December 5, 2007

All is Calm, All is Bright

It's so peaceful here today. Watching the snow fall with a sleeping baby is absolutely perfect.

Not like yesterday. Yesterday she decided she HAD to be nursed the entire day. If she fell asleep between feedings it was on the boob and if she was removed she got pissed off and had to nurse again. If she wasn't nursing she was having a gassy fit. This went on all night and then all day. I had about 20 minutes free during which I folded her tiny laundry. I was near tears by the end of the day, but thankfully today is a new day. A perfect hot chocolate day.

November 30, 2007

A Day in the Life

Can you believe it's the four week birthday already? Here's how we got there...

6am - I hear Pip stirring in the bassinet next to my bed. She's not crying yet but we've been asleep since 1am so she's definitely up for her feeding. I take the opportunity to go pee alone before picking her up. As soon as she starts nursing there's a series of farts without any screaming at all, and by 6:30 she's done the first side and passing out. Breast feeding has definitely gotten MUCH better! A diaper change wakes her up enough to finish the other side and we're back in bed around 7:00.

I know this may be controversial, but at this point I put her in our bed with me. The reason is pure laziness. If I put her down in the bassinet she has to be totally sound asleep or she'll cry until I pick her up and she's too young still for the "cry it out" sleep training. If I put her in bed next to me we get to fall asleep together with no crying.

10am - She's stirring again and this time we're awake for good, for a total of close to 8 hours sleep - not bad. She's a little fussy but latches right on and nurses until the poop explosion (they no longer happen at every feed). She tenaciously keeps latching on and trying to nurse, but she's dropping latch and wrenching up her little face into a very unhappy shriek, so I think it must be her belly and give her some Mylicon drops. Seems to do the trick. With all the fussing it takes almost an hour to get through with one side before the diaper change. Hiccups mean we're in the home stretch though. By 11:30 we're done.

Meanwhile J has made us breakfast and brings it to me in the chair. When I say the constant feeding isn't so bad, a huge part of it is that my college student husband is around to help out in so many ways. The division of labor isn't actually all that different than it's been since he quit working two years ago to finish his degree, we've just both got this new element. So many women do all of this alone at this point, and I shudder to think of how anyone manages while caring for older siblings.

Noon - I put the sleeping baby in the Pack N Play and sneak off to run some errands.

2pm - I get back to find Pip's been awake since 1pm when she woke up with a wet diaper. J changed her and played with her and she was just running out of patience when I got back. I feed her while I eat my lunch. Afterwards we weigh her - I can't believe she's up to 7 pounds!!

3:30pm - She's fallen asleep in my arms. It takes a while for her to go soundly to sleep, but then she's back in the Pack N Play. I start addressing birth announcements while she sleeps.

4:40pm - Tiny cries from the Pack N Play. In the last week or so Pip has decided to become a dainty little girl and cry whenever she has a wet diaper. Easily solved, but a pain having to nurse her back to sleep an hour after almost every feed. J changes her diaper but she's still shrieking.

5pm - Mylicon drops to the rescue and she's back on the boob. Within 15 minutes she's fallen asleep on me again. She's rooting around with her mouth in her sleep so I wake her up and get her to latch back on. She's fussy but hse's back on soon enough. Then a big belch does the trick.

5:30pm - She's back to sleep and putting out some loud farts. Jay's making dinner. I actually get to eat with my arms free tonight while she lays in the bassinet! As soon as I put my fork down she's crying though, wanting to be held. In minutes she's passed out in my arms and she sleeps on me while I catch up on all your blogs.

7:30pm - Furious screaming precedes diaper change and a particularly trying feed, wherein she yanks my nipple all over the place as she squirms around, apparently in pain. That makes two of us. After burping her she settles (sort of) into more productive nursing, with only occasional cries on her part and a bit less pain for me. Her tenacity and determination is very endearing. Its a very basic problem: she needs to eat to survive. She works very hard at it despite the fact that it hurts. Looking at it as something we're both working toward together helps me through it.

8:30pm - Has it really only been an hour? It feels like much longer. I'm exhausted and she's nearly asleep when we have a pee overflow. She's starting to outgrow preemie size diapers. A quick diaper change and back to the boob.

9pm - Sweet Jesus she's sleeping. I make the handoff to J and give my arms a rest.

9:30pm - Why is she chirping already? J is instructed not to so much as look at her. Thankfully she stays asleep.

10pm - J tries putting her down but it doesn't take; she wants to be held. Back on the boob. She latches fine but she's so tired and keeps falling asleep. If I feed her later it means we probably only get up once in the night instead of twice, so I snuggle her up to me and let her sleep while I rest too and watch TV.

11:30pm - 1:30am - Our last feeding before bed. It takes a long time before she's ready to drift off to sleep, but then she stays asleep until 5am.

In 24 hours, I got 8 hours of sleep and spent 8 hours nursing. What happened to those other 8 hours, I don't remember doing anything else?? At least I did get the birth announcements done. Maybe tomorrow I'll make room for a shower!

November 27, 2007

Shopping


First I want to pass along this fantastic idea from the Queen of fantastic ideas, Mel: Click here to shop for all sorts of cool things which will help fund other infertiles' journey to parenthood.

This rest of this post will be particularly annoying for those at that certain point in the cycle when you just can't stand to see a pregnant woman or pass by a baby boutique, but I feel compelled to give a shout out to this fabulous vendor of great baby stuff: Babysakes.com

A while ago I fell in love with a beautiful, award-winning baby book, but it was too early in the pregnancy for me to feel bold enough to buy it (i.e. anytime before 34 weeks). Then I was on bed rest and found myself pining for it but couldn't get to the store, and once I finally was able to get out it had sold out not to be restocked. After searching everywhere and hours of googling, I found the perfect cover design (pictured above) on the manufacturer's website, but couldn't find the book anywhere. Finally I asked the wonderful people at Babysakes if they could get it with this cover and they've decided to stock it, so now it's been added to their online store. AND at a better price than I've seen anywhere. You can see it and loads of other great designs here. Be sure to check out the beautifully illustrated inside pages (see below).

There's lots of other great stuff on their website too for anyone looking for cool baby gifts, and I can definitely say the people there are wonderfully helpful and responsive. Check it out!

November 26, 2007

Pictures


I have a bunch of things in mind I've been meaning to blog about. What I don't seem to have any of lately is time. If I could figure out how to feed her and type simultaneously we'd be good to go, but so far I'm not getting anywhere typing with one index finger. In lieu of any of that, here are some pictures, as requested.

Here you can see how tiny she is. This is from her first week home, when she was around 5 pounds. Now she's probably approaching almost six...


She still loves to be swaddled but she's enjoying more time unwrapped now too. Even the tiniest preemie clothes are huge on her, but she's growing into them quickly...


As you can see, she's quite pensive...


But she doesn't take herself too seriously...


This is her Yoda face...


Finally, a Christmas to smile about...

November 17, 2007

The First Two Weeks

So I mentioned delivery was the easy part. And I seem to have a pretty easy baby. So far.

The biggest challenge is definitely feeding. The baby had a great latch right from the beginning, but starting the very first day I was forced to give her supplemental formula feedings from the bottle every two hours. The pediatrician required it due to her small size, and it was either comply or risk having her admitted to the NICU if she lost too much weight after delivery. The formula feedings were a huge success and she lost only 2 ounces before being discharged, which was a record for the hospital lactation consultant.

The down side was that she then HATED the boob. Screamed bloody murder whenever I tried to stick it in her tiny face. It took about five days for my milk to come in and the colostrum couldn't hold a candle to the formula she was downing, plus there were nipple problems too. Nurses kept telling me not to worry, that my milk would be in any day and then we could quit the formula and eventually things would work themselves out. We do seem to be getting there, but it has NOT been easy.

We've been on breastfeeding only for a little over a week and it's still a challenge, but getting much better. I think our issue now is more digestive than boob-related because she basically screams and drops latch constantly until she has a big explosive poop, after which she settles down and sucks easily until she's done. The pediatrician explained something about a gastro-colic reflex that goes away at about one month, so hopefully we have just a few more weeks of the screamfest. It probably doesn't sound that bad, but it lasts anywhere from 5 or 10 to 30 or 40 minutes or crying and screaming before the poop explosion. And this is something I do every 2-4 hours, 24 hours a day. I basically spend about 10-12 hours a day feeding her, of which at least 3-4 hours are spent watching her push out her lower lip in the saddest little frown ever, furrow her tiny brow, turn beet red, and eventually wail her little heart out. Meanwhile she's frantically clawing away at my chest, practically ripping my nipple off, and kicking me in the opposite side boob.

