12 weeks! (Please don’t judge my hair here. I had just woken up and rushed to get Hus to take a picture before he ran off to his weekend job. I know something needs to be done, perhaps brushing it or cutting it or even just washing regularly would probably be a good start.)
This is around the time that most people start to announce to the world, “Yo, I’m pregnant!” I haven’t really done this, but I am becoming more liberal with who I tell in my everyday life.
A lot of people at school actually found out last week since I was dramatically out sick for 3 days and word spread. I got back to work this week with all my students knowing and being super cute about it. Many of them during morning meeting now say things like “Today I am feeling excited because Ms. Carly va a tener baby!” and don’t even get me started on the amount of little hands on my tummy. I know it’s in a loving way but I also get really tired of being touched all day, which was the case even before pregnancy. My students are just overly affectionate; always hugging, grabbing my hands, touching my toes on the carpet, wanting to sit in my lap, trying to braid my hair, etc.
I definitely see a difference in this week’s picture, which is exciting! Eating food again probably helped.
Oh and the 12 week ultrasound was so unbelievably awesome. This was the first time you could see arms and legs in full detail and lots of movement. I drank a super sweet coconut juice in the car on our way to the appointment knowing it would help with the action and it really did. Feezy was having a rager in there. Honestly though, it kind of makes me want to steer clear of sugar completely because you really see the impact it has and that sort of scares me. It can’t be good to make your fetus go bouncing off the walls of your uterus, right? I’ve had zero sweet tooth anyway so maybe that’s for the best.
profile shot and then arms up in what looks like warrior pose
Since everything looked great, on target for growth and heart rate, I’m not going back again until 16 weeks. It will be a long month of waiting to see him again but I like that the longer we wait, the more dramatically he will have changed. That will be worth it. Plus, I’ve already been spoiled by ultrasounds — 5 weeks (gestational sac), 7 weeks (just a fluttering heart), 9 weeks (BABY!), 11 weeks (dehydrated, angry baby), 12 weeks — so I figure giving the little guy some privacy to do his thing will be good.
(Have I mentioned we say he and call him Feezy even though we have no idea if he’s a boy or a girl? I just hate saying “it” so we decided to say he until told otherwise, and Feezy just stuck. I really feel like he’s a boy, anyway.)
This week I started being more appreciative of life here. It helps that I’ve been feeling less sick in the mornings, so while walking to work I can actually enjoy the smell of the french bakery’s donuts and croissants baking, fresh corn tortilla smell wafting out from behind the mini-super and even coffee being made in our school’s kitchen. My nausea strictly comes at nighttime now, thus sabotaging dinner which is the meal where I often try to eat healthy and throw in, dare I say, a vegetable or a protein. Yeah, that never ends well. I’m ready for this to be over because I want to feed Feezy right!
Speaking of which, I have an orange in my fridge. Let me go peel that thang.
This has been a good karma kind of week. Alicia at the french bakery gave us two croissants when we went to buy a loaf of bread, one of which was filled with chocolate. I know I just said I don’t have a sweet tooth but that chocolate croissant might have been the first food I thoroughly enjoyed this entire pregnancy. Dangerously, dangerously good. She also gave it to us at the end of a school day when I was particularly ravenous. It was so perfect. I ate the other one with almond butter which sounds like a weird combination but it totally worked.
Then we went to this new little bar/restaurant place that just opened around the corner from us and a friend of ours was working there so he gave us free drinks and then out came an entire table of free chicken wings, four different flavor varieties. Hus was in heaven. I was not. Ew. I ordered french fries. Healthy dinner, I know.
