hello again blog world!!

Hi guys! Yes, I still exist, and yes, I’m totally the worst ever for dropping off the face of the planet for like, 8 months!!

I’ve appreciated the notes you’ve all sent me checking in on me. I promise my absence is not because I stopped caring about each of you and how you are doing, but because its so easy for me to forget that others might care about me and how I’m doing. Ultimately I don’t have a great excuse for why I didn’t come back to update ever after my daughter was born. I have reasons, including being overwhelmed and busy (this is now the 3rd time I’ve had to stop and come back to this post without finishing), but the bottom line is I just didn’t make the time. I have continued to read and think about all of you, and it’s so exciting to see how many of you have had your luck turn around and get everything you’ve dreamed about as well.

So, after almost 8 months of absence, I’m doing extremely well. My amazing little baby girl was born July 24th, and things were definitely rough at first. She refused to breastfeed (for no observable reason other than stubbornness :)), so she lost a bunch of weight early on. I tried everything and saw like 6 lactation consultants before giving in and accepting that I would be exclusively pumping. That has been challenging to say the least, as it took an insane time commitment early on. In the long run it’s worked out, but it made the early months that would be challenging anyway extra challenging.

So about those first few months. HOLY CRAP was that sh** hard. I remember crying on a daily basis just thinking I would never survive. I don’t think she fit the strict definition of colicky, but we also did the 5 S’s non-stop and if we hadn’t been she might just have cried enough to qualify as colicky. Don’t get me wrong, it was totally worth it, even in the hardest moments, but there were definitely times when I wondered if I was cut out for motherhood at all. You look around and it seems like everyone around you just takes to it naturally (which I know is not true, but that’s how it feels) and it felt like I was just struggling more than I was supposed to be struggling. In retrospect, I think it was partially that she was a harder baby than average, but also that I didn’t have anyone around me who had had a similarly tough experience to commiserate.

Around 3 months things really started to improve though, and eventually it became actually fun and not just survival. I’ve found that it’s always cyclical, we’ll have a really rough couple of weeks (or months) and then things will be great for a few weeks. Just knowing that has helped immensely, because I can now tell myself when things are hard that it’s just a phase, it will pass like everything else. I still get frustrated when I’m up 5 times during the night, but I can trust now that it’ll pass and I’ll eventually sleep again.

And boy is it ever worth it :). Most days I just stare at this amazing little creature that somehow exists despite all the odds, and I can’t believe she’s real. I love her so much that words fail me when I try to express how it feels. I can’t get enough of her, I could just squeeze her and snuggle her all day long (if she let me :)). I will keep this short because she’s waking up from her (very brief) nap already, but I’ll end with a few pictures of the cutest baby ever.

DSC_0078 (2)

DSC_0065 (2)

Advertisements

Less than a month to go

I’m so overdue for an update that I hardly know where to start with this post. So much has happened and there’s so much I could talk about, but in the end I’ll probably keep it short. I still don’t feel like this is the place to talk about problems, and really my problems during this pregnancy have been so minor it’s hardly worth complaining at all. I’m 36w4d, and physically things have been pretty easy. Even at 9 months pregnant I’m still not that uncomfortable. I get achy, and my hip injury (torn labrum- will require surgery when I’m recovered from the pregnancy and have time) has kept me from exercising or spending much time on my feet, but I expected it to be much much worse. My feet are only a teeny bit swollen by the end of the day, I don’t have terrible back pain, and I only get heartburn once or twice a week. People are constantly telling me I don’t look as far along as I am (despite the baby being up to 36th percentile for weight now), so that probably has something to do with it. I’ve gotten off really easy.

Although it’s been an easy pregnancy physically, it hasn’t been without complications. Around 18 weeks we found out that I had placenta previa, where the placenta is located over the cervix. We had another ultrasound a month or so later, and the placenta had moved off a little, but was still too close for a safe vaginal birth. Around this time it became obvious that the baby was breech, and between the two issues, one of my doctor’s made the prediction that I’d be having a c-section. So, I’ve spent the last couple months mentally preparing for a c-section. Then, a week ago, we had another ultrasound to check on the placenta previa, and lo and behold, it has moved sufficiently out of the way. That just leaves the fact that she’s breech to keep me from being cleared for a vaginal birth.

So, as I sit here, I’m starving and mentally preparing to have an ‘external cephalic version’ procedure in a few hours to try to flip her around. Basically, they will give me an epidural, then manually try to flip her around from the outside. My doctor told me not to google it because its rather traumatizing to watch. I’ve decided to follow that advice, but I’m still pretty nervous about both the epidural (I hate needles), and about watching them push and shove her. They’ve assured me that this procedure is totally safe, and doesn’t hurt the baby no matter what it looks like. They monitor her the entire time, so if they see any dips in her heart rate or any other signs of a problem they immediately stop. They wait until around 37 weeks because if something serious went wrong, it would be safe to go ahead and do a c-section. In fact, that’s why I’m starving right now. As a precaution, you aren’t supposed to eat the day of the procedure, in case they need to rush you in to surgery. Ultimately it only has about a 50% success rate, so it’s just a coin flip if it will do anything at all.

I know it’s the right thing to do to try this procedure, I didn’t really hesitate that much to say yes when they suggested it, I’m just nervous about the process. Plus, I’m really conflicted about whether I hope it will work or not. I’ve spent so much time assuming it would be a c-section, it’s completely terrifying to me that I might end up doing the whole labor thing after all. If it hadn’t been for all these complications, I’d have been mentally preparing for months. Now I have just a matter of weeks to get my head around the idea of all that pain and fear. I know it’s the right thing to do, even the small increased risks for the baby of c-section are not worth it just to save myself some pain and fear, but it’s definitely terrifying.

