Friday, May 16, 2014

Trying for number three

Hobo Mama wants you to know she's a professional blogger! Look at how professional she's being!

I wrote this diary as we were trying to conceive our third child. I'm currently eighteen weeks pregnant and happy to share it with you now.

I don't share when we're trying to conceive. I never have, through three pregnancies so far. It just feels odd to me, for people to know, to be waiting, to be pushing us to test, to reveal — I guess I fear it will make us more anxious, and the wait less special, less of a delicious secret between Sam and me.

But I think the pre-conception thoughts are interesting to share, so I've decided to write this diary, to be published whenever it feels right.

December 18, 2013
I've boiled my DivaCup, and I wonder if — and hope — it's the last time for a good long while. I looked at it while it was cooling in the dish rack and thought how sad I'll be if next month comes around again and I'm using it.

My ovulation date is — get this — Christmas. I think this is so cool. As long as we can sneak away from the kids this week, we'll be golden.

For the first two pregnancies — my first that ended in miscarriage, and my second with Mikko — we were driven, almost grim at times about TTC. For the third pregnancy, Alrik's, it was sort of a whim. We knew we wanted a second baby but had planned to wait till January to try. It was August. We were on vacation. We decided to just … go for it and enjoy. And so we did, and I got pregnant.

I loved that feeling of abandon, of glee, of just enjoying sex (I'll say it!) for the full fun and purpose of it. I'm feeling that same giddiness again this time. Yea for libido! Three cheers for the act of procreation!

December 22
I wonder whether it will be easy to get pregnant again this time. I'm 37 and a half now, so I'm past The Age of Declining Fertility. There's no way to find out but to do, I know.

Our first pregnancy, we decided to try for a girl, using spurious internet techniques. We combined Shettles with O+12, for those in the know, which meant we were not baby dancing near ovulation. (That's part of the technique.) When we didn't get pregnant that first month, I was so disappointed that we stopped trying for a girl. Ha! I got pregnant the next month, but then lost that pregnancy in miscarriage at 10 weeks. I wonder, too, if that will repeat.

For our next pregnancy, the one resulting in Mikko, I really, really, really didn't care what sex it was as long as it was a baby. So we blanketed the possible fertile dates with sometimes frantic baby dancing, and I got pregnant again the month after my natural miscarriage finally ended (long story).

For our pregnancy with Alrik, as I mentioned before, we decided to go ahead and try on vacation. Immediately after, I thought, Hmm, that might not have been the best idea. But of course I was already pregnant.

Despite having two boys now, I care less now about trying for a girl than I did at the beginning. I still think it would be cool to have one, but I love my boys, now that they're real and not as foreign-seeming to me. Plus, we've picked out an epic boy's name. That's a factor, I admit.

Hey, I know: Twins! Heh heh heh.

December 27:
I forgot how long the two-week wait is.

December 31:
Sam and I are giving up our bad habits for the new year plus the pregnancy. (You know how the holidays can get you off track.) We're hoping the pregnancy will be the biggest motivator, which it has been for me in the past.

Gone are caffeine and alcohol, of course, and we're getting stricter again about no grains and really cutting out sugar, at least for awhile. We're forgoing eating out through January, at least, to see if that helps with our convictions (and spares us the agony of trying to corral two active kids in a crowded public space…).

But the worst — the worst — oh, you knew this was coming — gone will be my beloved diet soda. Once again, I'm trying to kick the habit. I've tried this several times in the past, so let's not all get our hopes up, shall we?

I've been cutting way back in preparation, and so the caffeine dip isn't excruciating (headaches and fatigue, oh my), and I'm already super depressed about it.

I've mentioned this before, but I hate water. It makes me thirstier, but then makes me pee a ton, so I'm thirsty and running to the bathroom all day. What the what? Water is so boring and bland and awful and doesn't work, because if it worked, I wouldn't be thirsty, dang it.

We're buying limes today in hopes of making it more palatable. I've been drinking more herbal tea again as well, which I like fine and especially in cold weather, but there are times when I want something to chug and hot tea isn't it.

