Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Decision made

After contacting the fellowship program and getting some answers to my questions (no, maternity leave would not affect certification and yes, I can apply in the future) and a very long discussion over lunch with Greg, I decided to go with my gut and decline the offer to join the fellowship program.
So it was a little ironic when I received a recognition of excellence certificate in the mail yesterday from ETS that stated my score was in the top 15 percent of test takers this year and in years prior for the English Language Literature and Composition Content exam. Then, this morning, I received notification that I also passed the Pedagogy exam.
But I don't have any regrets about my decision. I spoke with the coordinator today and she expressed her understanding for my situation and said the committee hopes that I will apply for the program next year or in the future. It was really nice to hear someone say such wonderful things about me.
I still think teaching may be my future and I am content with my choice. After all, the opportunity to become a teacher will always be there. For now, though, I'm focused on this pregnancy and doing my very best to take care of myself and enjoy the moment.

Monday, May 24, 2010

A little ironic

Isn't it a little ironic that the moment I decided to stop waiting around to be pregnant and start pursuring a new career, I became pregnant? Or maybe it's just me?
What I'm talking about, of course, is the fact that I decided to throw my hat in the ring for this teaching fellows position -- where if you agree to teach in a low performing, poor school for a year, they give you the training you need to earn a teaching certificate in one year. I went after it whole heartedly and earnestly because I felt like I was really just sitting in quicksand as far as my life and my career were concerned. I was very excited about the prospect of becoming a teacher. I even found myself telling a co-worker, "if we never have children, I think I'll try to become a DODDS teacher and we'll move back to Italy or maybe Greece or Germany after Greg retires and he can work at the base golf course like he's always wanted."
I don't think I'd ever allowed myself to say those words before "if we never have children" and there I was, putting it at the beginning of a sentence that sounded, well, sort of hopeful for the future. After those words tumbled out of my mouth, I was a little dumbfounded. Was I beginning to be able to move past our infertility?
A little background: I went to school to be a journalist and did that job for a long time, but after we moved to Italy in 2005, I found myself working as a substitute teacher and I really enjoyed it and I assumed I'd be pregnant soon so I wasn't worried about my career. I was looking forward to being a stay at home mom. Of course, that didn't quite work out the way I'd hoped. After moving back to the states last year, I was hopeful that I could find work in my field or a related field like public relations. But this is a "who do you know?" kind of town and I don't know anyone. So, the prospect of a career change began to look better and better to me, especially when I found out that starting teacher pay here is about $40,000 a year. That might not sound like a lot to some people, but it's a lot to me. I never made more than $30,000 a year as a reporter and that was only for a short period of time before I got married.
So, I delved into studying for the PRAXIS exams and I went to an interview event dressed in my best and did a mock lesson on foreshadowing in front of a bunch of strangers and held my ground in a group discussion about teacher quality as it relates to student performance. In the one-on-one interview, I felt like I really connected with the principal and answered all the questions to the best of my ability and lo and behold on Friday, they offered me a chance to become a Louisiana Teaching Fellow.
So here I am on Monday morning, still unsure of what to do. I feel like it would be a great opportunity for me to make a career change and this is the most direct and cheapest way for me to become a teacher, though there are plenty of other programs out there at local colleges and universities. I also feel like I have the potential to be really good at this job. I'm sure that the challenges of working in a poor performing school would prepare me to be able to teach anywhere and I'd probably learn a lot about myself in the process.
But at the same time, I know the work would be intense, stressful, demanding and all-consuming. And that scares me. After all we've been through to achieve a pregnancy, I'm not willing to intenionally put myself in such a high-pressure situation. Plus, part of the program requires the teachers to do a certain amount of hours in the classroom in order to qualify for the teaching certificate at the end of the year. If I go out on maternity leave, would I still qualify? This is a question I really don't have the answer to.
Greg encouraged me to call the fellowhip program and find out, but I felt like I had already made my choice -- that I would decline the offer based on the fact that I'm pregnant. But I woke up this morning (today is my deadline to decide) feeling like I might be making the wrong choice.
I have always wanted to be a stay at home mom, at least until my child starts school. My husband's job provides well for us right now. But I have lots of worries about the cost of raising a child and I think about how that teacher salary would sure help us pay off our debts and buy a lot of cute little baby stuff and maybe help us start saving for our next home.
If I don't take the job, would they ever consider me for the program in the future? I have no idea. And, then, there's always that little voice inside that says, "what if you lose the pregnancy and you've turned down the fellowship?" But I have to err on the side of caution, the side of hope, right?
I guess this just goes to show that a lot of things are certainly out of our control. Who would have guessed that I'd be sitting here today trying to make this decision?