On the other hand, I have lots and lots of worries about a c-section too. I’m worried about the physical part- surgery and recovery. More importantly though, I’m worried that I’ll feel like I missed out on a normal birth, or that I won’t have that full bonding experience with my baby. It’s so anti-climactic in a way. You get in the car and drive to the hospital just like you’re going to a regular doctor’s appointment, you get in your hospital gown, they bring you back, and then suddenly you have a baby. There’s something about the process of labor that builds up the suspense and excitement so it actually feels like an enormous deal when it’s all over. Plus, at the end of a c-section, you may or may not have a chance to do skin-to-skin and/or breastfeed during the recommended time. It depends on how the baby is breathing and how quickly they get you stitched up. They’ve assured me they will do their best to make it happen, but of course there are no guarantees. And you don’t have access to your arms, so they have to basically hold the baby on your chest, which just seems awkward and not how I pictured the first time I held my baby.

I started out this post by saying that I don’t want to complain here, and then I just spent three paragraphs whining about a relatively minor issue. I’m sorry, it’s just whats on my mind today. Ultimately, I know that the bottom line is in a few weeks I will meet my daughter, and it doesn’t really matter in the long run how she’s born. I will finally have everything I’ve dreamed about for years now, and that’s worth it no matter how it happens. So on to the good parts.

I’m finally really feeling comfortable being pregnant and enjoying it. Since around the time of viability I really let go of most of the fear and have just trusted that this baby will be okay. It was partially a choice, if this is the only pregnancy I ever have I want to enjoy it rather than wishing for the end out of fear. We’ve gotten her nursery 99% finished, installed carseats, set up her co-sleeper in our bedroom, and bought hundreds of dollars of cloth diapers. We really feel like we’re ready for this, at least as much as anyone is ever really ready.

I love my belly- rubbing it and feeling her squirming and bumping around in there. In fact, my favorite part of being pregnant has been the fact that she’s breech, because I can feel and see her so well. Her head is above my belly button (facing in and to my left), so when she stretches her head there’s this huge lump that sticks out. Her knee sticks out right below my belly button, and she kicks off to the left side of my belly.We’ve taken to calling her lumpers for this reason. When I first wake up in the morning her head lump sticks out so far it looks like some sort of tumor, I guess because she shifts her position when I sleep on my side at night.  When she really gets moving it looks like huge waves moving across my belly. Seeing her and holding my hands over her tiny head while she moves makes me feel so close to her. In fact, I’m finally enjoying pregnancy so much I’m actually a little sad to think that I won’t be pregnant anymore soon. Right now she’s so close to me all the time, it will be strange and not necessarily good to have her physically separated from me.

I still can’t get over how lucky I am, and how this has managed to work out despite the complicated start. Even beyond my own story, the last few months have really changed my perspective on how much hope there is out there for those of you who haven’t been successful yet. I’ve been watching and reading, and I just can’t beleive how many of you out there have managed to beat the odds and have successful pregnancies. So many of you who felt like there was no hope whatsoever (and maybe for good reason) have shown up with good news. Every time this happens I’m overwhelmed with happiness and think, see, you can never assume that it’s hopeless. For those of you who were reading my blog a year ago, you know this is exactly the opposite of how I felt then. I know it probably seems like it’s easy to feel hopeful when you’re not in the middle of it anymore. I know how hard it is to feel that hope when you’re on the other side. But I feel so hopeful for each of you, even if you don’t feel it for yourself. Even though I don’t write and comment much anymore, I still read and hope that each post will be the post when you have good news.

23 weeks and all is well

Tomorrow I will be 23 weeks pregnant, and as far as we can tell everything is still going well. I’ve been meaning to post for so long now its shameful. There are lots of reasons, but the biggest one is I’ve been insanely busy. I started working full time for the first time in over 7 years a few months ago. I was working at least 40 hours a week as a grad student, but it was completely on my own schedule. Being at the same place for 8+ hours a day all week has taken some adjusting. Then add to that volunteering with two organizations (one is our local infertility group- I’m serving as co-president at the moment), throwing a bridal shower for a good friend, visits from family, and tons of home repairs to turn our former junk-room into a future baby-room, and I’ve hardly had a free second  the last few months. And of course it doesn’t help that I can barely keep my eyes open past 8pm.

There’s so much I could and should say, since I haven’t written in 2 months or so, but overall things are very good. I’ve struggled to keep calm and trust this pregnancy, but weekly doppler-ing early on, and now pretty frequent kicking, are keeping me sane. In fact, I’m getting thoroughly kicked as I type now :). I’ve been so much less worried since I started feeling her moving. We had our anatomy scan at 18 weeks, and although it wasn’t really an exciting experience for me, the end result was good. No signs of a problem, and weight mostly on track. I went in to the scan expecting to find something wrong, and the ultrasound tech refused to give us any sign of what she was seeing throughout the process. The baby had her head buried deeply in my pelvis, and so the ultrasound tech couldn’t for the life of her get a good view of anything. She was getting frustrated, and the result was that she didn’t seem to be happy with what she was seeing. She never said anything about a problem, but I was reading way too much in to her attitude, and was sure things were not going well. There was no clear point when she told us everything was okay, I think she just assumed that we’d know that since she never told us there was a problem. All of this led to an extremely anti-climactic ultrasound where I wasn’t able to enjoy watching her move around and try to bond with her. Ultimately the OB did confirm that everything is fine, but by then I was already feeling pretty unsettled and it took a while before the good news sank in.

Then a few weeks later we hit the half-way point of the pregnancy (on my birthday, no less!), and tomorrow (or next week, depending on who you ask), we hit viability. I’m still completely in shock, and hardly beleive how lucky I am, but I’m mostly trusting that this process is going to result in a real live baby. We’re completely enjoying planning and setting up a nursery, and I have two showers being thrown for me in the next month. We have a pile of baby stuff building up, hand-me downs from family, and gifts showing up in the mail. It’s an awful lot to wrap my brain around, but I’m trying to enjoy every minute of it.