After that I did NOT want ice cream, as I had just ate all the french fries in the world, but Hus, who has been acting more pregnant than me recently, wanted ice cream. And I was down for a walk. So we went for ice cream, to a place I know all too well since they are pretty much the reason I’m pregnant. I went there every night — no exaggeration — while we were trying to conceive, as I knew more fat would help the situation. I seriously became an ice cream consultant there, tasting different flavors and giving feedback. The owner hadn’t seen me in months since my aversion to sweetness kicked in so he was overjoyed to see my face and hear our news. As I said, I did NOT want ice cream but he insisted on having us try tastes of all his new flavors with him, as if we were at a bar taking shots with the bartender. He makes it all himself from scratch with fresh ingredients here so it is truly unbelievable stuff, even for a sugar hater like myself. And then he insists on giving us both free ice cream cones and going on and on about how he can’t wait to see us with our baby, etc. He has said before how much he loves us as a couple so this was just icing on the cake for him. Such a good guy. Mexican culture is so open and loving, never ceasing to amaze me. I felt pretty sick after that ice cream though.
I was kind of sad walking away that night because he has no idea we’re moving away. Neither do my students. I know being home with family is the place to have a baby, but it will be hard to leave here. We walk everywhere and know everyone. People are constantly watching our backs. It is so incredibly safe, literally zero violent crime, so I am able to walk alone at all hours and there are always people out. Sunshine literally every single day. We can see and hear the waves crashing from our apartment, and walk one block to the beach to swim or paddle board or frolic with our dog. I thought I’d be bored living in such a small town, but there is never a dull moment here. There was even an elephant stomping around when I walked to the grocery store this morning (the circus is in town and they took it for a leisurely walk, no big deal). Hus fed it some apples:
I keep telling myself that this town will always be here, as will many of our friends. This will forever be a home to us, and coming back will be amazing. It’s just daunting to move back to the states after three years in Mexico, as we know this country has deeply changed us and aren’t even sure what our old “home” will feel like after this has been our home for so long. It’s a weird thing. I don’t even think I’m able to articulate how exactly I’m feeling about this.
Lots of love to all.
Blurry picture. It’s a rough pic, representative of a rough week.
On Tuesday night I was up all night tossing and turning with a fever. Wednesday morning the diarrhea started, you know, the really enjoyable, non-stop kind. I text messaged by OBGYN and he said to come in. I drove the hour of curvy jungle road while my stomach churned. Ran to his bathroom when I got there. Ugh. He put me on the scale and I had lost 5 lbs since 2 weeks ago, which is no good especially considering I’m only 5 feet tall. He did an ultrasound and the baby’s heart rate was elevated. I was upset about this but also very focused on the baby, which I hadn’t seen in two weeks, looking so much more baby-like! Kicking and punching up a storm, probably because he was pissed about the elevated heart rate. Poor thing.
Doctor told me I was dehydrated and thus stressing the baby, so I had to go the hospital immediately and get on an IV drip for hydration and antibiotics.
So I did. I drove a bit more down the road, checked myself in at San Javier hospital and called my school secretary to give Hus the message of where I was. He would come as soon as he finished teaching.
I took a Tylenol every 5 hours or so to keep the fever down, but as it started to wear off I felt incredibly uncomfortable. I thought perhaps I could get some rest in the hospital bed, since I had barely slept an hour the whole night before, but no such luck. There was no way to relax. It was loud. I kept getting tangled with the IV cord. I was also constantly having to call the all male nurses to take my IV down so I could go to the bathroom.
I was so worried about the baby.
When Hus arrived, around hour three, I felt overjoyed. He made me laugh with funny stories from the day at school about blending fish guts with his science class. I love him so much. He sat on the bed with me because there was no chair and rubbed my legs and feet, which felt good because my whole body ached. I got so cold that I felt like I had hypothermia. I told a nurse I was cold and he brought me a fluffy blanket that felt like it had been microwaved. It felt like heaven. Then they took my temperature and gasped and stole it away so I was freezing again. Jerks.
A very disgruntled sounding German guy came to the other side of my partition, with a tribe of people helping to translate about his bloody stools and how it was probably just Montezuma’s revenge, which was way too graphic for me at that moment.
I just wanted to get out of there.
Around hour five, we got to home. Unfortunately, my fever was still around 101 degrees. The doctor prescribed 10 days of antibiotic pills and a shit ton of sick-ass Pedialyte.
There is no delicious flavor of Pedialyte, in case you were wondering. I thought I liked coconut flavored everything and now know that is not true.
