Monday, December 29, 2008

Happy Birth Day Jonas!


Our son was born at home December 28th at 10:15 AM weighing 6 lb 12 oz. Our journey to parenthood has been a long one, but thankfully the labor was relatively short. If you're interested in the full details, here's how it all went down.

Saturday around 5 PM our midwife came to the house to check my cervix and strip my membranes. I had also been to acupuncture to "fluff my kidney qi" in hopes for a smooth labor and had started evening primrose oil to get my cervix ready. I had also been taking longer more strenuous walks the past few days. MM was a little nervous about the whole stripping the membranes thing, but she assured us that she does this for almost all her clients (if they're GBS negative) and only once has it put them into labor within 24 hours. Well, I'm not sure if it was the walk, the acupuncture, the oil, or if Jonas was just ready, but at 1:30 AM on Sunday I lost my mucus plug and about 15 minutes later, my water broke. Thankfully it was clear/pinkish with no meconium. I called my midwife and let her know. She said to try and rest and see if my contractions picked up. I called less than an hour later when the contractions were getting pretty strong and closer together, every 5-6 minutes. I had hopes of making banana bread during the early labor stages, but I couldn't get past gathering the ingredients. I was beginning to doubt my ability to do this whole thing unmedicated at home. MM started putting the AquaDoula together and helped me through the tougher contractions. My midwife and the nurse got to the house around 5 AM, followed shortly by our housemate Nena who had just arrived from her Christmas vacation, and Jules, a great friend and natural nurturer. They kept us all fed and hydrated throughout the process and acted as our photographers. I can't thank them enough.

The midwife didn't want to check me at first because my water had broken, but when I said I was having the urge to bear down and my contractions kept getting stronger they checked. I was 7 cm at around 5:30. Finally the AquaDoula was hot and ready, so I got in to help me through transition. It was a really nice change and helped keep me a little more comfortable. Before too long I was completely dilated and ready to push. I think it was around 7:30. I wanted to get out of the tub and move to the bedroom, so that's what we did.

I pushed for what seemed like forever, but was really about 2 1/2 hrs. I begged the midwife to just take him out, but she assured me I was going to push him out myself. I felt his head coming out and finally MM and I delivered our son. It was one of those truly amazing moments in life. To bring life into the world, to see this child who has grown inside of me from just a few cells--it's indescribable. Thanks for joining me on this journey. Hope you like the snapshot.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

38 Week Report

I had my weekly appointment on Monday. My midwife checked my cervix and said I was a "cheap 2." I guess that means I'm somewhere closer to 1.5 cm dilated, but if you stretch it you could call it a 2 and I'm 50% effaced (the cervix is getting thinner). I would like to be a little further along at this point, but I'm not complaining. At least these contractions are doing something.

Monday afternoon I went for my formal ultrasound to check the fetal weight. His estimated weight was 6 lb 14 oz +/- 13 oz. They aren't super accurate this late in the game, but at least we know he's not 10 lbs or something. Everything else looked good. It was fun to watch him playing around in there. We got another good shot of the genitals--still a boy :), but he was shy about giving a good profile picture. He kept getting his feet and hands in the way. I guess we'll see the real thing soon enough.

Now I'm just closing in on the last few things I want to get done before he comes. I finally finished knitting a little sleep sack for him and am almost done making a new cover for the bassinet.

MM and I are looking forward to a few quiet days home alone together. Our families are in the South and Midwest, so it's just us this holiday. We don't have any commitments other than a reservation for Christmas dinner. I think we're going to try and pack in several movies since it looks like it's going to be rainy.

Merry Christmas Eve!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Still Here

Just wanted to say I'm still here and still pregnant. We've been pretty busy lately. Not so much with baby preparations, but taking care of family stuff. My father-in-law arrived with his wife and her daughter a week ago. He was very sick when he arrived (after a 15 + hour flight from China), and was admitted to the hospital for the next 6 days. Thankfully, he is recovering well and is now home with us for the next few days until he's able to travel to his final destination in Arkansas for the holidays.

In other news, I am still having contractions daily, but nothing regular. They seem to be worse at night and in the early morning. I've still been able to control my diabetes with my diet alone with one exception--I had a little binge the other night. Some friends brought over homemade cookies and fudge for our housemate. It was just too tempting. I had 3 cookies and 2 pieces of fudge. My blood sugar was almost 160 afterward. I apologized to the baby and vowed to do better. It's hard sometimes.

Things are pretty much in place for labor and delivery. I will pick up the AquaDoula on Monday when I'm 38 weeks, so I can labor comfortably (is that really possible?) at home and there's room for MM to join me in the tub if needed.

I had a great episode of "pregnant brain" earlier this week. A friend brought dinner over with some grapefruit to have for dessert. When it came time to cut them up and serve them we could only find one of the two. We blamed it on Sadie (the 16 month old cutie), but later found it in the upper cabinet with the glasses. Yes, I put the grapefruit away with the glasses. Classic.

The time is really getting short and I am realizing more and more that my time "alone" is limited. I'm so excited, and of course a little nervous. I know my life will change. It's just a matter of time now.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

No Stops


I've officially reached the point where no one will try and stop me if my body decides to go into labor! It's pretty crazy to think how close to delivery we are.

The hand-me-down bassinet arrived this weekend, the car seat is in the car (though not properly installed), and diapers are in the washer. Our oven is out, so I'm not cooking and freezing like I had planned, but otherwise I think we're on track.

I have had a few emotional moments the past few days reflecting on where we've been and where we are. We went to get our Christmas tree the other day (I love a real tree in the house). MM and I were decorating it and listening to Christmas music last night. It was a beautiful, quiet night and I just started crying one of those wonderful happy cries. I was thinking about all the Christmases we have shared over the past 8 years together, the happy ones and the sad ones, and looking forward to sharing this tradition with our son for many years to come. It still seems too good to be true sometimes.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Breathing Easy

With 35 weeks right around the corner (tomorrow in fact), I'm much more relaxed and have let myself get out and enjoy this beautiful time in life a little more.

We had guests in for the Thanksgiving holiday--our house-mate's family. We enjoyed having some pseudo-family around, but didn't feel much pressure around entertaining. The ten of us (8 adults and 2 kids) went to some local vineyards for the Holiday Open House to check out the fall colors and sample some fun food and wine pairings (don't worry, I was a designated driver). The next day we hit the beach.




It's nice to be out in the world again after so many weeks around the house. People are really sweet (for the most part). I do get some of the, "You need to eat more," when people find out when I'm due. I'm always torn between smiling and nodding and telling them, "Actually I have gestational diabetes and am following a strict diet, but thanks for your concern."

It's really hitting me these past few weeks that this is something I may never get to experience again. I know I've said it before, but I'm so thankful for this pregnancy and the little boy that is rowing inside.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Milestone

If you look at the little baby counter on the right today, you'll notice it says 34 weeks, or 6 weeks to go. I am breathing a huge sigh of relief today, knowing that if my little man decided to make an early appearance, everything would be OK. Sure, I'd still like to get to 36 or 38 weeks, but today I am happy for what I have--a healthy growing boy with 34 weeks of gestation under his belt. The last few days I've really started enjoying the pregnancy and preparation again since the anxiety is fading away. MM asked me the other day if I was ready to have this baby, and I think I am, at least as much as I can be. I haven't been listening to my hypnobirthing CDs like I wanted, I'm not meditating or practicing yoga like I would like, but still, I feel ready.

At my last appointment I talked with my midwife about our plans for the home birth. She said the gestational diabetes makes our window of comfort a little smaller. If everything was normal, she would say home birth is OK between 36 and 41-42 weeks, but since GDM delays fetal lung maturity and he's a white boy (statistically the slowest to mature and worst outcomes pre-term), potentially a very fat white boy (GDM will also mean he's bigger than he would otherwise be), she would feel better if we delivered at home only between 37 and 40 weeks. Also, chances are good that I'll be induced if I go past my due date (again, thanks to GDM) which would of course mean a hospital birth. It's a little disappointing, but I didn't get into this so I could have a home birth, I got into this so I could have a baby and be a mom. However that happens at this point is fine with me.

Part-time work is going well. It's just enough to keep me interacting and engaged with the world outside home and baby preparations, but not so much that I'm contracting and totally exhausted. I have started having some lovely swelling of my lower extremities--yep, some days I have cankles. Otherwise I feel pretty good.

Blood sugar is still in check without insulin thanks to the steady diet of ham (nitrite free :), eggs, cheese, avacado, nuts, and peanut butter, with an occasional half an apple and veggies. I gave myself a pass not to check my blood sugar after meals this weekend. I didn't eat anything I hadn't eaten before, and I was enjoying a much needed day out with MM and didn't want to poke my finger one more time. Otherwise I've been a great patient, I promise.

