You’ve sensed where this is going, right?
Is this the old story of a boy and a girl trying to come together to make number three, come up with zero, and then go on vacation, get drunk and have it work all on its own? Not quite, but close.
We’d done some monitoring to figure out that yes, I was ovulating and also to confirm that yes, Oliver was contributing. The conclusion was however that 1+1 was still not making #3, which was our indicator that IUI would be a good idea to bring all elements of the equation together at the right time and place.
If we hadn’t had done one last test run before the holidays, I would have been in the stirrups sometime in January. Instead I found myself standing in downtown Villach, Austria, counting on my fingers trying for the life of me to remember some important dates for the last month. I had ditched the darn iPhone app and had been ignoring the whole thing when all of a sudden, during my last trip to a real town before everything closed for the Christmas holidays, I found myself standing in front of a pharmacy with a nagging feeling I couldn’t shake. I was alone for few moments so, for peace of mind more than anything else, I ducked in and bought the most accurate, ridiculously expensive digital test they had (set of two, always a good idea ladies). Then I went on with the holiday shopping, wrapping, wining and dining fun.
Over here they celebrate Christmas on the eve before. I think every expat in Germany knows what I mean when I say that I woke up on Christmas morning with the feeling like it was the 26th. That holiday was over, time to get some things done before the whole New Years celebration ramped up. Oliver and I started the morning making lists while still in bed of what we needed to buy or do for our newly renovated apartment (spoiler: although it made the list, we never did hang the toilet paper holder).
I kept feeling like something hadn’t made the list. Hmm. What was it? Continue reading
Considering how drunk I got that night and the next day, it was a good thing that I didn’t have hepatitis. I’m sure the sheer volume of what I ingested would have had me well on my way to a transplant. But at that point I really didn’t care. After the last few weeks, I really needed and deserved liquid therapy.
We’d had made plans months before to join some friends for a weekend on Helgoland, a quirky little island with a troubled past in the North Sea. I was still recovering but again I didn’t care. Escape sounded great. So the next morning we were up and on our way. I waited until we were on the train halfway to Hamburg and almost through the first bottle of wine I’d packed, before I finally told Oliver about the test results.
He was surprisingly calm about it.
I don’t think you have anything, he said, pouring me more wine. He then reminded me about the exhaustive tests we’d taken in preparation to move to China. The Chinese government had required tests and immunizations for just about any and every disease in the modern world. Even if I’d caught hepatitis C recently, he said, they would have caught a childhood infection for hep A. He was also pretty sure we’d both been immunized for hepatitis, although which one was hard to recall. Something else was wrong, he said, maybe a test was tainted.
I relaxed a little and then made it just in time to get sick in the restroom. Two months of not drinking can really lower your tolerance.
Yeah, so… hepatitis.
When she said this, I asked the doctor to repeat herself. Surely I must have missed something. After two weeks of treatment, why was this just coming up now?
Actually, in case that seems like I was taking this calmly, let me clarify. My reaction was more like: Continue reading
I wonder if any physician ever comes into a patient’s room and says, well we hope we got it all, but let’s see. Probably not.
Thanks to my supplementary insurance, I was given the chief surgeon of the university hospital I was admitted to. The big hoo-ha man. For those who are aware of the German system, getting private treatment is reassuring. You feel you’re getting the best. But even the best make mistakes. These were rather small, but they really ruined my next few weeks.
When I was still coming out of the anesthesia, a voice in the dark told me that the surgery went perfectly and that everything was removed. Later in my room, the chief surgeon came by briefly to tell me the same thing. My recovery should be smooth and easy, I could go home first thing in the morning. Everything was fine.
A resident, surrounded by a gaggle of eager happily-nodding interns came by again in the morning to discharge me and said the same.
At 10 pm that evening I was back in the hospital with a fever. Continue reading
The weekend immediately following the book incident, Oliver and I had plans to visit friends in Munich. This was going to conflict with our decision to tell no one about the pregnancy until more time had passed, because me not drinking heavily was going to be an obvious sign. I felt strange telling other people, because I still didn’t feel any different.
That Saturday night while I sipped water and my friend Andrea drank a Hendricks gin tonic with a slice of cucumber and, of all things, a grind of fresh pepper (see below), I told her about how non-pregnant-seeming my symptoms were and how surprised I was to find out that pregnancy can also be confused as PMS. She found that interesting too. Her period was very late – although rarely ever regular – and she was feeling exactly like that.
Enjoy that gin tonic, I told her, and maybe take a test on Monday. Continue reading
I’d hoped to get pregnant again right away. Of course. After being tossed into the planning-limbo of early pregnancy, I found the place after a miscarriage to be even worse. It felt like negative planning land. I never wanted to be one of those women who obsess about pregnancy or who approach the whole process with a battle plan. I didn’t want to have to think about it. After a false start of sorts, I just wanted to get on with it already so my life could continue. Continue reading
Oh and it turned out that we did have fertility issues. Which I found weird since we’d managed on our own, but there you go. It was a little bit of him and a little bit of me. Combined together and *whammo* I found myself referred to a fertility doctor, a no-nonsense, crazy Nordic bald guy who was obviously raking in tons of cash.
Sitting in his waiting room, surrounded by annoying Anne Gedes prints and a I-kid-you-not-larger-than-life-sized-stork statue, the phrase “vaginas on a conveyor belt” popped into my mind. It was everything I could do not to post that on Facebook. Continue reading
Oliver and I are not kid crazy people. I define that as: we both agreed we wanted them someday, but we don’t assault random infants on the street to pinch their cheeks and make goo goo noises.
Once we’d established that both were theoretically open to them in the oh-so-distant-future, we didn’t talk about them again until a year or two after we were married and then as something still to come. We had time. We weren’t in any hurry. There were things we wanted to do and accomplish first. We were happy to wait, even as our friends and siblings married and started having kids. We weren’t in any rush.
The first time we really got serious about the topic was in planning the move to China. During our visit it was clear what most of the expat wives did to occupy themselves while they were there. After learning about the hospitals in Beijing, the cheap and plentiful household help, and the tight knit community full of kids it was easy to see why it made sense. I wasn’t super eager about it yet, but it was clear to me that it would be a good idea to try and start a family while we were over there (in addition to starting my sweatshop empire of course).
After that move fell through at the last minute, the idea remained Continue reading
This first pregnancy taught me a lot of hard lessons. Doctors don’t always match your personality or needs and serious conflict means you need a new one. I’ve also learned to insist on tests and checking on things that a physician (aka authority figure in a white coat) may not agree with and may consider irrelevant. I’m still learning to truly not care at all what other people think.
I’m not blaming my doctor for losing my first pregnancy, but I certainly don’t applaud her lack of support or apathy. There may have been nothing that could have been done to prevent what happened, but there were missed opportunities to gather information for the next time. Continue reading
Although I accepted that these things happen, I have a little bit of anger about how it all came to pass. I’m not sure I could have prevented anything. But I do feel that not every option was presented, and there was information that could have been uncovered that might have helped us in the months to come.
I visited my doctor when I found out I was pregnant to see what if anything needed to be done at this point: tests, precautions I didn’t know about, etc. It was during this visit that I realized what I had seen as her professional demeanor was really more of a detachment. Other than constantly correcting my vocabulary, she answered my direct questions but volunteered nothing. I felt she wasn’t trying to understand what I wanted to know or consider what else I may not have thought about. I had been ok with her reserve before because I normally don’t like the maternal / friendly type of doctor. But now, I started to realize that I needed someone that was a little more involved. I mentally made a note to ask around and look for other options.
But just about a week after telling Oliver, I started to spot. Continue reading