is eating at her desk. Then, get weighed by the nice nurse who subtracts two pounds for clothing. She takes your blood pressure and I find myself holding my breath so it will be lower. Weird, I know. Sit on the crinkly paper and wait for the doctor. He comes in, listens to the heartbeat, measures your stomach, patiently answers all of your hysterical questions and then bolts as soon as he can get away from you. See the mean Russian lady to make the next appointment. Pass the hot dog stand, contemplate getting a hot dog. Realize that this is asking for food poisoning and not healthy for Baby Schnell. Take subway back to work to push paper.) Being an IVF induced pregnancy, I am used to a lot more attention! This is a little too much "winging it" for my taste. I really thought there would be more poking and prodding.
  6. I can't believe I can't bend over already. Try putting on your shoes with a basket ball under your shirt or picking something up off the floor. Almost impossible. Am I really going to need help shaving my legs (who am I kidding, I will just stop shaving.) and putting on my shoes?
  7. I don't care whether the baby is a boy or a girl. I always thought I would have a preference. I really never believed people when they said they didn't care.
  8. It still hasn't sunk in that we won't get to use both our girl name AND our boy name on the baby. Frankly, it hasn't sunk in that we aren't having a girl and a boy. In case you are wondering, we refer to the baby as "Henrilise or Annalenry" when talking to it at home. Poor child is going to have identity issues.
  9. Some people due in the same month as me have already packed their bags for the hospital. Where do these people think they are traveling? What the heck are they bringing anyway? I personally think it would be hysterical to see what Adam were to come up with if he had to pack my bag for me. Something very modest I think. He recently remarked about an outfit, "Will you try to look a little more respectable? You are carrying a child you know!" This comment scared me on many levels. Just call me Sister Mary from now on. This is the boy who forgets many items every single time he travels. Most commonly are 1) toothbrush 2) shaving cream 3) razor. And no, I never pack for him. He is a grown man and can pack his own suitcase.
  10. The only two color maternity pants they sell are khaki and black. The box of hand me downs that Heather sent contains no fewer than 10 pairs of khaki capri pants.

That is all I have to say for now, thanks for reading!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Oh Kerri, you don't know what you are in for!

I will be a bridesmaid in my friend Kerri's wedding on July 15th. A big responsibility in a normal wedding but more so this time because:
  1. Kerri is extremely particular, and is planning a very lovely wedding. I don't want to be the person that ruins her big day.
  2. I will be 7 months pregnant, and the bridesmaid dress does not come in maternity sizes.

So, I have been trusted to order extra fabric to make my dress fit. It is a bad idea to entrust me with this responsibility for many reasons.

  1. I do not have an innate fashion sense.
  2. My tailor does not speak ANY English, and I had to speak to him entirely in pantomime as I don't speak ANY Korean.
  3. The owner of the store speaks some English, so he helped with the translation. But he does call Adam "Mr. Chanel." And, looking right at my stomach congratulated Adam on his upcoming wedding. And, referred to me as Adam's Friend even though he has met me many times. (I think Adam might have another life by the way.)
  4. Pregnancy brain. I went outside in my slippers last week. It didn't occur to me that the reason that the top of the dress fit so poorly was that pregnant women cannot wear a bustier with boning. Thank you to the groom's sister for educating me on that fact. (She did go to the Fashion Institute of Technology.)
  5. I let Janice measure herself for Merri's wedding with a metal measuring tape meant for construction projects.
  6. I purchased pointy toed shoes for Janice and I to wear in Merri's wedding. If you have ever seen Janice's feet, the words Fred Flintstone come to mind. Needless to say, these were not a good fit. They were even worse when she had them stretched to look like clogs with pointy toes.

But, in my defense:

  1. I pantomimed to the tailor and his merry band of translators that it was not a good idea to take in the bust portion of my dress. I then had to have the discussion that things other than your stomach grow while pregnant. This was in the middle of a store crowded with customers.
  2. Despite my limited mental faculties, I had the forsight to wear a tanktop under the dress for the fitting. This was especially helpful when the tailor (who was about 80) let go of the top and it fell on the floor. His initial gasp needed no translation.

So, I am cautiously optimistic about the outcome of this project. I do have one recommendation for anyone attending the wedding with me. PLEASE DON'T LET KERRI WALK BEHIND ME!

Notes to self...

1) You have to actually take the Zantac for it to work.
2) It is not good for husband's ego to run from the dinner table to vomit up the dinner he just cooked. It makes it even worse when he caught the fish himself.

Exhibit A: Note: This was not the actual fish that met its untimely demise in the NYC sewer system.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Is Zantac a bad middle name for a baby?

For those of you unfortunate enough to:

1) Talk to me regularly
2) Read this blog regularly (Insomniacs and my mother I think)
3) Work with me

you are aware of my prolific vomiting activities. More than you all want to know, but the topic is usually at the forefront of my mind. And, if you work with me you see me sprinting to the bathroom. (Shockingly easy for someone at my stage, but not a pretty sight)

Anyway, I think I may have a solution! ZANTAC! (Approved by my doctor for all of the tsk-tskers out there. I have otherwise not even taken a Tylenol up to this point). If I take it twice a day and give up all acidic foods I seem to have stopped the tide! HOORAY!

E for Effort?

Most pregancy books recommend that pregnant women sleep on their side after 20 weeks. This is because the weight of the uterus can compress a vein and an artery that run behind it. Not a ton of risk for the baby according to my doctor, more likely the I would pass out when I stood up.

Since I like to sleep on my back (I am now finding out how much!) I purchased a body pillow to help me stay on my side and be more comfortable. This pillow is about 5 feet long and a little more narrow than a regular pillow.