I can hardly believe we've made it this far. It's truly amazing. He will be here so soon!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Baby Needs

I'm finally starting to think this whole thing might really work out now that I'm over the 32 week hump. Until the past few days, I hadn't felt much of a sense of urgency about preparing for the little guy. What do babies really need anyway? Mostly boobs and diapers from what I can tell. I actually started leaking some colostrum last week, so it looks like all systems are go on the first count. As far as the diapers, thanks to the generous gift of several friends, we're pretty much all fixed up with our cloth diapering goodies as well.

I think that's one of the best things about this process, experiencing the love and generosity of our community. We've already been given more than we even need. It's really amazing. It feels good to bring this baby into a place where he is so loved. To me, that's just as important as boobs and diapers.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Food for a day

I know you're just dying to know what I'm eating these days. Listed below is my 24 hour recall from yesterday, my first official day with GDM.
Here's the run-down:

Breakfast: 2 slices of bacon, 1 oz. cheese, 1/2 avacado (3 protein, 1 fat)

Snack I: 1 oz cheese (1 protein)

Lunch: 2 oz grilled chicken, lettuce, tomato--the inside of a grilled chicken sandwich (2 protein, 2 veggies)

Snack II: 1/4 c cashews (1 fat)

Snack III: raw carrots, 2 Tbs. peanut butter, 1 oz. cheese (3 protein, 1 veggie)

Dinner: spinach salad with cheese, dried cranberries, & sunflower seeds, small serving lasagna (2 veggies, 2 protein, 1 fruit, 2 starch)

Dessert: pumpkin pie (small slice) with 2 Tbs. real whipped cream--I only made it with 1/2 the sugar (2 fat, 2 sweet/carb)

Daily Total: Protein-11, Fat-4, Starch-2, Veggie-5, Fruit-1, Sweets-2

I think the nutritionist would be proud. My blood sugars were all under 101. This isn't necessarily the perfect diet for everyone with GDM, but I'm not supposed to worry about calories, so I can eat all the fat and protein my body can handle. Oh, and when it says cheese, I do try to mix it up and not always eat the same kind of cheese, but your right Mo, I do love cheese :).

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

GDM


It's official. I have Gestational Diabetes. I got to put off the 3 hour GTT for a few weeks while I was contracting like crazy, but now that things seem to have calmed down I had to buck up and do it.

If you've never had the pleasure of getting blood drawn 4 times in a 3 hour period while eating or drinking nothing but a syrupy sweet orange glucose drink (100g of glucose), well, I hope you never do.

Between my elevated 1 hour test and this one I had been checking my blood sugars at home. They were OK, so I wasn't too worried. I do have a strong family history of Type II diabetes, but I've always kept a pretty healthy lifestyle and weight. I hoped that would protect me, but pregnancy apparently trumps lifestyle in my case. My 1, 2, and 3 hour blood sugars were high. Difininive diagnosis--GDM.

I met with the nutritionist and reviewed my diet. She agreed it was healthy, but not what my body needs right now. My instructions are to get 10-11 servings of protein/day (including cheese, but excluding other dairy) and only 4 servings of grain, and 1 serving of fruit. No juice, no milk, but all the water and caffeine-free tea (no sugar or honey) I want.

I spent a good part of the day today eating and/or thinking/planning to eat. I was successful in eating my daily recommended servings of protein and didn't even have my fruit. Blood sugars were excellent fasting and after meals (I'm checking 4 X/day). So hopefully if I keep this up I'll be able to avoid any complications or insulin. It's just another annoyance right now, but I can do it for another 2 months.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Progress

The report on my cervix from the midwife today is still closed, long, and soft. No cervical changes and no meds since Saturday means I'm going to try to go back to work on modified duty (sitting only) a few hours/week starting next week. Nobody wants me to start contracting again, but I'm feeling pretty good and think a change of scenery would be nice. If my uterus starts acting up again I can always come back home.

This weekend was a little bit of a trial run. I got the go ahead to be up and about more than I had been. MM and I went to a movie (W.--worth seeing) and I went out with a girlfriend to a local baby store. I tolerated the outings pretty well, so feel good about trying a little work.

I'm past the 30 week mark and looking forward to 32!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Happy Day

Things are looking up for me and the little one. I didn't need to take my Nifedipine at all yesterday as the contractions have slowed down considerably. In other good news, I got a negative fetal fibronectin!!! I wasn't expecting it to change, since we were testing so close to the first, but I'm so happy to have this piece of reassuring news. This means the chances of a delivery in the next 10-14 is days very low, which means I'll probably make it to at least 32 weeks. Needless to say I'm thrilled! This also means I'm free to go to a movie this weekend and try being up a little more. If everything is still OK at my appointment on Tuesday I may even be able to go back to work on a very part-time basis.

Thank you so much for your calls, visits, comments, and thoughts during this time of uncertainty. I really appreciate it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Unchanged

The last few days have been fairly uneventful--as it should be. I haven't been to the hospital since Saturday, and my cervix was essentially unchanged on exam today. I'm still having contractions, but not very regularly.

I'm doing everything I can to keep my baby safe inside, but the outcome is out of my control. I have probably mentioned before that as a rule, I'm a planner. This whole thing has changed a lot of plans already. The uncertainty and anxiety can be difficult to handle. Will I be able to go back to work? Will he come early? Will he be healthy? It's hard to put these questions aside and just be with myself in the moment. It's also hard not to feel let down by my body. It wasn't enough that I had such a hard time getting pregnant, now my uterus may be trying to get rid of this kid before he's ready. What is wrong with me!

I know it's pointless to go down this road. There's no way of knowing what is really going on in there. It's all a mystery. We take it as it comes.

As for the update on me and my sedentary life, I'm thinking about doing some admin work from home to help keep my mind engaged and help me feel useful. So far I've finished a knitting project, read a book, talked to lots of friends and family, scoured craigslist (I'm kind of an addict), organized some old photos, and thought a lot about my little boy. Nothing else is new. My OB might repeat the fetal fibronectin on Friday, but if everything stays quiet I shouldn't have any more exams or appointments until then.

Oh, one exciting thing is we have a friend coming over to the house tonight to take some pregnant pictures of me and MM. I figure now is as good a time as any. I'll post some in the next few days when I get them back. I'll try not to look too gross and bed resty.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Not Reassured

By yesterday afternoon/evening my contractions had really slowed down and I was just sure that my fetal fibronectin test would come back negative today (negative being good this time). I was wrong.

MM and I went in this morning for the test. My cervix hadn't changed, so I went back home to wait. I sent MM off to work and a couple of hours later my midwife called. I could tell from the tone of her voice that the results weren't what we had all hoped for. She said I should come in for my betamethasone injection (to mature baby's lungs in case he comes early) and to be monitored. She asked if MM was home, when I told her he wasn't, she offered to come to the house and pick me up. I think she could tell I was kind of loosing it. I called MM, told him the story, packed a few things to keep me distracted in the hospital and waited for my fairy godmother of a midwife to come and get me.

In case you're feeling jilted because your midwife/doctor never came to pick you up from home, I should let you know that I'm getting my prenatal care from the clinic where I work. I'm an NP on the Family Medicine side, but have a great relationship with the OBs and midwives. Sometimes it's nice to be a VIP.


Once we arrived at the hospital, I got hooked up to the monitor and proceeded to start contracting much more frequently than I had been at home--like 5 X in 10 minutes. That was enough to get everyone a little unnerved, so I got a shot of terbutaline to settle things down on top of my regular nifedipine dose. That seemed to do the trick, but they still had me stay for several hours to keep an eye on everything.

Baby Boy didn't seem to mind. He's still movin' and goovin' in there, and his heart rate stayed stable during the contractions, although we both got a little tachycardic after the terbutaline--that stuff is strong.

The OB came to check my cervix again before she let me go. The report is closed, long, and soft. All good except for the soft part, but I'll take long and closed any time.

I'm back home now on modified bed rest. I won't be going in to work for at least the next 2 weeks, which I really wasn't ready for, but it is what it is. I'll do whatever I need to to keep my baby inside for as long as possible. We'll go in tomorrow for the second shot of betamethasone. The OB said the weekend will be critical. We should know more what direction things are headed by Monday.

So that's the story. I wish it was a different one, but it's mine, and it's still not so bad. My baby is healthy and growing inside me, my cervix is closed and long, and my "bag of water" is intact. All things to be happy about.

Thanks so much for sharing your well-wishes and happy-ending stories. It really does help. Now, any fabulous ideas for passing the time while on bedrest?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sleepless Night

This morning around 4 AM, I thought we might be meeting our baby boy sooner than we hoped. I woke up last night around 3 AM with steady, regular contractions. They weren't painful, but weren't letting up either. I drank half a liter of water and laid back down. Still no dice. After about an hour, I called the OB, who suggested I come in, get monitored and checked.