I've been examining my reasons for giving up soda, and partly that's what's making me feel so despondent. I feel trapped among a large group of people, all of whom don't drink soda and think I'm foolish for doing so. On the one side is my extended family, whose objections are frugality-based; they think drinking soda is excessive, a type of gluttony. On the other side are all my hippie friends who think artificial sweeteners are akin to rat poison — and can't believe I'm exposing my dear children to same. (I'm exaggerating for humorous effect. No one's a jerk to me about it, and you have to understand that most of this is just a projection of my own self-esteem issues.)

Now, I've done my research. I can find no credible evidence that artificial sweeteners, at the level of which I drink soda (which, admittedly, is high), have demonstrable ill effects. None. In humans, including incubating humans, no increased risk of tumors or cancer or blood sugars. There are studies that say diet sodas are associated with weight gain and obesity, but news flash — it's mostly dieting people drinking diet sodas! And we all know (don't we? we should!) that dieting makes people fat. So I'm not blaming the soda there.

So if there's no urgent health reason to give up diet soda while pregnant, then am I doing it just to join the groups I mentioned above and be all smug and stuff about my water-drinking ways? (Oh, to be in the groups of the elite!)

Well, that's just stupid — and making me want to give up before I've started.

So I need to outline my other reasons, reasons that are more internally motivated and not dependent on others' perception of me. Herewith:

  • I would like to spend less money on beverages. I'm using the money I save to fund, through World Vision, a microloan for a woman in Kenya to expand her shop that — wait for it — sells sodas! I thought that was prescient.
  • I would like to remove artificial sweeteners along with most sugars from my diet to see if my palate can be refined to desire less sweetness in general. In other words, can I yank out my sweet tooth?
  • Even though there's no direct evidence that artificial sweeteners or sodas harm humans, I would like to eat and drink more naturally in general. For instance, the effect of high fructose corn syrup and sugar are much the same in the body — but that doesn't mean I throw up my hands and say, "Well, then, I'll just keep eating both." I've tried to cut HFCS entirely and severely limit sugar. I can't imagine a scenario where focusing on a varied diet of more natural, organic, free-range, grass-fed, hippie-approved food and drink could be worse for me — even if there are no immediate, traceable effects. No evidence of harm doesn't mean no harm exists — studies on Western people drinking diet sodas are comparing them with other people eating a Western diet but without the sodas — there could possibly just be too many confounding variables there, and there could be an overall lack of healthfulness that's not from just one factor of the diet.
  • In that same vein, I'd like to help my children choose other drinks. They drink a variety of beverages, including water, juice, and milk, but also diet sodas. (With all Mikko's teeth problems, we greatly limit regular sodas and juice for him.) I didn't feel comfortable forbidding them something I drink daily, but I'd rather see them prioritize potentially healthful drinks and downplay ones that might affect their health in this developmentally vulnerable stage. (And, of course, the same goes for the unborn baby!)

So there are my reasons. I just hope I can keep them in mind and that they're compelling enough to see me through. I. Hate. Water. I can't drink juice because of the sugar content. Seltzer is way too bitter for me, but we're going to experiment a bit to see if we can do some blends of a little juice or flavor extracts and some stevia. I'll have my herbal teas. And I might experiment with different cups (don't laugh!) to see if there's a magic one out there (something with a straw, maybe?) that makes water fun (!!). Ha.

Plus, I'm remembering from previous pregnancies that only diet ginger ale and diet clear sodas got me through the worst of the morning sickness. So…we'll see. If I feel really awful, I'd probably allow that, frankly. Because morning sickness is its own form of torture, so I don't need to compound it by drinking water. Bleh.

January 3, 2014
Well, I lasted 2 days. I made my sneaky way to Subway today to work (our neighbors were blasting music, and Subway has free wi-fi and is within walking distance — both needful) and bought a salad and a soda fountain drink. Because I am evil. Good thing I'm not trying to kick heroin, hey?

