Saturday, September 18, 2010

A happy ending

The ice cream truck doesn't frequent our neighborhood. When I was little, I seem to remember seeing the ice cream man frequently. In this neighborhood, I think I've seen him three times in total.

The first time was more than three years ago. I was about a week from starting stims for my first IVF and I was a mess of emotions. Conflicted, dejected, confused. The works. But that day, as I was feeling sorry for myself, hubby heard that horrid, canned music that only an ice cream truck can produce. (Why, exactly, is that music SO awful?) As soon as he heard it, he ran outside and bought us both ice cream. And it was so cute and made me happy.

Today, for only the second time in the five years we've lived here, we got ice cream from the ice cream truck. But today, hubby and I didn't eat any. Instead, I sat on the curb, my new son cradled, sleeping, in a baby bjorn and my beloved stickies absolutely enamored with the idea of getting ice cream. From a TRUCK! With RAINBOW sprinkles!

So, I just sat there and cried, my heart absolutely bursting with gratitude and love.

Throughout my journey with IF, I felt very sorry for myself quite frequently. Looking back, it feels so silly. So many people have been through so much worse. and in hindsight, the time we spent going through IF seems so insignificant compared with the joy I've felt since. I'll never know or understand why some people have things so easy, why others struggle, and why still others have to go through more pain and heartache than I can possibly imagine. But, those aren't questions I spend time contemplating anymore. Not like I used to. And for that, I'm so grateful.

Instead, I'm closing the door on this chapter of my life. In fact, as part of my c-section, I had my tubes tied. Can you imagine? Permanent birth control? Seems silly, really, since we couldn't conceive on our own for anything. But, frankly, I wanted the finality. I don't ever want to wonder "am I??" ever again. I don't want to pee on a stick. I don't want to wonder about late periods or symptoms. We have three beautiful children. Three years ago, as we ate our ice cream together, I never could have imagined that we'd be this lucky. And now it's time to move on.

I will likely not come back to this space. This is a catalog of a journey that has ended. Happily. Thank you for following me and supporting me. I can only hope that I've been able to support someone else as I've been supported here.

And, to anyone who stumbles upon this blog or who has followed my journey with me, I wish you much happiness and love.

Friday, September 03, 2010

And now, none of that matters

We're happy to welcome our new addition to the Sticky family. He was born at 10:40am today and weighs 10lbs 1oz and is 22 inches long. (So, while I may have been able to push him out just fine, they were certainly right on the money with his size.)

He's beautiful and we're both in love. I did have the c-section, but it's over and I can just focus on the future.

I feel happy We are so lucky, and very truly blessed.





Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Friday

I can't remember if I mentioned this, but I scheduled one last appointment with my OB for yesterday. You see, I had been cycling through different doctors in the practice, but there is one doctor whom I LOVE and whose opinion I really value, so I scheduled an appt with him yesterday. I'm so glad I did. This guy is GREAT. He speaks to you like a grown up--lays everything on the line and lets you make an informed decision. He doesn't try to sway, just very dispassionately lays out the stats.

Imagine! Treating you like you're an intelligent person capable of making an informed decision?

Anyhow, he was actually comfortable letting us schedule for next week. (In other words, he felt comfortable that we understood the risks and trade offs and was happy to let us make the call.) He also fully explained that, chances are, everything would be just fine. He was basically like: "look, in a majority of cases you could literally just show up for the delivery and have things turn out fine. In a small percentage of cases, things go wrong, and obstetrics is about managing for those cases."

How true! (I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm not about to not show up for appointments, but it was a refreshingly honest take that basically says: this is a normal, natural process. Sure it's not without risk, and we can help you manage that risk, but know that that's what it's about.)

He also very frankly explained: "hey, look, WE (doctors) would prefer to do a c-section. We know the risks and generally how to avoid them. There's more uncertainty with vaginal delivery particularly with a big baby. We can't predict shoulder dystocia and that's troubling. But, there's more to the decision. And, chances are, everything will be fine. People birth big babies all the time"

He also explained that the chances of shoulder dystocia are less than 1%, and of those cases, the chances of permanent damage are less than 2%.