Once I got up to the OB floor the monitor confirmed what I had been feeling--I was having regular contractions. When the OB came in to check my cervix I was already pretty freaked out. I had noticed a little bit of fluid leaking, so one of the nurses did an amnio swab that looked positive for amniotic fluid, indicating premature rupture of membranes. If you're reading this and you don't know, when your membrane breaks, you're having the baby within a day or two one way or another. As happy as I was to make it to my 28 week goal, I was still not ready to deal with a pre-term delivery. I was very relieved to find out that lots of things can give you a false-positive amnio swab, and upon further investigation (sterile speculum exam and ferning test) it looked like my membranes were still intact. As far as the other labor markers, it was mostly good news. Even though I was having regular contractions, my cervix was still closed and about 3 cm long. It was getting a little "mushy" though (starting the effacement process). I was given a dose of Nifedipine to help stop the contractions, and stayed on the monitor for several hours.

The ultrasound tech came in and did a formal ultrasound to check my Amniotic Fluid Index (AFI) and fetal weight. It was fun to see him again--and yes, it's still a boy. He weighs right at 3 lbs and my AFI was 18--also good. My blood work showed that I am anemic (yes, I had been slacking on my supplemental iron), but otherwise fine. No signs of infection and no clear cause for my premature contractions. After my contractions slowed to about 1 an hour they released me to go home and rest the rest of the week on Nifedipine every 4-6 hours. The plan is that if I have more than 4-5 contractions/hour I go back to the hospital. If they stay farther apart, like they are now, I will go in Friday morning for a Fetal Fibronectin test. If that's negative, we'll all feel a lot better. Apparently, the negative predictive value of the test is pretty strong. If I get a negative on Friday it means that there is little to no chance that I'll deliver in the next 7-10 days. If it's positive, I may or may not deliver pre-term.

So, it's been an emotional and tiring 15 hours. I was really enjoying the pregnancy and looking forward to the last trimester. Today I had to face the possibility that some of my hopes and dreams for a normal and healthy pregnancy, delivery, and baby might not be realized. I am trying to stay positive. I know that it's possible that this will pass and I'll carry our baby to term, but it's hard right now.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Birth Stories


This is my 100th post. Apparently this is some kind of blogging milestone. When I started the blog I had no idea how long it would go on (I hoped the IF part would be short and sweet). Fourteen months and 100 posts later I'm writing about my upcoming labor and delivery. Wow.

MM and I went to our first childbirth class this week. We had a hard time coordinating our schedules, but finally found an evening that would work for both of us. The class was at a local birthing center, but is open to anyone regardless of where they plan to deliver. As for us, we have decided to plan for a home birth. The hospital is only 5-10 minutes away if we need to make a move at some point. I've spent a lot of time thinking about this and evaluating my options. I am not against hospital births, but feel like I'll be most comfortable laboring on my own time, however I need to, in an environment where I'm comfortable, and where I know and trust the people around me.

On my recent visit with family I collected birth stories from my grandmothers about their experiences and those of their mothers. It feels good to have great cloud of women who have birthed before me in dining rooms and bedrooms without the benefit of skilled practitioners and technology that is now available to me even at home.

It was striking as I heard their stories to hear the changes that happened over time. As birth moved from home to hospital, there were more problems, more interventions, more "failures". I am not naive about the risks of unattended birth or the complications that often occurred at many of these early home births, but none of the stories I heard ended in death or disability for mother or baby. I understand that interventions are sometimes necessary, but often they are unnecessary and risky.

I know that my labor may not turn out as I hope, that I may end up in the hospital or with a Cesarean, but right now I'm enjoying planning my birth at home. If there are any veteran home-birthers with suggestions/advice I'd love to hear it.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Casual Traveler


I just returned from my swing state tour (VA, MO, and AR), also known as the end of second trimester, see-everyone-you-need-to-see trip.

When I arrived at the airport, there were new signs at security. The first was for "Families and Special Assistance," the second, "Casual Traveler," and the last, "Expert Traveler." It struck me that this would me my last trip as a casual or expert traveler for quite a while. Apparently once you're traveling with kids, special assistance is required.

I had a great time visiting family and friends. I won't be traveling for the holidays, so it was nice to see everyone now. I got some good belly lovin' on the trip. I also got to hang out with my brother and sister-in-law who is pregnant and due in November. I went to one of her OB appointments while I was there and got to see my nephew on the ultrasound. I wish I could be there to see him when he's born, but I'll be too far along by that time to fly back.

Things are looking good for me in my 27th week. One week 'till my 28 week goal!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Viability Blues

I've been having a hard time since I hit 24 weeks with what I'm calling the viability blues. As a nurse who worked in Pediatric ICU for almost 3 years, I've seen more than enough ex-preemies with varying degrees of physical, neurological, and developmental deficits to make a momma nervous.

There's still some debate about what the point of viability is, but 24-26 weeks is right on the edge for me. I have fears of preterm labor or premature rupture. I'm having trouble sleeping.

I'm not high risk. All indications are that little man is healthy, growing, and on track for a term delivery. But that's just it--there's no good way to predict who will give birth preterm and who won't.

For now I'm setting smaller goals. I don't need to get to 40 weeks, even 28 would make me feel a lot better. After that, 32 would be great.

It's strange to be here at 24 weeks, wondering and worrying, when for so long I doubted if I'd even get pregnant. Now I am, and I'm really attached. I can't imagine the pain of a loss at this point.

I'm leaving for a 10 day trip on Wed to visit some friends from Nursing school and then to see my family. By the time I get home I'll be 27 weeks. The trip should be a good distraction. I'm taking a copy of my prenatal record, just so nothing will happen.

That's my story here at almost 25 weeks. Thanks for checking in.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Good Days


The last few weeks have been really fun. I'm enjoying the increased energy of the second trimester and taking advantage of the freedom and kid-less time.

MM has been out of town all week, and out of range (backpacking for a week--for work). It's strange to be without him now. Pregnancy somehow makes me feel a little more vulnerable, but everything has been fine. I freaked out for about an hour yesterday when I had some funny pelvic pain, but it went away.

I went out with friends yesterday to a big festival at the park, "Power to the Peaceful." The music was good and there was some great people-watching. Lots of people were there with kids, but I was glad to be without for now. I didn't get the onesie above at the festival, but it was definitely that kind of thing. Peace, Love, and all that jazz. Ziggy Marley was great.

That's the update for now. Twenty-three weeks tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

He Moves

Little man is getting more and more active. I don't feel him much during the day while I'm at work, but at night when I quiet down, he wakes up. Last night MM and our house mate Nena both felt him squirming around in there.

Everyone says it, but it truly is amazing. To feel another little person inside, living and moving. Sometimes it catches me off guard and I can't help but laugh.

There have been so many times when I wondered if I would ever experience this, and now I am. Sometimes it seems too good to be true and I worry that something could still go wrong, but I am trying to leave my anxieties and live in gratitude for this moment.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Half Way!

This is me at 20 weeks! Definitely pregnant, right? So maybe the baby blue and horizontal stripes accentuate the effect. Still, most people who don't know for sure aren't willing to risk embarrassment by asking--until today. Yes, it's a major milestone worthy of documenting. One of my elderly patients asked if I was expecting. I was thrilled to tell her yes, and she was excited to hear the news. I can't believe it's half way over. I'm still enjoying almost every minute.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

More Results

Our Genetics Counselor called last week to give us the numbers. The odds of our baby having Trisomy 18, 21, or a Neural Tube Defect all came back better than our age-adjusted risk. Great News! That's really the last big hoop. Now we're just settling into the last half of pregnancy.

An Anniversary

This has to be one of the most wanted and planned pregnancies ever. I guess that's why I was surprised last week when I started feeling a little sadness and loss about the change that is coming.

MM and I just celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary. I feel like we're at a really good place in our relationship, and I'm getting a little nervous about how things are going to change when our baby boy is born. I know this is a natural part of the process, and that even though things will change, it doesn't mean our relationship as we know it is over. I'm trying to stop judging my feelings and accept them for what they are. I realize our time as a family of 2 isn't going to last much longer, so we're enjoying it while we can.

