Monday, June 27, 2011

12 weeks - Fetal Matter

Today I went in for a "combination screen" test. They did some monster finger jab (YEOWTCH! WTF was that? A stapler?) and shmeared blood onto a paper. Then an ultrasound where he measured the tissue at the back of the neck to check for stuff like Downs Syndrome. But not just any ultrasound. Oh, no. I went to the same doctor I saw last time around, who works in a high-risk OB clinic. You need a referral just to get in! But they have 3D imaging, and give you a DVD movie of the session, plus a CD of images. And he treats you like a princess! Seriously. Warm belly goo, extra pillows. Heated lap blankets. I shit you not. And he's so thrilled and makes you feel like a million bucks for having a "healthy" baby (since he sees so many sad cases, working at the high risk place.)
Oh man. Last time, I had a 7w (looks like a snot clump) and 9ish w (looks like a gummy bear) ultrasound, and then nothing until 20 weeks, where baby actually looks humanoid. What a treat, to see my tiny, plum-sized little human! That little curled-up profile just took my breath away. And s/he was moving! Arms and legs everywhere. Twisting and turning. Just a magical sight!
Neck tissue was 1.5ish, and he says they're looking for anything under 3, so that was good. Crown-to-rump length (CRL?) shows a due date of 3 days earlier, so that just means baby is growing a little bigger than average for this gestational age, which is another notch in the "non-Downs" category (Downs babies tend to be smaller.) Something about good blood flow in the cord, and good heartbeat (170-something BPM.)

He also found a "twin fragment" which made me sad. He was surprised they hadn't mentioned it at the 7w U/S. I don't remember seeing anything else though, and my husband and I both had our eyes peeled for that extra baby. He showed me the tiny little placenta that had started forming, and the little fetal tissue clump. It's funny. I never really got all misty-eyed over the 2 embryos that didn't take the first time, and only had a little wistful regret at finding only one embryo this time. But seeing my little dead baby that tried to make it, was just a little punch in the psyche. I mean, I obviously wouldn't really want a child who was so genetically challenged that the fetus couldn't survive. But still. I've never had a miscarriage before, and now I kind of have an inkling of what that feels like. Kind of. Obviously, not really, TRULY what it feels like. What a nightmare. At least there's some happiness in this story! I saw my midwife for my 12w appointment after, and asked her what happens to this extra placenta and fetal matter. Does it get delivered with the live birth? Or will I need a D&C after?
Apparently it usually gets reabsorbed. Ewww. But they'll watch for it after the birth and they apparently sift through and test the placenta and stuff to make sure it's all good (double eww.)

In other neutral-to-bad news, he also thinks there's a velamentous insertion of the umbilical cord. Which can theoretically lead to inhibited growth in the fetus (so hizzer slightly larger size is again a good sign,) and also complications during labor. Like, baby can die. And that's just from reading that one link. I'm scared to look at anything else. Plus my sister told me not to look it up at all. I'm not terribly worried (yet,) since he isn't having my OB run extra tests or monitor for anything special, and he'll know more at the 20-week U/S. So apparently nothing too terrible can happen in the next 8 weeks... or maybe just nothing preventable. :(

We brought Little Z to the U/S, since she likes seeing the baby. Many people are surprised that we've already told her, but she's smart, and this can help teach her a little about patience, and having to wait for things to grow (or cook!) Plus she takes her a while to warm up to change, so this makes her feel like she's more a part of the process, rather than suddenly having a baby sibling foisted on her. (When we got her new sheets, she cried and fussed and demanded we put her old sheets back on for at least half an hour, then again whenever she'd remember, despite whatever distractions we were trying.) When I first told her, she spent every night for a week crying and telling me that she wanted the baby out (and not so she could meet the baby sooner, no. Just get it gone!) Now she'll ask roughly once a week if I have a baby in my tummy. So it took 6 weeks (I told her 1 week after we got the BFP) for her to accept this as a not-bad thing.
She did amazingly well. I knew from past experience that this doctor brooks no kiddie interruptions, so I reminded her all day that she wasn't allowed to talk, even with her quiet voice, or else Daddy or Nana would have to take her out of the room. I told her to save all her questions until the end. She did such a great job: when the nurse showed us all into the room (my mom, his mom and sister, my husband and Z all came too,) she started shushing ME when I tried to remind her of the rules! She shushed Nana and Grammelena when they'd quietly ooh and aah too. It was hilarious! And she didn't do anything to warrant getting removed. And after the doctor left, she asked me her saved-up question: "What was that yucky goo he put on your tummy?"