Every morning, Adam wakes up to find me sleeping flat on my back with the pillow on top of me. Not only is it on top of me, but I still have my arms and legs wrapped tightly around it! So, at least they can't say I am not trying!

P.S. Wouldn't you think my belly would act as some sort of anchor and keep me on my side? Apparently not! I can barely roll over when I am awake, I must have superhuman powers when I am sleeping!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Getting Schooled About Babies!

I finally made the phone call today to register us for the Childbirth Education/ Lamaze class that my OB practice requires. I wish I made the phone call a month ago when he gave me the number. The class is five three-hour sessions. The first available slot starts in September! She said all of the over-achieving NYC parents sign up as soon as they get pregnant, that is why there are no slots this summer. Guess we are a little behind. Oh well, there goes Harvard! The baby better wait for his/her due date or we will be hopelessly ill-informed as the last class is on 10/3.

While signing up, I got to hear about all of the other great classes the hospital offers and got a little carried away. So, we are now signed up for: Baby Care & Feeding, Infant CPR, and Breastfeeding. All of the classes total 31 hours! If you can't find us during August and September, check the hospital because we will probably be there! I forgot to mention the 2 HOUR movie that features actual childbirth. I think we will be skipping the popcorn and Milk Duds for that one.

For all of the future babysitters out there...Baby Schnell would love and appreciate it if you signed up for an Infant CPR class as well! (Check your local library, Red Cross Chapter or hospital) It would be the best gift you could ever give him/her!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Hooray! Casey had her baby!

Casey is Heather's sister in law. Although I am thrilled for her that they have a healthy baby boy, I am more thrilled for ME! Why, you might ask? Because this means that she returned all off Heather's maternity clothes! I am now the proud owner of 40lbs of clothes! I was so excited to see Fed Ex today, bringing me something to wear other than WHITE T SHIRTS! Which if you know me well, you know that this is all I buy on a normal basis. I find the maternity department so depressing, so that is all I manage to buy there too.

Thanks Heather!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Cute AND Thoughtful!

Talking about the baby of course.

See below for the very useful gift that Baby Schnell sent for Father's Day. Just in time for Adam's big fishing trip on Saturday with his colleagues from Atlanta. Looking at the size of the net, I would gather that Baby Schnell will be overly optimistic, just like his Dad!

P.S. (I think it is a little early on in our relationship for the kid to already owe me forty bucks!)

23 Weeks (With Visible Belly Button!)

Not much of a change from last week, but Grandma Karen gets antsy if I don't keep the posts fresh...

23 Week Appt Today

I had my 23 week OB appt this morning. The Dr. measured me with a tape measure for the first time. They take a measurement from the bottom of your pelvis to the top of your uterus (which is about 2 inches above your belly button at this stage). The measurement should be 1 cm for every week of pregnancy (+/- 3 cm). I measured 24 cm, so right on track. I heard the heart beat again on the doppler (a hand held "microphone" they put on your stomach.) It was 145 bpm, which is also normal. I am up another 2 lbs since the last appt (4weeks ago), so 6 pounds in total from where I started. I always ask him if I am gaining enough, because this is on the low side, and he said I am fine. He only gets concerned if the baby is not growing, or if you are putting on too much weight because that can lead to other complications. I also asked him about the vomiting coming back, and he said that it was rare, but normal. He said that it might be that I had less stomach capacity because the baby is getting bigger. Hopefully this will pass soon!

Next appt in in 3 weeks, where I will have the 1 hour glucose test. Appts will be every two weeks after that.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Say it isn't so!

What I thought was just a fluke during the plane ride to the Bahamas is now becoming a trend... The dreaded gagging and vomiting has started occuring again on a daily basis! I guess it is less embarrassing now that I have a visible belly, people won't just think I am hung over as I stand over a garbage can gagging on a sidewalk! Someone is going to be sitting in the time out chair after he is born!

Sleeps all day, parties all night...

The baby is now starting to move and kick on a consistent basis. Of course, the kicking usually starts right as I am sitting down or trying to go to sleep. It is now much more noticable, and can be felt from the outside. He/she gave Adam quite the performance this morning, rolling and kicking consistently for a few minutes. Very exciting stuff!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

What is happening during Week 23

The baby now weighs almost 1 lb (450g) and measures about 8 inches (20cm) from crown to rump.

She is becoming plumper as her fat is being laid down at a high rate, but her skin is still wrinkled and reddish. The wrinkled and loose appearance of her skin is due to the faster production of her skin than the fat that fills it out. The reddish appearance of her skin is due to the deposition of pigment as her skin loses its translucent appearance.

The baby can kick and punch vigorously by now, but she may also be gently feeling the umbilical cord and rubbing her hands and face against the inside membrane of the amniotic sac that holds her.

She is still swallowing amniotic fluid (which provides an important nutritional supplement to the nutrition she gets via the placenta) and is passing some of it as urine. The swallowing of the amniotic fluid may cause the baby to get the hiccups and you may even be able to feel this as her body jumps.

The lanugo hair on the baby's body may turn darker at this time.

Baby Schnell's First Outfit

Sassy little bugger isn't it?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

What is happening during Week 22

The baby measures about 7.6 inches (19cm) from crown to rump and weighs about 12.25 ounces (350g).

Eyebrows have developed.

Her digestive system now functions in a rudimentary manner. Undigested amniotic fluid passes into her bowel which she will eventually excrete after birth.

The baby can suck and swallow and may even suck her thumb.

The baby's senses are developing, especially her sense of touch. She can feel her face and stroke her arms and legs.

Or, how about either one of these? (Voting closed, sick of both of them)