We spent our anniversary weekend at at B&B on the coast--just the getaway we needed. I hope we get a few more mini-vacations in before the baby comes. The place was beautiful. There was even a wedding in the garden the afternoon we arrived. It was perfect. The seals cooperated too. I could sit and watch them for hours. They're hilarious.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

X & Y

MM got cold feet about finding out the gender of our little one last night. He didn't feel ready to know that much about our baby. I decided not to fight it, but to let him sleep on it. I was pretty sure he'd come around. It's a good thing he did, because even if we didn't want to know, it would have been hard to miss. Yes, that's right, it's a boy! Complete with all his requisite parts (brain, heart, kidneys, bladder, stomach, penis, etc.) in a 9 oz. package. The placenta isn't over my cervix and we saw the blood flow through the perfect 3 vessel cord just as it should. I got a little teary looking at our little boy there on the screen, thinking about him inside of me, and as a little boy in our arms. This will be our last glimpse before delivery (assuming all continues to go smoothly). I can hardly believe it's almost half over! I'm so, so happy and humbled by the whole experience.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Christmas in August

It feels like Christmas Eve. The night before we find out if we will have a son or a daughter. I'm so excited! Not sure if I can sleep.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Birth is like a marathon?


We spent last weekend in the city for the SF Marathon. MM had been training for months, and was excited to finally run the race. The last marathon he ran, we ran together (not exactly together, but we both ran it) almost 8 years ago. I didn't even think about running this one, but that didn't stop me from getting almost teary listening to a woman talk about the pace teams at the expo the day before--that's not normal, it's hormones. I ran one marathon yes, but I am by no means a runner, and don't really aspire to be. Hormones are the only semi-rational explanation.

After the grueling 26.2 mile course around the very hilly city of San Francisco, MM was in a considerable amount of pain. He took the opportunity to tell me that maybe this would help him empathize with my pain in childbirth. While I'm not sure how similar the experiences are, I appreciate the thought.

I've been thinking and reading more about the birth process in the past few weeks. Birthing from Within is a book that was recommended by one of my preceptors in school who was a midwife. I've always remembered it and have given it and recommended it to pregnant friends before me, always looking forward to the day when it would be relevant to me. I bought my own copy about a week ago and have already almost finished it. Her approach is natural and intuitive. MM and I have both found it to be valuable.

As a result, I've also become very interested in the birth stories of other women in my life. If anyone feels like sharing her birth story either here in the comments or by e-mail (or by connecting me to your blog about it) that would be great. I'm not as interested in the play by play as the challenges and emotions of the whole thing. What you remember most, what you loved, what you might change.

So, that's the update at 18 weeks. Still haven't felt any movement, and can't wait to see the little one on ultrasound this Thursday! Looks like the votes are pretty evenly split boy/girl.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Toe in

Now that I'm 4 months and safely out of the first trimester, I've been able to take hold of this whole pregnancy thing a little more. I've been doing some online searches for baby items, checking out the local retailers, and hitting the consignment and second-hand stores. I haven't actually bought anything baby yet--I'm trying to be an informed and cautious shopper--but I'm definitely testing the waters. If you have kids or have looked into "the industry" it can get a bit overwhelming. I really don't want to go consumer crazy. I've decided that craigslist might be my new best friend.

As for the belly, it continues to grow. I am very grateful to have friends who delivered before me (who are more or less my size), which has cut down on my maternity buying considerably. MM asked the other day, "How much bigger is it going to get?" At first I was a little upset, then I realized he was just sincerely curious. He loves me and my belly at any size.

We had an appointment with our midwife today. I was a little nervous, just because I hadn't had a Doppler or ultrasound since the bleeding episode, but everything looked great. Heart rate in the 150's, uterus sized for my dates, weight and everything right on track. The next exciting step is our level II ultrasound which is scheduled for August 7th. After much thought and minor disagreements, we have decided to find out the gender of this little one if he/she will cooperate. We're so thrilled just to be pregnant, that we don't care what it is--as long as it's a baby. So cast your vote, and we'll let you in on the results in a few weeks!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Baby Bump

You asked, so here I am at 15 weeks. An almost unmistakeably pregnant belly. I went shopping with a skinny girlfriend who's 1 year postpartum the other day. I had to admit that the only pants I'll be buying for the next 6 months will be unflattering and stretchy. Oh well.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Bright Spots


I went for my prenatal intake appointment a few weeks ago. I'm a pretty healthy girl (except for the whole IF thing), and hadn't been to the doctor for anything other than fertility-related concerns in over 3 years.

The prenatal intake is extensive. They want to know about everything that has ever been wrong with you or anyone related to you. It's also a bunch of social history questions (drugs, alcohol, etc.). I'm pretty boring all the way around. Then she got to the psychiatric history, "Have you ever been depressed?" Until about a year ago I would have said no, not really. But as you can imagine, the experience of infertility can be a pretty serious blow to the psyche. The support of friends and family was great, but there really is something different about the therapeutic relationship.

I've mentioned going to counseling sessions a couple of times on the blog, but today I felt like giving a little credit to my therapist. I started seeing therapist last spring just before my first appointment with the RE. I've seen her almost every week since then. Some sessions it seemed like I didn't do much except cry. At other times we were able to explore my fears and feelings about family and what it is to be a woman. I've learned to examine myself and my reactions, and to be more authentic in relationships.

The day after I found out I was pregnant I was scheduled to have a phone session with therapist (we were traveling and I couldn't see her in person). On the phone with therapist, for the first time since getting the great news, I cried. I was overwhelmed with appreciation for the relationship that we have developed over the past year and for the ways in which she has helped me grow. That's the crazy thing about therapy. If done well, it creates space and a safe relationship where you are able to question, examine, and grow. Over a year later, pregnant and waiting, I'm a healthier person at least in part because of my work with therapist. I feel more ready to handle motherhood or whatever else comes. If it hadn't been for this whole IF thing, I might never have made the effort to go to therapy. That's my bright spot for today.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Disaster Averted

Thank you so much for all the thoughts and words of support. After resting for the past 2 days things lightened up considerably, so I went back to work today. I gave myself permission to leave anytime if the bleeding returned, but so far so good. The bleeding seems to have stopped and I feel fine. I'm definitely a little more guarded and cautious than I was before, but am mostly back to my positive pregnant self. Thanks again. I'll keep you posted on me and the babe.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Scared

Yesterday morning I woke up with a scare--bright red blood. Not a ton, but enough to cause a little freak out. I pulled it together enough to call my midwife who told me to come in right away. I was off work (day after my b-day) and planned to spend a fun day with MM and his dad who is visiting from China. Plans changed.

We left dad at home and went to the clinic to try and find out why I was bleeding. My midwife was great. She said bleeding is never good, but she bled for a month with her 3rd child--heavy--and everything turned out OK. So although she always takes it seriously, she's not quite as scared about it as she used to be.

The little one was still squirming around inside on ultrasound, heart beating and everything. My cervix was closed and long, but the bleeding was definitely coming from there. She said it looked like part of the placenta may have separated from the wall of my uterus. There's nothing to do but wait. She told me to take it easy for a few days and come back if the bleeding gets worse. So far I'm not having any cramping, I'm just laying around at home trying to convince this little baby to stick around. I was just starting to let myself be really excited now that I'm 14 weeks. I don't know what I would do if we lost this child. I'm trying to stay positive, but it's scary. We're just waiting--again.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Testing, testing...

The weeks keep ticking by, and the little life inside keeps growing. It's still hard to believe (you know, that I'm really pregnant and am going to have a baby). I think most mom's at this stage feel the same way, but maybe more so after infertility. It did become a little more real yesterday when we had the ultrasound for our integrated screen (more on that later). Our last ultrasound was 4 weeks ago. The little blob inside looked more alien than human back then. When our baby came up on the screen yesterday it was undoubtedly a baby. MM was so cute and excited. They had a monitor mounted on the wall so we could watch. He couldn't stay sitting by my side, he had to stand up and get a closer look. We got to see the little one squirming around, standing on his head, stretching out with his little arms behind his head (I'm using the male pronoun in the generic sense). It was lots of fun for both of us. When MM saw the printed profile shot he said, "I think he looks like me," and I think he was totally serious. I had to laugh.

The ultrasound tech said everything looked just fine. Baby measures equal with my dates and the area of nuchal translucency measured 1.2, which is good I guess. This ultrasound was part of the integrated screening test for Downs Syndrome, Trisomy 18, and neural tube defects. It's non invasive and combines the results of a first trimester ultrasound with blood tests in your first and second trimester to give a personalized risk assessment. It's not definitive, since they're not actually looking at the chromosomes, but will give us some more information. Our risk at baseline is very low just because of my age, about 1 in 850 for Downs, 1 in 3000 for Trisomy 18. We almost decided not to do it after we got all the info from the genetic counselor, but since we were already there and we knew we were going to get to see the baby, we decided to go ahead. We won't get any results until after the second trimester blood draw.

In other testing news, I passed my 3 hour glucose tolerance test! So at least for now I do not have gestational diabetes. I'll get screened again in the second trimester, so I'm trying to watch my carb intake.