Oops. Still here. Honest.

Sooo.... it's been a while since I posted, yeah? And I left you with a question of how many buns do I have in the oven. [Begin A Chorus Line music here...] One. Singular sensation. Every little breath [he?] takes...
One baby. Apparently the right size, and a 'within normal ranges' heartbeat. That was determined at the ultrasound, what... 5 weeks ago? Sheesh. What a slacker!
Actually, I've been pretty depressed lately. Last time around, all my ailments went away. My clinical depression, allergy to citrus, lactose intolerance, migraines, acid reflux (although it came back the 3rd trimester,) and carpal tunnel all went away during pregnancy; they didn't start coming back until she was around 16-months old. Heaven. My husband called it a "Mary Poppins" pregnancy. No morning sickness, no varicose veins, no stretch marks. My flab did sag a bit, and apparently muscle mass turned into more flab, because while I lost my "baby weight" fairly quickly, my body LOOKS much saggier and flabbier than it did before. But I didn't balloon up like my mom, which was totally what I was expecting. Apparently I got my dad's more "skinny genes." Got my mom's chin and nipple hairs though, so ya' win some, ya' lose some.

This time around: no morning sickness, although I was getting a little nauseous at night. Carpal tunnel still around, although once it started up again, I immediately started wearing the brace, so it never got really bad. Acid reflux still here. V*E*R*Y gassy, same as last time, and boy does it STINK! (Also same as last time.) Still getting migraines, which kind of blows, since I can't really take much for them. More sinus pressure and pain this time around too (which is what causes my migraines.) Maybe that's due to the seasons. Last time I got preggers in September until June, so maybe since the Spring crud didn't all come out until my magical healing-baby powers were well underway, I got off easy. This time I got pregnant during the Spring crud season. Possibly still lactose intolerant, but I take a daily pill for that, and I'm still so gassy and crampy I'm afraid to stop. While I haven't been guzzling the lemonade and OJ (yet,) I'm not getting the sores on my tongue when I have spaghetti or pizza, or the occasional lemonade, so probably my citrus acid issue went away again. Yay! Man. Last time, my sister told me I needed to cut down on the juice, and ratted me out to my midwife, who scolded me too. But man. I looooove OJ and lemonade, and after years of having to endure excruciating pain in my tongue for weeks just to enjoy a glass, you can bet your bottom dollar that I chug-a-lugged it down! And will again! Suck it, bishes!
One weird thing this time is my lack of hungry. I had a cold early on, and had no appetite. One meal a day and I was stuffed. I wasn't hungry at breakfast, then ate a moderate lunch, and was still full by dinner time. And wasn't even feeling hungry in the middle of the night. A few weeks ago I started feeling hunger occasionally, so that's good. Since I kind of forget to eat if I'm not hungry. Lunch is the one meal I do regularly, since I have to feed her. She often eats breakfast while I'm in the shower, so I'm not eating then either. And Unka Seesee makes dinner most nights, so I sometimes forget to serve myself, if we're not all eating together.
Other than the depression, which makes it hard to do anything that I don't HAVE to do (like feed the Oompa-Loompa,) I'm soooooo freaking tired all the time! After a 12-hour night's sleep, I wake up and am ready for a nap. Seriously. And the Princess is starting to phase out her naps, darn her. She now only naps if we're in the car in the afternoon. So unless I want to risk waking the snarling beast, that means if *I* want a nap, I need to sleep in the car too. And I don't like to leave it running, since I could be sucking all the exhaust back in of it's not real windy out. So I leave a door open, to give us a breeze so it's not too hot. And I usually have a leg or two sticking out, to make myself more comfy. I'm sure we look pretty freaky. That's another reason I don't leave the car running. One time we were out napping in the driveway with the car running, and Unka Seesee came out and freaked. He thought I had passed out from the exhaust!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Cheesecake and Chums