Although the baby herself seems to be doing great, I have had a few complications, most of which appear to be minor at this point. In addition to my peri-ovarian mass which is still growing, but very slowly (have I written about that before? we don’t know what it is, I’ll have to have surgery after I give birth to make sure it’s not cancer and likely have it removed, but in the meantime it seems not to be hurting anything), I have a giant fibroid on the outside of my uterus, and placenta previa. At the time of my 12 week scan, the fibroid was the size of the baby’s torso, and has since continued to grow. Since it’s on the outside of my uterus, they aren’t worried about it affecting the baby, but it’s causing all kinds of fun in the meantime. It’s pressing directly on my bladder, so I feel like I’m being kicked in the bladder basically all day long. I pee about 100 times a day (and plenty more at night), but nothing much comes out each time, almost as if my urethra is being blocked in some way. It’s uncomfortable, but not a huge problem as long as I’m near a bathroom all day. As for the placenta previa (basically, it means the placenta is located over my cervix), it could mean problems in the long run, but often they move on their own before giving birth. I was told not to worry about it, but in the meantime no tampons or sex.

This has been a relatively quick update, given how much I could talk about, but it’s almost my bed time and my eyes are getting droopy :). I’ve been thinking about you all constantly, and I still try to read as much as I can. I always read on my phone now though, and it’s awful trying to comment on it. For those of you who have had good news recently, just know I’m over here cheering and hoping for you.  And for those of you who haven’t been so lucky (yet), I’m still here supporting you, if silently.

14 weeks

I’ve been meaning to write a post for weeks now, but somehow the process of sitting down and actually writing it never seems to happen. It’s been an enormous few weeks, weeks that I’ll never forget.

First, we entered the second trimester! It was a huge day in my mind, quite an ‘accomplishment’. I don’t think I need to say just how unlikely I thought it was that I would ever see that day. With this pregnancy or any other. I am now a person who can carry a pregnancy to the second trimester. Unbelievable. I’m not going to pretend I’ve been just handling it calmly and easily though. I’ve been mostly getting by, but I have moments of terror. Moments where I’m sure the baby’s not alive in there anymore. Moments where I can visualize all too easily what it would feel like to get the news that it’s over. Those feelings are always there, but I decided that all I could do was give myself permission to try to let them go. My instinct is to try to protect myself by not allowing myself to be happy. But, I know that realistically it’s too late to protect myself. If this goes badly, I will be devastated, whether I try to protect myself or not. And if it does, miraculously, work out, I will be angry with myself for not enjoying and appreciating it while I could. So, I’m allowing myself to let go of the fears (as much as it’s a choice), and enjoy it.

And when that doesn’t work, I use the doppler. We first got it to work about 2 weeks ago, right after our last ultrasound. I figured that was a good time to try it again because we were still coming off the confidence of seeing the baby looking so healthy on ultrasound. I figured if we didn’t find the heartbeat at that time, it would be less terrifying than waiting another week, during which anything could have happened. And we got lucky! It worked, and we heard her little heart beating away. I’ve done it just a few times since then, but on a day when I can’t stop the worries it’s a lifesaver.

The other thing that has helped me with the fears is that our MaterniT21 results came back. Totally normal. Let me repeat that, TOTALLY NORMAL!!!! I can’t tell you the level of relief I felt hearing the geneticist’s voice on the phone, clearly upbeat and chipper. I knew she wouldn’t have that tone of voice if it was bad news. She asked how I was doing, and I said, “you tell me??”. All good, our baby has the right number of chromosomes, at least for the 5 sets they look at.

As soon as the reality that the baby is most likely totally normal set in, I immediately wanted to know the sex (the X and Y chromosomes are one of the sets they look for the number of). Ready for it?? We’re having a girl. I can’t even beleive it. I KNOW I would have been overjoyed to hear the word boy too, but a girl is what I’ve always dreamed about. I’ve dreamed about tiny lace dresses and frills. Pink and purple. I would adore a son, but a girl will fulfill all the dreams I’ve had of being a mother my whole life.

G is unbelievably excited about a girl too. I always assumed he would rather have a boy if he could choose. He’s a sports guy, so I figured he’d been dreaming about coaching sports teams and watching games together (not that he can’t do those things with a girl). I’m sure he would still love to have a son one day, but he’s SO glad this baby is a girl. There’s just something about a little girl with her daddy that melts my heart. I can already picture him holding her while she sleeps.

We also have her name picked out already. Since I’ve always dreamed about a girl, I’ve had a girl’s name in mind for years. Since college, or maybe high school. I’d told G about the name years ago, and he never seemed to have much of an opinion on it. But as soon as we found out it’s a girl, he started calling her the name. He’ll ask, how’s L today (we’ll be keeping the name a secret, so I’m just sharing the initial here)? Or ask me if L wants some dessert. It’s adorable, but it also has me a little nervous. I love the name, but we hardly gave it any thought with respect to this baby. I’m afraid he didn’t actually consider if he likes the name, he just grasped on to it because he thinks if he lets me pick the first name he can have freedom to pick the middle name. This is most definitely not true. I want the decisions we make to be joint decisions, and either way I will definitely not give him free reign to pick a middle name. His family has a Finnish background, and he’s always talked about giving our kids Finnish names. I think he has in his head that he’s going to give this baby some insane Finnish middle name, and it just isn’t going to happen. Either way, the longer we think of this baby as L, the more attached I’m getting to it as her name. If we don’t figure this out soon, it’ll be too late and I’ll be hooked.

The other huge thing that happened in the last few weeks is that we announced the pregnancy to family and on facebook. I really struggled with it at first, because it felt like an enormous step. It felt like a complete change of my identity. It felt like I was going from a secret infertile to a pregnant lady overnight. Obviously it wasn’t overnight, but there’s something about everyone in the world knowing about it that makes it very permanent and irreversible. I was also superstitiously terrified that as soon as we made an announcement everything would go wrong. Making an announcement is kind of like advertising to the world that you’re happy and expect this to work, which to me sounds like a big flashing light asking for trouble. If this is some sort of mistake (because good things don’t actually happen to me), this will surely get the universe’s attention. This all goes back to giving myself permission to be happy though. I’m 14 weeks, it was time to make an announcement. I had to just take the leap and go with it. We thought a lot about how to do it, and this is what we came up with….

Image

I had to acknowledge the struggle it took to get here, but I didn’t want that to be the focus of the announcement either. I also hate funny announcements (which is unfair, but it’s all just too important for me to appreciate anyone who’s so casual about the whole thing as to make a joke about it). I thought this was a perfect symbol of us together, still holding hands at the end of it all, waiting for our little girl.

