Thursday, January 25, 2007

Fee tines a mady

On Tuesday of last week, after picking my daughter up from school, I dragged her to the local Quest lab to get my requisite pregnancy bloodwork. I warned the tech that my veins have been far from cooperative in the last few months, going so far as to point out the exact spot where my RE's office had found the best luck poking me. She preferred the other arm, whose vein seemed to be plump and juicy.

And don't you know, she was right! Easy as pie, she took my blood with my daughter sitting in my lap all the while (there were no other chairs in the room).

So, I took the youngster home for lunch (my daughter, not the tech), proud of myself for being such a fine patient in front of her (thinking that one day she may have cause to remember my stoic nature when having her own blood drawn). We talked a bit about what had happened and why, which was tricky as she still does not know that she's in for a baby sister or brother. (We're waiting for the level two ultrasound to come out clean.)

Back at the lab, in the five minutes that it took us to drive home, the tech had the urge to actually read the paperwork from my OB and realized that she had missed an entire test, requiring far more hemoglobin than she had syphoned from me. Imagine my joy upon hearing her message that I would have to return to have more blood taken to complete the panel, because both tests had to be sent out together.

We ate lunch and decided (because yes, now the decision-making process is jointly entered by my three-year-old and myself) to go back before her nap rather than put it off until the next day.

Three more stabs, people. Three more needles in three different places to find a vein that would cooperate. And the winner? The original site that I had recommended. I am a little pissed at those people from Quest. Not to mention that all my groundwork with my daughter was blown to pieces, with her whining, "I don't want anyone to pinch me, mommy," all the way home. (Okay, I had told her that it didn't hurt, it just pinched. Except, if she saw my face during those first two ineffective pokes--where they started digging for a vein with the needle--she probably figured out it is no ordinary pinch.) Next time I'll go by myself. And read the order form to the tech.

Blood tests aside, by Thursday I was fighting a case of anxiety bad enough to send me to the OB's for a quick doppler. (Funny how mentrual cramp sensations can do that.) My husband was home sick (watching NFL highlights all day, so how bad could it be?), so I could sneak off by myself for a little guilty visit with that gel and that wand. Nurse Kelly, who I believe is the head nurse, took me back and assured me that I can always swing by for such a visit, sans appointment, as it takes no time at all.

And in no time she found it. 144 bpm. Sigh.

The past week has been spent alternately hopeful and anxious. Because there have been moments when I feel significant movement, I am wracked (racked?) with doubt if I go to bed without same. And most nights lately have seen me in a dry spell.

But...but! Today was my official appointment with the OB. I have been feeling crampy, slightly so, but crampy throughout the whole pregnancy which unsettles me. However, that compares not at all to the fiasco in the exam room when the nurse could not find a heartbeat (other than mine) and called for good old nurse Kelly. Who found it, again, in no time. 144 bpm. Hrmph.

(Note to OB's office: Don't let the new nurse learn the tricks of the trade on the recurrent miscarrier. It is just bad business.)

Which leads me to proclaim...ALL IS WELL. Again. Seven pounds under my belt. Literally. Hard-earned bloodwork stellar. Seriously people, my blood type is A+. I couldn't be more inappropriately proud of a blood type. Level two ultrasound scheduled for President's Day. My new favorite drink, Mango Juice something-something from Trader Joe's, has been given the thumbs up by the OB (his wife loves the stuff). With 100% or more of certain vitamins, I wanted to make sure I wasn't running any risks. Especially with that damn vitamin A. And, I finally convinced the guy that I am 16 weeks pregnant instead of 15 and change. It took a circular calendar and a whole lot of thumb-wrestling, but I did it. What is my midwestern upbringing for, if not thumb-wrestling proficiency? (Let's ignore that his thumbs were probably tired from the Mango Juice something-something approval minutes earlier.)

Only three weeks, six days and sixteen-and-a-half hours to go until I see him again.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

I hate disclaimers

One of the things that I have found frustrating in becoming pregnant in a successful fashion is the need to add disclaimers to the disclosure that I am pregnant.

"B and I are expecting. Again."

And everyone knows that "again" doesn't mean "Holy shit, we are having so much wanton sex that number four is on the way..we just don't know how we got ourselves into this familiar situation...and we're going to have to cram all our chitterlings in a double bed just like Charlie's grandparents in that book about his adventures in the Chocolate Factory.' Somebody give us some damn birth control already! Or a calendar."

Or, "I'm pregnant and hoping it sticks." Not that I've ever really said that, but I have thought it every single time.