Eh, whatever. Before I left, I spent the morning re-researching artificial sweetener and soda safety and basically puttered away all my time obsessing and fantasizing over having a cool, refreshing diet soda. Once I had one? It wasn't that big a thing. Maybe denying it whole cloth makes the fantasy too compelling. I'll have to think this one through.

I don't know that there's any way to ration out a soda or three a day (heh heh), unless I have Sam freaking hide them — well — and dole them out to me. I could also go with Zevia-brand sodas (sweetened with natural stevia), or diet non-colas (solves phosphoric acid and caffeine, though not artificial sweetener), as possible alternatives.

Then when I got home, the boys were doing a super-secret "project." I went up to the bedroom to work for a bit, until Mikko came upstairs to lead me, eyes closed, downstairs. There they presented me with a vase of blue-dyed flowers, interspersed with hand-drawn ones, cleverly assembled with straws and brads, and a bottle of … wait for it … caffeine-free Coke Zero! Apparently this was all Mikko's idea when he saw how miserable I was yesterday. When I opened my eyes, he shouted, "Happy birthday!" When Sam pointed out it wasn't my birthday, he admitted, "I should have said, 'Happy Pregnant Day!'"

He apparently told Sam, "Why is her brain telling her she can't have soda? One Coke isn't going to hurt the baby!" And then he later told me about his decision process to buy me caffeine-free, since that would be better for the little tyke.

This kid is a sweetheart. That is all.

{Note from the future: I have given up kicking diet soda again…but rereading this is reminding me of the good reasons I wanted to. It's also reminding me I bought various flavored stevia drops to experiment with in seltzer, and I really, really should! I also bought some cola extract that I can combine with liquid stevia to make super-off-brand cola. I don't know why I've been so unmotivated and, frankly, kind of scared to try them out. P.S. I really did fund that microloan, but now as a sort of penalty. Heh.}

January 7
I got my period. Boo.

January 12
Mikko keeps asking when I'm going to be pregnant. And telling everyone hither and yon that I am. Thank you, kiddo. Never ask a 6-year-old to keep a secret.

January 16
It's funny to get back into the world of all these abbreviations, and they all came flooding back to me, even as some of them seemed odd to my consciousness even as they rippled through my brain like muscle memory. TTC. OPK. BD or DTD. TWW. FMU. POAS. And, hope against hope, BFP.

January 20
I've been trying not to get my hopes up too high this month since I was confident last month and it came to nothing. In fact, since my period came early last month, I almost started wondering if it could have been a very early miscarriage. Like an early genetic problem and my body just resetting. My luteal phase was the shortest it's ever been — 12 days, when usually it's 14 like clockwork. For some reason, thinking it was a possible miscarriage was reassuring. Because the alternative could be that I'm getting old and my cycle's getting wonky.

February 1
10 dpo, and my boobs hurt. Noticeably. I looked at my chart from my previous three pregnancies (thank you, Fertility Friend), and saw that my boobs were hurting at this stage in each. And I got a little excited. But then I looked more closely and saw that my boobs were hurting at nine dpo for the pregnancies and very frequently at 10 dpo for the non-pregnant months. As in, it might just be premenstrual. Bodies are so very coy that way.

February 3
12 dpo. Thinking even more that I could be pregnant. And then thinking no way. And then thinking yes way. I've had (tmi?) copious amounts of cervical fluid, and at first that seemed discouraging, because that can be the first flow from my period — the blood behind pushing out what's in front. But then it's kept going, and no spotting so far, and I remembered how much discharge I had through both pregnancies (like, incredible and bizarre), and I looked at my pregnant charts and sure enough — creamy or sticky cervical fluid right around this time. I'm getting my hopes up. I can't help it.

February 4
13 dpo. Sooo tempted to pee on a stick. But, technically, my period won't be "late" until at least two days from now, and it theoretically could start even a day or two after that. I usually prefer to wait till I'm late-late before I test. I figure the anticipation is fun in itself (if nerve-racking), and peeing and finding out it's negative just takes that away. Then it's just waiting for my period — what's the fun in that? But I'm not sure if I can take much more of this since I'm just getting so. dang. sure.

