18; Beta-and-Switch

This post is really late and I apologize. The truth is I’ve been spending most of my time feeling bad about craving pretty much only junk food and then eating it anyway, leading to me feeling worse. I ripped my slightly too-small lace underwear trying to pull them up really fast tonight.

3.5 servings per bag, you say? Challenge accepted, Cheetos.

Why, I can hear you not asking? Because Josh starting come downstairs as I was finishing up a 20-second pee with the downstairs bathroom door open, because HE WAS UPSTAIRS so I left the door open. We will never be the people who are OK with seeing each other use the bathroom. It mortifies me to even think about it. There is just something so vulnerable and weird about watching someone sitting on a toilet. But damn it, I didn’t feel like closing the door because again. He was upstairs.

That was not how I envisioned this entry beginning, yet here we are. HELLO. So I had my beta tests on May 28 and 30 and the results were fantastic — about 1,235 on the first go and 2,210 the second. They’re supposed to double every two to three days, so they looked great. My numbers around the same point in my first pregnancy were much, much lower, so seeing that gave me a lot of hope. In fact, at first I was worried the embryo split and I might be carrying multiples, but the nurse assured me that they were just strong numbers and not a red flag for twins.

I didn’t have any bleeding for the longest time save for a tiny spot that was likely from implantation until last Tuesday night, June 4. It wasn’t much — maybe like a light period, and very brief — but given my history, I contacted the doctor and he said I could come in the next day. So of course, we did. And…

Haupt Bebe! Maybe!

The doctor said nothing looked worrisome and that the gestational sac was sitting in a really good place in my uterus, whatever that means. “I’d be worried if it was over here,” he said, pointing more toward the middle? I think? I don’t know, but I do know I don’t need to know what would be worrisome. Been there. Over it. But then again I ask a million questions, so he probably just assumed I would want to know. He’d usually be right.

He also wasn’t sure if that little mass inside the gestational sac was a yolk sac (which I think is usually more round) or a fetal pole/beginning of an embryo or what, but there was definitely something there. He had to poke around and zoom in and out a lot to find it, though, which worried and still worries me. Tomorrow we go in to try and see a heartbeat. I’ll be 6 weeks, 6 days, where I was 5 weeks, 5 days for this first ultrasound.

This is the point we got to last time, and I’d be lying if I said my nerves weren’t through the roof. The 7-week appointment is where my doctor didn’t see any growth or a heartbeat (I think it was 7 weeks, 3 days), and I can’t help feeling like this will be the same deal. It feels like a video game I’ve been playing for years that I threw the controller down on a specific level and didn’t have the balls to work to get to that level again until now. And there’s no saving, so if I fail, I have to start from the very beginning again (I’m looking at you, original Super Mario Bros.).

I don’t feel much different. Like I said earlier, I’m craving carbs a lot but that’s not new, and I think mentally I might just be using my pregnancy as an excuse to eat more of them. I feel kind of grossed out by the chicken I put in my daily lunch salads, but I’ve been eating it anyway and then regretting it right after. No real nausea or morning sickness yet. Just tired af, but that’s also nothing new.

Also been playing a good deal of The Sims 4 the past couple days. This little moment warmed my heart, aside from the fact that Sim!Josh was clearly thinking of the way to make the quickest exit possible.

Sim!Jen had her fourth daughter minutes later. Poor Sim!Penny.

Speaking of daughters, my mom keeps calling the baby by the name we have picked out for a girl. It’s very cute but I don’t know why she’s so confident it’s a girl. She says because Juneau women are strong and this baby made it, but I could make a case for Haupt men too (and women). My friend Katlyn says boy. I just want a healthy baby. And while my head says boy, every time I actually think of or talk to the baby, I picture a girl. Hormones. I tell ya.

Speaking of hormones, I started crying a little bit today when I looked at this balloon that has now been alive for almost a month — the balloon Josh brought home with him the night before our transfer to cheer me up because I was freaking out hardcore:

Down but not out.

There’s so much symbolism it transported me back to Mrs. Carlin’s 11th grade English class during poetry month or whatever. That balloon is so deflated, which is how I feel right now. Completely off the wagon with my eating. Worried about whether we’re going to see a heartbeat and, despite the outcome, what it will mean for us.

Deflated from years of trying to conceive and now that we’ve done it (hopefully successfully), looking inside myself and being like, “Oh shit, what did we do? Are we even ready for this? Was it a sign from the universe that we aren’t supposed to be parents and now I’ve thrown off the balance?!”

