Thursday, 29 June 2017

That's how it goes, and everybody knows

(Pregnancy talked about, rather abstractly)

I remember my first encounter with a school grapevine. I was 23, doing my first practicum at a junior high school. I mentioned  to ONE person that I'd taken harp lessons. The next day, two or three people separately asked me about my harp playing.

I made a mental note: "Oh, so that's how things get done around here..."

I'm not hugely opposed to gossip (if it mainly means spreading true information, not rumours or malicious statements). For one thing, as an introvert, I somewhat rely on people being more assertive than me in getting to know others. It's not a bad thing when people push at barriers to make sure people are cared for. In a school, it is important that teachers and all staff talk to each other about what they know about people because that's how wrap-around supports are built for students. And this particular junior high was a caring environment where I had good experiences and many students did too (of course there were also problems and mistakes made).

But still. Whenever some government agency or whatever is in the news for not sharing information properly between its departments, I think that the staff should come hang out in a school 'cause we would show them how it's done.

So, anyway, I think anybody that cares to know at my school knows I'm pregnant. I didn't really mean for that to happen. I'm not big on announcing things and I don't particularly want attention. I would have probably kept things mum till September if I could. But I went from being mostly normal to incapacitated with sickness in 24 hours. I told a couple of administrators and the people I work closely with that I was in the early weeks of pregnancy, because lying about it felt wrong and illogical. Most forms of GI upset get better quickly; it doesn't usually hang around for weeks and weeks and leave you incapable of working. I also didn't want people to worry that I was seriously ill with something awful. Plus they would start to being straightforward was the only good option in my view.

I never told anyone "keep this a secret" because that seemed weird too. What am I trying to keep a secret? People would still notice things were not normal. And then asking people be dishonest with others on my behalf is also weird. Still, any time I talked about being pregnant I added that it was "early" and "fingers crossed" and what I thought were obvious hints that this was not an "announcement" but a disclosure of necessity. My conclusion: People either don't understand the difference, or they do understand but they don't think it's significant.

Rather like the junior high of my practicum days, within a week of most five people?...all sorts with no direct connection to the situation were were congratulating me. Okay.

The two ladies I work most closely with say they didn't tell anyone. And I believe them because the obvious people that could have known first didn't know. Or said they didn't. But many less obvious did. I dunno how it all went down. People could have guessed too. Shrug.

What it amounts to is this: If everyone knows that I'm pregnant, they will also know if something goes wrong with the pregnancy. And I'm OK with that. I think. I can't say for sure of course. But I'm at a point in my life where I do not feel the need to pretend that everything always works out and human reproduction always goes smoothly.  The truth is, if you live long enough, some bad stuff is going to happen to you. Hopefully lots of good stuff too, but nobody lives a perfect life. I hope I get the happy ending of course.

There are many positives to honesty, and thank goodness I work in an environment where I'm reasonably certain I will be supported and won't be discriminated against. Unfortunately that is probably not true for every work place.  My principal almost immediately started planning for next year and strategizing how she could support me. This is new. At my last school nothing was done until I'd formally submitted paperwork for my leave. Here, plans are already in place and another teacher is (informally?) attached to my class with the intention of taking over next year (rap wood). Part of me is of course going "is this getting a bit ahead of things?" especially since I haven't even had the 12 week scan. I'd seen a heartbeat when all these wheels started to turn but nothing else. The other part of me is impressed: I can see how advance planning benefits the school and students and I can't help wondering if it has something to do with having a female principal. She exhorted me to please let her know how I was feeling later in the summer because it would help with planning. Okay then.

Everything looks fine with the pregnancy so far: I'm still tired and nauseous, with pretty good days and worse days. This is my last week of school thank God. I have no particular ambitions for the summer except to mosey along depending on how I feel. AJ will still be in full time care allowing me time to rest if that's what I need, but hopefully I can do some fun things with her too. Next U/S is July 21st which is when they do the screening tests such as nuchal translucency. So one day at a time remains a decent mantra.