I think that's the latest and greatest for now. Here are two of the best pictures from the ultrasound yesterday. The first is a full body shot. The head is on the right, the belly on the left with a little hand sticking out in the middle. The second one is a profile shot of the baby's face with a hand up by his mouth. Pretty amazing to think that this little life is actually inside me.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Failed


I can hardly believe it. I had to do the screening for Gestational Diabetes in my first trimester since my dad has diabetes. I wasn't to worried about it. I'm pretty conscious about healthy eating, I'm active, and not overweight. Nothing to worry about. Then I got the results--failed. The cutoff is 135, my blood sugar was 143 an hour after drinking the glucola. It doesn't mean I have Gestational Diabetes, but I have to take the extended 3 hour test with 4 blood draws. Fun, fun. 

I had been pretty much sailing through this pregnancy thing. This is my first real bump in the road. It's not the end of the world, and completely manageable I know, it's just that this wasn't even on my worry list, and here it is. I'll do the fasting 3 hour test tomorrow. Vamos a ver.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

10 week updates

Yes, it's been a while. I'm just not sure what to do with the blog these days. I didn't really intend to write another pregnant person blog--but I'm pregnant--and I have a blog. What to do....for now, I'll roll with the pregnancy thing.

"You look so...healthy." I'm still not exactly sure what this means, but I've been hearing it a lot lately. Is it my face, the extra pounds maybe? I'm only 10 weeks, and I haven't actually gained that much weight, but my body is definitely changing. It's strange and great all at once.

As for the birth center vs. hospital, for now I'm moving forward with the home/hospital scenario. The birth center is still my first choice, but logistically it's a little harder to work out. I still have time to change my mind though.

After my 8 week ultrasound checked out OK my RE said my miscarriage risk went down to less than 2%, so I've stopped worrying so much started freely sharing the good news. The various reactions have been great. Most people knew (or at least suspected) that we'd been trying for a while, so they've all been super-excited. One of my favorite comments was from a medical assistant at work in her 50's who I love and respect. She's a mom of 3 and a grandma. When I told her, she said, "I'd like to be your kid." One of the sweetest compliments ever.

So that's the update. If you are still reading and have any input about the status of the blog feel free to send a comment my way.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Birth Center vs. Hospital

MM and I visited a free-standing Birth Center close to home last week. We both really liked it. It's a group of 4 CNMs who rotate call. They provide all your prenatal care and are with you through your entire birth. They also provide a dula and have the option of water birth. They focus on birth as a natural and normal process, expecting that things will go well, and are prepared when they don't. Their c-section rate is 5-8% (national average is 30%). They do 220 births/year with an average of 1 ambulance transfer/year. They have a great relationship with the local hospital and will go with you if you have to transfer for any reason. It sounds exactly what I want. So why is there still a question? Insurance of course. My current plan is not contracted with them. I might be able to upgrade to a different plan, but it would still be more out-of-pocket expenses for us. Our system is so screwed up. Care with the midwives at the birth center costs less overall and has great outcomes--but because of the way insurance works it will cost me more. I still have some time to decide. I'm just frustrated that this is even an issue.

Just Gestatin'

Not much new around here. Just trying to grow a baby. I've been more tired lately, which explains the lack of posting. I went to bed before 9 PM two nights this week (not normal for me). Otherwise, I can't really tell I'm pregnant. I feel so normal that I made the OB I work with do another ultrasound last week just to be sure everything was still OK. I felt so silly. I had seen the heartbeat less than a week ago, I hadn't had any cramping or bleeding, but I was still anxious that something was wrong. Of course it wasn't. The baby is growing, heart is beating, everything is as it should be. I think it's normal to be a little hyper vigilant after this much effort to get here. I'm trying to relax and trust my body. It would be ridiculous to have an ultrasound every week for 34 weeks, right?
This isn't actually my ultrasound, but it looked similar. There's definitely a baby in there.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Polls Closed


Today was the day. We've been preparing ourselves for the possibility of twins since we got my betas 2 weeks ago. It was a little strange to be back at the REs office, the place where my eggs were retrieved, where "conception" happened, where our embryos spent their fist days. This time I was there not as infertile, but pregnant. Kind of a trip.

Before she went looking around with the ultrasound probe, I asked her if she thought she'd see twins or a singleton. She laughed and said, "Twins--but there might be just one, I've seen about everything." Then the probe went in. First she checked my ovaries, still a little large, but overall they looked good. Then it was on to the uterus, where she found a perfect, single fetus measuring just right for my dates with cardiac movement and everything. Absolutely amazing.

It was a little bit of a let down (more for MM) that the second one didn't stick around, but overall I'm excited at the prospect of a "normal" pregnancy. I wasn't looking forward to the high risk multiples scenario, even though I know there are tons of twin gestations that go perfectly well. For me, it's one less thing to worry about. So, if you were hoping this was going to turn into one of those fabulous blogs about multiples (Suz), you're going to be a little disappointed. Sorry. I'm just excited about my low risk pregnancy. I even called a birthing center today and set up an appointment for a tour and consultation next week!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Madres

I was so wrapped up in this whole IVF cycle and the shock of pregnancy that I almost missed Mother's Day. Mom's Day is a mixed bag for me and MM. His mom died 3 1/2 years ago, so it's always a little sad. We still have his grandma and aunts, my mom and grandmas, but we both feel the loss of his mom. These "special" days bring it out.

I remember last year when we were trying to get pregnant. I had fantasies of taking a HPT on Mother's Day and getting the plus sign so I could tell MM we were going to be parents. It didn't happen that way of course.

Now, a year later I got my positive result, but I still don't feel like I have license to celebrate the day for myself. I don't look pregnant, I don't feel pregnant, but I am in fact pregnant (I took a HPT a few days ago just to confirm that the betas were actually mine). Maybe the ultrasound on Thursday will make me feel a little more pregnant. I'm looking forward to seeing something other than an empty uterus and hyper-stimulated ovaries.

Next year I hope to be celebrating this day with a 5 month old (or two). Happy Mother's Day.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Clean Sheets


Monday night I came home to find our bed stripped. While normally this would make me happy, yesterday I was annoyed. I had just washed our sheets the day before, but since I was asleep (on our clean sheets) when MM got home from work I didn't get a chance to tell him. Being the industrious man that he is, he took it upon himself to wash the sheets while I was at work.

I guess there are worse problems to have. Now we have doubly clean sheets, and I have a great husband who is going to be a great dad.

In case you're wondering, I feel fine. No morning sickness or anything yet. I hear it kicks in around 6 weeks, so it should be here before long.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The moment we've all been waiting for...

Sorry to have left everyone waiting so long for this post. I wasn’t trying to be mean, just wanted to make some phone calls first, then didn’t have wireless like I thought we would this weekend.

I resisted the urge to take a home pregnancy test (mostly because I asked our house mate to hide them) because I decided it would be best to wait for a meaningful result. A paired beta Hcg would be meaningful--a negative or positive home pregnancy test wouldn’t give me as much info. Besides, I had based my plans for work and travel around the assumption that we would find out Wednesday night or Thursday morning. If I waited until then, MM and I would have 3 days together to either celebrate together or comfort each other. That didn't make the wait any easier.

Wednesday was a long day. I got up early and went for a walk with a girlfriend before going in for my second beta. I asked the MA at the office who took my blood if they really made women come in for the second one even if the first one was zero. She said yes. Apparently since she started working there 5 years ago, 2 women have had a positive second beta after their first one was zero. It still seems cruel. I asked them to call the results to MMs phone and leave a message. We decided we would listen to the message together when we both got home from work. After a therapeutic muffin and herbal tea at a local coffee shop, I went to work for one of the most distracted days ever.

During our lunch meeting I looked longingly at my friend and co-worker’s belly—she’s 34 weeks pregnant—and wondered if that would ever be me. I made it through the rest of the day, including a long evening clinic, before I got home to meet MM and get our results. I know I wrote a rather hopeful post on Tuesday night, but by Wednesday I had convinced myself that I probably wasn’t pregnant, but that I would be OK. MM was worried too. I reassured him that I really would survive. Then we listened to the message, “This is Jamie from Dr. __ office. I’m supposed to leave a message with your results. Your wife is totally pregnant…” there was some more after that about instructions for follow-up, etc. but we had both stopped listening. I really couldn’t believe it. I’m pregnant! I’ve never been pregnant and now I am. I thought I would feel different.

It was strange after so many negative results to finally get the positive we’ve been waiting for. Suddenly I'm shifting gears from trying to get pregnant to trying to take care of the little life inside me. Of course I'm aware that this pregnancy is still very early and anything could happen. Right now though, I'm pregnant, and that's cause for lots of celebration.