But this balloon is still standing after 29 days, and I’m still standing after almost three years. Granted, it’s in bigger pants that will hopefully only get bigger (but not too much!) over the next eight months. But if this is it for us, I honestly wouldn’t change anything about how we got here. We’re nowhere near ready. But at the same time, we are.

17; Let’s Try This Again

So this is blog post #17. Seventeen is a lucky number for me. It’s my birthday (March 17, 1985). It’s the day Josh and I finally admitted we had feelings for each other (Sept. 17, 2010).

Sept. 17 is also my half birthday, and the day we flew out for our European vacation in 2016. The one where we started trying to conceive. The one that was over two and a half years ago, when we were excited but nervous af to be jumping in full force to try and start a family.

Sept. 17, 2016. Right before our flight to Paris.

May 17 of this year, just a few days ago, was the day I got to go see the musical I have been waiting to see since in was announced as something that might EVENTUALLY come to Broadway: Anastasia. I cried. I smiled. I hoped it would be the first musical my baby got to “experience” in the womb.

Before the tears.

The first thing I thought when I looked at this photo was, “I look pregnant,” because the way the front of my dress is sitting and the way my hands are placed makes it look like I have a bump. The fact that I’m on the higher end of any weight I’ve ever been doesn’t help, but my friend’s mom saw this picture on Facebook and told her the same thing: that I looked pregnant. But she said it nicely: “Because she’s glowing!”

I don’t know about that (although I guess the lighting was decent), but there may have been some early truth to it anyway. Because two days later, just about four days after my 6-day embryo transfer — or, as we on the infertility message boards like to abbreviate it, 4dp6dt — this happened:

Fi. Na. Fuc. King. Ly. Squint — it’s there!

And the next day, this happened:

NOW WITH MORE WORDS.

And eventually, this happened (I’m cutting back, I swear, I didn’t even test today):

#notsorry

I truly thought that even if I got a positive, I would not get it as early as 4dp6dt. That’s when the braggy girls on the Glow app got theirs, and if the past two and a half years have taught me anything, it’s that no part of this journey is going to be straightforward or easy or “normal” for me. But there it was. To most people, it would’ve probably looked like a negative. But to me and Josh, who have been staring at these tests for WAY too long, we knew better.

Speaking of my husband, we had agreed to test Sunday night, but I woke up that morning and he was at Home Depot and I decided I wanted to do it right then. I was shocked when I saw a second line. And he was coming home fast, so I did what any sane person would do on a Sunday at 11 a.m.: didn’t bother to put pants on.

Then I pulled out a UCF onesie I’d bought to surprise him and stuck that and the positive test under the pillow on his side of the bed, and texted him to ask him to come upstairs and help me make the bed. Not unusual since 1. I have only not made my bed a handful of times in my adult life, even on a Sunday, and 2. I am very lazy on the weekends.

I also went back and forth about whether to record him and decided against it because he hates being recorded and I wanted a genuine reaction more than I wanted a video, so here are a couple of blurry after shots after we hugged and cried and all that.

The happiest.
Still happy but also probably yelling at me for taking pics.
The hesitant-faced posed shot. (We made the bed RIGHT AFTER.)

Initially, we put all anxiety and worry aside and went to brunch, where Josh had his “first Dad beer” — his words, not mine. And I had my first “mom coffee” (a.k.a. decaf, because I’m going to be paranoid for a while if not this entire pregnancy. Also j/k I started on decaf long before Sunday).

First “Dad” beer, whatever that means.

Since that day three days ago, we have gone back and forth between giddy excitement and being nervous as all hell because we don’t want to get our hopes up again just to have them ripped from us. But we have been trying to let ourselves be excited. We’ve told a few close friends, and our parents and siblings and my grandma.

They’re all extremely happy but, understandably, some are hesitant to get too attached to the idea. Which we totally get, but it kind of sucks too — like an indirect way of saying, “Heeeey that’s great and all but let’s see how it goes.” Pessimist Jen thinks, “Just one more thing we have to sacrifice,” but I can’t blame them. I really can’t. This has been a process, and “Omg surprise, we’re pregnant!” has never been a thing for us. At least, not between us and the people we are closest to who know already. So I’m hoping it all smooth sailing from here, and that the genuine, pure excitement comes soon.