My sister says I'm lucky that her cries don't really upset me. I hate that she seems so miserable, but it's true I do stay pretty calm. For one thing, I know that sometimes babies just cry. It's the only way they have of communicating with us. It doesn't always mean there's something tragically wrong that must be fixed. I think a lot of new moms feel like they're doing soemthing wrong if the baby cries, or at least not doing something right. I'm pretty convinced that the feeding cries are related to belly discomfort, and that frankly seems worth crying over. I've got some tips from the pediatrician on how to help ease it and I do what I can, but it seems to be mainly something she needs to grow out of.

I can see why people give up on breastfeeding and switch to formula. It is really hard and really draining, and if you have any problems at all, formula can be much much easier. I think what's helped me most is that I was prepared for it not to work well. It's my infertile training serving me well yet again. I went into it knowing it might not work, and that there were interventions and options that would be fine if the natural method failed me. I was pretty committed to making breastfeeding work, but willing to accept the alternatives if need be. But the key thing was that my sister had said to me something like: that's all fine and good that you're willing to accept alternatives, but you should know this: at some point, it probably will be really hard and you will want to give up, but if you stick with it for a few more weeks, it gets much, much better.

We seem to be getting to that point. There's less and less crying and the feedings seem to be becoming more productive. At her weight check yesterday, she was up to 5 pounds and 5 ounces (from 4.12 the week before), so the pediatrician was finally satisfied and we don't have to go back until her two month check up. Other than the feeding issue, she's really easy so far. She sleeps for usually 3-4 hours between feedings and I only get up once or twice in the night. And really, eating, sleeping and feeding her are the only things I have to do, so its okay if one of those things takes some extra effort. Even with the difficulty we've had, it's all in all much easier than I was expecting. Part of me is still waiting for the shit to hit the fan. Some people tell me that these little early babies take a couple of weeks to really "wake up" and become more difficult. For now, I'm enjoying it while I can.

November 11, 2007

Birth Story

Here, finally, is the long and short of it. For the short, just scan the headlines...

November 1
8:30am - Appointment with the perinatologist

We were sitting in the waiting room when the peri came out of an exam room. He took one look at me and from down the hall said "Still pregnant?!" He'd expected me to be delivered when he sent me to the hospital on Monday. When my scan was done he said the baby was measuring smaller for gestational age than before and he believed placental dysfunction was becoming a more serious concern. Before he told me what he his recommendation was, I saw him type "deliver within 48 hours" into the computer. He had me wait in his office while he called my OB. He said they couldn't get me in that day but to go home and wait for a call to schedule an induction for the next day. When we got home, there was a message from the OB's office telling me to go directly to the hospital, and that my doctor would let me know what the plan is when I got there.

We got our bags ready, I wrapped up some things in my office, and off we went. On the way there I asked J "What are we going to name this baby?" He said "Well I think we have to think about that." Me: "How about now?!!"

11:30am - Admitted to triage
No one knew what was going on when I got to the hospital. The OB at the office had called the OB on call at the hospital, but he was in surgery when we got there. I hung out in triage yet again waiting to hear what was going to happen. I was beginning to get so irritated with being sent back and forth to the hospital, especially after the 24 hour stay just two days before, and with the back and forth between all the doctors different opinions, that I was feeling a little more like maybe it wouldn't be so bad to get this over with. I'd been sent home with discharge papers four times now that read at the top "Discharged with: no babies."

When my doctor got out of surgery he came to talk to us about our options. He explained that they (the OB's) prefer to wait until 38 weeks; they just feel it's safer. He explained the potential risks of delivering at 37 weeks. It was a little frightening because I'd understood that 37 weeks was considered term, but here was the head doc from my practice explaining that no one really knows when between 34-38 weeks each individual baby will really be term, so at 37 weeks there are still risks like "blowing a hole in the lungs..." and other stuff too scary to remember. On the other hand he said, it was hard for him to recommend going against the peri's recommendation, since he's the expert. He asked me what I wanted to do. I said I didn't want to be the one to decide, I wanted my doctors to tell me what they thought was best. He said he leaned toward doing the induction. Ultimately I have had the most trust and confidence in the peri all along, so at this point I was comfortable with it.

2:30pm - Admitted to Labor & Delivery
Three hours after checking into the hospital and laying on that stretcher in triage, I had my own room. It didn't have the ugly wallpaper of the room I was in Monday and Tuesday, but it also didn't have the window that had allowed me to get a web signal on my iphone - bummer.

3:30pm - Started Cervadil
An hour later the doctor came in and inserted the cervix-ripening Cervadil, since I was still only 1cm dilated and 50% effaced. Not comfortable! He explained we'd let this work for 12 hours and then I'd have an hour off before we started the pitocin. During the whole 12 hours of Cervadil I'd need to be on the monitors.

It was a long afternoon. I watched TV and finished my Carl Sagan book - the one I'd been reading on the stretcher at the fertility clinic when we did egg retrieval back in March. J went home at some point to take care of the dog and I got a half hour nap. He came back around dinner time and we played gin. At some point he told me he was ready to agree to the name Piper, which for some reason I've loved since I was about 12. We still hadn't settled on a middle name though. We talked about some options but we really weren't sure.

My mom came by soon after and we all hung out until I decided I needed to sleep, which never really happened. They went home and I continued to have nurses come in every half hour and stick me, ask me questions, and who knows what else. Sometimes they came in just to introduce themselves after shift change. Great, thanks. Please go away.

November 2
12:00am - Contractions

I didn't realize what they were; thought I was just missing my fabulous body pillow. I'd been getting uncomfortable and kept switching positions, knocking off my monitors, trying to find some way to sleep. I'd shift around and get more comfortable, then need to shift again. It took me a few hours to notice the pattern and realize it was my position changing making me more comfortable, it was the contractions ending. At this point they felt about like bad menstrual cramps; those months when you've had way too much chocolate and wine and haven't exercised in way too long. More discomfort than pain.

3:30am - Done Cervadil
At the end of the 12 hours, the nurse came in to remove the Cervadil but it was already gone; fallen out. Not a problem she said, but I was still only 1cm dilated despite the contractions. Annoying. I was given an hour off the monitors during which I took a shower, which felt fantastic. Also good thing I took advantage of it because I wasn't up to taking another one the first day or so afterwards.

4:30am - Started Pitocin
I was started on a low dose of the pitocin. My contractions were about 1 minute long every 5-8 minutes at this point. They pretty much stayed this way for the next five hours while the nurses continuously ramped up the pitocin amount.

Although the contractions stayed about the same frequency, I started getting more uncomfortable. It was still not really painful, but it was now like my worst ever menstrual cramps; the kind you might have every few years that make you need to spend a day in bed. I asked the nurse when it would be time for an epidural. I had thought there would be a point when they came and offered it. I remembered something about waiting until you're 4-5cm or something, to let your body do it's thing first. She explained that they don't really do that with pitocin inductions. For one thing, pitocin contractions are notoriously much more uncomfortable, and also since it's not your body in charge anyway it doesn't matter, they will still be controlling things with the pitocin regardless of what you're feeling.

So basically she said most doctors would let you have the epidural whenever you wanted. I told her I still wasn't sure when I should ask for it. She suggested getting it early, before you feel like you need it. It's easier to have the actual proceedure when you're in less pain and everyone takes a different lngth of time to respond to it, plus you never know when the anesthesiologists will get booked up. I told her I'd like to request it as soon as it was allowed then, and the guy was there in minutes.

9:45am - Epidural
I had been pretty calm about everything up until this point, but I was nervous about the epidural. The anesthesiologist came storming in pissed off at another doctor for rescheduling some other procedure and fuming about it to my nurse. She calmly had me sit on the edge of my bed with my back exposed and hunched over while he continued to rant and rave about "how DARE he ask such-and-such..." He scrubbed the iodine over my back with a vengence and may have removed a layer or two of skin. The nurse gently whispered instructions to me "hug your pillow in front of you, and when I say so, tuck your head and chin all the way down and push your back out towards him...okay, now." And it was done. It felt sore going in, but went away quickly.

I tend to be pretty sensitive to drugs and the epidural kicked in immediately. I felt warm and tingly, but I also got major jitters and felt like crap. I started to regret asking for the epidural so soon since I wasn't yet really in pain, but those side effects had subsided within 20 minutes and ultimately I think it was best I had it early and had loads of time for it to sort of settle in. Just like I'd been told I would, I had to laugh at the monitor when I saw the next contraction and felt nothing. Ahhhh. Then nothing happened for basically the rest of the day. Oh except the catheter, which SUCKED. I don't know why it hadn't occurred to me I'd need one of those, but eventually I didn't feel that much either.

7:00pm - Water broken
After 14 hours of pitocin, contractions were still 3-4 minutes apart, as they'd been pretty much all day. I was now 2cm. A different doctor now on duty (the third since I'd arrived), decided it was time to break my water. It really does look like a crochet hook. For some reason I decided this was it. There was no turning back now! It was beginning to look like I might actually have a baby. The doctor gave her guess: 7am. She asked the nurse what she thought. "You may be right but I'm not going to say 7am, just because that's too cruel. I'll say 2-3am." Sounded like they were expecting things to get more painful from here on in. And that's basically the idea with breaking the water, without that extra cushion each contraction can put more pressure on the cervix. Hopefully things would advance a little more quickly.