In know a lot of you out there are still in the midst of enormous struggles. I hesitate to say this, because when I was in the midst of it all, I hated when people would tell me I should be hopeful because of someone else’s experiences. What does their success have to do with me? So, what I’m NOT saying is that you should all have hope because this seems to be happening for me. What I do want to say though, is that I used to feel like hope was completely impossible. I honestly truly felt that I could not, would not, be one of the people to end up with a successful pregnancy. And it looks like I was (hopefully, please please please) wrong. So, I guess my point is that just because you might feel hopeless doesn’t mean there is no hope. Our feelings of hope or hopelessness are just that, feelings. Not premonitions. If I was wrong, you could be too. I know that might feel like meager help when you’re feeling the lowest, but I wanted to try. If my optimism annoys the hell out of you (as it probably would have done for me), I won’t blame you if you ignore me and stop reading (or stop reading for other reasons for that matter). I will be thinking of and hoping for each of you either way.

12 weeks and good news :)

This will have to be short because I’m unbelievably exhausted. On top of my normal level of exhausted, I barely slept last night. Bed is sounding delicious right now.

But, I couldn’t go to bed without letting you guys know what happened today. As the title implies, it was good news :). First we met with the genetic counselor, which was surprisingly great. She sat and talked with us for over an hour, which seems extremely rare for a medical professional these days. She walked through our family histories of both infertility/miscarriage and other serious medical issues. The former list was quite long, particularly on G’s side, but the latter was almost non-existant. The best part of the appointment was that she approached it both from the perspective of potentially exploring our miscarriage problems, as well as our  potential risk of problems with this pregnancy. I didn’t expect the first part at all. Ultimately, she suggested that our histories imply that there certainly could be a hereditary (i.e. genetic) cause for our fertility problems, but none of it implies an elevated risk for problems with this pregnancy. In fact, she even offered to do some research to find out if there are any new, more advanced, genetic tests that we could do to investigate the miscarriages. Granted, I’ve done lots of research on this myself and haven’t found much, so I don’t know that this will lead anywhere, but it was really cool to have someone actually taking an interest in figuring things out for us for a change!

After talking for a long time, she suggested that we might be good candidates for the MaterniT21 blood test, instead of just doing the NT scan. She doesn’t think we’re at elevated risk because of anything in my history or anything that’s happened with this pregnancy, but given the total package she thought we would feel better knowing for certain (the NT scan only gives you odds). So, we drew blood today and we’ll get the results back in 4-10 days. Given that, we didn’t need to do the NT scan after all, but we certainly weren’t about to give up doing an ultrasound at all, so we just had a regular one without all the measurements.

The tech called us back, and told me to pull down my pants below my hip bones for my very first abdominal ultrasound. I warned her that my uterus is retroverted, and as I predicted, we had to switch to transvaginal halfway through because she couldn’t see anything well enough to take measurements. When she first started the scan there was a terrifying moment were I couldn’t see anything moving or flickering, and I was pretty sure it was over. Not realizing how much we were freaking out, she didn’t say anything right away, which only made matters worse. Eventually she said something along the lines of, ‘I can’t tell what the heart rate is yet’. And I immediately said ‘so there is one??’. Yes, yes, there was one, I was just used to seeing it on a transvaginal scan where things are a lot clearer. Then, another terrifying moment when she was measuring the heart rate, and the blurring lines showed up at the bottom of the screen (the grey paintbrush stroke like lines that they use to measure the rate). Again, this looks totally different on a transvaginal ultrasound (according to G it has something to do with the wave amplitude….?) and I couldn’t see any lines. I was positive it was showing a super duper slow rate, and that’s why I couldn’t see the lines. But, she ran the measurement, and it came out as 161! After that, I took a few deep breaths, and started to enjoy it all.

The baby was moving around like crazy, and kept curling up in a tiny ball. G said it looked just like our cats curled up on the couch. He/she kept kicking and waving tiny arms every which way. At the right angle, we could see all the bones of the forearm and fingers forming. In profile there was a tiny perfect little face. In fact, looking at the profile, I could immediately see that there wasn’t an accumulation of fluid in the neck at all, like you see in ‘abnormal’ NT scans. The purpose of the NT scan is measuring the nuchal translucency, or the thickness of the fluid in the neck area. The thicker the layer of fluid, the greater the chance of a problem. I asked the tech if she agreed that it looked like the measurement would have been really small if we were doing it, and she agreed that it looked great. And finally, she managed to get a crown-rump length measurement when the baby finally uncurled itself a little, and it was exactly what I expected. It measured 11w5d, 2 days behind, so exactly the same amount behind as every other scan. Given how consistent the growth has been, no one is too worried about the size at this point. Maybe I just ovulated a little later than I thought I did.

After the scan, we went to lunch and called our parents. Both of our moms cried. Then we went to the mall to do a little celebratory shopping. We decided a few weeks ago that if we had good news today we would go buy something for our baby. Since we don’t know the sex yet (but we will in 4-10 days!!!!!), we picked out the cutest little unisex outfit. I’ve been waiting to buy baby clothes (for myself rather than a gift) for years and years and years. Long before we started trying. This is the very first time I’ve ever felt like I had the right to be in a baby store buying things for myself. It was both weird and great. We’re feeling really great right now, and I think the high will last a little while longer before any anxiety starts to kick back in. So, we’re just going to try to relax and appreciate this as much as we possibly can while we can.

The eve of the Big Day

Tomorrow is the big day. Our NT scan. I’ve been unbelievably impatient over the past few weeks, and now suddenly I’m not sure I’m ready. I swing wildly back and forth between feeling like it’s Christmas eve and feeling like it’s the night before going to the gallows.

I’m surprisingly not freaking out though. I feel like I’ve been in some sort of protective bubble for most of this pregnancy. It’s not that I feel optimistic and so need not worry. Even when things were looking completely awful after ultrasounds 1 and 3, I was feeling mostly numb. I knew the emotions would kick in eventually, but they hadn’t had a chance to hit. I’m fully aware of all the negative possibilities, and how awful I will feel when they come true, but I can’t muster any true anxiety or fear. It’s like I’m covered in thick padding, and the emotions can’t touch me yet.