And, to make my eyes roll clear to the back of my head, there are conversations like this one with my sister:

(In a nod to James Frey, I may be embellishing just a bit.)

Sister: How are you feeling?

Me: Fine?

Sister: Are you showing yet?

Me: No. My pants are still pretty comfortable.

Sister: Bitch (mockingly, of course)

Me: (Nothing. What on earth could I say?)

Sister: How many weeks are you?

Me: Twelve.

Sister: Well are you feeling the baby yet? Should be any day now.

Me: No.

Sister: Well I felt (my second) at, oh I think 11 or 12 weeks. Oh yeah, he was so active. I remember lying on my back and I could actually see his little kicks.

Me: (Pause.) Maybe it was gas.

At which point my sister launches into a long, earnest explanation of how it wasn't gas, it was her baby and he would just kick, kick, kick and flip, flip, flip.

You get the point.

I suffered through this conversation once and held my tongue as best I could. I know better than to correct my sister. She will not back down. And it will just make for future unpleasantness.

But, when, during our next conversation she tried the same road with me, I could not take it. I just could not. She is ridiculous. I found myself telling her that at 11 or 12 weeks your uterus is not even above your pubic bone, barely if so (which of course, she countered by saying that he was a big baby from the start), etc. The whole time I was having a private dialogue with myself about how I shouldn't have opened my mouth and what was I trying to prove? She wasn't going to budge. The most she offered was that her husband couldn't see the kicks that early (really? have you checked his vision?), but that was because she was feeling them and thus knew where to look. He didn't.

We are still speaking and friendly, because I backed off pretty quickly. (Although my husband was treated to quite a rant after that call.)

However, what I think my lovely sister (And I do love her. She is my best friend.) fails to understand is that for each of these milestone she throws out there (protruding belly, quickening), there is one more thing for me to fret over. Further, and most importantly for someone who has gone through several miscarriages, when she says something so inane as "I felt my baby kick at 11 or 12 weeks" not only is it infuriating, but it puts me in the awkward position of feeling that I have to discredit her to keep my own sanity. Usually she presents malarkey about having to chill red wine or how giving antibiotics to her kids as a preventive measure is smart medicine, and these nuggets I can endure. But when she starts with pregnancy related stuff, it's as if she's thrown down the gauntlet.

It's amazing that people (even those you love dearly) continue to say thoughtless things even when you're pregnant. Why am I surprised?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Cable sucks

Okay, I am going to make this quick, but I'm looking for a little professional advice. Nothing to do with fertility.

I just got off the phone with Comcast, my lovely (note the sarcasm) cable provider. Back in October, my husband called up to order the NHL hockey package, a premium service that allows you to see all the NHL games that are being played across the country during the whole season. By calling during the preseason, Comcast offered him a $20 discount on the package (from $149 to $129) and told us we would be billed in four installments. This is the third year in a row we've signed up for this service (not counting the year of the hockey strike), with the discount every year because my husband is just that eager.

The first bill came with a $64.50 charge for the package. A little handiwork with a calculator suggests that this is actually a billing for 2 installments of the package ($129 divided by 4 = $32.25 X 2 = $64.50). No big deal. There was also a miscellaneous charge for $1.99 that I honestly didn't have the energy to inquire about.

The next month's bill comes and suddenly we are being charged $37.25 for the installment of the package, plus there's a "PPV ADJ" charge of $5.00. This I called to complain about. The cust. serv. rep told me that the PPV ADJ charge was for a Pay Per View on the Friday right before Thanksgiving. I assured him that I had ordered no Pay Per View on that day and together we decided that our account was being charged $5.00 retroactively for the discount we had received for the hockey package. Plus, the $37.25 was also back to the original price for the package ($149 divided by 4 = $37.25). He agreed to credit us. (Oh, and by the way...the $1.99 fee is a fee tacked on to upgrade your account to receive the hockey package. Never disclosed to my husband when he ordered. You have to pay $1.99 to pay $129.)

Now the next bill comes, no credit and still being charged $37.25 for the package. I get a supervisor on the phone who not only doesn't know what the price of the hockey package is (he asked me), but he also disputes that there are any discounts given to early orders of said package or any sports package for that matter. When I informed him that we have been ordering this package for years, with a discount, he said that someties prices change. Well, sure pal, but not after you've contracted to provide a service at a discount. Change the price next year if you like, but you can't go adding back charges for something mid-season.