Went home and continued to feel awful for another sleepless night, but Thursday afternoon the fever finally broke. I could never accept the god awful flavor of Pedialyte so I stuck to this Electrolit drink instead. Their coconut flavor is acceptable, though still far from delicious.
The good news is that today is Saturday and I’m feeling much better now! Eating food, sleeping just fine, my usual morning sickness that gets cured by eating carbs, etc. I’ve been worrying a bit about being on antibiotics for the second time this early in pregnancy, but trying to have faith that an infection would be far more dangerous to my baby than antibiotics. Bought some kombucha that a woman in town makes and some greek yogurt from the farmer’s market to hopefully get some good stuff going in my stomach now.
I still have no idea why I got sick in the first place, which scares me. Is it a bug that I caught from a student? Something I ate? I hadn’t eaten out at all and honestly I eat the most boring foods at home, which Hus always eats as well, so I can’t believe it to be food poisoning. Regardless, I’m making an extra effort to eat super well now: organic when possible, no conventional dairy milk, etc. I don’t want to get sick again and it’s hard to avoid it in Mexico, teaching 6 and 7 year olds.
Back to the picture up there. I decided to wear that baller outfit every week (for now) to make it easier to notice subtle changes. I will also now put that sign up above my head with the week number. I’m recycling our un-used thank you wedding postcards for those signs. In the future, I’ll also ask Hus to make the picture less blurry. It kind of made sense for this week though.
Stay healthy, stay loving, stay happy.
So, we can all be honest here. Not much is going on in this picture. I am wearing some bad ass tie-dye bike shorts, though. So I have that going on.
Supposedly, the baby is as large as a prune. I haven’t eaten a prune since my last lifetime as a 90 year old man, so I can’t quite be sure how big that is, but it must not be all that big. I’d like to think that little pooch action parallel with where my hand is could be a baby bump, but I’m fairly certain I’ve had that my whole life.
I didn’t mention this before, but we did have an awesome and comforting scan at exactly 9 weeks! Baby was measuring 4 days ahead and wiggled a little when my doctor pushed on my pelvis. Harassment starts early, kid. Heart was beating 180 beats per minute. It was totally cool.
I continue to feel rough most of the time, especially close to the end of each school day in my classroom. It starts as extreme lethargy around 1 pm and then morphs into nausea. The only cure is bee-lining it out of school right at the end of the day, eating some granola or bread with almond butter and then napping for 3 hours. As a result, I wake up at 7 o’clock feeling like an extremely lazy, worthless person but I reassure myself with the whole “I’m making a person” excuse.
Last week all I could think about was pad thai. Then I ate pad thai on Friday and it was super underwhelming. I miss enjoying food! But I know, I know. Small price to pay for what’s going on in this here uterus, so I’m not complaining, universe.
How have I been doing with my goals of loving more and being happy? Let’s see. I showed love to our friend who owns a cafe by painting him a new sign to hopefully better catch the attention of people walking by. Showed love to my friend Emily by working for about 10 hours on the book I’m writing about her. I felt love come back to me when our waitress at the pad thai restaurant informed me that another table, the family of one of my first graders, had covered our bill for us. This week I want to show more love to Hus since he’s taken on a lot in the face of my ridiculous laziness. I’ve been happy most of the time, though at times very, very scared about the future. To work on the happy thing Hus and I are going to start meditating this week. Well, I used to do it, so I’ll start to do it again and he is going to try for the first time. I have a great book that walks you through it. We’ll see how it goes.
Considering that my blog is named “Love more, be happy” this is admittedly a pretty negative post but, hey, I gotta keep it real. Hopefully it will make you feel happier because you aren’t me right now, and then in a roundabout way the title of my blog will be accomplished, yes?
On a paradise-esque beach where we live. Ew.
Considering that I live in a popular travel destination, on the beach in Mexico, many people might perceive this as a lovely place to be pregnant. In fact, I see women all the time that around 7 months pregnant that have obviously bopped down here from the states for an idyllic “babymoon” and I’m sure they’re having a wonderful time. However, I have officially decided that where I live is one of the worst places in the world to be in your first trimester.