Get this, we rented a doppler last week, we couldn’t find the heartbeat, and I still didn’t freak out. I was a little ‘down’ the next day, but I never really got upset. I rationalized that it’s because I have a retroverted uterus, and lots of women have trouble finding the heartbeat at 11 weeks with a retroverted uterus. True, but I wouldn’t have expected ‘rational thought’ to play in to whether or not I would freak out when we couldn’t find a heartbeat. We haven’t tried again since then because A) I was worried that my lack of freaking out could only last so long and I didn’t want to push it, and B) I have this feeling of, let’s call it intuition (the other option is wishful thinking), that there is still a little heart beating in there. I have no real reason to trust this feeling, but I’m glad I have it for now.

But again, that doesn’t mean I’m optimistic. In fact, I’m the opposite. I fully and completely expect that tomorrows scan will show a problem. It would just make so much sense. Both because of the low heart rate a few weeks ago, and because it’s just plain my luck. Since the NT scan doesn’t definitively prove whether there are developmental problems, it just indicates a higher or lower risk, if they find something tomorrow it wouldn’t mean there is definitely a problem. But it would draw out this limbo we’re in, not knowing whether to really trust this pregnancy or not. My ‘intuition’ is telling me that this is what will happen. It almost feels like that’s what I deserve. Maybe deserve is the wrong word, but I don’t feel like I am capable or worthy of a better outcome than that. I haven’t really explored why I feel this way, but I think it has something to do with the fact that ‘recurrent miscarrier’ has become part of my identity. It’s just who I am, so of course I will be the one with the problem. Or I will be the one who has to spend more months hiding that I’m pregnant because I still don’t know whether its real, while other people are shouting it from the rooftops at 12 weeks.

I don’t mean to sound as if I’m complaining though. I really and truly do feel lucky to be having this opportunity at all. I don’t think I can get in to it too much yet, but I’m also already having a great deal of ‘survivor’s guilt’. I feel insanely guilty for the fact that I’m here, having this chance at success and the ultimate prize, while so many of you are suffering so much. It feels so completely unfair (and wrong, like a mistake) that I could potentially make it to the other side while people who have struggled longer, been through more, and probably even deserve it more, are still waiting with no end in sight. I will have to wait and write more about this later when I feel more confident about the fact that I actually will ‘survive’.

So I’m off to bed, to wake up tomorrow to find either presents under the Christmas tree, or a noose. I guess we’ll see. Finally though, I wanted to apologize for being a terrible blog-friend lately. I’ve been reading religiously, but I haven’t been commenting much for a few reasons. The first is I’ve had sporadic computer problems, and it’s hard to really say what I want to say typing on my phone. And secondly, I’ve been insanely exhausted. By the time I get home from work and make dinner, I barely have enough energy to keep my eyes open to watch tv for half an hour. I’ve been passing out by 9 most nights. I hope you all know that I’m thinking of you constantly, and still care deeply despite not saying so quite as often.

 

Is this real??

You guys, I swear to god someone is messing with me. There hasn’t ever been a pregnancy in history that has had more ups and downs than this one. Our ultrasound today was either a very cruel joke or the best news I’ve had in years.

We showed up for our ultrasound this morning feeling pretty pessimistic. It’s not that I didn’t have any hope. I haven’t had any bleeding for weeks now, so I was kind of thinking that the embryo/fetus/baby was still in there plugging along. But the most I had ventured to hope for was that there would still be a heartbeat, but a slow one. I thought the best I could ever expect would be a continuation of the limbo I’ve been in.

The ultrasound tech was merciful and rather than starting with measurements of my ovaries and my peri-ovarian mass like she usually does, she went straight to the baby. It was immediately obvious that it had grown. It looked distinctly different than the last time, much more baby-shaped. And before I had a chance to even look, G said “there’s still a heartbeat”. The ultrasound tech agreed, and right at that moment I saw it kick. I immediately started to cry, and said “this is just too hard”. I thought, how can we be tortured like this with a moving baby that won’t survive? I hadn’t even ventured to hope yet that it could be okay.

She measured the CRL (crown-rump length), and it was 9w3d. I’m technically 9w5d, so that sounded a little low to me, but since it’s measured a little small every time, this probably isn’t anything to worry about. Then she measured the heart rate. You guys, it was 171. This is after a 117 and a 106 two weeks ago. I mean, how??? How does this happen?? I said, “Is that real???”, and she had a big smile plastered on her face. At this point, G dissolved into a full on crying fit. Not a few tears, but a full on snot-fest. I’m honestly not sure if I’ve ever seen him cry that much.

She took a bunch more measurements and couldn’t find anything to be worried about. The whole time the baby was squirming around like crazy. I don’t even know how to express how shocked I am. I never ever ever expected that I would make it this far in a pregnancy, and all of a sudden there’s a little thing that actually looks like a baby squirming around inside me. It doesn’t feel real at all. These things just don’t happen to me. In fact, I can’t help but think that this is just a cruel joke. We can’t help but be invested when we see a moving baby, and it will only be that much harder to have it ripped away if it doesn’t work out.

We met with Dr. O, and he agreed that there’s nothing visible today that looks worrying. He also agreed with me though that this is still a high risk pregnancy. He said there’s no one thing that’s happened so far, or in my history in general, that would make it high risk, but the whole package raises the risk level. So, we are by no means in the clear here. I wouldn’t kid myself that we are out of the woods and this is just a normal pregnancy. Since I’m now almost 10 weeks, he’s sending me to a high risk OB and a maternal fetal medicine doc asap (I graduated!). I’m really glad about this because it seems like the high risk doctors will give us the best chance of success. I’m definitely not comfortable being treated as a ‘normal’ pregnant woman at this point. We will schedule an anatomy scan for a week or two from now, and that will definitely give us a lot more information.

I’m having trouble even organizing my thoughts at the moment. I’ve barely even been thinking of myself as pregnant up to this point, and suddenly now I’m 10 weeks pregnant. My belly is sticking out for real, and I now need to look in to getting some bigger clothes. People are probably starting to suspect I’m pregnant, and I haven’t been hiding it that much because I figured they’d just think they were wrong when nothing came of it (they’d just figure I gained some holiday weight). I will actually be going to see an OB for the first time, and will actually have an anatomy scan. All of these things I never thought I would get to do.