My beta blood test is Tuesday, May 28. That’s six days from now, so I’m really hoping my HCG levels are off the charts by then. My tentative due date is Jan. 31, 2020, which is cool — no family or close friend birthdays too close to then! I’ve been joking that I hope the Saints go to the Super Bowl and win and that the baby is born that day (Feb. 2), because how cool would that be? Ten years after their first Super Bowl win, too. Come through, Drew Brees!

IDK why this got into a conversation about football, but…we’re taking this thing one day at a time for now. My back is killing me today. My stomach felt sour af yesterday, and I’m starting to feel pretty tired already. But I welcome any and all pregnancy symptoms. I just want to see a heartbeat from this little rainbow baby in a few weeks. That will make it all worth it.

3; A Miscarriage and a Trip Down Memory Lane

Yesterday I had brunch with a very dear friend I hadn’t see in years and he shared with me that he and his wonderful wife had a miscarriage over the summer. Not only that, but they had it around the same time in the pregnancy that Josh and I had ours in pretty much the same way and had to get a D&C, just like we did. It was such a gut punch to hear someone I care about so deeply recalling this, not to mention knowing exactly what it feels like. And it sucks. You start questioning everything, specifically what you did wrong (which, most likely, is absolutely nothing because miscarriage is insanely common and despite what you’ve been told, a healthy pregnancy is truly a miracle). Everyone deals with grief differently, but having to take two steps back when you think your life is about to completely change is never easy — and losing a child is something I would never wish on anyone. We were lucky in the sense that it happened so so early in my pregnancy. Even though we’d already started preparing, both mentally and environmentally, I cannot imagine losing a child later in a pregnancy or having a stillborn child.

And the thing is, all of these events are so much more common than people think. They’re just so rarely discussed openly because both men and women are taught throughout their lives that not only is sex shameful, but that one small slip-up during sexual activity can result in an STD or a baby. And while this is extremely true, so much emphasis is put on that idea that both girls and boys are not taught as much about equally important concepts concerning their bodies — the importance of getting seen regularly by a doctor, how the reproductive system works (I have learned so much about my body in the past two years it’s not even funny, and I probably never would’ve if we hadn’t had to seek treatment), how much fertility is affected as you age, practicing physically and mentally safe sex over abstinence, etc. These are such crucial things to start incorporating into health education — and no one should ever feel shame over them. If you are planning to wait until your thirties to start a family, I would highly recommend getting some baseline fertility tests because even though our case may be atypical, that shiz is scary. BE INFORMED. I find it appalling in hindsight how much I’ve had to explain to fellow women about certain parts of this journey and the truth is, if I wasn’t dealing with infertility, I’d be in the same boat. Our educational system has failed us big time.

Anyway, that’s a tangent. My miscarriage never really “happened,” per se. I got pregnant for the first time ever about a year and a half after we first started trying, which was this past February, after our third IUI. We were in shock. I took pregnancy tests every day, twice a day, for at least two weeks because I didn’t believe it.

Not kidding. Labeled and all. Only about 60% of the tests I took. (Note: DPO = Days Past Ovulation. Another fun acronym you learn on the journey toward trying to conceive.)
ALL THE BRANDS. (Bottom brand showed positive the next day.)

We told most of our family and close friends and started buying a few baby items here and there, planning renovations to the house, etc., as a way of prepping for baby and indulging in some of our excitement, but also to quell our fears and misgivings — instincts that, unfortunately, turned out to be not unfounded. We saw the beginning of a little person when I was almost six weeks pregnant, but still could not quite feel that connection. And when I was about seven and a half weeks pregnant, there was no heartbeat or growth.

The most surprising part of this was that neither of us felt taken aback. We were like, “Oh. Well…yeah.” At that point, any positive news was something unexpected, sadly, so as difficult as it was to deal with the aftermath of losing a baby (and it WAS difficult, but thankfully involved lots of wine, sushi, caffeine, Brie, and other things pregnant ladies are supposed to steer clear from, plus lots of tears), we were more mentally prepared than we realized we were.

Not that it was easy. I have never seen Josh in so much pain, and I hope I never have to again. I know I will, because life is inclusive of those moments however much we wish it wasn’t, but seeing the person you love most in the entire world feel that kind of pain and not being able to do anything about it is such a horrible thing. Also, around that time, we also knew approximately 678435 people who were pregnant. I gained 10 lbs. in a month from depression eating. It wasn’t a good spring/early summer, guys.