This experience is at the same time deeply affirming and humbling. I can't help but think about all the other women who are still waiting for their positive. They want it just as bad. Why did it work for me and not them? The mystery and randomness of life is hard to comprehend.

The looming question now is still, how many babies. We won’t know until our ultrasound on May 15th. My quants were 167 and 409. Anybody want to take a guess--one or two?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Good Stuff

On the eve of the big news, I'm trying to think of things to look forward to--regardless of the result:

1. No more shots! (after tomorrow AM)
2. Road trip with MM this weekend
3. I can make Christmas plans (my EDD will be the first week in Jan)
4. I know I can survive an IVF cycle
5. I have a husband who loves me
6. I have friends and family who support me

I can't believe we'll have our answer in less than 24 hours. Depending on how things go I may not get to post before we leave for our trip, but I have a good feeling. I really think it worked.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Countdown



We're in the final hours of the wait. This is the worst part. Uncertainty. I had my first quant Hcg today, but won't know anything until after the second one on on Wednesday.

I've been feeling quiet and private lately (hence the lack of posts). I hope to have great news to report soon. Until then, the wait continues and I do what I can to distract myself and hold on to hope.

Addendum: I know I'm just asking for twins with that big 2, but the first countdown graphic I posted (that actually counted down) just ended up staying at 0--which is much more depressing, so I went with 2. Besides, we do have just 2 more days to wait.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Pregnant until proven otherwise

The 3 days post-transfer have flown by. I'm feeling great, body and spirit. MM and the rest of my support system here have done a great job taking care of me. The shots are starting to wear on me a bit, but I'll do them for nine months if it means we get to be parents.

I'm posting a picture of the embryos or "the twins" as my brother refers to them. I hope at least one has found my womb to be an inviting space to stay for the next nine months or so. I've been thinking about them a lot, floating around in there, hopefully stuck by now. It's crazy that this is how we all started out, just a few cells.

I've decided the best way for me to get through the next two weeks is to assume I am pregnant until a quant Hcg tells me otherwise. Three days down, eleven to go.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Embryos are in!

We did it! Transfer day was great (as far as I can tell). We got to the office just as my acupuncturist was arriving. MM was more nervous last night and this morning than I was. I've actually been remarkably calm all week. I really feel like this is going to work. This is huge coming from me, consistently the more pessimistic one throughout the whole process. Anyway, Laurel gave me a treatment before we met with the Doc to go over the embryologist report. The fertilization rate was a little low (7/12). She thought some of the eggs were probably a little immature. Here's what happened to the 7 that fertilized:

One Grade I that had started compacting (still not sure what that means, but it's a good thing)
One 8 celled Grade II
One 6 celled Grade II
Two 5 celled Grade II
One 4 celled Grade II
One 4 celled grade III

She gave us pictures of the top two performers (the Grade I and the 8 celled Grade II) which she then proceeded to transfer into my uterus. Then Laurel returned for a post-transfer treatment. Pretty amazing. We're freezing the others in case this doesn't work.

As far as I can tell we couldn't have asked for much better. Now the waiting begins! I'm trying to plan some nice treats for myself over the next two weeks. I really hope this calm, positive attitude holds out a little longer. It's nice not to be so anxious. I'll try to post a pic of the little embryos that are not inside of me later. I can't believe we really did it. Big stuff.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

One or Two

Apparently my doctor doesn't believe in fertilization reports. It just produces "anxiety" and/or "false hope" since it's common for embryos to arrest between days two and three. So I'm left to wait until Thursday with no other info about my little embryos.

All I can think about is how many we'll transfer. One or two. I know my doctor will give me a recommendation, but she's understandably biased since her reputation depends on her success rates and twins would be a much bigger deal for me than they would be to her. I know we'll have to make the decision in a short and emotionally charged time, so I'm trying to get all the info I can. I really want this to work, but I also want a normal singleton pregnancy. I know we would make adjustments and handle it if we had twins, but the risks of carrying them and the increased cost (not to mention extra work) really scares me.

I'm a little more open to the idea of transferring two after my blind date of sorts. A friend of a friend is pregnant with twins from her third IVF. It was nice to talk to someone in person who has been through this. I had never met her or even seen a picture. Luckily she was the only pregnant woman in the cafe. We had a great chat. She said after the pain and expense of 3 IVFs she's glad she's completing her family all at once. I'm still not convinced, but we could end up with twins even if we transfer one. Maybe I need to stop worrying about it so much.

Otherwise, her main pieces of advice were to pamper myself during the 2ww, not to spend too much time alone, and to plan a getaway the weekend after we find out. Whether we're ecstatic or devastated it will be nice to have something to look forward to.

I'm requesting any and all advice r/t the one or two question, so feel free to leave a comment.

I can't believe the transfer is tomorrow!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Retrieval Report

First of all, I hate being NPO. Nothing to eat or drink after midnight last night until after my 12:30 PM egg retrieval today (which really meant 2PM). I kept thinking about food, almost reaching for it before I would catch myself. Last night I dreamed that I forgot about the rule and had a huge breakfast so they had to cancel the whole thing. The anesthesiologist was nice and at least let me have clear liquids until 6:30 this morning. I actually set my alarm so I could wake up and drink water. Strange but true.

MM went into work this morning, then came home in time to pick me up for the big day. Everyone at the office was great. The anesthesiologist was very chatty and matronly, probably in her early 60's. I was asking my doctor some questions about where they were going to put the eggs when I started feeling the effects of the propofol. It's such a strange feeling when you're going under. No matter how much you want to hear the answer, or make a smart remark, you're on your way out and there's nothing you can do about it. The next thing I knew I was asking, "Am I supposed to be awake?" and crying. That's what I do post-anesthesia--I cry. It has nothing to do with pain or the emotional nature of the procedure. It's happened before with much less sentimental procedures. I just cry. Luckily I was aware enough to realize what was going on and laugh at myself through the tears. When I was finally coherent enough to speak I asked about the egg count. They retrieved 12! A whole dozen! I was very excited and relieved. The semen specimen looked great as well, so the embryologist said there was no need for ICSI. BTW, the picture at right is a diagram of how the egg retrieval is done. In case you needed a visual.

MM came in to sit with me in my "recovery" while the cute old anesthesiologist went on and on about her sister who went into counseling after she retired from her first career and her son who has some psych issues and her daughter who trains horses. Funny lady. I was a little crampy right at first, but have felt fine ever since. I'm glad that part is over and will anxiously await the embryology report. We're scheduled for the embryo transfer on Thursday. It's so weird to think that right now we could have little 2 celled embryos in a lab. Crazy. I really hope this works.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Trigger Happy

That's right, it's almost trigger time! Everything looked great on ultrasound today. I still had 12 follicles that look ready to go, so we're scheduled for retrieval at 12:30PM on Monday. Since the trigger injection has to be given exactly 36 hours before retrieval, I get to wake MM up at 12:30 AM to give me the shot.

He's been so great about everything--even the weight gain. I've intentionally gained 5-6 lbs in the past 3 weeks (still trying to boost my BMI a bit). It doesn't sound like much, but I think it all went to my rear. I went to a memorial service for a friend's mom today and had to try on 4 outfits before I found something that fit--and even that was questionable. I keep trying to avoid buying new clothes in the hopes that I'll be getting into maternity clothes, but if that doesn't happen pretty soon I'm going to have to break down and at least buy some new pants.

I'm getting really excited about everything. I can't believe the retrieval is 36 hours away! Thanks again for all the support. It really does help to know there are so many friends and fellow travelers of the infertility path thinking about us.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Huevos Jueves


Nena lovingly termed today "Huevos Jueves". We made a spinach and chicken chorizo scramble for dinner last night with 12 eggs for good luck. I was a little nervous because I haven't felt anything going on down there. I know some women feel a little abdominal pain or bloating, but I haven't felt a thing.

I have a friend at work who started an IVF cycle, but was a "poor responder" and didn't make it to retrieval. So this felt like a big first test. I was so nervous I couldn't sit still in the waiting room. I kept getting up to get a drink, to look at the books & magazines, anything not to sit still. They came and took my blood for the estradiol level, then escorted me to the room with the ultrasound machine that would tell us if all these hormones and shots were doing any good.

She looked at the lining first--8mm, then the right ovary--6 follicles 11-15 mm each, then the left--8 follicles 11-15 mm. Considering my low antral follicle count and elevated FSH, this is a pretty good response.

I was relieved, but not as excited as I thought I would be. I am painfully aware that this is just the first in a series of small steps that may or may not end in a healthy pregnancy and birth. It is nice to get some good news though. So we'll celebrate the small successes along the way too. The next step is an ultrasound and blood test on Saturday.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Business of Being Born


I realize this may seem premature to some. Honestly though, what woman hasn't thought about labor and delivery? Fertile or not.