Long story short, I chewed his ass and barely contained my four-letter vocabulary, whereupon he agreed to credit us the $20. Then, a regular customer service rep came on the line and explained in broken English, that she was following the supervisor's orders and putting in a request for a credit adjustment, but it still could be denied. Further, she rejected the supervisor's assurances (to me) that I would be given a tracking number for this call so that I would not have to make another call (and another, and another, and so on). At this point I asked for her home number and she told me Comcast does not allow employees to give out their home numbers.

No shit.

I feel that Comcast's billing procedures are at best unethical and at worst illegal . If they have a million customers in my area alone and slip a $5.00 miscellaneous charge in on every bill, that's an extra $60 million a year in their pockets. Do I have any further recourse? Can I legally challenge their charges? Should I send a letter to my State's Attorney General?

Does anyone out there know if it's worth calling attention to this practice? (It's not the first, nor the last time we'll be overcharged, mark my words. I'm sure many of you have similar stories.)

And lastly, does anyone have a good word about DirectTV?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Leap of Faith

I realize that the two weeks spent between my first OB appointment, complete with pelvic "how dee do" and the next appointment which featured a visit with Senor Doppler, required something that I was not ready for, but will prove to serve me well. A giant leap of faith. I have not seen (via ultrasound) a heartbeat since the first day of December, and other than the doctor's digitally-inspired assurances, for exactly four weeks I have had little to go on that I am in fact still healthily pregnant.

I didn't mean for this post to become suspenseful. I am still healthily pregnant. As of last Friday, anyway, which frankly starts to feel like last year! (I couldn't resist. Blame it on the hormones.)

I'll get back to that, but what I've learned in the meantime is that there is a window of time between resting in the confident hands of the RE (and his magic wand) and starting to feel a baby inside you, where a woman must go on faith. I have not had inordinate amounts of morning sickness. Not even ordinate amounts of morning sickness. I'm tired, but who among us isn't after Joy to the World meets Auld Lang Syne? My pants still fit, goddamnit! I know it's a condition many women in their 11th week (12th?) long for. (I'm tall, what can I say.) But it is also extremely unsettling. I have nothing to go on. Just blind faith.

So, I sit in bed at night, palpitating my lower abdomen, trying to feel if anything is coming "over the hedge," like, I dunno, a rogue uterus with a rapidly growing alien life form. Or baby. Some nights I can feel it. Some nights I realize just how badly I need a bikini wax.

Enter the Doppler. The nurse found the heartbeat right away. It is simply amazing how the gentle, but rapid, whoosh-whoosh can stir your heart and melt away the anxiety. Until she tells you she's counting the heart rate. And your heart catches in your throat, because of course that's another number, and like any number, it could be grieviously low, and the whoosh-whoosh that moments ago caused a rush of warmth to your extremities, could now spell doom.

It was fine. My doctor came in and seemed even more relieved than I was, which sat awkwardly with me. Was he worried? I guess he was. Glad I didn't sense that two weeks earlier. He said something to the effect of "So, now you can go public." To which I replied "Too late." I think I hurt his feelings.

And now begin the four-week waits between visits. What I am hoping for, though, is that if I wash and dry my jeans on super high heat, they will no longer fit me, which should tide me over until I can start to feel something dramatic (and more pronounced than gas, which I always have, pregnant or not) in said lower abdomen region. This plan will not work if I continue to wear sweatpants. And so far, there is every indication that I will.

I'm not that good at faith. But, I'm learning.


At the end of November, a friend of mine revealed that she was six weeks pregnant. It was an internet disclosure, as we only infrequently speak on the phone and see each other even less (she living in Boston, and I not so much). She has one son who is just over a year old, and his was her first (and a very easy) pregnancy. I did not tell her of my current status, as my husband's family had not yet been told, so I wanted to wait.

I remember as I read her email, thinking what we all (on this side of loss) think. Something ominous, that I quickly pushed out of my head and have chastised myself for since.

Last week she wrote to say that they had lost the pregnancy. I was and am very sad for her and reached out as best I could (both by phone and email) to give her support and try to be someone that could understand what she was going through.

But I am ashamed to say that I had a moment of...what is it..."I told you so?"...even though I had never told her so. I'm wondering if any of you out there have found yourself playing host to similar unwelcome thoughts and feelings when hearing of another person's loss. I cannot even put it into words, and what I felt was not my overriding reaction, nor maybe even my first conscious thought. But it was there all the same. Maybe it was as simple as "welcome to the club," and though I would never mean that in a malicious way, perhaps it's just not a nice thought no matter what.