Friday, May 21, 2010

The most beautiful sound in the world

Just a quick post before I head into work. Our ultrasound appointment went well this morning. We have one little baby in there measuring 7weeks1day, which is right on target and we got to see that beautiful little flikering heart and we got to hear it. It was the most beautiful sound I've ever heard. For once, Greg was rendered speechless. We go back in two weeks, since this little miracle is from a frozen transfer we stick with our RE for a bit longer than normal, which is fine by me because to tell the truth, I'm a little nervous about a new doctor since I've never seen an OB/GYN here in Louisiana.
Here is our picture, and though it is not very clear on here, it was perfectly clear on the screen. Dr. London, the other RE in the practice, did the scan and he said this was a picture of "baby with balloon," since the baby is on the left and that little Cheerio looking thing on the right is the yolk sac. The line between the two is the makings of an umbillical cord. Pretty amazing stuff.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Almost there

Perhaps this has been the longest two weeks of my life. And, I've had a lot of long two weeks, my friends. But the wait between our first and second ultrasounds has proven to be longer than any post-IVF wait, it's been longer than any "my husband will be home in two weeks" wait, it has certainly been longer than the "in two weeks we move to _________" wait and any two-week notice I've ever given. It's just the longest two weeks ever. And yet here we are on the eve of our second ultrasound.
Greg is uber excited. Last night while watching television he looks at me and says "only 35 more hours."
"Huh?" I said, thinking he was referring to something on CSI New York.
"35 more hours until we hear heartbeats," he said.
My husband is the eternal optomist. His glass is always half full -- of beer -- no less. He's a jolly, happy guy and he always sees the best in people and situations. So of course, he thinks that other little sac has had a growth spurt and will show up on the ultrasound tomorrow as a surprise to our doctor, but not to Greg because he knew all along.
And, while I have a sense that things are going well, I'm not willing to make such predictions. I feel good, I haven't had any spotting and though I've had some interesting twinges and pulls in that area, I have read that is completely normal. My pregnancy symptoms that I listed last week are still there, though, thankfully, I have not experienced any nausea. I am hopeful that all is well in there, but terrified that this sense of well-being is premature and that I could be wrong.
Yet I can't wait to get in there and to see(and hear?)what's going on. Though these past two weeks have been long and time has seemed to crawl by, there have been moments when I've found myself happy to be in this prolonged state of ignorance. I've always been one who believes in living in the moment and enjoying each moment. But infertility has taken some of that away from me because it's very difficult to live in the moment when you're always planning what your next move should be or looking ahead to the next cycle or, even worse, reflecting on the last failure. I feel like this pregnancy has given me a little bit of my old self back. I've truly enjoyed each moment of this journey so far, even during the longest two weeks ever.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A day to celebrate

My husband is coming home today. It's only been 18 days since he left, but it feels like so much longer. We've done deployments and long separations before, but I don't think I have ever been so excited to see him as I am today.
To finally have him here to share the joy and the worry and the host of other emotions is going to be such a relief to me.
Last night, I made Julia Child's coq au vin (chicken in red wine) with braised onions and sauteed mushrooms to have tonight in celebration and this morning I baked a cake. We'll be celebrating Greg's birthday, albeit belatedly, and our good news. We have so much to catch up on, even though Greg hasn't been gone that long.
And, no more giving myself those dreaded PIO shots. My backside looks like someone beat me with a meat tenderizer! In fact, for the last week or so, I've been counting down to his return not in days but in number of shots left to give myself. Last night seemed a small victory when I pushed that last shot in.
My mother said it should only take a couple of days after Greg gets home for the smell to reach the East Coast. "What smell?" I asked. "The stench of one very spoiled rotten pregnant wife!" ha ha ha. My mama knows my husband pretty well, I think.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sinking in