If you haven't heard of it, The Business of Being Born is a documentary about birth in the US. I highly recommend it. I watched it with a girlfriend who delivered last August. She had a pretty standard hospital birth, (Pitocin, Epidural, etc.) even though that's not really what she wanted. The film really resonated with her.

I know I'm going all high intervention to conceive, but I still want a natural, low intervention birth. All interventions have their place, and I'm open to using the technology we have if and when it really does help, I just don't want to use it blindly or when it's not really needed.

Anyway, check out the movie, let me know what you think. It's available for "instant viewing" on Netflix.

In other news, my estradiol was 85 today. I'm not sure what that really means, but my doctor didn't change my meds, so I guess that's within the expected range. The next blood test/ultrasound is Thursday.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Let the Stim Begin


Ovaries looked good on ultrasound today. No cysts or anything weird, so tonight we start pumping up my follicles with FSH.

MM was hesitant about the injections at first. The image of having to stick me with a needle to get me pregnant just didn't sit well with him, but he's pretty much over it now.

So far I haven't experienced any side effects from the Lupron. I'm actually feeling more emotionally stable than I have in months, something the whole house is happy about.

I've also noticed my internal monologue around casual encounters with mom's and babies has changed recently. When I see them out for a walk I think, "That's going to be me soon," instead of, "Why can't that be me." I think it's a healthy change. I just hope all this optimism and hope doesn't come crashing down on me if this IVF cycle doesn't work.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

"Expect Period Here"

That's what it says on my cycle calendar for today and sure enough--it came. For the first time in 17 months I didn't have to wonder if I was pregnant. I had no hope or expectation for two lines since I've been on birth control pills for the past 4 weeks. Those little pills are amazingly effective, especially if you're infertile anyway.

This period puts us right on track for the ultrasound on Thursday. The goal is "quiet" ovaries with no cysts or dominant follicles that would delay the start of stimulation. If everything checks out OK I'll start the FSH injections on Thursday night. I'm getting excited, and a little nervous. Thanks for checking in!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Baby in a Box

First of all I want to say thank you to everyone who commented on the last ICSI post. It was helpful to get more perspectives.

In the end I had a conversation with my doc about it and we decided not to do it. She said she was just worried that I might not have very many eggs to work with, but I think we'll be fine. As far as the "rescue ICSI" you all were right. She said there's no proven efficacy, so they don't do it.

In other news, I finally got my box of meds last week which I have lovingly nicknamed my "baby in a box". The whole process was a bit of a saga, but in the end they arrived on time and intact.

I started my Lupron injections this morning. So far I haven't had any hot flashes, mood swings, or short-term memory loss. I'll keep you posted.

My target week for egg harvest and embryo transfer is April 14th. It's coming soon and I'm feeling more and more confident about our decision to go ahead with it. I initially thought I wouldn't make the April cycle, and was thrown off a bit by the sooner-than-anticipated start. I even considered putting it off another month for no particular reason. I just wasn't sure I was "ready", whatever that means. How can you ever be ready for this?

So here we go. I'm expecting a roller coaster. I just hope that I'm exhilarated and smiling at the end, not throwing up and crying.

Monday, March 17, 2008

ICSI


I need a little input. For those of you that have been here, what can you tell me about ICSI? We aren't dealing with any male factor issues, but one of my doctors is recommending it (at least she wants me to go ahead and pay for it). I'd rather not do it at this point (I think I've signed up for about all the intervention I can stand already). Thoughts?

A Welcome Reminder

Over the past month I've had an unusually large number of opportunities to hang out with friends and their kids. I knew it was coming, and was honestly a little nervous about how I would handle it all. In the end it was great. Hanging out with these kids didn't make me bitter (though I'm aware that if this IVF cycle doesn't work out I could easily go there), it just reminded me that I really love kids and I'd be a good mom. This isn't just a quest just to get pregnant (though that is admittedly the first hurdle), it's a quest to have a child and be a mom. It seems obvious, but sometimes I get lost in the process.

Thanks Hannah, Jeremiah, Sadie, Arlo, Ella, and Landon. I've had lots of fun with you and think I'm ready for one of my own.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

and the winner is....


After a week and a half of weighing the options (surgery & waiting vs. IVF) we've decided to go the IVF route (applause & support please).

There were several road blocks to surgery including insurance issues (Dr. C isn't covered on my plan), cost (still not clear if insurance would cover it, even if we changed Docs), and wait time (2 months minimum, then 6-12 months of "trying" again). We just decided that for us right now IVF seems like the best option. It still sounds strange to say, and I'm not completely confident in the decision, but I'm getting there.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Dance




MM and I visited this amazing gallery in Mendocino when we were there a few weeks ago. We were walking back into town after catching the sunset. It was after six and all the other galleries were closed, but the Wisdom House was open. We had to check it out.

The artist was there, trying to close up I'm sure, but she didn't rush us. The large canvas works were incredible, but decidedly out of my price range. I found some reasonably priced and beautiful cards that combined Shiloh's artwork with the poetry of Alice Walker. I couldn't find the image online for my favorite, but it said simply, "Hard Times Require Furious Dancing". I had to smile.

Maybe this isn't true for everyone, but I've found that good music and dancing is just about the best pick-me-up. When my body is moving with the rhythm I feel connected to the energy of life. I could be at a live concert or home alone in my living room, it doesn't really matter. I can't be sad when I'm dancing.

Maybe Alice was right, what the world needs is more dancing, less suffering.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

No Wrong Decision

Yesterday MM and I went to see Dr. C. Our appointment was at 7:30 AM about 30 miles from home. With commuter traffic, we were less than thrilled, but glad she was able to squeeze us in. I didn't sleep well the night before because I was alternately afraid that we would 1.) oversleep and miss the appointment or 2.) we would arrive on time only to find that the appointment was actually at 7:30 PM or some other day altogether. Luckily neither nightmare came to pass. We arrived at the appointed date and time.

This appointment was one of those, "Where do we go from here?" visits that you'd just rather not have. She answered all our questions and laid out our options as she saw them. We could attempt a tubal repair (the integrity of the left tube is still questionable) then try "the old fashioned way" for another 6 months to a year or we could move on to IVF. Insurance may or may not cover the surgery ($20K if not covered) and the success rate is unknown, since we won't know exactly what we're dealing with until after the procedure. As I said before, she's pretty conservative, so if it weren't for my low antral follicle count (8 as opposed to 20) she would definitely recommend the surgical option. But since the count is so low, it makes things a little more gray. I think she could see our stress in trying to make the "right" decision. She finally looked at us and said, "There's no wrong decision, do whatever feels best to you." We're taking some time to look into all the options, but are leaning toward an IVF cycle sooner than later.

If I could see the future this would be so much simpler. My fear with the surgery is that we'll try for another year and be in this same place next year, only I'm a year older. Of course I would prefer to conceive "the old fashioned way" but maybe I need to just get over it.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Voices

Sometimes I feel like I'm hearing voices. Not the really crazy kind, just the back and forth, play the angles, get you all confused kind.

This is what it sounds like:

If we didn't do any other interventions from this point on, we would still conceive "naturally" at some point. I mean, they don't even know for sure why I'm not getting pregnant now.

But what if you don't. You're young now. If you wait another 3-4 years and then try IVF it may be too late.

I know, that's what I'm afraid of. I just wish it would happen now.

This barren time is here to teach you to be at peace and let go of control.

That's ridiculous. This time is only what I make of it. There's no supernatural reason for the state of my womb. It may be a good time to work on my control issues while I'm waiting, but that doesn't mean it will change anything.

You need to wait until you're really ready to do IVF. It will require more of you than you know. Much more than you've had to give up to this point.

How can I ever be ready? What does that even mean? Ready to submit my body to science in hopes of creating life?

That's a little dramatic, don't you think? "Submit your body to science" it's not like they're going to dissect you.

Maybe not, but it just isn't the way I thought it would be. It's not how I wanted it to be. Why is it so hard?!

You're making it even harder by beating yourself up all the time. Just relax. Take a break if you need to.

How can I? There's no real break until we play out all our options and settle somewhere.

What if you shifted all this energy you're putting into trying to get pregnant into some other pursuit? Explore your creativity, throw yourself into your work, go deep into meditation, become a yogi, go back to school, move overseas. This is still your life. You can do so many things.

But I really want a baby. Sooner than later. Maybe I will do those things, but I don't feel like I can do much of anything until I get some resolution to the baby issue.