Saturday, 24 June 2017


Content warning: pregnancy, yucky symptoms, ultrasound (no pictures)

I meant to update sooner, but my days don't necessarily go the way I expect.

June 20th I went for my "official" early ultrasound, the one at 7-8 weeks. I had become anxious in the days leading up to it. I thought everything was probably fine, but doubt creeps in. Plus the day before I felt less ill than usual, so I wondered if the nausea was going away and what that might mean....yeah, that turned out to be a premature conclusion.

The ultrasound was a good experience. I was greeted by a young woman who introduced herself as a student, which made my heart sink a little. I worried about being in a vulnerable position with a less skilled person, and in addition if there was a problem with my pregnancy, I worried about the experience traumatizing her....I just don't want to have that role in anyone's life. But as it turned out she was only observing, and the actual procedure was done by an experienced technician. As the older tech put the goop on my belly, she said she would do all the measurements and then show me the screen. I didn't say anything but "Okay," but she clearly sensed tension, because a few seconds later, she added: "I see the heartbeat. The baby is alive. You can relax now. You can breathe."  Phew. I appreciated the compassion.

The student followed along on the screen. "Oooooh, that's so cute," she said. With the suspense over, I enjoyed her enthusiasm. The last early pregnancy scan she had seen was 6 weeks along, so she was impressed with how much more there is to see two weeks later. Since my last scan had also been done around 6 weeks, those comments were also reassuring.

I saw the heartbeat again, and the blob of two weeks ago was replaced with a sort of double blob: the head and everything else. The yolk sac and umbilical cord were visible, and the forming placenta. The embryo measured 7 weeks 6 days,  which puts me at 8+3 as of this writing, and I now have a fetus.

There was no need for an internal scan, and the whole procedure went promptly. I updated family and colleagues with a few texts. I then indulged myself by eating a hot dog and doing some shopping (the radiology clinic being located in a mall).

So the good news is my pregnancy is progressing normally, as a far as I can tell. My name for the little one inside is "Sprite." I go for my first prenatal appointment early next week and I presume the next ultrasound will be scheduled for 11-12 weeks.

The rest of my life is less normal. I continue to have a lot of nausea and fatigue. The severe vomiting hasn't come back, but I'm sick enough that most regular activities are not possible. I was off work for a full week and then went in a few mornings the past week, but I have not been able to make it through a full day. I have good days and bad days, and it's impossible to know which it's going to be, so the smart thing was to book a sub for the full day or afternoon and not be scrambling. I'm very lucky that I have a regular sub who knows my students well and really appreciated the work.

In addition to the nausea, literally everything I eat or drink leaves a nasty taste in my mouth. I am going to start carrying mouthwash or minty gum everywhere. I also have a heightened sense of disgust in general, probably because of the nausea. When I feel crappy, anything touching my skin and anything I can see disgusts me, so I go through episodes of wanting to throw out all my clothes and half our stuff. Not a good time to go shopping or to introduce me to new exciting ideas, ha. Open mindedness at an all time low.

Timing was not a consideration with this pregnancy, as we had no idea when or if we would actually get pregnant. It was roll the dice and hope for the best. If I could have had the luxury of timing it, I wouldn't have timed my second month for June when I have so much work to do. On the other hand, I am relieved, now, that I didn't get pregnant when AJ was younger. The fatigue and nausea means that Mr. Turtle is doing most parenting tasks, most days. Even with the full dose of Diclectin, there are a lot of hours/days when all I can do is lie in bed trying not to throw up. Grandparents have also stepped in many times, especially when Mr. Turtle had to study. I feel bad about not being an active parent. But it would have been much worse if AJ was younger and more dependent. Feeling like this with a small needy baby would be fresh hell.

The queasiness/inactivity also affect my mood. My outlook tends to be tied to my energy level, so when my energy level drops my mood usually does too. It's frustrating and depressing to not be able to do the normal things I do for business or pleasure. You don't realize how much of your well being is tied to familiar routines till they're gone. I've coped with it by adjusting my expectations because that's all I can do. I tell myself that all my year end work will get done somehow, the important stuff anyway. I don't actually know at the beginning of the day how or if it's going to get done, but when I feel slightly better, I do what I can, and I let the extra stuff go.

