December 28, 2005

Another Bump in the Road

I had another conversation with the cycle coordinator at the clinic today. She pointed out that my records indicate my blood type is Rh negative, and that none of R’s records show his blood type.

She says that when the beta comes back positive (she’s ever the optimist) I'll have to get "another" RhoGAM shot, because we’ll need to assume that R is Rh positive. The shot would prevent my blood from developing antibodies.

This is important, because once you have the antibodies, you can’t get rid of them. And when you have them, it can cause very, very bad things if you become pregnant with an Rh positive baby. Things like anemia in the baby, which can lead to brain swelling, liver enlargement and a whole host of other horrible and possibly life-ending problems for the baby.

The good news is, all of this is easily preventable with the shot.

The bad news is, if I get pregnant with this cycle, I won’t be getting “another” RhoGAM shot, because I never had one when I was pregnant.

I’m dumbfounded. The clinic we were going to when I got pregnant KNEW about my blood type before I ever crossed their doorstep for the first time. They KNEW about my pregnancy when it happened six months later. They did two ob ultrasounds on me. They confirmed the miscarriage via bloodwork they did in their office.

Since at least 90 percent of the population is RH positive, they should have assumed DH was positive. They should have insisted I have the shot, because it can't hurt to have the shot even if DH did happen to be Rh negative. But at no time did any of the nurses (at least three) or REs (two, including mine) I saw or spoke to mention ANYTHING about needing this shot.

Yet everything I've read on the internet says that even if you don't get the shot as soon as pregnancy is detected, you absolutely should get it if you miscarry, regardless of how far along you are. But I did not. Nobody ever even mentioned that the shot existed, much less told me I needed it. I'm still trying to wrap my brain around that.

We checked with MIL, and it turns out DH is Rh positive.

Chances are, the pregnancy ended too early for it to be an issue. And maybe that is why no one at the clinic mentioned it. But still, why take the chance? Why? Especially when the whole point of my being there at the clinic is To. Get. PREGNANT.

I go back in next week for more blood work - this time to check for Rh antibodies. Stay tuned.

December 27, 2005

The Great Race

Even though we have the results back, we’re still going to delay the cycle. I’m going to use the time to challenge R to a weight loss race in the hopes that if I take off a little bit of the extra pudge it will reduce the risk of the aforementioned potential complications.

My goal is 20 pounds in 9 weeks.

I got off to a great start this morning. Skim milk, an apple and a small amount of peanut butter for protein.

Then I unexpectedly wound up meeting a co-worker for lunch at a Mexican food restaurant. There were chips, there was salsa, there was ooey, gooey cheese. Lots of it.

After work, I came home. There was a big bag of Christmas candy sitting on the kitchen counter. I had meant to take it to work this morning and drop off in another department to get rid of the temptation.

Instead, I had Rolos for dinner.

At least I don’t have to step on the scale again until Friday morning.

The Results Are In

The good news is, the NK cells test is back (much quicker than the two weeks I was told to expect), and it’s normal. Yea! So we don’t have to figure out how to pay for IvIG. I’m very relieved, but not entirely surprised since thankfully all of the immune tests I’ve done have come back normal.

I can’t exactly say the same thing for the thrombophilia tests, though. Apparently I’m heterozygous for the Factor V Leiden and MTHFR gene mutations, meaning my blood tends to clot too easily. The RE is recommending baby aspirin, mega doses of folic acid and heparin injections throughout the cycle and the (hopefully resulting) pregnancy.

I’m a bit freaked out now. Seeing as how I haven’t even begun the cycle yet, much less received any sort of beta results, I realize I’m starting to worry and obsess just a wee bit early. What can I say? I worry more easily than most people breathe.

The thing is, PCOS raises the risk of gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia. The Factor V and MTHFR raise the risk of blood clotting and, again, pre-eclampsia. From what I’ve read, the heparin will reduce the risk of clotting and pre-eclampsia. However, I’ve also read that you have to stop taking the heparin before delivery so that you don’t bleed too much, and stopping it then raises the risk of blood clots and pulmonary embolism. Neither scenario sounds particularly comforting.