First stop: pharmacy. Next stop: wine
The best, most tear-soaked meal of our lives. (At least it happened around Easter. No lie, I cleaned out those Reese’s eggs from Publix over the next few weeks after this photo was taken.)

Not only did I opt to induce miscarriage by taking medication, but I tried that route about six times (each a little less painful than the previous attempt) — meaning I wasn’t able to miscarry fully on my own despite the repeated attempts and writhing on my bathroom floor in pain, so I had to get the D&C. My doctor told me he had only seen the medication not work for someone one other time ever. LUCKY ME! Fortunately, the D&C procedure itself went as smoothly as it possibly could’ve. We are very thankful for that, and that my mom flew in for emotional support. It was so much easier having her here with us. My cycles also went back to normal like clockwork, thank God. They are actually even better/more normal than they were before.

The most difficult part of the D&C wasn’t the surgery itself (or even the bill, which added up to about as much as an IUI cycle), but the moment I had to sign a consent form about what to do with the tissue and I did a double-take at the “Mother” signature line, thinking it meant my mom because up until that moment, it always had — and she was right next to me at the time, so I assumed it was for a witness signature or something.

When I realized it meant me, it felt real in a way it hadn’t up until that point, and I don’t wish that feeling on anyone. It was the first time I had ever been called a mother by someone I didn’t know, or signed anything that referred to me that way, and thank God I went under anesthesia shortly after that because I almost lost it. It was like a punch in the throat and the moment I felt like I was truly saying goodbye.

Right before the surgery. Hair shine on point. Not pictured: comfy af socks.
Don’t know what I would do without these two people.

Another thing I shared with my friend today is that I am still grappling with feeling like this is the universe demanding payment for something, like it’s Rumpelstiltskin taking my firstborn child from me because of something I didn’t even realize I was gambling for or did wrong. According to my own internal dialogue, it could be a lot: breaking off my engagement eight years ago and leaving my fiancé for his best friend, waiting until my thirties to have children, getting annoyed at crying kids in public, not living in the same state as my aging parents. Take your pick. Payment? For the amazing 2015-2016 Josh and I had. We both got great jobs (mine literally at my dream company), bought a house, went to Europe. So my brain was like, something is going to be a payment here. (Yes, I’m talking to my therapist about this.)

My friend today was one of the first people I’ve told this to who hasn’t shot it down cold. He of course said it wasn’t true — which is what I would tell anyone else who wasn’t me, to be fair — but he also said he understood why I’d feel that way and that it wasn’t unreasonable or irrational to feel it. Oddly, that made me feel kind of empowered about it. These are feelings I continue to work through and I am a lot better about it now than I was a year ago. To be honest, Josh and I both still grapple with the way we got together, but not nearly as much as we used to. It creeps in when we’re both feeling especially insecure and has shown its face in a very ugly way throughout this infertility journey, during the times when we both feel defeated and the “when” is an “if.” It’s still a “when” for us at this point and we’re trying to be optimistic, but that ebbs and flows and I think that’s probably OK.

Baby Haupt at just under six weeks. The most we ever saw of our little bean.

I did get to spend my birthday at Walt Disney World when I was still pregnant, which was so fun. Josh bought me a bottle of non-alcoholic wine for the AirBnB and a little silly bell to ring when I want a kiss, and a coffee mug that had the name we’d picked out if our baby was a girl (spelled differently, but still). We had felt it was a boy before that, but that day we changed our minds because we took it as a sign that the gift shop had our girl name but not our boy one.

We had fun deciding what would be baby Haupt’s first ride, and made a video on Dumbo where we talked to the baby about how much we were excited to take her to WDW one day. We told our waiter at dinner that we were expecting our first child and he was so excited for us and took great care of us. He even tracked down non-alcoholic wine for me. It was probably my best birthday to date.

Baby Haupt’s first Disney ride
Me with our amazing waiter at Be Our Guest restaurant. Not the best pic but F it. Flash is not my friend.

We never did find out the sex of the baby for sure because we opted not to have the D&C tissue tested since most of it had cleared out from the meds before I went in for the procedure, but my mom thinks it was a girl too.

We mutually decided to call her Genevieve (my mom’s idea), because that was what my mom had wanted to name me initially.

Hat we bought for Baby Haupt before we found out she wasn’t growing.

We cried for Genevieve a lot. We still do sometimes, but not nearly as often. She will always be our first baby and she will always be any future babies’ (and Penny’s!) big sister.