For right now, I’m feeling really great. I know that the nerves will set back in soon, and I’ll start to worry like crazy. Given the way things have gone over the last few months, there is every reason to think the next scan will be bad. I know I will be freaking out about that soon. For right now though, I’m just feeling very very lucky. So lucky to still have a chance with this pregnancy, and so lucky to be having these experiences of pregnancy. Even if this ends badly, I never thought I would have the chance to see that little life moving around inside me, and to wear maternity clothes, and to share good news with people. Over the last three years I would have given anything for those experiences, and I wouldn’t have gotten to have them at all if we had adopted. No matter what happens, I’m getting to experience pregnancy. That is enough for right now.

So I hope you all have a wonderful new year’s. I’m thinking of all of you who could use some freaking good luck of your own. I sincerely hope 2014 is a better year for all of us. Thank you so much for your support the past few weeks, you have no idea how much it has meant.

Well that was unexpected, Part II (aka, weird experiences with the in-laws)

Thank you all for your sincere messages and concern the past few days. I’m trying to hold things together and keep from thinking too much about the situation until we know more, but it’s pretty hard to not think about it with the constant reminder of the nausea and other symptoms. In the meantime though, we decided it was time to finally tell G’s family. I told my mom pretty much right away and have kept her updated along the way, but I left it to G to decide when he wanted to tell his family.

Telling them has been stranger than we could have imagined. In the past two days we’ve had  two of the most surprising and/or strangest interactions we’ve ever had with them. G called his parents on Thursday night, but he happened to catch his dad on his commute, so he ended up telling them separately. FIL was sweet, if a little in denial. He kept telling us how he’d pray for us (which doesn’t do a lot for me since we’re atheists, but I appreciate that it means something to him), and that God would fix this. Again, I appreciate the thought, but I don’t want him to end up more let down later because he didn’t beleive how serious this is.

Then G called his mom, and she had a similar reaction, if a little less in denial. She said she’d pray, but she understood how unlikely it is to work out. Then she went on to tell us about how we could still do this, it could still work for us eventually. We made it clear that we don’t really think it’s an option to keep trying if we can’t figure out what’s wrong, and she eventually said she could understand that.

She also suggested that maybe surrogacy was the best option, and maybe my parents could pay for it. This offends me a little because they seem to think my parents are rich, which is far from the case. They own a small business that may or may not go out of business in the next year after they put all of their funds into it (leaving aside some for retirement). That’s a sore spot for me I guess, but we made it clear that we wouldn’t be asking them for money. Then MIL started to get into how much she has saved, and maybe if we were okay with only having one child, they could help us. My initial reaction to this was, wow, coming from her that’s crazy generous. She’s insane about saving money, which is why she might have enough to pay for maybe 2/3 of the cost of surrogacy despite the two of them having very modest incomes.

I really really don’t think we would take their money to do surrogacy, and honestly I’m not even sure surrogacy is something I’m interested in anyway. But, I was impressed that she would be willing to give us her hard-pinched pennies at all. Then, it came out why. We said we think that adoption is probably a better option for us, both because it costs less, and for other reasons as well, and she says, “Well, I just don’t know if that’s a good idea. You have to be so careful. We know so many people who’ve had problems with adopted kids. And look at all the problems they have when they grow up”.

Now, first of all, this is only sort of true for them. They do know a few people who’ve had serious problems with adopted kids. But these were people who chose to adopt very high risk babies. One had a very serious physical disability, and the other was born addicted to drugs. These are amazing people to be willing to take on those challenges, but it isn’t remotely a fair way to judge adoption as a whole. In her own family, MIL has three adopted nieces. One is very well adjusted, albeit a little annoying, and the other two have dealt with addiction. They are both extremely lovely women who just ran into some challenges (arguably partly due to the way they were raised!!). And lets not ignore just how many problems there are in the family amongst the people who are NOT adopted. I just despise the fact that she’s judging, rather openly, members of her own family for being adopted. The bottom line is, she’d rather give us all her hard earned money, that she won’t even spend to go out to dinner once a month or buy a functional coffee maker, on a surrogate for us, rather than have us take in one of those dangerous problematic adopted babies. This is so not what I need to hear right now, when I need to know that if pregnancy is not an option, I still have a way to have a family. I don’t need any additional reasons to be worried about adopting (my child’s grandmother talking about him or her as a family problem).

So, Friday morning I wasn’t in the greatest place anticipating having to go visit them. When out of nowhere, G forwards me this email:

Hi G – I have been thinking about you and J(me). We would love to have you come for Christmas. I want you both to feel comfortable about coming, so if you think it wouldn’t be a good time to travel, we understand. You know when you stay at our house, you can relax whenever you want. If you come and would like me to change any plans, I can. We are having the Christmas Eve dinner at K’s (SIL) and Christmas Day at Aunt K’s. You could drive separately on that day and go back to our house early if needed. Thursday was the brunch plans and (cousins with new baby) and (pregnant cousin) can’t come. Talk this over with J. I could cancel these plans for Thursday if you would rather not have a bunch over.  We can talk over the weekend. I said my prayers for you and J. This would be great if things turn around. Love, Mom

Wow. Just wow. I’m so shocked that these words came out of her mouth (well, hands). I never would have thought she could anticipate how hard it would be for us, particularly to see the cousins with the new baby, who are specifically the ones I wrote about here. I’m overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness of this email, and I feel so so much better about going to visit (doesn’t hurt that we no longer have to see the baby/pregnant cousin). It even inspired me to think that if she could surprise me about this, maybe she can surprise me and be supportive if/when we adopt.

Then comes this morning, and we get a call from SIL. G never got a chance to tell her himself, but we assumed his parents would tell her. They live down the street and talk every day. SIL calls today to ask us what we want to drink on Christmas eve (an odd question in retrospect since she did know I’m pregnant). It was probably just an excuse to talk though. I didn’t hear the whole conversation they had, but I could tell from the odd look on G’s face that it was going very strangely. After he hung up, he said, “my sister just offered to have a baby with your brother”.