So, I called a perinatology practice this morning to schedule a pre-pregnancy consult. I figure they deal with this stuff for the majority of the pregnancy, so they may be better able to address my freakout than the RE can. Especially since I won’t be seeing the RE for follow up since we’re traveling out of state to cycle.

I remember when my co-worker was pregnant, she had headaches from time to time but opted to suffer through them because she was too terrified of what taking a Tylenol might do to her baby.

If this cycle works (trying to think positive here), I’ll be taking baby aspirin, metformin, heparin injections and who knows what else. Tylenol sounds like candy at this point.

December 24, 2005

The Lab From Hell

Ok, about that lab thing. As I mentioned in a previous post, I had bloodwork done at a lab at the beginning of last week to check for some blood clotting and immune issues. They stuck me three times, took 10 vials, then called me back to say oops, we need one more vial. Two more sticks later, and the 11th vial was produced.

Unfortunately, the bloodletting is not over.

My REs office received faxes last week with all of the test results. Except, of course, for the NK cells test that required me to go back in and produce vial number 11. Instead of receiving a fax for that one, they received a letter - via snail mail - that said I had failed to come back in to have my blood drawn for a third. time. Say what?

When they did the first blood draw, the lab where I went sent all of the blood to their main lab to be tested. One of those 10 vials needed to be coupled with the 11th vial in order for the final test to be run. So, the main lab set that vial aside. Then, when the 11th vial arrived two days later, somehow there was confusion and they didn’t realize the two vials went together.

So the vials sat there, and expired. Which means I needed to go back in to have yet more blood drawn. Except that no one bothered to call and tell me this. Instead, they simply sent the letter to my RE.

By the time we figured out what the heck was going on, it was Thursday night, after the lab had closed. I went in Friday morning and had the 12th and 13th vials drawn, and they swear to me that it will be the last time I will have to come in for this test.

However, the test takes two weeks to complete. And because of the holidays, that now means I won’t get the results until after my IVF cycle starts. I could start the cycle and, assuming the test results come back normal, just continue it. But if for any reason it doesn’t come back normal, that could throw a curve ball into the cycle. And that just feels like an awful lot of stress.

So, we’re postponing the cycle. Since the clinic does batch cycling, I won’t be able to cycle until the end of February.

But I’ve decided this is probably a good thing, because at least it will give my body time to build my blood levels back up. After all of the blood that’s been drained from me these past two weeks, I’m not sure there’s enough left to keep me going, much less a (hopefully) growing embryo!

December 23, 2005

Congratulations, you’re infertile!

Since we’re coming up on the end of the year, it seems an appropriate time to recap the stupid, idiotic amusing things people have said this year in relation to infertility. Please feel free to add your own in the comments section…

The first one that comes to mind is from a co-worker of mine who was trying to get pregnant at the time. (She’s just had her baby, by the way.)

Her first child was a “surprise” since they weren’t even trying, so having to actually make an attempt to get pregnant was a bit of an adjustment for her. She started trying last December. One day in March, we were having a conversation about how unfair it is that some people are able to have baby after baby without even trying, and others do everything they can and still have no luck. It’s at this point that she says, “Yeah, they just have no idea what it’s like for those of us who have to try so hard!”

HELLO??? “Try so hard”??? You’ve had a lot of sex for four months. I’ve spent (at that point) 25 months jamming dozens of needles into my body, having at least 18 dates with the wand, taking pills that bring hot flashes and mood swings that make R consider temporarily moving back in with his parents, R has had vericocele surgery, we’ve lost a baby through miscarriage and are still childless. There is no “us.” We are not in the same category, not even close. Of course, she got pregnant the next month…

Then there was the comment by my best friend. I have to issue a disclaimer and say that with the exception of this comment and the timing of her letter right before Valentine's Day to let us know she was pregnant, she has been phenomenal through all of this. But her comment comes close to erasing all of the phenomenal-ness.

