Thursday, September 18, 2014

Dolomites Trip Part 2: Getting there and Getting home

I'm not the only one who stays at a 4 out of 10 on the panic attack scale for the entirety of every trip, am I? I might be. From the moment we left our house (4 MINUTES LATER THAN I HAD PLANNED) on Tuesday, I was a bundle of nerves. We had tons of time for our drive to Dulles, but DC traffic is the worst, ever, and we were pushing up on rush hour time, which around here starts at like 2pm and lasts until 8pm. True story, I was once stuck in traffic on a Sunday afternoon and on the radio they called it "Regular Sunday afternoon congestion." Wtf, people. Why is that a thing?

Anyway. My dad took us to the airport, and the drive was flawless. We got there super early, dropped off our bags (already checked in online) and we through security and to our gate in less than 30 minutes. We were 3 hours early for the flight. I'm not going to complain that it went too quickly, but it sort of did. There's only so much Hudson News browsing you can do before you go crazy staring at vapid magazine headlines. Also, when my anxiety is on high alert and I'm bracing myself for things to go wrong, it is very disconcerting for things to go right. I can't just relax, I feel the need to fret about something. So productive. We got on the plane and the flight was delayed almost 2 hours due to weather. At least I could fret about missing our connection.

We flew Austrian Airlines and had the best seats ever (36A and 36C for life!). On our plane, the back few rows on either side narrowed just enough to go from 3 down to 2 seats in the side sections. That meant that instead of being in super cramped 3-across, we had so much space with 2-across. It was glorious! I watched a few movies, slept, and got irritated at people loudly conversing in the aisle right next to my seat. I tried to kill them with my death stare. Didn't work. It is the middle of the night, jerks. We missed our next flight into Innsbruck because of the delay, but Austrian automatically rebooked us, plus gave us a nice meal voucher. Way to go, Austrian! We hung out for a couple hours, then hopped on a teeny tiny propeller plane to Innsbruck. We got another snack. +1, again for Austrian!

Once in Innsbruck we experienced our first episode of total confusion. We needed a bus to our hotel. We didn't have Wifi, and only had an address for the hotel, not a map, so the bus maps weren't helping us. Finally, Nick asked a random bus driver if he could get us where we needed to be. He could. It was awesome. We were so lucky that the vast majority of people we encountered were able to help us in English. The bus the next morning to the train station was also confusing, but we got there okay. Then it was train time.

Full disclosure: my only reference for train travel is Harry Potter. I was raised on cars and airplanes (and the Metro). I did not understand the train compartment thing. 

It's like a little room, with a limited number of seats. Are they reserved? No one knows. We luckily found a spot with little drama and settled in for our first train ride. Our second ride was also flawless. Plus- bathrooms on the train! Bonus! The trains took us to Dobbiaco, where we needed yet another bus. This one got us to the middle of the small city that is Cortina D'Ampezzo, and we still needed to find our hotel. I DID NOT HAVE AN ADDRESS. I think even if I had an address, it would have been useless without a real road map. So underprepared. We luckily found a map with hotel locations on it and were able to walk there. And finally, I could relax....

Getting home was all of those steps, in reverse. Plus extra bus and train drama. Minus available seats on the train. Minus the plane delay. Plus cold and rain. Plus an extremely adorable baby on the plane. Overall, the travel was a great success, if a bit challenging. And now that we're home I can worry about everything else. The usual.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Dolomites Trip Part 1: Overview

Nick and I just returned from a long 2 week vacation to Italy. When I told everyone we were going to Italy, I got a ton of recommendations for cities to visit, food to try, wines to drink (this was before my pregnancy was known to the world). I had to politely say, nope, we're not going to any of the big cities or seeing the monuments, we're hiking in the far north (not Tuscany...), staying in tiny mountain inns and eating whatever food they have available. People seemed confused.

We started looking into hiking trips, by which I mean I Googled "hiking vacations" and went from there. We also vaguely wanted to go overseas. When we booked the trip, I was in the midst of fertility treatments. That time period sucked so, so bad, and I needed something to look forward to. A big European trip, that could double as our last big pre-baby vacation, sounded perfect, so I started looking at Europe. Italy, specifically the Dolomites, popped up many times, and the pictures quickly convinced us it was the place for us.