So, it was a helpful conversation. It did what I wanted it to do--put the risks in perspective. He isn't hyberbolic, which the other OB in the practice was. (He was making all kinds of faces and was pretty dismissive of my questions. That, frankly, is what was putting me in a bad place.)

That said, hubby isn't entirely comfortable waiting until next week. For a number of reasons, I think he just feels like the longer we wait, the higher the risk of...well, of a number of things. So, we said we'd schedule it as late as we could this week.

So, Friday it is.

I feel SO. MUCH. BETTER. Just having talked to this doctor helped put me in a totally different space. Sure, I'm still not happy with the c-section, but whatever. I don't feel pressured into it; I feel like it's our call. And I feel like we're making an educated decision. And, yes, I do still hope I go into labor between now and Friday. But if I don't, we'll figure it out.

So, send labor vibes. And wish us luck either way.

Friday, August 27, 2010

That old familiar feeling

So, here I am, 39 weeks tomorrow with a baby who, by ultrasound, is measuring 9.5lbs.

The cutoff (according to my ob) for a c-section--regardless of VBAC--is 4,500g. A week ago, he was measuring 4,300g. I currently have a c-section scheduled for September 1. On the upside, I was expecting last week's growth ultrasound to show him at greater than 4,500g. It didn't, so I bought myself another week to possibly go into labor on my own. I felt really good about that for almost a whole 24 hours.

But then, of course, the reality of the fact that I have ZERO signs of impending labor started to set it. I've had virtually no contractions, no dilation, no losing of the mucous plug, nothing. (I mean, seriously, people? I had no labor symptoms with almost 14lbs of baby in me with twins and ditto for this. It's shocking that we couldn't actually MAKE a baby on our own because apparently babies find my uterus to be a place from which they have zero desire to emerge!)

So, to be honest after the initial 24-hour "I still have a window to VBAC!" high, I'm just feeling discouraged. I've gotten my mind set on a VBAC and now that hope is slipping away from me. And there are so many emotions wrapped up in that. (Including this incredulous "are you KIDDING me?!" feeling. I mean, what are the f'ing chances?! This c-section is absolutely not VBAC related. Seriously, people??)

Anyhow. For the past two weeks I've now been obsessively googling "signs of labor," and "ways to naturally induce labor."

Ummm....does that sound familiar? Obsessively checking Dr. Google for signs and symptoms that maybe, just MAYBE this will end the way you envision?

Yeah, so frankly, this is all starting to feel WAY TOO MUCH like all of those months I spent googling "early pregnancy symptoms." And, the desperation I'm starting to feel is eerily similar to that last cycle before my first IVF. At that time, I remember the raw feelings. The: "this is IT. My LAST CHANCE to avoid such a dramatic medical intervention."

I wanted that cycle to work so badly. Just like today, I want to successfully VBAC (and avoid surgery)...so badly.

But the thing is, as of today, I just don't want to feel like this anymore. I don't want to revisit those IF feelings, that desperation. Yes, I know this is different for SO MANY reasons, but for whatever reasons, it FEELS the same. And I hate it.

So, part of me just wants to say fuck it. Much as I DO NOT want to have a c-section, I don't want to feel this way anymore.

And so...for today anyhow...I give. I'm just going to mentally prep for a c-section and be done with it. I need to start focusing on how to make that experience as much as it can be and I need to stop thinking "are-you-fucking-kidding-me-that-yet-ANOTHER-random-and-highly-unlikely-fertility-related-thing-has-happened??" Because, that thinking is negative. And, really, look how lucky I am? I have two beautiful children and I'm lucky enough to have a third on the way. I need to STOP thinking that this is supposed to look a certain way and just say that we take different paths and it's fine.

So...that's what I'm trying now...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

There is no gray, only black and white

So, I had another growth ultrasound this morning. You see, at 32 weeks, this kiddo was measuring greater than the 97th percentile, so they're getting increasingly nervous about vaginal delivery. I went back today and--shock!--he's still measuring greater than the 97th percentile. (Why exactly was I the only one in the room not surprised by this news? Did they expect him to fall off the growth chart? And, if he did, wouldn't that be a BAD sign??)