Yep, you heard that right. Her solution to our problem is to use my brother’s sperm and do artificial insemination. I just. I don’t. I don’t even know what to say. I wanted to laugh, but my stomach was turning at the thought of it (not that it doesn’t do that constantly anyway). I just said “Honey, hug me, I’m scared”, and started laughing. I mean, ewwwww! There is nothing good about this idea. I would never ask that of my brother, knowing how weird it would be for him. Plus, there is no chance in hell I would let SIL carry for us. I couldn’t handle it. We’re not exactly close, first of all. Her pregnancies have never been easy, she seemed to barely survive the second one. I guess I should be honored that she’d offer given that, but I just honestly think I wouldn’t survive the experience knowing she was suffering that much for me when we aren’t even close. That doesn’t even get in to the level of awfulness I would feel having to watch someone else (someone who has everything I’ve ever wanted and I struggle with jealously of to begin with), do the one thing I can’t do, for me. I would feel so unbelievably powerless, and useless. The whole thing is just so awkward I don’t even know what to say.

I know the appropriate response to an offer like this from SIL is to be appreciative. I do appreciate that she wants to help. But, it’s very hard for me to beleive or accept that she could be doing it from a generous place. I feel like an awful person for saying it, but the bottom line is she has never once said she was sorry for our losses. She’s never implied that she cares about how hard this is for me. She’s generally done the opposite. For example, she came to visit when I was going through miscarriage number 4. She was about 7 months pregnant. I told her how I was pretty miserable and I had just had an awful experience of bleeding so heavily I almost passed out while teaching a class full of undergrads. Her reaction was “yeah, me too, I don’t know how I’m going to make it two more months”. Just wow. Last summer when she was visiting with her 3 month old and we were talking about our situation, she said “yeah, I can’t imagine if it ever happened to E (the baby, meaning if E was infertile, not if she’d had a miscarriage with E)”. What???? In what universe is even this about your baby?? I just don’t know how to ignore all of that, and take this as a generous and sincere offer. Either way we will have to have a talk with her at some point. G left it that he appreciates the thought, but we need to let this pregnancy play out before we make any big decisions.

So, that’s been my last few days.  It certainly has been an eventful two weeks of pregnancy purgatory so far, we’ll see how the rest goes…

8 week ultrasound. And the verdict is…

I wish I had a better post to write today. After last weeks good news, I was in shock and could hardly wrap my brain around the idea that things could work out with this pregnancy. This last week has been interesting. While not exactly optimistic, I had really started to think of myself as pregnant in a different way than I ever have been before. I pulled out my old embryology textbooks and checked out all the pictures of 7-8 week embryos, and I calculated a due date. I even did some google-searching for maternity clothes. This isn’t totally premature, I’ve already got this protruding belly that probably looks further along than I am, and all my clothes are too tight. I would never dare to actually buy maternity clothes while in pregnancy purgatory, but I might need them sooner rather than later.

I went in to this mornings appointment hesitant, but open to the possibility of good news. I duly dropped my pants and hopped up on the table, as if waiting for a judge to pass judgement. G was in a great mood, pretty confident of the outcome. He was making small talk with the ultrasound tech while I shot him death glares. As soon as she got the wand in, she said, “well we have a baby with a heartbeat! I don’t know anything else yet, but I know that”. After which she proceeded to check my ovaries, and take a million measurements of my peri-ovarian mass (more on this later). When she finally returned to the pregnancy, she had this happy look on her face. Remember, the last time she did an ultrasound for me, there was no embryo at all, and they were thinking there might not ever be one.

She started taking measurements, all the while smiling. She even made a joke (so cruel) that G would have to be more patient when (she said when!!) he was a dad. At this point I started crying. I figured, she’s never acted like this for any single other ultrasound we’ve had (like hundreds at this point, and she’s done all of them). Clearly she thinks this is good! G was squeezing my hand with all he had.

Then, she went to measure the heart rate and my heart dropped out of my chest. The number that popped up was 117. At 8 weeks, the heart rate should be 140-190, which I knew in advance because I made sure to google it this morning so I would know what to look for. I said in a quiet voice “it’s too low”. She said, yes, it’s pretty low. She waited a few minutes, then took the measurement again. 106. There was no more smiling or joking about when we would be parents.

As always, after the ultrasound we had to wait a good hour for Dr. O to show. The longest hour of my life (well, one of them since I’ve done it a hundred times now). He didn’t have anything surprising to share. He agreed that the heartrate is too low, and it doesn’t bode well. Especially since we know that last week it was higher (124). When asked explicitly he said he’s seen a pregnancy like this survive before, but it’s extremely rare. More likely, the heart will just keep slowing and eventually stop. If it does survive, there is an elevated risk of developmental defects.

Since we will be out of town for the holidays next week (good god, the horror of a week with the in-laws in the middle of all this), we can’t re-check until the 31st. That’s almost two more weeks of living in pregnancy purgatory. If the constant nausea, headaches, heartburn, constipation, and exhaustion wasn’t enough to deal with, I will have to do it all in the company of my in-laws. Oh! and all without any alcohol. I guess I should consider myself lucky that there are only 2 babies and one pregnant woman (that we know of)  in the family at the moment, some of you have much more.

So here goes another two weeks of pregnancy purgatory. It promises to be a very merry christmas.

 

I don’t know how to say this.

I don’t know how to begin to say what I have to say today. It’s already taken me almost a day to process before I could write anything at all, and I’m still in shock. Yesterday I had my appointment with the new doctor, Dr. A, and I also had an ultrasound. Here’s what I don’t know how to say: the ultrasound was good. Not just on the fence like my past ultrasounds have always been, but according to Dr. A, everything looks normal in there.