Since my sense of adventure does not extend to planning my own overseas vacations, we chose Dolomite Mountains trip planners to do it for us. We chose to do 5 days of backpacking/hiking plus 3 days of via ferrata, meaning "iron road," which is mostly like this:

Not a picture of me, but a good representation. 

Basically, you're rock climbing, but it is is heavily assisted by fixed ropes that you clip into, and occasionally ladders. We wanted a challenge and at the time actually being pregnant during the trip wasn't even a remote possibility to me, so I figured I'd just plan the trip and figure out those details later.

For the two portions of the trip, we stayed overnight in rifugio (mountain inns) and carried all our clothing and snacks for the 5 days of backpacking, then went back to a hotel, and packed up again for the last 3 days of via ferrata. I'll talk more about the logistics in future posts, but it definitely added to the challenge. Carrying all your belongings on your back while trying to get your body up a crazy rock wall? That was fun.

In summary: it was epic, I have lots to talk about, there will be more posts. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Awkwardness alert

Social situations give me anxiety. When I say that, I don't mean, "gosh, I'd rather stay home tonight than go to a party because it might stress me out." It's more like "I cannot stop thinking about how I will interact with these people and my stomach is tying itself in knots and my heart is racing." I would usually rather just keep to myself.

I use funny gifs to disguise my discomfort. IS IT WORKING?!

With this whole pregnancy thing, people are conversing with me more. I am also getting a lot more hugs. I'd rather avoid hugs with strangers (Most coworkers still = strangers to me. I know, I'm broken.). My new supervisor came over to congratulate me while I was sitting at my desk the other day. He was excited, and said "congratulations!" while sort of holding out his arms. Imagine someone is showing you the message written on a cake. He was holding his arms out, palm up, but kind of at a downward angle. I immediately stand up, expecting this to be a hug. It was not a hug. Instead, I halfway put out my arms, stepped uncomfortably close to him, and realized what I was doing. Then the bile surged up my esophagus. I was so embarrassed I was going to puke.

I'm GOB. I am awkward enough to be a Bluth.

I swallowed my bile, then backpedaled, trying to come up with a reason why I had reached toward him. I grabbed a paper that I didn't really need to talk to him about and struggled to come up with a reason to discuss it with him. My face was sweating. It was the worst.

I wish people would just send me an email so I can have time to analyze their every word, craft a thoughtful response, reanalyze the original email, edit my response, send it, and then regret sending it. That would be so much easier than physical interaction.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Pregnancy nutrition

Subtitle: I eat what I want.

Warning-digestion talk ahead. Turn back now.

Between the egg retrieval for IVF (which was also conception day, aww) and 10 weeks + 1 day later (yes, I kept track because it was AWFUL) I was taking some sort of medication at least once a week to help my digestion along. I had heard that egg retrieval plus anesthesia equals slow digestion but no one told me it would last for 10 weeks. I was miserable. I already eat so much fiber, and that was everyone's first suggestion, so I resorted to other fun things, like prunes, Metamucil, and over the counter meds. The day I stopped progesterone supplements, everything went back to normal. It was magical. Since then, I've had good and bad days, but the overall trend is positive.

Because of all this turmoil, none of which seemed to be related to my diet, for once, I decided to eat whatever I wanted. I only had mild nausea, so I tried to stick with lots of fruits and veggies, as usual, and add in other things I'd been avoiding. Yogurt has made a comeback (lots of protein and calcium!). I had gluten/diary-tastic macaroni and cheese, followed by cupcakes and cake (it was my birthday, don't judge) the other night, and the memory of that meal still warms my heart.

Pregnancy means high protein and increased calcium needs. I'm not messing around and trying to get by with not taking in the right nutrients because of my own mild discomfort. I'm uncomfortable a lot of the time, stomach-wise, so good tasting and marginally nutritious are my only food requirements right now. Since I don't eat soy- the one "rule" I do not want to break, because the times I do are terrible- getting protein from other, easy sources has been important. Hence, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream. So much ice cream. I had cake at work the other day, and that was my dessert for the day. I felt like I was cheating on ice cream with my other love, frosting.