It all makes me wonder about the design of humans. If I was a wild animal, I would have been dead for a month probably. Some predator would have eaten me and AJ while I was puking under a tree. Or we would have starved. Human females and babies are terribly impractical and helpless compared to our mammal counterparts. It actually really sucks! Thank God for Mr. Turtle and everyone around me who is so supportive and helpful. I really appreciate my relationships and my place in a civilized society.

Anyway, not to be negative; that's just where my mind goes when I'm constantly sick.  On the good side, I've heard a lot of podcasts and watched the Hobbit trilogy in entirety. That helped for a while. The only problem is now I associate them with being sick guessed it, they disgust me. I don't know if I should do things I enjoy for the next month or stick to things I don't particularly like.

Yeah, you know. The miracle of life. It's wonderful. One day at a time.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

A rough few days, but everything looks good

Content warning: pregnancy, symptoms, ultrasound (no photos)

Monday morning I used my second Clearblue digital with weeks indicator. The one I took a week before had shown 2-3 weeks pregnant. Sure enough, this test showed 3+ weeks pregnant.

I didn't have much time to feel happy about that before I started to feel nauseous. A little, then a lot. I ended up staying home and throwing up all morning. In the afternoon and evening, I was up and down. I felt well enough to do a few things, but anytime I tried to eat I would throw up again.

Still, I seemed better overall so I thought I was managing it. Boy, was I wrong. I woke up at 2am Tuesday and dry heaved for 7 hours. It. Was. Horrible. I have sore pecs today from being on my hands and knees retching. Since I obviously wasn't coping well Tuesday morning, Mr. Turtle drove me to Urgent Care. They gave me fluids and Zofran by IV. The doctor felt obligated to tell me that one unpublished, unduplicated study had shown Zofran possibly linked to heart defects.  But the drug has been widely used for years, including on all 3 of her pregnancies, and no other evidence of harm was indicated. I opted for the Zofran. I may wake up at 3am one night and hate myself for this, but the way I was feeling, I thought I needed the big guns. Also, it was a one time use. The doctor gave me a half-dose to play it safe.

The Zofran and IV fluids did help, and within a couple of hours I was feeling more like myself. I am deeply, wildly grateful for modern medicine and easy access at times like this. Although my condition was not immediately dangerous to me or my pregnancy, I cannot imagine living with that kind of nausea, never mind functioning in a normal way. And, I'm back on Diclectin, which does work very well for me. Again, ideally I'd like to not use any drugs, but everybody has a limit, and vomiting every 5 minutes for 7 hours is mine. I'm still home today, but well rested and starting to eat normally again.

Because of the severity of the nausea, the Urgent Care doctor sent me for an ultrasound, to rule out molar pregnancy or multiples. I had the feeling things were fine, but it was a little nerve wracking since it brought to mind the series of inconclusive early ultrasounds I had when pregnant with AJ.  I went in today and was lucky to have a very nice, very skilled tech. She saw one sac, ruling out molar (huge sigh of relief). Nothing else showed up externally, so we did internal. She took quite a long time looking at things, so I nervously amused myself by checking out her facial expressions every few minutes. She looked relaxed, focused and intrigued, so I chose not to ask questions.

Eventually, she turned the screen toward me.  One the screen she showed me a sac, a tiny fetal pole inside, and - wonders! - a little flicker of a heartbeat. The image was very clear and I could see everything she pointed out. She said it was challenging to measure the heartbeat but she recorded it twice at 120bpm. There was definitely only one embryo, no twins. This is a relief since if I was going to have twins, I'm pretty sure they would be identical. I cannot imagine myself ovulating two good eggs. And identical twins are more likely to have complications. So this was good news, all around. She dated the embryo at 5 weeks, 6 days which sounds exactly right.

So, on one hand it hasn't been the greatest of weeks, but at least we got some reassurance that things are progressing well so far. I'm still crossing my fingers for a smoother run the rest of the month.