10:00pm - Feeling contractions
Twelve hours after starting the epidural, I was still numb but the contractions were now strong enough that I could feel them through the epidural. Again they were more uncomfortable than painful, but I was aware of them, and I'd finally made it to 3cm. J and I fell asleep.

November 3
1:00am - Active labor

Around midnight the contractions became strong enough to wake me up, and they got stronger over the next two hours. Around 1am I started trying to wake J up from his nap on the very uncomfortable bench in the room. He's a heavy sleeper and kept opening an eye to check on me then dozing off again. By 2am he was finally awake for good. By then the contractions were strong enough that I has having to try some of the breathing techniques from class. I hadn't been big on all that stuff because I knew I was planning to have an epidural, but there was an exercise in class where we had to push with our hands against force with and without focused breathing and I was amazed at how much difference the breathing made, so I gave it a shot. It really helped. This will sound so corny but with each breath out I was envisioning my cervix widening a bit more, as if I was blowing it open. I don't know if I was actually making any progress with that, but it made all the difference in getting through them.

This went on for about 20 minutes before I started feeling like I wanted to push. More specifically, it felt sort of like I wanted to poop. At that point I was fighting the urge to bear down, so at 1:30 J went to let the nurse know. The contractions didn't look any different on the monitor so they weren't aware anything had changed. At 1:45 she checked my cervix and I was fully dilated-she said it waqs time to push. My nurse was amazing (thank you Staci, where ever you are!), and walked me through exactly what I needed to do; taking a huge breath in at the start of every contraction, then holding it in while I pushed as hard as I could before exhaling--about three of these during every contraction.

3:06am - Delivery
We kept going like this for probably another 30 minutes, not more than 10 contractions, before she went to get the doctor, who was stunned that I was ready already. When the doctor came in, I pushed just a few times before the big one. I felt the head pop out and I could tell it was tiny. The doctor and nurses were exclaiming things like "oh it's a TINY one!" I looked up at J's gaping dropped jaw, staring down at the baby half way in and half way out. I think they might have suctioned her nose and mouth before I finished pushing her out but I'm not sure.

Next thing I knew they put her right on my lower belly and were wiping her off. I was staring down at her and thinking "No I'm infertile. I don't make babies." I was looking at her, knowing she had just come from somewhere inside my body, but not remotely able to absorb the idea at all. I was happy, I was proud of myself, I felt excited and relieved, but I did not have this sudden magical moment where I finally Believed. It wasn't that anything was missing. It all felt perfect. It was still just so unreal.

They picked her up and washed her off and did the usual stuff (all very fuzzy now). I think it was during this time that they delivered the placenta. Finally we got the answer to the big question: the placenta was very small and not looking good, so the early induction was very much justified. The perinatologist had been right, and the OB confirmed it was a good thing we delivered when we did. She would thrive much better out in the world than in there dependent on that thing. Whew, major relief. But then the doctor had a problem stopping my bleeding. There was talk of sending me into surgery if they couldn't stop it. After a bit longer pressing on my abdomen, another peice of placenta came out, and the bleeding finally stopped. I'm not really sure what this means but will ask more about it at the 6 week check up, but basically we're felling really good about the induction decision.

They brought her back to me swaddled and with a hat on. This time I got to hold her close and have a better look and she was the most beautiful thing ever. It was still a few days before the reality of it began to set in and I'm not sure I still totally believe it, but I can say for certain that I'm loving every day of it.

And that's how we got our third 3rd (J and I also were born on the 3rds of our birth months), eight months after egg retrieval which, incidentally, was on 3/3. All in all, labor and delivery was really easy. I know, I know. I too have smirked at women who say this and whispered sideways to a friend that people with a story like that should just keep it to themselves. No doubt delivering a 4lb. 13oz. baby is a walk in the park compared to what most women go through. I also think getting the epidural early (thanks Holly) was key. The next few days were anything but easy, but I'll save that for another post.

November 7, 2007

And Delivered


Thanks to all who have already sent congratulations, and so much love to everyone who's supported us throughout this journey. So many of you know too well how much that support means. I hope this little bundle gives hope to those who need it. IVF really can make a baby, even if you refuse to believe it until the very last moment. More details when I can.

November 1, 2007

And Readmitted

Headed back to hospital now. Was told induction is scheduled for tomorrow, but then told to go directly there now--I assume to get the cervix-ripening stuff. Hope to be released while it does it's thing, but who knows? Will post updates when I can, but looks like today or tomorrow theoretical baby will become actual real-life baby.

Hopefully I've fixed the comments thing. Thank you all so much for your support!!!

October 29, 2007

Admitted

quick update from the hospital - I was sent over for monitoring by the peri this morning after an especially high BP (160/110). They have decided to admit me overnight to do another 24 hour urine collection to check for protein. A full panel of bloodwork came back completely normal, so if there's no protein I'll probably be discharged tomorrow afternoon. My blood pressure has remained pretty high all day despite the medication I started last week though, so an induction sometime next week (37 weeks) is still likely.

It was very weird going home and getting our stuff together to come over here. We knew there was a chance of induction. The peri told the on call to check everything and if she had any concerns to just go ahead and deliver. I am so not ready for that. I know i'm taking the whole pregnant infertile disbelief thing to extremes given that i know an induction in the next two weeks is likely, but I just still can't believe I (me!) might actually have a baby. I'm still working on buying inyo this whole pregnancy notion. Luckily it sounds like I've got at least a few more days to get used to the idea.

And I can't wait to go home. Its so uncomfortable in this bed, not to mention boring. I didn't get to eat or drink anything all day until around 3pm in case I had to be induced or anesthetized. Now I have these weird inflatable cast things on my calves which are plugged in and puff up and down to prevent clots. The only upside is maybe now I'll have some time to catch up on your blogs.

October 25, 2007

I Suppose Its Not a Good Sign When the High Risk Doc Says Come Back in Two Days

But that's what he said this morning. Then he said "Tell them to double book me if they have to," so he's rather serious about it. He says the placenta is looking a bit "old." The report he sent to my OB says "indications of early placental dysfunction." Apparently when it begins to look like things may be headed downhill placenta-wise, it can happen fast, thus the speedy recheck. It was such a bummer compared to last week, when we found out the baby is growing at an okay pace, as it continues to hug the 18th percentile curve. They can't check that again until next Thursday, since it takes two weeks to grow enough to outweigh the standard error in the measurements.

I have my first pelvic exam with the OB tomorrow. With things seeming more urgent at the Peri, I'm eager to hear how things "down there" might be progressing, if at all. I've had occassional Braxton Hicks for months but they have gotten stronger and I sometimes wonder if some of the adjustment I'm feeling is dilation. Mainly I think it's the baby head butting my cervix though--not too comfortable.

Bed rest pretty much blows. It's been over three weeks now, but sure feels like months. We all have enough whining and complaining in our lives so I won't go on and on about it, but the thing I didn't really anticipate is the fact that lying around all day saps all your energy without ever getting you tired enough to sleep. In a way it's a good thing that I've been so swamped at work I haven't had much opportunity to notice I'm not going anywhere. Since I already worked from home, it took minor adjusting to get me lounging a bit mopre at my desk with my feet up, but I have been working at reducing my workload. Instead of the routine 10-12 hour days with a few 14 hour days per week, I'm now down to regular days of 8 hours or less with a few 10 hour days here and there. In two weeks, I'll have everything wrapped up. If Imake it that far.

So I'm very sorry I'm behind on all your blogs. I've missed them and been thinking of you all, but between the race to get work done and the need to rest as often as I can, I feel so trapped irtyng to balance it all that I haven't dedicated much computer time to non-work activity. I'm going to try to catch up a bit later today, and hoping to find lots of good news out there!

October 12, 2007

Looking Good, Just Not All That Photogenic

The scan yesterday went well. It is too soon to measure growth again since the the margin of error for the measurements is greater than how much the baby might have grown in a week, so we'll have to wait until next week before we have an idea of how well the baby is growing. This time they checked all the organ functioning, breathing motions, and blood flow.

The main problem with hypertension is that it constricts the blood vessels, so the baby gets less blood and nutrients through the cord than it should. This is what causes the growth restriction. The baby compensates by reducing blood flow to the abdomen so it can direct enough to the brain, and this is happening properly. They've talked about putting me on blood pressure medication, but apparently the baby becomes accustomed to a certain level of blood pressure, and as long as the baby is handling it well, it's not a great idea to suddenly change my blood pressure. It appears that so far the baby is handling it well, we just have to keep monitoring it closely.