Here are reasons why the first trimester sucks where I live:
1. Mmm, who doesn’t get excited about a big seafood dinner when the mahi mahi or shrimp has been plucked from the sea just a few hours prior? Oh, that’s right, me. I don’t appreciate the fact that every single restaurant I walk by absolutely wreaks of fish, the multiple fish markets here literally churn raw fish smell out onto the street and pick-up trucks full of raw shrimp drive by me, blaring loud shrimp-peddling propaganda.
2. Unless you are a rich tourist renting a golf cart, you have no choice but to walk everywhere here. I used to love this quaint quality of small town lifestyle, as it forces you to get to know everyone in town pretty fast. I even appreciated the fact that it forced a healthy lifestyle upon me. However. When I’m so tired after work that I feel as if my body has been inhabited my zombies, the last thing I want to do is walk home and get stopped in conversation 10 times. And yet, this happens daily.
3. It’s hot as balls. Right now is supposedly the nicest time of the year, and I still think it’s hot as balls. It is, by my standards anyway, summer year round. It just changes by season from unbearably torturously hot in the summer/fall to pleasantly hot (pleasant by someone’s standards that isn’t me, that is) in the winter/spring. When we moved here in July and it was 100 degrees plus humidity, Hus and I were taking about 5 cold showers a day to function. None of our houses here have ever had air conditioning. If you are lucky, you get a ceiling fan placed strategically above your bed. I thought I had adjusted to the heat, but sure enough, this first trimester has made me extremely sensitive to heat. When I get hot and tired, which happens when I walk anywhere or move too quickly in the house, I get nauseous. Awesome.
4. My strongest food aversion these past few weeks has been Mexican food, which is so convenient when 99% of the restaurants in town serve only Mexican food! Just the smell of spicy fried meat or fish or onions as I walk by a taco stand makes my stomach turn. What’s worse is many of the workers at the local places know my husband and I and are confused by our disappearance over the past months, so they’ll swoop in when they see us and try to question and lure us in as I start to gag.
5. Now let’s talk about the other food options. What can I eat here? The two foods I’ve wanted the most are string cheese and Annie’s cheddar bunny crackers, neither of which you can buy here, so I’ve been pretty much screwed. The french bakery here has known me really well because I basically buy bread and cheese and that’s it. I have honestly been dreaming of wandering the aisles of a Whole Foods and grabbing crackers and kettle potato chips off the shelves. My comfort foods just don’t exist here.
6. 90% of the female population here (ok, this is a very high ridiculous estimate) surfs and has a six pack and wears a bikini 24/7. Meanwhile, I’m in the stage of pregnancy where I don’t look pregnant, I just look a little fat, feel like hell in a bikini and hate all these girls with a vehement passion.
7. Anytime you need to leave our small town for, say, a doctor’s appointment or to get your car fixed or whatever, you need to drive on the curviest, most death-defying jungle road for 30 minutes first. I’ve never been one to get motion sickness, but even my non-pregnant self has gotten carsick on these roads multiple times (especially if you glance at your cell phone for any reason, don’t do it!!!) so now that the first trimester constant nausea is here… forget about it.
8. My first trimester conveniently overlapped with the spring break holiday. This was actually wonderful because it allowed me two weeks to not be at work and take naps whenever I needed them, which rocked. However, spring break is also when tourists – particularly of the teenage, loud, drunk, Mexican variety – flock here. A group of fourteen of these tourists decided to rent the place above our apartment and party until 5AM screeching makeshift karaoke and blaring a blow horn. For real. Not to mention the four different bands that were playing in the plaza until 3AM each night, echoing up the hill into our apartment, the four different genres of music all meshing together most un-melodically. Sleep is pretty much the #1 most important thing in the world to me right now, and for these weeks it just wasn’t happening (at night, anyway).