We were out of state, waiting to hear whether our birth mother was going to take her baby home from the hospital. We were 1,500 miles from all our family, in an unfamiliar town, in an unfamiliar apartment, scared out of our minds that huge heartbreak was headed our way. She had just gotten home from the hospital two weeks before with her daughter, conceived the month after she got married and without intending to try.

We were on the phone, and I’m telling her about our birth mom’s baby being born, how the social worker is trying to reach the birth mom but the birth mom is shutting everyone out and we don’t know what’s going to happen. Best friend’s baby is wailing in the background, and she says, “Are you really sure you want one of these after all?”

WTF! You have GOT to be kidding me. I didn’t hang up on her, but I did cut the conversation off and end the call. Granted, I know her body was still going through major hormone fluctuations and she was sleep deprived, but still. If she had been anyone else, that would have been a friendship-ender.

The last comment that comes to mind for now – and the one that prompted this post – was one made by the phlebotomist at the lab today. (More to come later on why I’m back at the lab for the THIRD. TIME. in two weeks.)

She’s trying to pick out a vein, and she’s chatting with me. I’m a very familiar face by this point since I’ve been there so much recently, and she knows this will be my 12th and 13th vial drawn, so I guess she feels comfortable getting a little personal.

“You don’t look sick,” she says. I probably should have just smiled and not responded, but I tend to be pretty open about our infertility. And, I have to admit, sometimes when people who don’t know me pry a little bit, I like to have a little fun by being blunt and watching their response. So I said very honestly, “I have infertility.”

Her response (I’m not kidding): “Oh, how exciting! Congratulations!”

Huh?? This time, I was the one caught off guard, instead of the other way around. She knew I wasn’t there for a pregnancy test.

It turns out her brother and sister-in-law struggled with infertility and went through IVF around this same time last year. They had their baby during the end of the summer. So I guess in her mind, the phlebotomist automatically equates infertility tests with success and a baby at the end of the process.

Naive, but cute.

December 21, 2005

Good News and More Good News

Lest you think all I do is whine, complain and wallow in the pit of dispair, I’ll share happy news from today. And some of it is about infertility insurance, no less.

First, good news on the health front for R. When he had his annual physical last month, his doctor recommended he go see a dermatologist because of his acne and a couple spots on his back. I had a half dozen questions about it, but R, being a typical male patient, hadn’t actually uttered more than two syllables during his appointment, much less asked anything that could remotely be construed as a question.

So I tried to be calm and wait for the derm appointment. The derm removed two spots, and we got the biopsy report back today: Neither was malignant. Thank you, God!

Riding high on that wonderful news, I decided to call our insurance company and see how much money we have left on our infertility benefit.

The benefit is not large to begin with – certainly not enough to cover an IVF cycle – but hey, anything is better than nothing. I was afraid we had used all of it, or worse yet, that the insurance company would realize they had overpaid on our benefit and tell us that we owed them money.

Instead, we still have enough left to cover the anesthesia for our upcoming IVF cycle and most, if not all, of my drugs. Happy day!

December 16, 2005

The Bloodletting

Well, this week was fun. Some bloodwork needed to be done before the IVF cycle begins. I went to the lab on Monday. They needed TEN. VIALS. TEN!!

The tech started by going for a vein in my left arm that is cooperative 99 percent of the time. Monday fell into that 1 percent category.

She finally gave up and went for the top of my right hand. Now, I don’t like needles and blood draws to begin with, but the top of my hand? Yooouuuuccchhhh! She managed to get six vials, and then the vein took its bow and closed the curtain on the blood flow.

She switched to the top of my left hand. At some point, the room was starting to spin, but she managed to get the last four vials, and I was out of the chair and out the door before she even got the needle in the sharps container.

Then the lab called that afternoon.

“Um, we miscalculated. We actually needed 11 vials. Can you come back in?” someone from the lab said in the message on our machine.