Yesterday I went to Blogger's Night Out with some other local IF bloggers. Sunny from Sunny In Seattle, Jen from Despite the Best Laid Plans, plus an anonymous blogger friend. Katie from Taking the Statistical Bullet couldn't make it, for obvious reasons, if you read her posts lately. But we managed to have fun anyway!

Our Anonymous friend is now 17 weeks pregnant through IVF (I switched clinics for this round based on her recommendations when we all last met up in January.) I'm soooo super excited for her. Which is nice. It's so nice to be happy for once that someone is pregnant. It makes me feel less like a heartless, jealous, shrew. I'm happy that I'm happy. If my BFN had turned out to REALLY be a BFN, I can't promise I'd be any happier for her than I was for my sisters, but I was still a good enough sister, while still sad and anguished for myself, to still be happy for them. The bitches.

We talked about nursing, and not bothering to read the pregnancy books (I read Belly Laughs, Pregnancy Sucks, and The Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy. I looked up stuff in What to Expect, and read the assigned bits from Pregnancy Childbirth and the Newborn for my prenatal class, but despite my sister nagging me and thrusting 15,634,876 pregnancy books on me, I never read a non-humorous pregnancy book cover-to-cover during pregnancy. Oh. Well. I practically read all of Your Pregnancy Week By Week, since it was just a few pages every week, and it was kind of fun to see what the little zygote looked like as it turned into a fetus.) We talked about going back to work or not, and when did we decide. And she told us her baby names, but I'm sworn to secrecy!
We also had cheesecake! Sadly, I've had a really bad cold this past week, and pretty much no appetite. I've been eating roughly one meal a day, with some snacks (ie: daughter's leftovers/half-eaten cheese sticks.) I had TOTALLY forgotten about our night out, and ate a "large" breakfast at Shari's while waiting for my husband to get done with his visit to the Urgent Care Clinic. (He hadn't been able to hear out of one ear for two days from his version of this cold. Boo-frickin-hoo.) I had a pancake, 2 eggs (over medium. Yes, I know. Avoid "undercooked eggs." Sue me.) and 2 slices of toast. Then I managed to cram in a turtle sundae (turtle brownie with ice cream!) Hours later, at dinner with the ladies, I couldn't even manage my small hummus appetizer. And I was pushing it to eat half my slice of cheesecake. (I had them cut it in half and bring it on two plates so that the other ladies could try it without risk of catching The Plague from me.)

Tomorrow (well, technically today) I go in for my first ultrasound, to find out how many of my Maybies took. (and whether they *shudder* split. Apparently the act of IVF itself slightly increases the chances of monozygotic twinning (identical twins,) from the hormonal and ovarian stimulation. Then ICSI increases the rates again by some fraction of a percent. And Assisted Hatching doubles the microscopic chances. So, there's some (slim) chance I have more than 2 in there. On the plus side, then I could be done, done, DONE, and not want have to ever think about maybe doing IVF again!) So, based on my posting track-record, I'll probably get around to posting about it in a week or so! Cheers!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Every Silver Lining Has A Cloud