The fact that I am actually pregnant is starting to sink in, a little. Three symptoms have appeared (one more recently than the others) and serve as constant little reminders.
Number one: I have to pee all the time. By that, I mean constantly -- four or five times during the night. For a woman who has always prided myself on my ability to "hold it," this new phenomenon has been quite a revelation. It's an annoying yet somehow comforting symptom that reminds me (every 30 mins or so) that this is real.
Number two: I'm sleepy. What I mean by that is I now take naps. I have not napped like this since college when it seemed I was always exhausted. On the days that I work, I do not get to take a nap, so this means I try to hide my yawns from my coworkers (who just laugh and say "you just wait, this is nothing!") and I fall asleep in front of the TV by 8 p.m.
Number three: The most recent symptom developed over the past few days. I am hungry. Often. For example, last night, I had dinner around 7 p.m. By 10 p.m. I was in the bed reading when my stomach began to cry out for more food. I got up, got a snack and went back to reading. Greg called. "Are you in bed?" he asked. "Yes, I'm reading," I said, with my mouth full of granola. "Are you eating?" he said. "Yea, I was hungry... so what," I said. "In BED? You're eating in bed?" and this was followed by my husband's familiar laugh. I have to admit. I was a little embarrassed. Obviously, eating in bed is something I never do.
Like many women who experience infertility, it has been difficult for me to grasp the fact that we actually achieved pregnancy with this last cycle. It feels wrong of me to think past the day at hand, that somehow I might jinx this stroke of good luck and that at any moment the other shoe might fall and it will all be over. I even pause as I write about these symptoms of early pregnancy because somewhere in my craziness, I think that writing about them might make them disappear. I read this post and though it is quite long, parts of it are very insightful. Here's a bit that explains where I am at right now:
"Patients anticipating moving on from the distress of infertility and reveling in the joy of pregnancy, may instead find that they have entered challenging new medical and emotional territory. The anxiety of, “Will this work?” shifts to, “Will this pregnancy last?” Many women say that they feel numb, and do not allow themselves to trust their bodies to work properly, sustain a viable pregnancy and produce a healthy child after so many disappointments. While they go through the motions associated with early pregnancy after infertility, checking blood levels, undergoing sonograms and repeated contacts with the fertility clinic, some women protect themselves against the pain of possible loss by being cautiously optimistic, at best." And, later, a statement that struck a chord in me. "There may be disappointment that infertility has robbed them the blissful ignorance of risks that those who did not experience infertility may enjoy."
I don't have the luxury of blissful ignorance, and because of that, my family and friends have made statements like, "you don't seem very excited," or "why do you always say "if"? (as in "if we hear a heartbeat at our next ultrasound I will feel more comfortable sharing the news with more people.") And I can't really explain it to them because if you haven't been down this crappy road, you probably wouldn't understand anyway.
I guess that's all for today. Just wanted to share some of my thoughts. I know that many of you have or will experience similar feelings so I thought I would share, because it has always been comforting to me to read a blog that makes me say -- "wow, I feel that same way. At least I'm not the only crazy one out there."

Friday, May 7, 2010

One ... or maybe two?

So my ultrasound this morning went well. Dr. V saw one sac measuring 4.8 mm in diameter. What a relief!! He also saw another sac that is very small and Dr. V said he doesn't expect that one to make it. We go back in two weeks for another ultrasound. I can't help but hope we hear two heartbeats at that next appointment, no matter how unlikely it seems.
Here's a picture of the larger sac.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Trying to avoid the undertow

It's difficult to put into words the emotions I've been feeling these past few days. Since we got our BFP, I've been calm on the surface but underneath, I'm more like a swirling undercurrent made of equal parts eleation and worry.
Even though I am trying to think positive thoughts and not worry, those dark little thouhts sneak into my head. I try to banish those thoughts and they will go away for a while, but then they regroup and attack again.
I thought of buying some pregnancy tests this weekend for reassurance as I wait for the ultrasound, but decided against it. Instead, I decided to have faith that all is well in there.
It has been a lonely few days here for me with Greg gone and no real friends here. I spent the weekend working, doing a little gardening and a little shopping and consulting with Dr. Google, who doesn't know nearly enough. I did go out to dinner with a coworker on Saturday night, which was a total surprise. She even treated me a piece of Key Lime pie to celebrate my good news.
Yesterday my neighbor offered to mow the grass and that is a relief since I wasn't about to get out there and mow it myself (even though I'm sure it couldn't hurt anything. If something should go wrong in the future, I don't want to have to mentally beat myself up for doing something like mowing grass).
I haven't really experienced any symptoms yet. My breasts are tender, but they have been for a few weeks now. Yesterday, I couldn't think of one thing I wanted to eat even though I was hungry, but I'm not sure if that's a symptom or a result of having to eat every meal (except that one on Saturday night) alone for the past week. I hope that time will pass a little more quickly for me this week as I anticipate the ultrasound on Friday.