The next day, I couldn’t bring myself to go back quite yet. That was ok: Infertility Hell had another fun little surprise waiting for me on Tuesday, anyway.

My mom goes home each day for lunch. She got a Christmas card in the mail from R’s aunt and uncle. It turns out R’s cousin is pregnant. With her third child. At age 40. The natural way.

My mom races back to her office and frantically e-mails me, a breathless little “Guess who’s pregnant? Guess who’s pregnant? I bet you don’t know!!” message. No, sensitivity and tact are not her strong points.

Then came Wednesday.

I finally sucked it up and went back to the lab. A different tech drew the short straw this time and wound up with the chore of coaxing another vial of blood from my oh-so-cooperative veins. She started to go for my left arm.

“I don’t think that’s going to work. The other tech tried that on Monday, but the vein disappeared,” I cautioned her.

“Oh, don’t worry. I can get it. It’s a nice, plump vein. This won’t be a problem at all,” she responded.

Yeah, well. After a couple minutes of digging around in my arm, she gave up. I got stuck in the left hand again, but at least that vein cooperated and produced the requisite vial they needed.

I headed in to the office. I noticed my fingers and toes were tingling. Apparently, having 11 vials of blood drained from your body does that to you.

Then the phone rang. It’s an adoption connection who has our profile on file.

“A baby was born yesterday. I’m going to the hospital to pick him up. Would you be willing to get on a plane today and come get him?” she asks.

Are you kidding?? “Yes, of course!”

R and I wait anxiously for the phone call telling us to book our flight. An hour passes, then two. Finally, six hours later, she calls us back. The birth mom’s mom showed up at the hospital and talked the birth mom into taking the baby home.

So much for becoming a mom before Christmas.

R and I had been procrastinating (just for a couple days) on RSVPing to a party we’ve been invited to. It’s a long story I won’t go into now, but we weren’t looking forward to attending. For family reasons, though, we felt obligated, so R called on Thursday to let the host know we’d be there.

It was supposed to be a wedding reception/Christmas party for someone we knew a while back from school.

When R got off the phone and walked into the room, I could tell by the look on his face that something wasn’t good.

“What, are they registered at Babies ‘R Us?” I joked. He shook his head.

“Pottery Barn Kids,” I said, still kidding.

“No. But they’re due in March,” he responded.

We won’t be attending the party after all.

December 09, 2005

Hope, for me

We had our annual office Christmas breakfast yesterday morning. One of my co-workers gave me a stocking with some candy in it and a star-shaped ornament that has the word “hope” on it.

I’m not sure if she got it just because she was grabbing whatever she could grab in a moment of last-minute gift-buying panic, or if the message was intentional.

R and I are gearing up to start our first IVF cycle, and I’ve been struggling with the idea of hope. More specifically, I’m afraid to allow myself to feel it. On a cerebral level, that seems silly, because why should we even bother doing the cycle if we don’t have at least some little shred of hope that it will work? But on an emotional level, it feels like hope has been mercilessly beaten out of us so many times, that I’m afraid to let myself go there again for fear of the emotional battering that seems to always follow.

I’ve chosen to believe that she gave me the ornament intentionally. I’m going to hang it on the wall somewhere (we don’t have any Christmas decorations up - I’m not in the mood this year), and look at it whenever I need a little reminder that it’s ok to allow myself to hope.

I have a feeling the wall and I are going to be spending a lot of time together.

December 06, 2005

Let’s Play Ask the Infertile

A co-worker of mine had her baby last week. She and I have worked together for a few years now, and we’ve become good friends. I’m happy for her, but being faced with her pregnancy day in and day out for most of this year has been painful for me, and she gets that.

Apparently the rest of my co-workers, not so much. It’s an office of mostly women, and I couldn’t keep the infertility stuff secret even if I tried, which I haven’t. I’ve chosen to be open about it, to be honest about it, in hopes that sharing the experience will help erase some of the stigma that comes along with the diagnosis.