I couldn't sleep past 7 a.m. (and I am not an early riser) because I had to pee. Well, I couldn't help it — I went ahead and grabbed a little disposable cup and saved a little first-morning urine. Just in case. And now I'm up writing about it. Do I test? Do I not?


Well, that's a first. So…Sam had this idea when I was out that it would be funny for a husband to announce to a wife when she came home: "Honey, you're pregnant!" And it would be hilarious. He knew I had pee sitting around as well as a pregnancy test, but didn't know where either was. Well, I went out again to swim class with Alrik shortly thereafter and told him where both were and then of course was a nervous wreck driving home, wondering if he had or hadn't and what the results were.

I'll spare you the suspense (or will I?): Negative, he told me. So I maybe wasn't pregnant, or maybe old pee's not so great for testing, or maybe the hCG settled to the bottom of the cup, or maybe the dollar store tests are crap, or maybe we tested too early, etc. It was a letdown, but we've been through it before so I felt resigned. I was glad I hadn't made a fool of myself by telling anybody else my suspicions — I'd almost spilled the beans to a friend earlier because I'd felt so certain I was pregnant.

I went up to see the test anyway and toss it, and it had two lines. I asked him, So, was it two lines when you tested, or is this just an evaporation line that's appeared since? (I didn't use that terminology with him, since he's not versed in TTC lingo, but you get the drift.)

He told me it had two lines right away, but that the second was so faint he figured it didn't count.

Sooo…am I or am I not? If I'd done the testing and knew for sure I'd done it right (fresh urine, the correct amount of drops, no splashing, reading within three minutes), I'd call that a positive. Faintness is fine for hCG (as opposed to OPKs, where the line has to be as dark or darker than the control) — you can't be faintly pregnant, but you can have just begun your hCG surge, so that's dandy. But since he did the testing and I can't confirm what he saw within the first three minutes, and the photos he happened to take were blurry, I'm feeling…inconclusive.

Seriously, Sam? This is the best picture you got?

I had been joking that since this is our last baby, we should splurge and get the digital test that says "Pregnant" so we could take a picture, and they're actually on sale right now at the grocery store. Apparently I really should have grabbed a box! (Sam's response when I told him how much they cost, even on sale, as compared with the $1 tests: "Let's just use someone else's picture." Ho ho!)

Not our test! Thank you, Janine!

Since my period's not actually late yet, guess we'll wait a few days to see and then make a return trek to the dollar store if continuing symptoms warrant it. So much for the dad-announcing-the-pregnancy thing! I guess it's still up to me.

Meanwhile, I'm touching my boobs hourly to make sure they're still sore (they are), wincing at the cramps and stomach disorder I'm experiencing (which usually accompanies my period, but also early pregnancy, natch), and scrutinizing every time I wipe after the bathroom to see if there could possibly be any tinge of blood.

Inconclusive, indeed. I doubt I'll sleep well tonight, again.

What a roller coaster!

February 5
14 dpo. Still no period. I've been thinking all day that I'm pregnant, based on that test. I think it counts as positive.

Normally my period would come today or tomorrow. I guess I still have some days to wait to truly confirm.

We went to the dollar store tonight, and they were out of pregnancy tests! Wouldn't you know it. I also checked Target, but the cheapest digital test they had was $7.09, for two. For some reason, that irritated me. I need only one — why do I have to buy a set and throw one out? So I passed.

At dinner Sam and I negotiated how, when, and what we would tell our parents. It's a little goofy to me that every pregnancy announcement has to be planned out in advance. Since our families live out of state, they want to fly in to see the little one, and we've had to be firm that we need at least a couple weeks of babymoon to ourselves before the visiting whirlwind begins. Since Sam's family came out first last time, we plan to offer the privilege to my parents this time. It's a little awkward for timing, because we're looking at a mid-October guess date, which puts the first potential visitors in early November and the second wave in mid-to-late November, but that might conflict with Thanksgiving travel and be too pricey for my in-laws. Oh, well, we'll figure it out.

