Sunday, September 12, 2004

Symptoms 'R Us

Ever since beginning our stroll down the hellish road that is infertility, I've participated in several different fertility based message boards. I've formed friendships with the women there that have been incredibly helpful, emotionally and otherwise. At first I could chat with pretty much anyone on the boards and feel like I related to what they were going through. After trying for over a year, I had to start being a little more selective. When you and your husband have been through months of painful, invasive testing and have received a bleak diagnosis, it's a bit hard to be supportive of 19 year olds who are worried that they haven't conceived yet after 2 months of well-timed sex. When someone with three kids under the age of 4 tells you they "know just how you feel," it feels like you've just found out you have cancer and they just got a paper cut and therefore think they understand your pain. So I made an effort to surround myself with people who were either going through treatments, or those who could be sympathetic without being condescending. But that doesn't mean I didn't occasionally stumble across something that made me roll my eyes [insert "annoyed" emoticon].

One of the first stages you go through when trying to conceive is becoming obsessed with your body's signals around the time when you expect your period, and a fascination with the early signs of pregnancy. A lot of those posts begin with questions such as, "My boobs are sore: does this mean I'm pg?" and "When I was washing the dishes I had a sudden urge to drink the bottle of Dawn dishsoap - could this mean pregnancy?" I am always extremely skeptical when it comes to those sorts of things, because I've noticed "symptoms" in my own body many, many times when it turned out to just be PMS, or the taco salad I ate for lunch. And in lots of cases, I'm sure I imagined the symptoms altogether - after all, if you wake up every day squeezing your breasts to see if they're sore, aren't they bound to become sensitive after a while?

So imagine my consternation when, now that I really am pregnant, I'm learning that all those symptoms really do exist. And it seems I'm one of the lucky few who experiences nearly all of them. lists eight of the most common early pregnancy symptoms, and guess what? I have them all. Here's the list:

1) Fatigue. For the last week and a half I've been so tired that I could sleep all day and still not feel rested. After walking up the stairs I need a nap. I feel almost exactly like I did when I had mono.

2) Nausea. My stomach is constantly queasy. I feel better right after eating, but an hour later the sick feeling comes back. I'm lucky that I haven't thrown up yet, but I know there's lots of time for that to happen.

3) Food cravings. Along with feeling tired, this is the first symptom that I noticed. I am an extreme chocoholic, and lately the thought of eating anything chocolate makes me nauseous. A few nights ago Al brought home a box of Dove Triple Fudge ice cream bars. I took a single bite of one and had to throw the rest away because it made me feel so sick. Instead, I've been craving chewy, sour candy, something I don't normally like at all.

4) Frequent urination. I'm told this one gets worse and worse as the pregnancy continues because of increasing pressure of the uterus on the bladder. As it is, I'm lucky if I sleep for 3 hours before having to get up again.

5) Breast changes. Suffice it to say I think Al is going to thoroughly enjoy this one, if they ever stop hurting long enough for me to let him touch them.

6) Cramps. These feel just like period cramps, but much milder. I also have some continuing pain in my ovaries from the OHSS - I guess it takes a while for them to shrink back down to their normal size (on the day of embryo transfer they were bigger than my uterus - no wonder my pants are tight!)

7) Bloating. I've had this one ever since starting IVF, so might not be a pregnancy symptom per se. More a symptom of having hormones constantly pumped into my body than anything.

8) Moodiness. Oh my, yes. I can't watch "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" anymore because I remain weepy for hours afterwards.

And here are a few more symptoms that are unique to pregnancy after IVF:

1) Welts all over my butt from the PIO shots. These are becoming increasingly painful as Al is running out of non-sore places to inject.

2) Constantly oozing nether regions from progesterone vaginal suppositories. Very attractive.

3) Sticky, gummy residue on my belly and inner thighs from estrogen patches. I've recently discovered that baby oil helps it comes off. Much less painful than scrubbing at that sensitive skin with a loofah.

4) A line of bruises across my belly from my twice a day heparin shots (not IVF related, for my FVL). I look like someone beat me with a baseball bat, and since I'll be doing these injections the entire time I'm pregnant, I can only imagine it will get worse from here.

5) The feeling that this can't possibly be real. After month after month of not being pregnant, being pregnant is surreal. I have to keep reminding myself.

And the one thing that probably sets all IVFers apart from the naturally fertile: I am constantly grateful for all the things I'm feeling. I am unbelievably thankful to be tired, crampy, emotional and nauseous, because of what all of those things signify. I can't imagine ever complaining about anything relating to pregnancy because I'm so happy just to be experiencing it.


  1. Enjoy every single symptom and every single second of your pregnancy.
    Im looking forward to reading all about your pregnancy and i hope you feel able to keep in touch via ff but i think they may be a couple who wont want to hear everything so ill keep tabs on you here.
    Hope you post pics of the " bump"
    catch you soon

  2. Thanks Mel! :)

    You know, it's a weird transition from infertile to pregnant. I don't feel like I quite belong on the pregnancy boards, but I increasingly don't belong on the TTC boards either and I would hate to upset someone by being there. It's strange. Thanks for reading! I'll post pics of the bump as soon as there is one. :)

  3. Congratulations! I am so happy for you ... and a little jealous!

    I am going through all of the "I might be... I might not be" symptoms right now... so I loved that you had written about it today!

    I am adding you to my links... I hope that Is OK... Stop in and visit when you can!


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