So they know about all the painful test results, all the failed cycles. The miscarriage. The adoption that went bust a couple months ago when the birth mom changed her mind after the baby was born. They know that R and I have had to drag ourselves up off the ground after that latest blow, and that somehow this time it feels even worse than all the other heartbreaks we’ve had. That something inside us didn’t just crack when the adoption failed, that it broke. In a sharp, jagged way that will leave us never the same.

And yet, who do my co-workers call to ask all the specifics about the new baby in our office? Yep, you guessed it. Who else do they think would want to talk in great detail about how much the baby weighed, what time he was born, what his name is, how adorable it is and how wonderful that she’ll be at home with him for the next three months?

The resident office infertile, of course.

November 02, 2005

HSG Hilarity

The adoption thing left R and I feeling like a 10,000-pound truck drove over our hearts while wearing studded tires. So, we've decided to get back in line for the infertility treatment rollercoaster for now.

That means IVF for us, which also means an HSG for me.

I’d heard horror stories about HSGs, so I was feeling a fair amount of dread about needing to have one done.

One co-worker in particular described it as being so painful that she had an out-of-body experience and could actually look down and see herself laying on the ultrasound table. Now, this is one tough lady who I believe has a fairly high tolerance for pain. I, on the other hand, have practically no tolerance for pain, so this was not boding well.

But oh what a difference 600 mg of Advil and 10 mg of Valium can make. Others had mentioned that taking painkillers and being prescribed a tranquilizer can help, so I asked the nurse at the clinic for a prescription.

She originally wanted to give me 5 mg of Valium, but at one point it looked like Dr. Witch was going to be performing the HSG, so the nurse agreed to up the dose. We figured that at best, it would make me not mind so much that the RE doing the procedure is one I would prefer never come within 10 feet of me, and at worst, it would make me practically unconscious, in which case I really wouldn’t give a whit about who was shooting dye up my nether region.

It worked out that my RE, Dr. Mellow, was able to do the HSG after all. But I still took the 10 mg of Valium, just for good measure.

The bad thing about Valium is that it tends to make me act a little bit like the nitrous oxide I used to get sometimes as a kid at the dentist’s office – almost everything anyone says seems outrageously hilarious.

It turns out that that, combined with the fact that Dr. Mellow has a dry sense of humor that matches my own, is not a particularly good combination when I’m laying on the ultrasound table with a speculum shoved up my hoo-ha and Valium coursing through my bloodstream.

Dr. Mellow made a comment. I don’t think it was something he intended to be funny, but in my drug-induced state, I couldn’t help but start to laugh. Then I felt the speculum bouncing up and down inside me. I laughed even harder. Dr. Mellow gently encouraged me to stop laughing. It produced the opposite effect of what he was hoping for.

He informed me a bit tersely that the speculum was about to come out. I managed to get myself under control, at least briefly. There was another moment of unintended, speculum-bouncing humor a little further into the procedure, but fortunately it didn’t last long.

The verdict on my tubes wasn’t quite such a laughing matter, but it was ok. Uterus, looks good. Left tube, looks good, spilled quickly. Right tube, furrowed brow. It eventually spilled, but not as quickly as Dr. Mellow would have liked. He said something about it looking a bit like a sausage at the end near the ovary.

DH lucked out on all the HSG drama. I had wanted him in there so I’d have a hand to squeeze, ahem, crush, if it got painful, but because of the radiation from the X-rays, they wouldn’t let him come in. And I was in too jovial a mood from the Valium to push the issue like I normally would have.

Even though he didn’t get to see the procedure, he heard parts of it. “That was you laughing in there?” he asked a bit incredulously as I stumbled down the hall, still a little overly relaxed.

Hey, at least for once I walked out of there laughing instead of crying.

October 23, 2005

Here I Am Again

It’s been quite a while since I posted. The adoption roller coaster began picking up speed a few weeks after my last post. We got “matched” with a birth mom through an agency we hadn’t planned on working with.