We joked with each other that one or both sets might say, "Oh…baby #3? Whatever. We'll see the pictures you put on Facebook."

I do in fact think they'll be excited, though I wonder if my parents will think it's an oops.

{Both parents were thrilled … and neither is planning to come out near the baby's birthdate! Weird, huh? I guess it is a baby #3 sort of thing. Both are coming this summer instead, so they'll get to see me good and pregnant, and then maybe after the new year. Funny.}

February 8
Mikko's been ambivalent lately about the baby and has told me I shouldn't get pregnant after all. Too late, I told him. I was concerned and a little bummed, because he'd been so excited previously, and now I had that same wave of regret hit me as I did when Alrik was born: Was I ruining his life still further, making him share our attention, now to be divided by three?

Fortunately, Sam talked it over with him and clued me in: We'd talked too much about moving him into his own bedroom and his loft bed, and he wasn't ready to leave us at night. So new baby = displacement.

We've dialed it back and are discussing options for all five of us to continue sharing one room for sleeping (with still the possibility of the second bedroom for anyone who wants it). I'm thinking extended-length twin next to our king might be the way to go: enough room to keep the baby safe (on the outside) and everyone else comfortable.

February 9
Just wanted to point out I decided to endanger all three children today. It was fun!

February 11
Breastfeeding Alrik is already really painful, and I anticipate losing my milk sooner rather than later. I'm not sure how long I'll be able to go on this time. I knew this was coming, and it was one of the reasons I was glad in January that it turned out I wasn't pregnant yet — it gave the sweet boy another month to nurse.

{You can read my full story of (mostly) weaning Alrik here. He still nurses for a few seconds in the mornings occasionally, but we've otherwise scaled way back, and it seems to be going well for both of us now.}

February 12
Sam got me a three-stone ring out of the blue around Christmastime. He said he had to look long and hard for one with three stones of equal size, and he discarded the idea of birthstone colors and instead got my favorite, but the gems are meant to represent each of our three dear ones. I said this must mean I can't have twins.

Anyway, today we texted this picture of the ring to each of our parents at the same time (so there could be no hurt feelings over who got told first) with the question, "Can you guess the significance of this ring?"

As it turns out, no. No, they couldn't.

Plus, it took forever to get the picture small enough to text, and even then I had to resend it three times to my parents.

Oh, well, serves us right for trying to be clever. At any rate, they all know now, and are very happy!

February 18
I'm trying not to get weepy about the fact that this is my last pregnancy.

I actually do want it to be. I floated around in my head, and to Sam, the idea of four. But I really do think three's good. It's plenty. It's going to be challenging enough to fit all of us into one car and one condo, pay for us to travel and go to the movies, and, you know, raise them all!

As much as I've been enjoying these early years (and I have been), I've never considered myself a "baby person" and am looking forward to seeing these kidlets grow and change and mature, and see how our relationship continues along the path. It's exciting to think of us all down the road, having real conversations together, going to a play, traveling adventurously — anything hard to do with little kids.

So I'll keep enjoying this last pregnancy and newborn period, and the ages and stages in the near future, but I'll try not to regret. It's a good life, and a good family, and a good choice we're making.


Joy@WDDCH said...

I loved this so very much, wonderful post! And I do think it's a baby #3 (and beyond) thing. I don't think the grandparents are less excited; I think the newness of it all is just gone. Very different than having the first baby! Everyone's a little more chill the second, third, fourth, etc. go-around.

Well I'm super excited to see if you'll have all boys or have a little baby sister thrown in for good measure! SO exciting either way!!!

Unknown said...

Wonderful! Congratulations! I am so excited for you, and to follow you on your journey with this next baba :)

Karen du Toit said...

Great story to keep! Thanks for sharing!

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