There is a strong heartbeat of 124 bpm, and the fetal pole measured 9mm, exactly 7 weeks. The sac looks normal, no poor margins or just plain weird stuff like in the past. I just. I don’t even know how this is possible. I don’t know how this can be the same pregnancy. The same pregnancy with no fetal pole at 5w6ds, that Dr. O described as ‘not optimistic’. The same pregnancy where last week Dr. O and the ultrasound nurse wouldn’t even look me in the eye. Dr. O is not a pessimistic doctor. He has always told me there was hope in the past, despite bad ultrasound results. He didn’t do that this time. I don’t know what to make of this, maybe he was letting my history affect his impressions (like it has mine, where to me blood = miscarriage)? Clearly I’m in shock here, I feel like I’ve jumped in to a different pregnancy than the one I was in two weeks ago.

Here’s how it all went down. We showed up for our appointment, and for the first time ever at an RE’s office, we were brought back to Dr. A’s office right on time, by Dr. A himself. Already I’m liking this guy. We had an awesome conversation, that I PROMISE to write about soon, because he said a lot of things that really clicked with me, and I think will be of interest to you guys. One of the things we talked about was that the vast majority pregnancies that end in first trimester miscarriages look unusual in some way on ultrasound by 5-6 weeks. That’s not to say that all pregnancies that look weird at 5-6 weeks will be a miscarriage, but the opposite is rarely true (pregnancies that look totally normal by 7 weeks miscarrying). Obviously it happens, but it’s much more rare, and potentially indicates a different kind of problem.

This fits my history very well. By 7 weeks, none of my pregnancies have looked normal. This makes a lot of sense because of how many thing are happening before this time, essentially all the parts of the embryo are getting in to place. We all know that embryos start from a single cell, then if you think of how many things have to move and arrange for an embryo to be sort of ‘baby shaped’ by 7 weeks, its just insane how much can go wrong. From 7 weeks or so on, things are in place, and the organ systems are forming. So, problems before 7 weeks tend to be problems with embryo formation. This all goes back to embryoscopy, because these problems with embryo formation result in embryos that look malformed when you do embryoscopy. There’s SO much more to say about this part of the conversation and I’m not explaining it as well as I should right now, but my point for now is that recurrent miscarriages that happen before 7 weeks (or missed miscarriages that begin before 7 weeks) mean something different from miscarriages that happen after 7 weeks.

At the very end of our conversation, Dr. A says “so, why don’t we just take a quick look at this pregnancy? I’d like see what your pregnancies look like”. We’d been talking about it as if it was miscarriage #7, and as per the conversation above, he was thinking that it would help him understand what kind of problem I have to see how things are going wrong at week 7. I wasn’t even nervous really, I was just thinking, hmm, I wonder if it’s over already?

Dr. A does all his own ultrasounds, there was no nurse or tech there, we just walked in to the ultrasound room and he flipped on the laptop that runs the equipment (very different from my current REs office!). He pops the wand in, and all I could think was, I hope he’s not looking at my super hairy legs (I wasn’t expecting to be getting naked in front of him!). And there it was. All I can say is it looked very different from any of my other ultrasounds. Right away he turned on the sound, and a heartbeat starts thudding. Very clear and strong, measuring 124 bpm. Guys, I’ve never seen a heart rate this fast before. I think the fastest we’ve ever had is 105 or something. That’s partially because of the timing, a slow heart rate is okay very early on, but our heart rates have never sped up enough. The measurement was right on track, no sign of the slow development at 5w6d. He looked for the ‘asymmetrical thickening’ of my endometrium noted on last weeks ultrasound, and it was there, but Dr. A said it didn’t bother him in the least. In fact, my bleed is even located as far as possible from the embryo, right at my cervix. This is about the best place to have a bleed if your going to have one because the blood basically just comes out, it’s not near or behind the embryo, causing pressure or shearing on the embryo.

All of this is to say that no matter what happens here (I still can’t wrap my brain around the idea that it could be okay), this is different from all my other losses. We’ve never made it this far, and according to Dr. A, the fact that we’ve made it this far means something. In fact, he thinks it means an awful lot. I still can’t manage to type out just how high he things the odds are for us with this pregnancy,  but it was high. I’m keeping my expectations lower than his, but even if I admit that there’s, say, a 50% chance of this working out, this is distinctly different from every other time. I think I might be as happy about that as I am about anything else at this point. We’ve broken the pattern!

My brain feels very very confused about what to think and feel right now. On the one hand, I just can’t wrap my brain around the idea that it could be okay. When Dr. A told us how good our odds were in his opinion, my reaction was, you can’t tell me these things. I might get hopeful, and then it still won’t be okay. On our drive home yesterday I was barely speaking, and G kept saying, “you don’t seem to realize what just happened!!”. He’s right, I don’t realize it, I’m confused. It isn’t even that I’m really trying to protect myself from getting hurt, because the more I thought about it, the more I realized that if this goes badly I should be upset. If I made it this far and I have a 124 bpm heart beat inside me now and it dies, I should be upset about that. It would be wrong to think that didn’t matter and I don’t need to be upset about it just because I expected it. If this goes badly, I have a right to be upset and I won’t take that right from myself.

It took me until this morning to figure it out, but the real reason I’m afraid to be or admit to being hopeful is good old superstition. I’m afraid that if I show that I’m optimistic and things could work out, the universe will catch on and rip it all away from me (because it has a history of doing that, you know??). It feels like I need to not admit any hope in order to protect myself from the evil universe that hates me and wants to steal everything I love. That sounds totally rational, right :)?

So, this morning I’ve started to re-engage in this pregnancy a little. It’s so odd, I feel like I jumped right in to this pregnancy at 7 weeks. I was not paying attention to much of anything from the day I started bleeding. I never calculated a due date, I never thought about what was happening in there on a given day. I hardly even thought of myself as pregnant. Suddenly, now there is a 7 week embryo inside me with a heart beating away. I don’t want to get carried away, there are still a million and one things that can go wrong. Part of me even thinks that we’ll go in to our ultrasound with Dr. O next week and none of this will have been real. There will be a sac with no fetal pole, and this will all have been some sort of bad joke (the universe messing with me again).

There are 6 days until my next ultrasound, at which point this will either start to feel a little more real, or it will be clear that this was just a little blip on the road to a miscarriage. Right now, all I can do is try to stay calm and appreciate the fact that for now I’m still pregnant.