I use quotes because I don’t think you can truly count it as a match unless you’ve confirmed that there is truly a baby. And the agency didn’t. They called and told us “Congratulations, you’re matched!” but left out a few details. Like the fact that they didn’t even have proof of pregnancy yet. Fortunately, we hadn’t committed any money to the situation yet.

The birth mom disappeared, we moved on. Suddenly, a bunch more situations came up that we were presented for. None of them panned out.

Then in July, we got matched with another birth mom. We flew out of state to meet her. She was great, and we really hit it off. The birth father had signed his consent for the adoption months ago and was out of the picture.

The birth mom wanted to see pictures of the nursery, so we did something I swore I’d never do until a baby was home with us – we painted the nursery.

We ventured into shopping for the baby, a boy. We bought $75 worth of supplies to hand-make the announcements, because none of the pre-made announcements we could find were good enough. We washed baby clothes and baby bottles. We packed, loaded up R’s parents’ van and drove halfway across the country.

She had the baby. She called the birth father (but not us) to the hospital. The birth father suddenly had a change of heart, and they decided to keep the baby and raise him together.

Fast forward six weeks. I won’t go into details, but we’ve learned from the social worker involved in the case that “happily ever after” didn’t last long. The birth father is now in jail because the birth mom pressed charges against him. The baby is having a rough start to life, and the birth mom is in a giant mess, but she’s still planning on keeping the baby.

And here we are – a year older, thousands of dollars poorer. And still no baby in sght.

March 13, 2005

Put Up or Shut Up

I’m afraid I’m becoming a bitter infertile.

For more than two years now, all of our doctors have sung a chorus of, “Oh, don’t worry. There’s no good reason why you can’t have genetically related children.” This, despite the PCOS, despite the severe male factor, despite the miscarriage, despite the high levels of DNA fragmentation in what little sperm there is.

And yes, I’m aware that our age is in our favor, and that these are all treatable, and that “if you’re going to have IF issues, those are the issues to have.”

Well, you know what? It’s been almost three years since R and I decided to start our family, and despite there being “no good reason” why we can’t have genetically related children – we don’t.

And, you know what else? I’m sick of men, with their MDs and their biological legacies safely intact, sitting across from me telling me why I should be hopeful as I continue to pad their bank accounts and create track marks on my ass.

It’s easy to say “no worries” when you go home to your children, or go visit your grandchildren on vacation.

What’s brought on this latest snit? I went to a (regular) endocrinologist for the first time last week. Apparently, in addition to the PCOS, I now have low blood sugar and thyroid issues. Oh, goodie.

We went through my history. He held my neck in a chokehold, ordering me to swallow. He pronounced my thyroid as enlarged, which I promptly took to mean that I have a fat neck.

And, as I was leaving, I asked him what course of treatment he’d recommend to induce cycle day 1 every few months so that I don’t add endometrial cancer to the already long list of issues I have.

“Every few months? You’re going to need to be cycling on a monthly basis! You want a baby,” he looked at me, puzzled.

Yes, yes I do. “That’s exactly why we’re adopting,” I responded sweetly, with a saccharin smile.

He looked disappointed. I could see the thought flash in his eyes that we’re giving up too soon.

Well, you know what? Too damn bad. After four canceled IUIs, a miscarriage, four failed IUIs, a gazillion bad test results and years of empty arms, I’m sorry if the choice of how I build MY family disappoints YOU.

And one more thing, for the next MD, DO, PhD or anyone else who goes by the title of “doctor”: Before you even think about spouting off to me a chorus of “no worries, you can still get pregnant”, you’d damn well better be willing to put your money where your mouth is.

Either that, or shut the eff up.

February 13, 2005

It Would Figure

So, there we were again today in our old, familiar positions. Me curled up in a ball on the bed, my body wracking with sobs and dry heaves while R hands me Kleenex and wraps his arms around me.

At this point, he doesn’t even bother to try words of comfort, because he simply knows that none exist.

Today marks the two-year anniversary of our first night trying to conceive. (Too much information, I know.) We were so happy, we were so sure parenthood was right around the corner. We were so stupid.