The other major problem which I'm still being evaluated regularly for is preeclampsia, but there are no further indications that I'm headed in that direction. That would be much more dangerous to me and the baby, and even the chance of it is one reason why I may be induced early (it tends to spike suddenly late in pregnancy). The Peri said we'd know more after next week's growth check, but that he thinks I'm going to make it to 37 weeks. If the growth looks really good, he said maybe 38.5, but I might as well give up on my 40 week due date.

And since full time bed rest is pretty much definite until delivery, three or four more weeks is sounding a lot better than six.

In this picture from last week's scan, you can clearly see two evil eyes glaring at me, displeased with this whole blood pressure situation, I presume:
Is it just me or does anyone else see a resemblance to Dr. Finklestein from The Nightmare Before Christmas?
Although I go back and forth, sometimes I see a very clear "Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Willis?" face in the scan.

Actually we did get to see some cool stuff yesterday. At one point when we were looking at the profile view, we saw the mouth open and swallow amniotic fluid. Later, we saw it holding it's foot. Maybe there really is a baby in there afterall.

October 8, 2007

And Definitely Restricted

Last week I met with the OB to follow up on the scan. Actually it was a series of confusing visits with different people and different interpretations. My regular appointment was already scheduled with the physician's assistant. She explained to me it's not just a matter of the baby being small as I had hoped; it is considered growth restriction because of the hypertension, since we know that hypertension definitely restricts fetal growth, especially in mom's over 30. She showed me a chart with our 17 week anatomy scan on a grid and you could see that it has dropped from just above 20th percentile then to just below (18th). It was a little frightening to see that, although it is still not in the teensy tiny dangerous less-than-10th percentile range.

I left that appointment feeling a bit more concerned and thinking this situation was a bit more serious than I had thought. I had flashbacks to my tiny neice born 3 pounds 15 ounces at 34 weeks, which sounds like about the pace of growth we are on. I remember visiting her in the nicu and her head was smaller than my fist, about the size of a tangerine. It was amazing to see her but scary too, and I remember what a horrifying time it was for her mom, who was driving more than an hour a day after a C section (not advised) so she could go visit her baby in the hospital. She was there about two weeks and is now a thriving 5 year old, but we'd certainly prefer not to repeat that scary nicu stay.

The next day I came back to see an OB since the physician's assistant thought I should follow up with one of them. The first thing she said when she walked in the room was "Your scan looks fine to me." Irritating. I didn't even know what to say. What does that mean? We've just readjusted our entire lives around strict bed rest. I even missed a family funeral that was important to me, and she's telling me everything's fine?! I may have just stared at her blankly for a while, blinking. Eventually we got around to the part where she said "Look at it this way, you're 33 weeks. If we have to deliver your baby tomorrow, it will be just fine." That's when I realized she wasn't telling me I'd had a perfect scan and there was no growth restriction and bed rest was totally unecessary, she just had a very different definition "fine."

And now mine is somewhere in the middle. I'm aware that bedrest is important because we need to keep my blood pressure under control as much as possible and try to keep the fluid levels as high as possible, but the baby seems pretty healthy and there's nothing to do but wait for the next scan before we start guessing about whether I'm going to be induced early. Every week I'll be going back to the Peri for another check, and every week they'll be evaluating whether the baby is better off inside or out. Kind of familiar, the old weekly wait for the next check. I thought I'd graduated from that class already.

So the inevitable question everyone's asking us now is if we're ready. In the most basic sense, all we need is an infant car seat, a place for the baby to sleep, and a pair of stocked boobs. We've got the car seat, a bassinet loaned to us by a friend is next to our bed, and I've been leaking colostrum for two months now, so I guess we're ready. It doesn't even matter that we've got a pretty well stocked nursery ready to go, but it will be nice not having to worry about that until we're ready to use it. We've got some basic diapering essentials, but we'd have to buy preemie size diapers. Basically, we're ready.

There are a number of things that aren't as completely ready as I'd like. We still have one last baby class and a lactaction class I'm hoping we'll attend. I've got loads of work to wrap up before going on maternity leave but it's getting there. I haven't packed a hospital bag but I may get to that after the scan on Thursday depending on how that goes. I haven't pre-addressed birth announcement envelopes and other things like that but we'll see what I get around to.

From the time I had a due date, I've been trying to prepare myself for being late. It seems like everyone I know has been at least a week late and they go crazy waiting for those last few weeks to go by. I decided to be excited about the idea of being 10 days late (12/3) so the baby could be born on the third of it's month like me and J. This was my silver lining if it started to drag on forever. Now this whole thing has me thinking about delivering by 11/3 (37 weeks). If we are lucky enough not to have a preemie, the flipside is that it WILL drag on forever, so I guess there's no perfect answer to mentally preparing yourself. Of course the key thing will be hoping for a healthy baby, but the other thing I'll be checking the tea leaves for at each scan is some clue to just how much longer we have to go. Patience has never been my thing.

October 2, 2007

Restricted

It's been interesting around here since my last post. I did go to Boston and had a great visit. When we got back, the dog took another turn for the worse, had to go back to the vet, and we were asked to decide between putting him down and another expensive surgery. We decided to go forward with the surgery because there is one last treatment option that hasn't been tried, and it didn't seem right to give up without trying everything. If this last option (steroid drug therapy) has no affect of his intestines' habit of attacking themselves and dying off, it's the end of the line for my pup. So far, so good post surgery, but it will be some time before we know if the drugs are working.

Next I went in for my regular OB visit and high-strung newbie doctor freaked out about my blood pressure, decided strict bed rest was in order, and instructed me to come back a few days later for a recheck. When I went back last Friday, the OB I saw agreed with all the other docs who had previously said basically that my BP is worth keeping an eye on, I should take it easy and continue regular monitoring, but bed rest wasn't indicated since everything else looks good and the baby always does great on the monitors. Phew. Minor freak out over.

Until Monday, when I went to the Perinatologist for my "final" ultrasound. Now I don't know if being in the business of dealing with high-risk pregnancies makes the Peri's naturally more inclined to be cautious and nervous, but this guy was much more concerned about my BP. Then again, he was the first to have real evidence of a potential problem: even though the baby looks very healthy, it's measuring about a week and a half behind. He looked at the blood flow through the umbilical cord and it looks perfect, as well as the blood flow in the heart and brain, so that's very reassuring. Also reassuring that the stomach is displaying breathing motions. But since this was the first scan since week 17, we don't yet know if we've got a smallish but healthy baby, or if we're seeing the onset of growth restriction caused by my hypertension (a top reason for small for gestational age babies).

So I have to go back to the Peri weekly now so we get an idea of the pace of growth as well as to continue to check the blood flow to the baby. And I get to be on strict bed rest. Maybe I'm in denial or maybe I'm an idiot, but I am honestly not very worried at this point. A week and a half behind just doesn't sound that horrible to me, and everything else about the baby is very, very healthy. There's a family history of small babies (I was 5lbs something, my sister was 6). I don't mean I'm not taking it seriously, I have done plenty of googling on the potential risks to small for gestational age babies. I certainly don't want a tiny little preemie to have to fight for her life and spend weeks in the NICU, but it also seems like there's reason to believe things are still going pretty well.

The Peri is talking in terms of "hopefully making it to 37 weeks if nothing worse develops." Something worse would be:
- further signs of preeclampsia (my giant jug of 24-hours worth of refrigerated urine remains LOST at the lab but so far no other problems detected)
- next week's scan shows baby is not just small but growth has significantly slowed
- doppler indicates abnormal blood flow to baby
- no doubt there are other unimaginably awful things I have neglected to google

If any of these things happen, they will weigh the risks of preterm delivery against the risks the baby faces in utero. They may do an amnio to determine lung maturity, though it bodes well that the belly appears to be making breathing motions. If none of these things happen, it sounds like the Peri would still make a case for inducing me at 37 weeks once the baby is considered term. Incidentally, 37 weeks would be 11/3. J and I both have birthdays on the 3rds and the egg retrieval was on 3/3, so that seems somehow fitting. My birthday is actually tomorrow, I guess I'll spend it working from bed. Yay me.

I'm weirdly unphased by all this other than being highly irritated with bedrest one day into it. Partly I think I do have good reasons to feel okay about things. I could have left the Peri with way worse news than she's just a little small. But partly I think I'm so accustomed to things not going as planned after all the years of infertility that it just seems like par for the course. And throughout the process, I've gotten pretty confident in what can be accomplished with a combination of frequent monitoring and medical intervention. We'll just take it one step at a time and see what makes sense as we get more information. Bed rest on the other hand, is just damn aggravating.