9. Living in a small town is kind of like high school again, because everyone is always up in everyone else’s business. My husband and I both wanted to keep the pregnancy on the down low until the second trimester so we knew that all was well and good with the baby before others were informed. However, I kid you not, the very same day I peed on a stick a co-worker at school came up to me and said “You’ve gained weight. You are pregnant.” Then this continued to happen over and over again as the weeks went by. It didn’t help my case when I went running out of my classroom at 8:30am to throw up. There is also a very strong drinking culture here, and for me NOT to be drinking a margarita was a huge red flag to people. People in town pretty much knew I was pregnant before I did. So much for keeping things on the down low.
10. It’s unbelievably, stunningly beautiful here! Really, I am looking out my window right now at the ocean and both hearing and watching the waves break. A slight breeze is making the palm trees rustle and hills dense with jungle are to my left and right. I am fully aware that I live in a beautiful paradise and yet I feel so icky, nauseous, tired, disgusting and constipated that I’m not even appreciating it here. I keep wishing I lived in a boring, ugly, cold place where I could snuggle up in bed at home with a string cheese and with my chihuahua and not feel like I’m missing anything outside. But here, with each day pristinely sunny day (we’ve had one, exactly ONE day of rain since September people) I feel like my condition is really in stark contrast to my surroundings.
11. I have no television or internet in my apartment. This isn’t really fair to list as a reason why it sucks to live here, because other people here are normal and have at least one if not both of these things. But anyway this is my blog so shhh. All I want right now is to be a lazy bum and watch HBO or read trashy blogs but I can’t. Instead, I have been having staring contests with my dog, reading books (can’t find a good one either, I keep reading and ditching) or getting on my computer to complain to myself via typing a blog post that I post later on when I find wi-fi. Thus, this post was born. You’re welcome.
The drive to my doctor’s office is one full hour and the combination of curvy jungle roads, first trimester nausea and anxiety about what the ultrasound would show made for an uncomfortable ride. I tried to talk about other things with my husband, Husein. For instance, how crazy my 1st and 2nd grade students were that day, how bread and cheese were the only appealing foods on planet earth, and so on. As much as I tried to distract myself, all I could think was: Will we see a heartbeat?
The few people in my life who know about the pregnancy so far perceive my anxiety as totally unmerited. Most pregnancies progress well! Think positive! Chillax, girl! And I tried, I really did. But when you have struggled with infertility and are in touch with a community of women who also struggle, you’ve heard the darkest stories. You know how often women lose babies, anywhere from 6 weeks to 9 months old. You try to focus on all the healthy beautiful babies that are cradled in their mother’s arms in your small Mexican town, or the ones that are learning to clumsily walk on their own on the beach. You see families with 3, 4 or 5 perfect children and think, ok, that happens. But your mind can’t help but linger back to the darkness.
We finally arrived to my doctor’s office and he greeted me with the biggest smile and a kiss on the cheek. I adore my doctor. He is the kind of doctor I can text message at 10pm on a Tuesday and get a response immediately, and the kind that will have me drive to his beach condo on a vacation weekend to pick up medicine from him. He’s also the doctor that had no idea what to do with my infertility after seeing me for 6 months, but that asked another doctor (a young German guy who happened to live around the corner) to come into the office for a second opinion. I will never forget the day I saw Dr. Marcus, this extremely serious German doctor, enter my doctor’s office unexpectedly, sit in my doctor’s chair, look at my bloodwork and history on my doctor’s computer, and completely change the diagnosis I’d had for the past 2.5 years.
“Nope. You don’t have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. You have Hypothalamic Amenhorrea,” he said matter-of-factly.
When he told me it was a problem with my brain though, I couldn’t help but feel my heart drop. That sounded so much worse than just those small cysts around my ovaries that were supposedly caused by insulin resistance. But he told us that the solution was quite easy. My brain wasn’t producing LH and FSH, so I could just get them via injection to grow a follicle, then another injection to induce ovulation, have timed intercourse and then bada-bing-bada-boom, I’d be pregnant.