Fine, if that's really how you feel then go for it, but not right now. You're still too vulnerable from the disappointments and failures of the past year. Take a month to breathe and gather your strength to start again.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

No Mas

This is definitely my least favorite post to write. You know, the one that comes after the two week wait where I have to say it didn't work (again). We tried, we hoped, we waited, we got one line.

I could tell from the way I was feeling on Monday that I wasn't pregnant, but it's hard to say anything before you get the official negative. Everyone wants you to be so positive, like my fatigue and emotional liability could be the result of those blasted hormones or even better yet--pregnancy! I knew it wasn't either of these things. It was just me on the downward spiral to cycle day 1. It's kind of nice to get some warning. It softens the fall a little.

Of course I still took the pregnancy test and had a sliver of hope that I was wrong about the whole thing. That maybe it finally worked, that we would have a baby in November and spend the holidays with family and our newborn baby. Still, I was expecting one line, and wasn't surprised when that's what I got.

After 4 IUIs I think we've played it out. My doc is on vacation, but I talked to her nurse today and I think we're going to move toward IVF. I need some better odds. The disappointment and despair is deep.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

An Omen?

Our time away couldn't have been better. The ocean was beautiful and the weather was sunny with hardly any wind, just like it was supposed to be. It was nice to get totally out of my routine and spend lots of quality time with my man. One day we went beach combing for abalone shells. I'm usually horrible at this kind of thing, but this time I found the most beautiful "baby" abalone shell fully intact. I'm hoping it's a sign of good things to come. Currently I'm 11 days into the wait. I've promised not to pee on a stick until Thursday. I figure with the Provera suppositories my cycle will be longer, so I'm really trying not to get too excited even if I haven't started spotting by then.

If I'm not pregnant this cycle I've decided to blame it on the fact that I ate ice cream at a local creamery while we were away. They had this crazy mushroom ice cream and I had to try it. It tasted more like maple syrup than mushroom. Apparently the flavor comes from candy cap mushrooms that grow in the region--who knew. Anyway, I'm supposed to be avoiding cold/frozen foods since they can drain the kidney yang (I think, or maybe it's just the qui). Don't tell Laurel. I missed my appointment with her and my therapist last week because of our little get away, but it was well worth it.

I'll leave you with a picture of the perfect little abalone shell I found. I hope it brings me good luck this cycle!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Diversion

I'm about to get a much needed diversion in the midst of the 2ww and I can hardly contain my excitement! It's been too long since MM and I ran away together, so tomorrow we're hitting the road and heading north. I booked a room at a beautiful B&B on the coast. The forecast is mid 60's and sunny with light winds. Not bad for a February weekend.

I'm so excited I almost don't care that I'm still doing these horrible progesterone suppositories three times a day (does that seem excessive to anyone else), or that I'm probably not pregnant this time. I wish we could do this long weekend away thing every cycle to break up the wait. It's nice to have something fun to anticipate instead of just dreading another failed cycle. Diversion is good.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

There's a Baby in the House

I've been thinking about writing about the baby in the house for a while now, but wasn't sure how to do it. I think I didn't want to deal with people's reactions to or judgments about it. But she's been living with us for 2 months now, and she's part of the journey. So here's a little story about the baby in our house.

A very good friend of mine, Nena, got pregnant unexpectedly a little over a year ago. In August she delivered a beautiful baby girl. In September MM and I decided we were ready to move into a bigger place. Around the same time, Nena was looking for a new space for her and the baby. We found a great 4 bedroom 2 bath house and wondered, "What if we lived together?" We decided to give it a go. MM works 4 nights a week until 11 PM, leaving me home and lonely at times, and Nena could use some extra support with the little one too, so it seemed like a good deal for everybody.

We moved in together Dec. 1st, all 4 of us, and it's really been a great 2 months. I think our friends were a little worried at first, "Do they know what they're getting into living with a baby? Won't you miss your privacy?" Honestly I had some reservations too, but so far living with Nena and her little one has been a wonderful gift. I don't even think it's changed the intensity of my desire for motherhood (for better or worse). I want to be a mom and I'm not, she can't change that. What she has done is given me a baby to love and play "auntie" to for now as well as some extra live-in emotional support when things look dark. It's also helped reinforce our capacity to love children that aren't biologically related to us, and makes adoption look like more of an option if this doesn't work out.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Waiting Rooms

I spent the vast majority of my day "off" today in appointments and waiting rooms. I failed to bring any knitting, so I was forced to catch up on celebrity gossip and the economy.

We kicked off the big day with IUI #4. I had a positive surge yesterday (though I always feel like maybe I imagined it), and since it's a weekday we skipped the trip over the Golden Gate and went looking for the Marin office. It was a much smaller scale operation than the main campus in the city, which was nice in a way. There were only two other women that came in and out while we were there. The doctor made some borderline inappropriate comment about how there was only one person that ejaculated in the office today, so not to worry about a mix up. Thanks--I wasn't worried until you said that.

The fourth try doesn't feel very hopeful. I actually started crying a little on the table when he was doing the IUI. Not because it hurt, but because I know what's coming. The unbearable 2ww and, most likely, another negative. It's hard to hope again every cycle when all I get is disappointment.

Luckily we finished up with the RE just in time to make it to my counseling appointment (I really needed it). From there I went to get my teeth cleaned before ending the day with acupuncture. Sometimes acupuncture is like a second counseling session. I shared my frustrations with Laurel today and she helped me see how I might try to shift my thinking about all the meds and procedures and to see them as my ally rather than my enemy. As much as I want to get pregnant, I have resented the interventions it's taking to get there. I'm realizing more and more how that just doesn't serve me well, so I'm going to work on it.

Thanks for checking in and keeping up. Let the 2 week wait begin.

Monday, February 4, 2008

27 yo G 0 - unexplained infertility

That's me. 27 year old gravida 0 with unexplained infertility. I was a little taken aback when I saw it typed out on the ultrasound screen yesterday, but that's the pertinent info. My entire OB/GYN history in one line. I've never been pregnant and we're not exactly sure why.

I guess the visit was worthwhile yesterday. I came home with a little more information and another transvaginal ultrasound under my belt. I also got to see my doctor and touch bases about the plan if this doesn't work. This is only the second time I've seen her. The first time I came alone and the second I brought a girlfriend. I'm sure she's used to having various support people come, but I always feel like I need to explain my husband's absence, "He really is supportive and wants this baby, he just works crazy hours." Instead I didn't say anything and just let her do her thing.

As far as the plan, we agreed to start one more clomid/IUI cycle if this one is unsuccessful, and schedule a visit with her about the IVF options during that cycle. That will bring the grand total of medicated IUIs to 5, plus one cycle of meds with timed intercourse. The news about this cycle is that it's still early (I should have started counting from day one of heavy, bright red flow in case you were wondering), so I just had 4 small (12mm) follicles--three on the left (the side that's iffy) and one on the right. Not to worry though, I'm sure two or three will fizzle before it's ovulation time, they always do with me. If I haven't had a positive surge by Friday I'll call for a trigger. Otherwise I should surge Wed or Th and go in for the IUI the following day.

The last week and a half were pretty rough, but I feel like things are settling out a little now. I don't know whether to blame it on the clomid, the lack of acupuncture, too many overnight shifts for MM, stress at work, or the fact that Mercury was in retrograde. Whatever the cause, it's good to feel stable for now. I don't know how long it will last, but I'm not crying now, and that's a good thing.

Friday, February 1, 2008

What day is it?


When you're trying to conceive, it's not enough to remember that it's Friday, February 1st. It's also cycle day...something. After over a year of trying I still can't get it right. The fact that I'm a nurse has not helped in this regard. Somehow, when you're the one with the problem (not a patient), even things that seemed very obvious and straightforward are no longer so.

Cycle day one. Everyone knows this is counted as the first day of your flow. But what is flow? If I have spotting and light bleeding for 4 days, is that flow? Or is flow that 5th day of heavier bright red blood that only lasts a day? Am I waiting too long to start my meds if I wait until that 5th day or am I starting them too soon when I start on the 3rd day of light flow? I have yet to get a satisfactory answer from any doctor or nurse. Everyones' menses is different, and everyone has a different perception about said menses. Light for me might be heavy to someone else. Why is this so hard?! I thought maybe charting would help, but that hasn't given me any clarity either. After 17 years of periods and 15 months of pretty close scrutiny, I still don't understand my cycles.

So, this round I agreed to an ultrasound on day 8 or 11 (depending on when you start counting) to try and sort things out. That means I'm going to the city on Sunday. The good thing is my doctor is working this weekend, so I'll get to check-in with her. The bad thing is that MM works all day on Sunday. Thankfully a girlfriend is going with me. I just hate going to those things alone. It's hard not to have some expectation, and I never get what I'm expecting. You'd think I would learn to go in with no expectation, but I can't. At least not yet.