----------------------------------------

Further googling tells me that if we're a week and a half behind, we're in about the 25th percentile for 32 weeks. Clinically small for gestational age babies are below the 10th percentile. If we stay in the 25th percentile, that would be just under 6 pounds at 37 weeks or just under 7 pounds at 40 weeks. This all seems pretty good as long as growth continues at a normal rate. We'll find out next Thursday at the next appt. with the Peri. Meanwhile baby is kicking me in the ribs and pelvis at the same time with a vigor that feels pretty healthy to me.

September 20, 2007

Quick Update

* I might be a little over-extendeded. Yesterday I ran up a curb on the side of one of our major highways going pretty fast. Sitting on the side of the highway while my husband came to my rescue and changed my flat was one of the most relaxing moments I've had in a while.

* As the above might suggest, my blood pressure check today was not impressive. 151/100--my worst yet. I was sent directly back to the hospital for monitoring, where again it dropped back down to more acceptable levels as I lay in the bed for a few hours. Baby looks great and all other labs are normal, so this is probably just a case of pregnancy-induced hypertension, and not the scarier pre-eclampsia. They will continue to monitor me regularly to make sure it doesn't get worse, but they don't seem too worried.

* In addition, I have to do a 24-hr pee test, where I collect ALL of my pee in a 24 hour period and then drop off the whole big refrigerated jug of it for analysis. Having a giant collection container around kindda reminds me of the IVF cycle, and I find it weirdly reassuring.

* We had a fun moment in the hospital. We'd been there for hours waiting for the OB to finish a C section before he could discharge me. We were alone in triage and J was getting agitated. Practicing my parenting instincts, I said "Go see what you can do with one of those rubber gloves." See photo above. It was taken moments before the OB walked in. I couldn't believe he didn't stop when the door opened, but he couldn't hear it with the glove over his ears. The doctor was standing there grinning at him when he took it off his head, and said "I've obviously left you all waiting WAAAY too long!"

* I GET TO GO TO BOSTON!! Check in with you all when I get back!

September 18, 2007

Resting

Or well, I'm suppossed to be. Doc was not happy with my blood pressure again at today's biweekly check, so I'm to take it easy all week, work extra hard on getting lots of fluids, rest on my left side as much as possible, and get it rechecked on Thursday.

If that doesn't help, they're going to recommend I NOT go to Boston this weekend for one last visit with my sister before baby. Which I was SOOOOOOO looking forward to. For many reasons, not least of which was the phone call from my five year old neice the other day that went like this:

Me: Hello?

Her: Hello Sarah. What are you doing?

Me: Nothing. What are you doing?

Her: Umm, I miss you. When are you coming to visit me in Boston?

Me: *tears springing to eyes* Very soon I hope.

If they tell me it's still too high to recommend travel I think I will just go anyway. Is that insane? There are lots of hospitals in Boston, afterall.

Battling with allergies lately is making it way harder to stay hydrated (although never realized there was a hydration/blood pressure connection before? guess it fits with the whole salt thing). Also, when they told me before to rest on my left side as much as possible, I thought they meant when I rest, do so on my left side as much as possible. This made sense because I know resting on your right side or back can smush some arteries or something and restrict blood flow. I didn't realize they actually meant to go lay down (on my left side) as often as possible throughout the day. I work from home and it would be feasible to go lie on the sofa for a few minutes every so many hours, but that's seriously going to add to my 10-14 hour work day. And no I really can't lighten up my work load, but I will try to take more of it lying down.

Wish me luck at the recheck on Thursday! I'm off to go lie to the left now....

September 16, 2007

I'm an Extra Large Boy!

Highly embarrassing pregnancy photo follows at end, escape now if you choose to do so. But first, my thoughts on our childbirth class yesterday...

I LUUUUUV baby class! It was so worth it. I had two main reasons for going:

1) to figure out where I was supposed to go etc. when the time comes

2) to get my husband involved and give him some preview of what we're (I'm) in for, so he can be prepared to help and support me.


Side benefit I wasn't expecting:

He had to give me a back rub for about fifteen minutes and we're supposed to practice this "relaxation technique" for the next few weeks! He does not EVER do anything like this for more than 30 seconds, certainly not an entire minute. I didn't even mind when he told me he was surfing his iPhone during the massage.

There was a part of me that was considering not going. I'm not real big on controlling the experience, I sort of want to leave most of that in the hands of the professionals. I read through some of the things you can include in your birth plan (How do I want the lighting? I want the docs to be able to see what they're doing!), and a whole detailed plan is not for me. For one thing, so much will just be up to what happens when we get there, so I'm going in with no expectations or set ideas of what I want to have happen.

I was also unsure about the class because I didn't want to hear some long preachy sermon about natural childbirth and minimizing medical intervention. Pain medication? Bring it on! You only get offered the good stuff legally so many times in life. How do I feel about a C section? I might need one. Hopefully I won't. Who knows? It doesn't seem worth getting hung up on a preference at this point. My feelings about what I want out of the experience are very basic: healthy baby, healthy mom. How we get there is not entirely up to me. But the class wasn't all preachy and high-horse about it.

It is true that (as another blogger recently said), most of the information I got out of the class can be found in the various books I'm already reading, but I found it really helpful to have all the key stuff in one easy digest. For one thing, I will never get my husband to read the books. I could maybe give him a highlighted paragraph and ask him to read it, but this is pretty much the only vehicle for the level of information we heard yesterday. If nothing else, I feel much more confident that he will have an idea how to be supportive of me over the next two months and during labor.

My one complaint: I have to have my hospital bag packed in two weeks! We had to take this class a few weeks early because of a couple of holidays coming up which cause the class to be every two weeks (for a few hours each Saturday, over three Saturdays). Part of the second class is everyone brings their packed bag and they discuss what you need or don't need, etc. Normally you'd have your second class around 34-35 weeks so it kind of makes sense to be packing by then I guess. But at 30 weeks? It's way too soon! If I feel like my bags are already packed and I'm ready to go, the next 10 weeks are going to drag on FOREVER!! Not the worst problem I could have, I realize.



On to the photo...I have been wanting footed fleece pajamas forever, so when I found extra-large girls size at Target I thought...mayyyybeee..... But no. Way to small. Way too short from the crotch to the armpits. I was so disappointed. Had such high hopes for snuggling in them. When I returned them I noticed the extra large boys size. Boys are taller, right? So maybe....YES! They are a little snug and now I'm enveloped in race cars, but I love them!

September 9, 2007

Let's Get Physical

I haven't talked much about preganacy symptoms so far, mainly because they're not very interesting. Also in the beginning with all those early pregnancy symptoms I was still in such a state of disbelief. Now that I'm into the third trimester it seems worth mentioning, since other pregnant bloggers' recounts helped me know what to expect.

* By far my biggest complaint is what I refer to as my ring of fire--a band of itchy, burning, yet strangely numb skin about an inch or two wide that runs along the bottom of my bra. I think this is caused by the nerve endings beneath the skin being all scrunched up and smashed together where my belly sort of comes in to meet my upper rib cage. It's hard to explain, but it's miserably unformfortable. It makes wearing a bra torture, so I use my bra back extenders and wear them super loose. This has been going on for months now and has driven me to the always-flattering muumuu look.

* My bladder has returned to its first trimester competency. I have to pee all the time again, but also I seem to have a little less control. After I go I have to sit there for a second to make sure I'm really done, otherwise there's a tiny trickle when I stand up. Also, a tiny squirt when I sneeze. Spending the third trimester in the heat of allergy season should be entertaining.

* I'm practicing sleeping in 2-3 hour intervals. I used to go a good 5 hours or so before I'd have to get up and pee, then go back to sleep for the rest of the night. Last night, I peed five times between 10pm and 2am, then slept until 5am before I had to pee again, then finally got up for good around 8. In addition to the bladder issues, the back and belly pain is getting really uncomfortable. I got this maternity pillow and it helps a lot, but it's sort of hard to climb in and out of for all the pee trips.

* Speaking of that, my back and belly discomfort has been there for some time but it's definitely increasing and I suppose it will just continue. If I'm active for more than an hour or two, running errands, etc., I get pretty sore and really need to sit or lie down. Then again, if I sit in one position for more than an hour or two I need to stand. But that never really helps. The only place I'm really truly comfortable is my bathtub where everything kind of floats, so I spend a few hours there each night.

Incidentally, if you ever need quick passage through a crowded mall during pregnancy, simply hold your belly for support with a look of slight agony and exhaustion on your face and huff and puff a bit as you go. Shoppers will avert their eyes and cling to the furthest edges of the corridors to avoid being called upon to help deliver a baby. I didn't do it on purpose, I was just really uncomfortable, but it worked like a charm.

* The latest symptom (and the strangest) is the pelvic stretching and expansion. It's a very weird feeling and it makes walking a bit uncomfortable. Also, the same hormone that loosens your ligaments to allow for the stretching is loosening things everywhere causing soreness in all my joints, mostly hips and knees which get flexed the most.