Well. After such a depressing post, you'd expect a little radio silence, yeah? The day after was my blood test at the clinic. I'd spent the day before yelling at myself and stomping on any spark of hope that the pee sticks were wrong. I spent the day I decided to stop peeing on sticks saying goodbye to my Maybies and yelling internally and stomping on any spark of hope. Then I went the next morning for my bloodwork, and again said goodbye to my Maybies as I waited for the walk light as I crossed from the parking lot to the clinic building. Slapping myself internally and putting the smackdown on any little niggle of hope. Every time I felt my breasts tingling it was like a cruel slap in the face. Which was all the time.
After the blood test, they said it would be hours before they got the results, and then would get around to calling me, basically, when they got around to it. "Then they do their rounds, so whenever they get to it..." Thanks. It's not like this is important to me, or anything. So I met my husband and daughter at her kiddie gym class, and we went out for brunch after. Some point before our food arrived (maybe even before we'd ordered. I can't really remember...) I get a call from the clinic. You know in those moves, where they do some camera zoomy trick where suddenly everything in the world is focused on one tiny little thing? That's how I felt.
It was my nurse, which was weird, since I thought she only worked weekdays. And she sounded cheerful. Could this mean...? "Congratulations!" Whaaaaaaaat? Seriously? "You're pregnant! Your number was at 147, and we're looking for anything over a 50." Oh. My. God. I was crying so hard, and I thanked her and hung up and couldn't even function. I knew that my husband was sitting there, and I knew what he must be thinking, but I couldn't even form a thought coherent enough to consider how to let him know the good news.
Until my daughter's voice asked, "Mommy. Are you sad?" I look over and her mouth is downturned in her little sad moue, and her lip is starting to quiver and her eyes are filling with tears. So I say "Oh, no, baby. I am so HAPPY! I am so happy there was just no room for my crying, so it had to all come out." My husband isn't an idiot, so he understood, and was also pleasantly shocked. My daughter was not convinced. So everything else took a back seat to calming her down. I couldn't really blame her, especially after she found me crying periodically the day before. Now whenever I laugh really hard she asks me why I'm crying. Poor thing.

It's weird. I'm totally thrilled and happy, but I'm also still all withdrawn. I don't want to talk about it. I don't mind people knowing. I just don't want the focus to be on me right now. I don't want to talk about it. I made him call his mom (I mean, she's his mom, after all.) If I could have gotten away with having him tell my sister, I totally would have. Luckily my sister was at my mom's house so my mom heard her side of the conversation, so that saved me having to make another call. And his mom told his sister, who had no cell service until she got back from her camping trip on Monday. I didn't call my stepmother-in-law until many days later. Mostly because I only thought about it while driving or too late at night, and I didn't want to text her.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Princess and the Pee Sticks

The home pregnancy tests say you can test 4-6 days (depending on the test) before your missed period. So if ER date is "Day 14" of your cycle, then one should be able to get a result around 10 days later, right? Even though the blood test isn't scheduled until 2 weeks after. I remember that I did a pee stick at the earliest possible moment last time too, and got a BFP! I Googled info on how long it takes for an egg to implant (9 days after fertilization, although my sister swears she "knew" when her first pregnancy implanted, and it was 3 days before her period was due.)

Around a week before the blood test, by nips started getting tingly. My boobies feel tighter and fuller. Ad at one point I absentmindedly glanced in the mirror while brushing my teeth and thought "Whoa! Those are big!" So I had high hopes. Same thing happened last time!
My plan had been to do a home test the Wednesday before my blood test (Saturday,) but I'd be at my sister's house, and she's been chomping at the bit. Screeching that she can't possibly wait that long to get results. Yeah. 'Cuz it's sooo easy for me. So I decided to go ahead and try Tuesday, so I might possibly have an answer for her before I got there.
Photo credit
4/26 - (Tuesday) - BFN. Well. Huh. The boobs were still sensitive, so maybe it's just too early. My sister began grilling me on my behavior. Had I been avoiding "offensive" foods like onions and garlic? Resting enough? Thinking positive? Excellent. So now if I'm not pregnant, it's all my fault, because I stayed up late one night playing Farmville. And offensive foods? Really? E-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g gives me gas. In fact, when I was pregnant the first time, WATER gave me gas. What exactly am I supposed to avoid?

4/27 - (Wednesday) - I went and bought a pair of ultra-sensitive 6-days-early tests. BFN.