We're headed to Italy for the next two weeks (don't call it a babymoon or I will kill you) and my midwife told me to watch out and not eat too many carbs. This is a worry of mine, since I have to work a little bit to get enough protein in my diet, and that's the case even when I'm able to easily choose my food. In addition, carbs ALWAYS sound good to me, so I have to fight my natural inclination to subsist on them (see also: macaroni, ice cream, cake). I will need to make an effort to not come back 10 pounds heavier. I also have to be careful about unpasteurized cheeses, undercooked eggs, and other potential food poisoning sources. It'll be an amazing trip, of course, I'm just a wee bit stressed about the food options. Hopefully I am sufficiently destressed by these views...

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Feeling like myself

The thing I've heard most about second trimester is that you'll finally be back to feeling like yourself. A chubbier version, maybe, but at least more like a human than in previous weeks. I don't think I realized how tired I was for first tri- I was incredibly lucky to only have mild fatigue, the kind that requires weekend naps but still allowed me to keep up daily exercise and prevent the house from looking like a disaster- until I entered second tri. I might not have felt that tired, but 3 months of feeling kinda sorta run down still wears on a person.

In celebration of this, and after having one of my very rare cups of coffee, I went for a run OUTSIDE. It is well documented on this blog that I have no great love for running outside. My area has an abundance of roadkill, rude drivers, and limited options for non-road running. However, the weather was amazing on Sunday and after a week of lackluster prenatal workouts I was ready to do something challenging. So I brought my dog with me.

She watched me eat every bite of that orange. 

Kiwi is not the best at walking on a leash. That's our fault. We don't take her on frequent walks because of afternoon heat and since she can get exercise and playtime in our big yard. She doesn't pull terribly, but she does not focus on the task at hand well, so there's a lot of yanking to get her attention refocused on forward motion. I thought that running (she's jogged on the leash with Nick for short distances before) might keep her attention because she'd be moving fast enough to not notice every single leaf on the ground. That's what I get for thinking. 

She was all over the place. We had a few moments of "yes, this is how it should work" but not too many. She got better as she got tired, because she didn't have enough energy to be distracted. In the end, we did 1.3ish miles together, walking/running combo. I'll definitely take her again, and hopefully with practice she'll get into the groove. I hope she liked it, she seemed to be happy to be trotting instead of her usual walk.

The highlight of the day was yet to come. I dropped Kiwi off at the house and headed out by myself, with my headphones on and the sun shining. I haven't run outside since... November? Geez. It had been a while. The weather was perfect and I felt sprightly. I kept my breathing under control and went at a comfortable pace and took lots of walking breaks.I didn't see any roadkill, but I did get to hurdle my neighbor's adorable guinea hens as they wandered back and forth across the (40 mph speed limit) road. That was good for a midrun laugh.  I ended up with 4 miles, including the ones I did with Kiwi. It was an endorphin high like I haven't felt since last fall. The last song that came on Pandora as I was running was Katy Perry's "Roar" and I might have been singing along while running toward my house, thinking about how empowering that song is, and how I'll teach my son/daughter (it's empowering even if you're a dude) to embrace his/her personality and suddenly I'm crying (and still running) because I'm pregnant and running and just so damn happy and THE HORMONES MAKE ME ACT LIKE THIS. 

The day after, my legs reminded me that I haven't run outside, on pavement, on hills, at a speed faster than 12 min/mile, in 9 months. I was sore all over but whatever, running (and music, and nice weather) made me cry with happiness. I'm ok with that.

Monday, August 25, 2014

"Working out"

I actually sort of like to sweat. I like the feeling of accomplishment when I have a good dose of endorphins. Of course, this contributed to my over-exercising issues, but even in my new, more reasonable state I still want a workout to feel like a workout.