I consoled myself today with the thought that even though we desperately want a child, two years isn’t that long. After all, many couples have been trying a lot longer.

Then I opened the letter from my best friend. She got married four months ago. Turns out she’s now three months pregnant.

Ain’t life grand?

January 03, 2005

Pacifiers and Onsies and Nipples, Oh My!

We did it. We went shopping. And, boy, was it an experience.

Apparently when I envisioned this in my head, I was picturing us, in the store, by ourselves. I left out one little detail: the fact that there would be lots of very pregnant people there and lots of very tiny babies there! Duh. But I handled that okay, aside from the fact that I felt like an imposter walking around with a big neon sign above my head that said, "I'm not pregnant or parenting, but I'm buying stuff anyway..."

And, oh, believe me it was clear that we were shopping for us and not for someone else's gift. R and I usually are pretty compatible when we shop together. Not this time.

We started out by heading for the diaper bag area. Heck, the thing is pretty much just a giant fabric purse with lots of pockets and compartments. That’s my kind of bag – lots of little places to organize things. I’m a great purse shopper, I can do this.

We round the corner to where the bags are. I come to an abrupt halt: There’s another couple there. My throat closes up. “But I don’t want them here! I want to do this by ourselves!” I whisper to R. Well, at least I think I’m whispering. Either he’s afraid they’ve heard me loud and clear or he’s afraid I’m going to burst into tears and cause a scene, because he grabs my arm and yanks me halfway down the diaper aisle.

“Let’s start someplace else,” he says as he drags me across the store.

So there we are, standing there in front of the pacifiers/bottles/nipples area. We've not been around kids much, we didn't babysit when we were growing up. We have absolutely no idea what we're doing or what makes a good/bad/indifferent pacifier/onesie/car seat/anything else baby-related.

So I do what (I imagine) most women would do - I pick one based on the color. But it was silicone all the way through, rather than having just a silicone tip and a hard plastic face guard, so R says, "No! Not that one!" He wants a traditional looking one. So there we are, standing in front of about five other couples, arguing about whether a pacifier should be judged based on color or traditional design or whether it's unkind to even judge the thing at all. And I kept thinking, "Ohhhh, it's going to be a loooooong 20 years if this is what we're like the whole time!"

Then we moved on to the bottles and nipples area. Who knew there are so many to choose from? We picked out some bottles, this time faster and with less fighting than it took to choose the pacifiers. Then I said, "What kind of nipples should we get? Do you think we need separate nipples, or are the ones that come with the bottles okay?" Horrified that I would mention a generally private body part outside the privacy of our own home, R hissed in return, "SSSHHHH! Stop SAYING that word! We’re in public!"

After hyperventilating our way through the bath supplies area and clothing section (why, why, WHY must the store insist on grouping everything by brand instead of by the type of product it is??), we finally got all of the loot home. I still don’t understand some of it, like the "sealing disks" for the bottles. Of course, I suppose it will become clear when I actually open the bottles. At least, I hope so.

And what’s the deal with burp cloths? Stupid question, I know, but why are these also called diaper cloths? Can these be used as cloth diapers? Not that we plan to use cloth diapers...but why oh why don't these packages have pictures that show the items as they're supposed to be used??

Now I’m trying to figure out how the heck to wash all the washcloths, receiving blankets, onsies, burp cloths and towel sets. I can’t decide between trying to find a small bottle of Dreft (friends swear we’ll kill the kid in a week if we use anything else) or just stick with our regular detergent, but less of it (other friends swear there’s no life-threatening harm in that approach, and they still have living, breathing kids to prove it).

Who would have thought doing a simple load of laundry could be such a paralyzing task? I know I’m not the only hopeful-mom-to-be who experiences these fears, but it sure feels like I'm missing the "maternal" gene right about now.

The shopping gene, however, is still intact. We came home with the biggest diaper bag there was, complete with about 50 different pockets and compartments and even a changing pad.

It’s my favorite purse yet.