It sounded too good to be true, and that’s because it kind of was. After doing a lot of research I realized that, yes, these medicines could work, but I also had to make sure I was nourishing my body properly. My current streak of fasting all day at work followed by one hour of yoga and then eating a high-protein, gluten-free dinner? Even with the few chocolate ice creams I would eat each week thrown in did not make for a balanced diet. I had already started to tone down my once-rigorous exercise schedule by doing yoga instead of Insanity workouts and running sprints, because I had a feeling intense cardio wasn’t doing my fertility any favors. I had already gained probably 5 lbs since our wedding in June, but now that I had a real diagnosis and fully realized what my years of bizarre semi-restrictive eating habits and rigid exercising had done
Project weight gain ensued, along with taking birth control pills to cause a bleed and start a clean slate for the injections. The medicines are all super affordable in Mexico compared to the astronomical prices in the states, so with our expected move back to the states in the summer we felt like the time was now. We started Dr. Marcus’ plan, I cut my yoga down to 30 minutes a day and my food intake up dramatically. Here’s the photo evidence if you don’t believe me: (disregard awkward self-photography, how melancholy I look in that black bathing suit picture and the fact that we moved to the beach this year and my skin color is now completely different)
I had read on my Hypothalamic Amenorrhea forums that a BMI of 22 or 23 was ideal and that’s where I happened to land.
So about 2 months later, in fact the day after I took that awkward bikini shot in my living room seen above, I peed on a stick and saw two lines.
It’s funny looking back because there was such a roller coaster of anxiety leading up to that test. Scheduling the timing of each injection, making sure Husein got the perfect amount of mL into each syringe, every time we’d go to the office to check on my follicles and my lining, adjusting dosage, scheduling sex (eh, this wasn’t actually stressful for either of us) and then the two week wait between ovulation and testing time. Weird new sensations were springing up in my body each day. Twinges and cramps and heaviness down there. Boobs swelling up. Waking up to pee in the night. The most intense physical exhaustion I’ve ever felt in my whole life. Cervical mucus or worrisome brown spotting. I never knew if it was the medicine or pregnancy or what.
Oh, and then of course when you get a positive test, you feel this exhilarating rush of happiness!!!! Immediately followed by this heavy drop of worries that it might be a chemical pregnancy or you’ll have an early miscarriage or blah blah negativity boo. And that’s how the next few weeks progressed for me.
So, yeah. There had been a whole dizzying display of anxiety dancing constantly in my brain over the months leading up to today’s appointment. But I had come that far, and my intense nausea was telling me something legitimate was happening down there.
We went into his office, reviewed my recent blood and urine tests (all good except for a slight urinary tract infection which he treated with antibiotics) and then I laid down for a vaginal ultrasound.
We saw the flutter of the heartbeat immediately. Phew.
My doctor patted my knee through the paper sheet and said, “Perfecto, Carly, perfecto.” We had calculated that I was at 7 weeks and that day the baby measured 7 weeks 1 day with a heartbeat of 148 BPM.
I couldn’t stop smiling as we drove away from the doctor’s office that day. Sure, it was no guarantee that I was out of the woods entirely, but I decided then and there that I had to focus on the good and stop letting worries paralyze me.
My baby’s heart is beating inside of me. This is so beautiful. No matter what happens, this right now is real and how can I not appreciate it and let myself be distracted by pointless worries?
That night, as part of my bedtime ritual, I read a book of poetry I have by Iranian poet, Hafiz. I read this and immediately scribbled it down in my journal:
“When all your desires are distilled; You will cast just two votes: To love more, And be happy.”
I decided that this is now my focus. I am going to love more — love to everyone from my husband to my chihuahua to the smoothie guy on the street, from my most annoying students to strangers on the beach to the heartbeat inside of me. I’ve never regretted loving anything or anyone, so why not love more?
I’m also going to be happy because, you know what, being happy is a choice. I always looked at my father (the most chipper, optimistic, happy-go-lucky fellow on earth) and wondered how the heck I came from him. His default was seeing the bright side while I always felt consumed by darkness. It might come easier to him, but I can see the bright side, too. It’s easier to let my mind flood with worries, but I can acknowledge the worry and then keep it moving through the river of my mind and then choose to focus on what’s awesome. And there’s so much awesome in my life, there really is.
So this is where I’ll write about my journey to love more, be happy and — oh yeah — that whole growing a baby thing.