Honestly I've had it pretty easy, with no morning sickness or serious complications. I even passed my glucose test (thank god!). I think this is all just the normal discomfort you have to expect when you've got another human growing inside your body. Luckily though, I'm 70% bionic (click in the lower right to find out how bionic you are):


See What You're Made Of - Visit The Official Site

September 5, 2007

Entering the Third Realm (NOT in the meditative sense)

Phew, work has been INSANE lately! I've missed all the blogs and look forward to catching up with you all; no doubt it's going to take a while! Thanks to those of you who emailed to check in on me. Things are fine, just working my ass off and haven't had time to update. Here's what's happened in the last few weeks:

I had a minor terror when I got one of those annoying emails announcing that I was about to enter my third trimester and better make sure I have a car seat ready, etc. I was NOT ready for that! Logistically we are very ready. Car seat is ready, nursery is ready, any last necessities could be purchased last minute if need be. Even though I know the third trimester can stretch on seemingly forever, I wasn't mentally ready to accept that I was there.

That weekend my sister came for her week-long visit culminating with my baby shower. The shower was amazing, like a dream party from a magazine or something, everything gorgeous and coordinated and perfect (can you even believe the cake she MADE? of course it matched everything AND was delicious). But the best part was having them here for the week; my sister and her two kids. It was busy and flew by way too fast, but it was so great too. And then the shower...I can't believe how many people showed up and all the fabulous stuff they gave us! It was quite a haul, and since I'm pretty much the only childless person I know, all these experienced moms gave me really great useful stuff. It was a bit overwhelming, but wonderful too.

Then a weird thing happened. Somehow over the course of spending the week with my sister, then the shower, and then putting away all the great gifts I sort of got a little excited. Like we might actually have a baby and it might actually be really cool. I've been making these tiny steps away from utter refusal to hope and believe (thanks, infertility), but this was definitely a HUGE step. All those people who showed up at the shower didn't seem to be playing along with this imaginary pregnancy in my delusional mind; they actually seemed to think it was real and they all seemed so excited about it. And the crazy thing was, that didn't seem odd to me for a change. It was finally real to me too.

They say you need your first trimester to accept the fact that you are pregnant, your second to convince you that there is an actual baby in there, and the third to make you actually want to push it out. Maybe infertiles arrive a little late to each level of acceptance, but the good news is we get there! I'm working my way towards that third one now. These days having the baby in utero seems pretty damn convenient. I take her with me everywhere I go (hands free!), feedings are taken care of, diapering is a non-issue, and it hardly makes much difference whether she sleeps. There are no hours-long crying jags in the womb.

I am of course eager to meet her and hold her and play with her, and I LOVE babies, but I just know too much about what lies ahead. I have seen the dark side, when things get really difficult after a few weeks, babies have a colicky or fussy stage, moms are sleep deprived, breastfeeding is a struggle, and a million little daily challenges drain the life out of you. All around the time I'll be expected to start paying attention to work again and my husband, finished with school at the end of this semester, will start a new job. I know we'll get through it and the highs will outweigh the lows (at least in time), but if there's one thing infertility has taught me its to expect the worst and hope for the best so I guess I'm just preparing myself.

So for now my feeling is, bring on the pain and misery and discomfort of the third trimester. That's the only thing that's going to make me want to push this baby out!

August 16, 2007

100

Just as twirl was saying recently, I'm not sure why I was excited about the 100-days-to-go mark, except that I guess it's just nice to pass another milestone. 100 days still feels like a LONG time, although 14 weeks sounds almost scarily soon. What I'm most excited about at this point though is that my sister is coming this weekend and staying for a week. She's here to host my babyshower on the 26th. I'm not too keen on being showered in general, but having her back home really makes it something to look forward to.

So thanks for all the understanding comments about my weak moment buying the stupid fetal heart monitor. I did get some reassurance listening to the heartbeat at my regular OB appointment yesterday. And then some. I ended up being sent to the hospital for additional monitoring and got to listen to the heartbeat all day.

My blood pressure was high at my appointment so they wanted to have me monitored a little more closely. Over at the hospital they hooked up the fetal heart monitor (a REAL one, not some lame-o playskool microphone jacked up to look like a maternity product) and a blood pressure thing that went off every 15 minutes. They ran a bunch of lab work which all came back normal and eventually my blood pressure mellowed out too.

So it turned out to be a great day in the hospital:
* Got to listen to the heartbeat for hours, plus some hiccups (too early to feel them yet so that was a first), and all the kicks and little swims around in the fluid were picked up by the monitor too
* Got out of having to take a business trip next week while my sister is here since I'm due back for more monitoring in a week
* Found my way around the hospital to labor & delivery (no small accomplishment)
* Husband was there and seems to finally have noticed that there is a baby in there that may warrant taking an interest in this whole pregnancy thing


Not a bad way to start off the 100 day countdown.

August 13, 2007

I Caved

And I feel like such a loser. I bought one of those stupid fetal heart monitor thingies. Apologies if you have one and love it, but I always thought they were lame. This is probably more my Tom Cruise aversion that anything else (yes I know they have a million dollar doppler or u/s machine or some such thing and not the cheesy $20 glorified microphone I got), but I also thought the heart monitor would only fuel obsession and paranoia and was basically the last thing I needed. I was content with just my monthly OB appointments, and kind of liked not worrying about it and feeling "normal" in the maternity department for a change.

Until last night, after a day of weird belly pains and a late night call to my doctor. The pains were very intense and came in waves, lasting for a count of 3 or 4, disappearing for just as long, then again, off and on like that three to five times in a row, then nothing again for an hour or so. Earlier in the day they happened every few hours, but as the night wore on it was happening as often as every 20-30 minutes. Kind of sounds like contractions in timing and duration, except that it was isolated to a very small area, size of a silver dollar, about midway between my public bone and my belly button. The pain sort of radiated out, but didn't feel like a tightening or hardening of the muscle. It was probably round ligament pain, except that you normally feel that on one or both sides, not there in the middle.

Dr. Google had led me to worry about placental abruption, wherein the placenta separates from the uterus, potentially cutting off oxygen to the baby. Of course Dr. Google shared with me only the most gruesome stories of women who had not gotten care when they had the symptoms and whose babies might have been saved if only they'd gone to the hospital but were sadly found to be dead much later when the woman finally saw her doctor and there was no heartbeat. She just thought she was having normal pregnancy pains. Scary.

So I called my doctor and he never suggested placental abruption, but did mention preterm labor. He said I could come in and be monitored for contractions, or see if I could get the pain to go away at home. If changing positions, Tylenol, or a heating pad did the trick, it wasn't labor and was probably nothing to worry about. I really did not want to spend the night hooked up to monitors in the hospital, my gut was just telling me it wasn't preterm labor, and the doctor agreed it really didn't sound like it, so I decided to stay home and see if the pain would subside.

I have felt it only a few more times and much milder, but in the morning I was worried again when I didn't feel the baby move for several hours. Usually I feel it as soon as I get up and especially after I eat, but this morning nada. So I decided to give the fetal heart monitor a try, thinking I'd be far enough along that it would be easy to hear and wouldn't freak me out and would at least reassure me that placental abruption hadn't killed the baby.

I am so irritated with myself for being so lame. What you can't tell until you buy the stupid monitor and read the manual inside is that it's not suggested until the third trimester (three more weeks, how did that happen??), and even then you may not hear anything unless the baby's spine is pressing back against your belly button. I swore I wasn't going to cave to that thing, dammit! So I can't hear anything but my own heartbeat, but on the way home from the ridiculous purchase, I also got a caffienated frappucino (I know, terrible) and the baby's been kicking ever since. I got a lot more reassurance from my overpriced $4 coffee drink than that stupid microphone.

Next OB appoitment is Wednesday, so unless anything more dramatic happens in the meantime, we'll just discuss the weird pains more then.

August 5, 2007

24 weeks

Or, Holy shit! We might actually have a baby!

I got a bit emotional yesterday morning when I read my email from one of those annoying pregnancy sites. It goes on and on about how my uterus is now the size of a soccer ball, 1.5 pounds of my 15 pound weight gain is now attributable to the baby, and that I likely feel the need to urinate frequently. Then it says, dryly:

"With modern medical technology, your baby would have a chance to survive if it were born now."

Other bloggers have talked about this being a moment when it became more real for them and I was really hoping to feel some of that too. I had lost track though and didn't realize I was there, so the line in the email took me by surprise and really got to me. Kind of makes me think about your comments on why not knowing so much can be really nice. Of course I don't want to go into labor anytime soon and plenty of babies born that early won't make it, but the point is for me to even be thinking of going into labor and that there could be a baby who makes it is a major leap forward.