4/28 - (Thursday) - Tried peeing in a cup instead of directly onto the stick, in case I'd somehow messed that up. BFN. Said goodbye to my little Maybies and cried in the shower.
Called the fertility clinic and asked when I should schedule a follow-up, on the likely chance that my blood test in 2 days will be negative too. (7 weeks after the start of injectibles.) And left a message for the financial counselor to find out if my insurance will pay again, or if we'll need another prior auth, etc. (Apparently my insurance limits to $25k/year, and she estimates we'll have around $10k left. It's too soon to know for sure, since it often takes 3-4 weeks for the insurance to respond to a claim. She kind of suggested that maybe we could wait until the yearly max resets next year. Yeah. I want to waste another 7 months.)
The nurse of course got my hopes back up again. After I'd finally let them go. She told me that my blood test is scheduled for the earliest possible day they'd expect to get results with a blood test. Um. So why do home pregnancy tests work early then? But now I could still possibly maybe be pregnant. Torture. I don't think I'm pregnant, but I can't let go and move forward until I know for sure. I so want to move on.

Started spotting at bedtime. Like a big red punch in the gut. Could just be normal. Could mean nothing. Could mean everything.

4/29 - More spotting. Still tingly boobies though. Had only bought 2 more home tests, and didn't really want to throw away another $10 just to get my soul crushed again.

Scared Little Z when she found me crying in the morning. "Mommy. I don't want you to be sad. [*tears welling up*] I only want you to be happy!" [*crying*] And all day she's been asking me if I'm happy now. And telling me that she's sorry that I was so sad "yesterday." (She is still struggling with the concept of time. Anything before naptime was "yesterday." If the sun is even remotely out, it's "morning." And if it's bedtime, then it's apparently also "morning.")

So depressed it feels like someone's sitting on my chest. The thought of someone bringing up my IVF at the moms club event I had committed to running today (otherwise I would have just played hooky and sacked out at home all day) makes me cry. Thinking about virtually anything at all makes me cry. Seeing the sun shining makes me cry.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

My Maybies

I've always found it funny that you are already considered to be two weeks pregnant just after conception. Not that you know yet, in most cases. On my Egg Retrieval date, I conceived twins, and I wasn't even in the room! Heck. I wasn't even in the same city! And they were already 2 weeks along!

We gnawed our fingernails for 3 days, waiting for the Embryo Transfer date. Based on our Day 3 transfer last time, and the lack of embryos to try and choose from this time, they were pretty confident in scheduling us for a Day 3 ET. But based on my poor embryo quality last time, and my even poorer egg numbers this time, my hopes weren't very high. I tried calling on Day 2 to get an update on quality, but all they could tell me was that the cells were still dividing. Well. Not bad news, at least.

4/19/11 - So we go in for our ET. Since we were scheduled for the afternoon, we were able to get Nana to come down and babysit, so we wouldn't have to worry about Little Z. Ironically, this time she could have been in the room with us, since it was a different area than the ER and we got to stay in our room the whole time. Ah well.
The ultrasound tech came in and checked my bladder, then had me drink more water and wait 5 more minutes. When she came back, all was well. Then we got to talk to the embryologist.
One of our embryos was 7 cells and the other was either 8 or 6, I can't remember. I think 8 though. And when we asked about fragmentation, she looked a little sad and said that one of them had 30% fragmentation, which was not good, since they don't like to see more than 20-25%. I could have whooped for joy. 30% was our best one last time. The other? 15%. I was so happy I cried.
The top one is the 30% 6 -or-8-cell one, bottom is 15% 7-cells.
Since they aren't babies yet, I called them my Maybies. 
For some reason they recommended transferring both embryos, even though my doctor told us initially that they usually only recommend one, since in her experience multiple embryos doesn't increase the chances of pregnancy, just the chances of multiples! We had discussed leaving the number of embryos to transfer open, based on quality, but that if we had a good one, we might just try one. Otherwise probably 2. And if they were really poor quality, 3 or more, just so they wouldn't get thrown out.
So I was mildly concerned about transferring both, since I got pregnant off a 30-40% fragmented embryo last time. Chances are good that they'd both implant this time. Last time, I was willing to have multiples. It would be hard work, but anything's better than nothing. But multiples on the way with a pipsqueak at home already? Hard. Harder than hard.
But my husband was leaning towards their recommendation, even though they couldn't tell me why they recommended two. Eh. Go for it. I'll go in on the 30th for a blood pregnancy test. It'll be a looooong week-and-a-half!