Enter: the prenatal workout. Now, the general recommendation, and what my midwife confirmed for my case, is that pregnant women can continue to do whatever you did before pregnancy, within reason. For me, this meant running in short bursts and some fairly long, sometimes intense walks (yes, walking can be intense when you're watching Gossip Girl... I made it 29 years without seeing that show and now I cannot quit it)

I wanted to add some variety and strength stuff to my routine so I checked into some prenatal workouts. Between Google and poking around on Youtube, I have browsed/watched/participated in 5 different workouts, and been impressed with none of them. They're either ridiculous about pregnancy (hands on your belly! It's so important to connect with your baby! I talk to my baby while I work out! *gag*) or silly easy (Don't go too low! Don't need to push yourself!). I want neither of these things! I am not a delicate flower and I am certain the baby will not fall out from doing squats. I would like to actually exert myself. Also, +10000 points if the instructor is actually pregnant. Denise Austin, I will listen to you talk about how sexy pregnancy makes you feel when you're burping stomach acid into your nose and discovering cellulite on your lower back (I'm officially the hottest wife ever... and yes, I know I have 6 more months of things getting much, much worse). 

My best solution so far has been to do the "low impact" stuff from FitnessBlender, which continues its reign as my favorite workout provider. They have several low impact or "for beginners" workouts that still manage to kick my out of shape ass. They clock in around 30 minutes. That's a good length for me to feel accomplished, sweat sufficiently, and still be able to shower and eat dinner at a reasonable time. Between those videos and the treadmill, I will try and keep myself in not-sucky shape for the next 6 months. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

First Trimester- A summary

I promise this won't be all pregnancy, all the time (do all bloggers say that? And then go back on their word?), but I wanted to do a "how the first trimester went for me" update.

Month 1:
The two week wait following IVF was the worst. I was on progesterone and estrogen supplements, so I had a ton of "symptoms" that didn't mean anything. I basically just drove myself crazy counting the hours until I could take a test and have a meaningful answer. I got my positive 8dp5dt, cried, but was still in disbelief until 2 blood tests confirmed it. I got ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) from the IVF process + pregnancy hormones. This meant I gained >10 pounds over the course of a few days and had an enormous swollen belly. My doctors monitored it and mine never went beyond moderate, but it was still incredibly uncomfortable. You might recall I went to Firefly Music Festival during that time. That was an adventure with all of my symptoms and my very new, very tentative pregnancy (walking 8+ miles/day, weird food, secondhand smoke, ugh). Here's a picture I didn't post from that time. It's fuzzy (we were walking) but it really shows how swollen I was. That's a good 5 month pregnant tummy right there.

Month 2:
Still on supplements. Still felt crappy. Still had OHSS, plus now I had morning sickness! I puked a couple of times, but nothing too crazy. I yearned for a nap every day, but did my best to keep up some level of activity in the form of walking. The OHSS started to back off toward the end of the month and I was able to go back to some of my normal clothes. My coworkers probably all strongly suspected I was pregnant for Month 1 and 2 (one of them even congratulated me... when I was like 4 weeks, 2 days), but then I shrank and confused everyone. My boobs, however, grew exponentially (they're still growing.. this is weird, but I won't complain!) so that part of me still looked pregnant.

Month 3:
Intermittently crappy. Finally got off the supplements, started feeling a little better. I ran. It felt fine. Saw our midwife (we're planning a homebirth) and got the official ok to run as much as I felt comfortable with. I have run/jogged about once a week since then.

That's about it. Mostly uneventful so far. I have a ton of little symptoms- my heart races when I lay down at night (due to increased blood volume), my normally weak nails are growing like a weed (awesome!), lots of digestive issues (I'll get back to that in another post), charley horses in the middle of the night, and my anemia is back (semi-common for pregnancy but still needs to be addressed- seeing my hematologist soon). However, my symptoms don't really affect my daily life aside from making me more unpleasant to be around (sorry, Nick!). I know a lot of women have far worse pregnancies, and I am so thankful to be "normal" and be able to put the infertility experience behind me. However, it never feels like it's truly behind me. I still have a lot of uncertainty about this pregnancy but I'm trying very hard to just let it happen and enjoy it. This first baby is a once-in-a-lifetime event, and I don't want to wish away the weeks.