Things continue to be pretty normal and boring. We're still in the Outer Banks, although everyone else is leaving the house today and we have the place to ourselves all next week. J's cousin is here with his three-week old baby Noah, which has mainly served to remind us to enjoy our unencumbered time as much as possible in these last four months but did lead to one interesting moment. I was holding Noah and felt the now-frequent kicks in my belly, and Noah moved in response so he felt them too. Kind of a neat thing to tell the cousins one day. No doubt they'll roll their eyes and groan, but it will be neat for me to tell them anyway.

Jack is here too, and doing fine. We went through a very rough period after his $10,000 vet stay (in spite of the initial $30 fee to the pound, it seems all of our dependents must come with at least a $10 grand price tag), when he had a neurological reaction to his medication, couldn't get up or walk, and behaved exactly like my grandmother after her major stroke, except that his eyeballs were literally spinning and jumping all around in the sockets. I think he actually believed the rest of the world was spinning but that he was fine. With those drugs out of his system, he returned, thankfully, to normal within a few days and has settled in to the beach house just fine.

I still remain completely opposed to belly shots (of me that is, it's fun to see others'), but for those who've asked I'm compromising with this picture that illustrates my expansion nearly as well, without all that hideous rolling flesh:

















Okay this actually makes me look a bit smaller because my hand is sort of in front of part of the belly, but close enough. And there's J too, showing a little more skin.

August 3, 2007

For Fun

Click to view my Personality Profile page

It was fun coming across this on a couple of blogs this morning. I used to teach Myers Briggs and now occasionally use it in my work. My results haven't changed at all in the last 15 years since I first took the test, and they are very much in line with my purpose in blogging (to inform others irl and to share with all of you bloggers). It makes sense that my blog has been very public from the beginning, and that my style has never been heavily introspective or cathartic, rather more oriented around putting the infertile experience out there, from the medical processes to the emotions, with the intention of supporting the infertile community and informing the fertile world around me.

From the test website: "ENFPs are introspective, values-oriented, inspiring, social and extremely expressive. They actively send their thoughts and ideas out into the world as a way to bring attention to what they feel to be important, which often has to do with ethics and current events. ENFPs are natural advocates, attracting people to themselves and their cause with excellent people skills, warmth, energy and positivity. ENFPs are described as creative, resourceful, assertive, spontaneous, life-loving, charismatic, passionate and experimental."

This makes me sound MUCH more perky and chipper than I am, but otherwise rings mostly true.

And for even MORE fun, here's my husband, my complete and total opposite:

Click to view my Personality Profile page

"ISTJs are responsible, loyal and hard working. They have an acute sense of right and wrong and work hard at preserving established norms and traditions. Because of their deep sense of duty they are dedicated to everything they do and are very dependable. ISTJs care deeply for those closest to them."

This is totally J, and I'm so lucky to have him. Sounds like the makings of a great dad too, doesn't it?

August 2, 2007

The things people say

A vaguely connected family relation keeps unloading pessimism on me. Each time I see her she begins by telling me how HUGE I am and asking (again) if I'm sure I'm not further along or having twins. You might remember I have already given her a stern look in the eye and told her: "We saw it happen in the dish. We know exactly when it happened. We are 100% certain there is only one." Or something like that.

But that's not the worst part. She also insists on the belly rub. Why does anyone do this? I have never in my life had any desire to touch a pregnant woman's belly. But that's not really the bad part either. All of this is just the usual stuff that goes with the territory.

What really bothers me is how she always follows the belly rub with some awful story about a tragedy that happened in someone else's pregnancy at this same exact stage. "Oh you're five months? So and so lost her baby at five months, but that was because of such-and-such completely weird freak thing that could happen to anyone at any time but I'm sure you'll be fine." Or if there's not a horrifying story to correlate with my current stage, I get awful birth stories about babies who died, mothers who suffered miserably, or new parents who got unexpected and devastating news of some kind.

This woman's step-daughter is currently visiting while we're vacationing at a rental house in the Outer Banks. We had a little chat on the beach yesterday that finally gave me a possible explanation for all the pessimism. Ages ago, Ms. Negative lost her first baby just after delivery. I'm not clear on the details but there was some sort of trauma, the baby went into a coma, and died within a few days. The woman was very young and I'm sure totally shocked. It must have knocked her entire world upside down. Maybe she wished she had known more about what could go wrong so she might have been prepared.

Infertiles do not need to know more. We know more than enough. I think the entire world knows more about these things than we did 40 years ago, which is a good thing, but I'm not sure whether I'd prefer to be prepared or blissfully niave if I had the choice. Throughout all the years of infertility I've maintained a "prepare for the worst, hope for the best" approach. I actively searched out information about all the possibilities so I wasn't blindsided. I guess this is a normal reaction to the shock of finding out it wasn't going to happen the way we always believed it would. I guess I forgive this woman for the way the remants of her awful experience still affect her. We all cope in our own weird ways, and they're not necessarily in synch.

We often say we envy those stupid fertiles their naivete. Would you REALLY rather not know what you know?

July 21, 2007

Pregnant Infertile at Half Past

You know, sometimes I feel like I don't have much blogger street cred. I started my blog in February, and found out I was pregnant in March. I've now been a pregnant blogger for about five months, after just six weeks of blogging before that. It's amazing to me thinking back, because that first six weeks seemed to stretch on so much longer. The last five months have seriously flown by.

It's also very bizarre because of course I've been dealing with infertility for five years now, and compared to that this pregnancy feels like one amazingly lucky sliver of time in what still seems like an endless enternity of disappointment. The earliest years, around 2002 through 2005 were the hardest, when we were coming to terms with the fact that it wasn't going to happen the old fashioned way and still battling with hope and loss every month. I wish I had known about the blogosphere back then. I was so alone in dealing with it all. As we've all experienced, often the people closest to me who I tried to confide in were the ones who said the most (unintentionally) harmful things. My husband didn't understand. He tried, but most of you have had the same experience with boys just not processing things, especially in the beginning, in the same way. For years he maintained that it would just take time, and there was no one who seemed to understand the crushing loss I was dealing with.

By early 2007 though, we had thoroughly covered the five stages of grief that the loss of our fertility subjected us to, and arrived at the same point, both of us ready to try IVF. I had pretty much given up hoping anymore; it was just too hard. I blogged about how strange it felt to hand over the big IVF check for something that I didn't really believe in, because of course we would never just give away that kind of cash if we really thought we had no chance, but at the same time I simply could not imagine it working. Scarred Bellybutton recently blogged about the difficulty she had following her accupuncturist's instruction to visualize herself pregnant (she's starting IVF #1, go give her some love). She has the same defense mechanism many of us do. She's shut down that ability in order to protect herself.

Mine hasn't really come back on yet. At first I struggled with believing I was pregnant. I was certain everyone could clearly see that I was a fraud who did not belong sitting there in the waiting room of the perinatal doc, or shopping in maternity stores. Now that I'm definitely filling out the maternity mediums and the larges are starting to look more comfy, I feel a bit more entitled to be there. Now it's the baby stores, trying to navigate the stroller quagmire. Other pregnant women give me knowing looks and I can tell they think I'm part of their club but I'm not. I'm not all happy and excited and smiley and optimistic. I feel grateful and appreciative and lucky, but also guarded and wary. They shop for baby products with loving visions of their future children snuggled down in the various gear, and I sometimes wonder what I'm going to do with this stuff because I certainly can't envision a baby at the end of this story, despite the fact that I now feel something wiggling around in there every day.

I know a lot of other pregnant infertiles feel this too. Obviously what it took to get here has taken its toll on us, but also we just know too much. We see so much loss. We have studied all the things that can go wrong. As Kate said recently, any pregnant woman has fears and doubts and moments of disbelief, but it's different for an infertile. We still wear some of our protective armour. I still remember that for our particular situation, the IVF pregnancy rate was 15%, but the live birth rate was just 7%. Half didn't make it. At this point, there's every reason to believe we will and I no longer walk around in terror, but I'm wary.

So now I'm back to being in a weird place no seems to understand. Real life people are happy for me, but they want me to be smiley and happy and excited too. Usually the best I can manage is "So far, so good!" with a genuine smile, because that's what I'm comfortable smiling about. They roll their eyes a bit, understandably, or get all uncomfortable until I say something perky like "We painted the nursery!" Kind of like the dumb things I used to say to make people feel more comfortable if our childlessness came up and was met with a silent chill. Even some infertiles have suggested that perhaps I should just move on. Maybe I should. Maybe I shouldn't have been so quick to embrace the loss of hope that made it all so much more bearable and now makes it so unbelievable. But it was just what I needed to do to get through it.

And I'm still going through the process, just at a different point. Every week further along gets me closer to this actually being real. I do try to savor each new milestone becase it is going by so fast, but I'm also always looking forward to the next thing: When my husband can feel the kicks from the outside, then it will be real because I'll know I'm not imainging it, right? In same way I was always able to hold out much more hope for every other bloggers' cycle (sending hope your way, Sticky Bun), I am able to get much more excited about others' pregnancies (congratulations Adrienne!). I still feel much more at home with the bloggers than I do with that other club.