Bust an Infertility Myth: "It Will Happen If It Was Meant To Be"

In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week® (April 24-April 30, 2011,)  RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association is hosting “Bust an Infertility Myth Blog Challenge.” RESOLVE is the largest nationwide non-profit dedicated to improving the lives of people diagnosed with infertility.  
The goal of this challenge is to bring together bloggers from the infertility community as well as other bloggers interested in the topic to answer the question: 
What is the biggest infertility myth and how has it effected your life or the life of your friends and family members?

"...if it was meant to be..."
It's probably not really a "myth," per se, but it's something that just sticks in my craw whenever I hear somebody say something like it. Right on up there with "As soon as you give up, it'll just happen!" and "Well, you can always adopt!" [Not that I have a problem with adoption at all. But for someone who desperately wants a baby growing inside, it's just not the same. And not as easy as they'd make it out to be! I sure hope someone writes about that myth for this event!]

There are many variations. "God works in mysterious ways." "Don't worry! If it it was meant to be, it'll happen!" "If God wants you to be a mother, then He'll provide!" 
They probably don't mean to be insensitive jerks when they say these things. But what they're really saying is "God must not want you to have a baby right now, so suck it up." Oh, that's not what they think they're saying. But it's essentially what those types of comments mean. "You were clearly not meant to have a baby. Otherwise you'd be pregnant." 

Photo credit
With infertility treatments (and adoption,) you kind of need to be higher up in the financial food chain. So does that mean poorer people with infertility weren't meant to have kids? Because they can't afford the $10-$15k for IVF (or more, for adoption, surrogacy, etc,) if that's what they'd end up needing? People who would be wonderful, loving parents, but for some reason just can't conceive? I have to go deeply into dept and spend all our savings just to try and have the child those savings were supposed to be for?

Does that mean a woman who just doesn't ovulate wasn't meant to have kids? Or an infertile man? What if some accident caused the infertility? Or chemical exposure at work? I mean, it's not like we do something to cause our infertility. "Well, yeah. I know I did that so I wouldn't have kids, but now I changed my mind!" What did we do to deserve this? 

Does something completely beyond our control mean that someOne or something out there doesn't think we'd be good parents? Or is it more likely all the crud in our water and air and food that we've been exposed to in the womb, and by breathing, eating, touching our whole lives? Infertility rates are only increasing. Does that mean only the people who sleep with everyone in their trailer park are the only ones meant to have kids? The ones who don't take responsibility for their offspring? Drug users? Those on welfare who can't afford to care for the kids they have, but want more money, so keep popping them out? The ones who abuse their children? The ones who lock their kids in the car and back the car into a lake? These people are the chosen ones?

Many people have fertility issues simply because they waited a little too long. To meet the person they wanted to spend the rest of their lives with. Or to become financially stable. Or to be mature enough to be a better parent (than they would have been otherwise.) So Fate doesn't want people who can and will actually take care of their children to have them? This is all God's plan? 


The only "bright side" of having had such a hard struggle to have a baby is what kind of mother I am because of it. This isn't to say that I'm better than all other parents because of this. But I'm a better parent than I would have been otherwise. I read loads of parenting books to learn how to work with her, rather than against her.  Because I wanted it so much, I'm more patient with my daughter. She is truly a treasure to me. Again, not that other people don't love their kids. But at least compared to my sisters, I place a higher priority on my daughter's emotional and mental well-being than they do with their kids. They think I spoil her by holding her all the time. I think I'm accepting her more sensitive personality and working with her needs. I don't try and make her fit what I think my child should be, but work with who she is. Even if it's a little more tiresome than I would have liked. 

Another Myth:
"You'd be such a good parent! I'm sure it will happen!"
Sadly, the ability to be a good parent does not dictate one's ability to be a parent. 

Check out these links for a basic understanding about infertility and more about National Infertility Awareness Week®
And read about the other "myths" here!