July 20, 2007

Fluff

I have all these thinky thoughts rolling around in my head but with everything that's been happening in the blogs lately I just don't feel I can do the big stuff justice right now. So here's a fluff post for a Friday afternoon...

The good pregnancy book (pictured) says things like "It's hard not to get big all over when you're growing another person. Try not to obsess if your butt gets big. What goes up will come down (in time)." Even if they're lying to me I'm fine with it.

The bad pregnancy book says things like: "Pregnant women should consume more phytochemicals by eating more fruit, doubling the normal serving of vegetables, and eating absurd quanitites of radishes, cucumbers, endive, cabbage, and onions. Otherwise you are a horrible parent already." Okay that last part is only implied, but still.

A quick update on Jack: we're still not sure what's going on with the systematic dying-off of his intestines and are still awaiting test results, but he is home with us and recovering well from the surgery. Thanks for all the thoughts and well-wishes.

I'm hoping for good news from all of you in the 2ww or dealing with scary uncertainties. I'm hoping for peace and comfort to all those who have been dealt a horribly unfair hand. My thoughts are with you all.

July 14, 2007

My dog could be on House

So I've mentioned Jack is in the hospital. This is day 6 of his stay. They're still trying to figure out what's going on. You may be getting tired of hearing about this, but I'm just finding it kind of facinating.

First let me tell you this is not your usual vet. We got referred to a special vet hospital; I never even knew places like this existed. In the lobby(!) there's a board listing all the departments and specialists: Oncology - Drs. such-and-such and such-and-such. Radiology: Drs. so-on and so-on. It goes on like this for the better part of a wall, like those boards in medical center buildings. There must be a couple hundred people working there including all the techs and other staff. There are often 20 or more people in the waiting room; many waiting to get their pets into triage(!) so they can be admitted, others just visiting, like us.

Jack has a team of five doctors trying to figure out what his problem is. They called us yesterday after rounds(!). They gathered at his crate and discussed his symptoms and postulated theories. Because this is a teaching hospital(!), with a strong intern program(!), they are very excited to have a patient like Jack. They get to look into all sorts of weird and rare conditions that the interns aren't likely to see again in their training. One of the doctors on Jack's team did her internship on a fungal infection affecting the digestive tract and suspects this may be the cause. This would be fantastic news because it could be treated easily with a one-shot cure.

Other possibilities are inflamatory bowel disease, which could be either of a type treated primarily by a change in diet and a Pepcid a day for life, or of another type treated by a course of steroids for life. Either way, we're excited these possibilities include a "for the rest of his life" mention. A less likely cause is parasitic. When he was rescued almost four years ago we were told he was "full of worms." Of course he went through all the usual deworming before we adopted him and routinely since so this doesn't seem as likely, but it would be another easily resolved scenario. A dark horse possibility is Cancer, either lymphoma or carcinoma (will be goggling the difference), but since previous biopsies have found no evidence this is less likely.

The main thing is we're excited to have all these people looking into every possible cause so we can get him well and not have to do this again in another six months this time. We're pretty hopeful that the veterinary version of the Dr. House team will figure something out. In the meantime, he's still there because he still needs to be on an IV, but we're hoping to bring him home tonight or tomorrow. We'll probably still be waiting for answers into next week, but it will be so great to have him home. Thanks for all the well-wishes.

July 12, 2007

Nature in Balance?

Never underestimate the power of maternal instincts. USA Today is reporting this story of a dog who had such an intense hormonal reaction to an orphaned kitten in her home that she began producing milk and is nursing the kitten.

We infertiles are so accustomed to nature failing us in this department. It's nice to hear a story of the amazing power of those mysterious instincts when they actually work wonders. Cheers to everyone fighting so hard against infertility to fulfill those instincts. Have a great weekend!

Surprises and Well Wishes

Two friends had babies in the past week. My friend Holly delivered a gorgeous little boy on Friday. She was induced three days after her due date although to her I know it felt like YEARS since the doctor had been telling her for weeks it would probably be early. Now that's just mean. She looks amazing though!

The other was my husband's cousin, who delivered on Sunday. They were expecting a girl but got a surprise! I ran out and did way too much emergency boy shopping and can't wait to give them the outfits. Because they live in a small apartment in the city without a separate nursery, they probably don't really have TONS of inappropriately frilly pink things to return, so I don't think they'll be too bad off. Their main problem was coming up with a boy's name, which they'd tried to do all along as a back-up just in case, but never quite settled on.

In less happy but not entirely surprising hospital-related news, Jack ended up needing surgery a few days ago. Just like in February, they removed a section of necrotic (dead or dying off) tissue from his intestines and resectioned together the healthy parts. He's recovering well from the surgery but we still don't know the cause. The first time it could have just been a freak thing since nothing was found when the tissue was biopsied, but this reccurance points to either some sort of progressive disease like cancer, or perhaps some kind of treatable digestive condition. Of course we're hoping for the latter, but I guess we won't know for a few days. We're hoping to bring him home tonight but not sure yet. It's awfully quiet around here, and just not the same without his greetings at the door. There's nothing like the way your dog loves you. He's only five, and I'm hoping we get many more years of it.

July 9, 2007

Halfway

Yikes, I'm in trouble! I haven't been checking in for about a week and I have so many blogs to catch up on it's going to take me forever to get to them all. I'm looking forward to catching up with you all as soon as I can.

Last week my 5-year old neice came from Boston to stay with us. We had such a great time doing loads of fun stuff: minor league baseball game, the zoo, huge fourth of July family picnic, hanging at the pool, playdates, favorite restuarants, getting ice cream. It was a busy week and it sure feels quiet around here now. Not only is she back at home, but Jack (the dog) is back in the vet hospital, hopefully not for a repeat of his surgery in February, but it's looking kind of that way. Poor puppy!

Saturday was my halfway point, 20 weeks. I spent it riding the train with my neice to NYC where we met her mom, did some fun stuff around town, and then they drove off to Boston and I hopped the train back to DC. It was kind of a challenging day physically, and I can say for certain at halfway through, I sure do feel pregnant.

June 28, 2007

Tagged

Thanks Rachel, for the tag! The Polarity Meme is 10 things you hate followed by 20 things you love. In no particular order...

10 things I can't stand
1. inconsiderate, disrespectful people (i'm with Rachel on that one)
2. chain restaurants like applebee's and bennigans
3. the mainstream news media. why do they not tell us what is actually going on in the world? if they have time for stupid celebrity gossip (totally NOT news), they could seriously be talking about the world beyond the atlantic and pacific coasts
4. Wal-Mart (how is it target can be so much better for the same prices?)
5. racism, discrimination, and prejudices. the world is not fair and we can't do much about it. at the very least we can treat each other fairly and with respect.
6. dusting
7. selfishness. from butting in line to people who don't recycle. we make our world what it is in everything we do, from the smallest gesture to the grandest acts. we all have a responsibility.
8. other people's food noises, esp if they're lip smackers or chew with their mouths open. GROSS!
9. poor grammar drives me INSANE!!
10. the bush administration

20 things I love:
1. travel. esp new places.
2. when the plane takes off
3. or going by train
4. the ocean
5. thunderstorms
6. ALL kinds of foods
7. walking around my hometown (DC)
8. camping (more the idea than actually doing it)
9. local fairs, the kind with funnel cake and those questionable rusty old ferris wheels
10. fresh fruit pie. okay all kinds of pie. all kinds of dessert, really.
11. old movies. esp bogart and bacall. i love those moody scenes where someone's smoking under an awning on a hot rainy night with the wet pavement steaming all around. so cheeze, but i love it.
12. gin and tonic. or vodka tonic. mojitos, bloody mary's..shit it all sounds good to me right now. beer, wine, even fruity island drinks have their place.
13. cities. at night, with all the lights. gives me so much energy.
14. shady pool halls with nothing but cheeze whiz on the menu and guys named "road kill*" at the bar, or upscale martini bars with sparkling decor and even more sparkling clientele (the latter only in moderation)
15. going to the movies with my sweetie. we give a thumbs up or down to all the previews.
16. the first lightening bug of summer (i just saw it!)
17. juke boxes. love pretty much ALL kinds of music, but very particular at the same time.
18. the first perfect days of fall
19. cooking
20. how Jack shakes his butt when he's excited (jack the dog, that is)

I tag Reproductive Jeans, Sticky Bun (even though she is too busy), and Adrienne

*i really did have a bar buddy named road kill at the now-defunct crow bar in downtown DC. he was a 40ish biker who would come in to shoot pool and mainly kept to himself but loved to show me pictures of his little daughter. i guess that would have bugged me during the IF years but this was ages ago.