Anyhow, it sounds like the general obstetrical recommendation is that babies measuring greater than 4,500-5,000 grams (somewhere around 9.5-10lbs) are at greater risk for all kinds of delivery complications, so OBs usually recommend c-sections at that point, regardless of cesarean history.

So, clearly that's where I'm headed. I have an appointment with my doctor tomorrow, but I can almost guarantee that he's going to recommend moving my c-section up to between 39-40 weeks.

Bla.

I'm not going to go against this recommendation, because god forbid something happened, I would never forgive myself. But I genuinely can't help but feel that these recommendations are based on a general CYA strategy, since there are only extremely limited correlations between size and things like shoulder distocia (which is what they're currently afraid of).

And I'm just pissed. The feminist in me believes, deep down, that these recommendations are those of a male-dominated world where we try to shut down and control women's bodies as much as possible to control for "risk." I'm not saying this is part of a deliberate anti-woman conspiracy, but I do think that the world would look a lot different if people make less of an attempt to control and more of an attempt to genuinely understand. For instance, I asked the doctor last week whether genetics played any role. (I was, for example, 10lbs, and delivered vaginally with no problems. And the smallest baby in our entire family--both sides--was my brother who was greater than 8lbs, and we were all delivered vaginally. I suppose that could be coincidence, but it seems much more likely that it's related to the fact that we make and deliver big babies.) He said no. I also asked if they had a sliding scale that accounted for a woman's height--I'm 5'10" and just have to believe that it's easier for me to push out a 10lb baby than someone who is 5'1"--he again said no.

Perhaps he's right, though the midwives in his own practice actually disagree with him, for what that's worth.

I think it's because doctors don't like gray areas. When a gray area appears, they try their hardest to make it black or white. And I feel like that's what they're trying to do here: paint my situation as an absolute when it seems so clearly to me that it isn't.

In the end, I just need to get used to this. Like I said, I'm not going to allow a feminist hunch to push me to ignore a medical opinion. If it were just me and not my baby, I'd be more inclined, but it's not, so there we are.

But it definitely is starting to get me all lathered up. Like I need man-made intervention for EVERY part of the baby making and having process. And I just don't believe in my heart that's true.

Whatever.

Also, if they ask me one more time if I'm diabetic, I'm going to slap someone. Check my fucking chart. I passed my 1-hour glucose screening. If you want me to take it again, fine. But the baby is big, and it appears to have nothing to do with my blood sugar or his. So, look somewhere else for an explanation of his size. (I recommend genetics, for what it's worth.)

Oh, and to add to the number of things that are making me feel crappy about myself, a new study came out this week that basically said that women who gain more than 44lbs (which I have) have a greater risk of big babies, and that big babies have a greater chance of long-term problems like diabetes and obesity. (Again, I don't know how much they controlled for OTHER factors, like whether the people gaining 44lbs were overweight to begin with--I wasn't--or what the family history for the diseases were for the bigger babies--we have none--but whatever.)

So, just for those of you keeping track at home: gain 35lbs, you're a wonderful mother with healthy children. Gain 44lbs, you're dooming your offspring to a life of medical problems. 9lbs apparently makes all the difference.

You see? Black and white.

So, to sum up: I'm cranky and uncomfortable. This "little" guy is huge. And I'm a horrible mother who is dooming her child all because she ate too much ice cream for 8 months.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Moving on and VBACs

I officially took my name out of the running for the job yesterday, which was a relief. It's stressful to think about something that you're torn about like that. Now, the decision is done, so I can just move forward.

In other news, I'm 34w5d today. When did that happen, you ask? Yeah, not quite sure.

Everything has been mercifully uneventful. He's huge, though--measuring about 4 weeks ahead. On some level, that makes me feel better because I swear I feel full term! I'm hoping it means he'll come just a little early, but in the end don't care as long as everything is fine.

I'm still planning to VBAC. Researching it has been really interesting, actually. I didn't realize just how rare they were. More than 90% of women who've had a c-section have a repeat c-section. I knew the number was high, but wow. That's really high. I ended up switching hospitals and practices for a more VBAC-friendly place. In the end, while I'm fully aware of the possibility of another c-section, I really want to increase my chances of success with a vaginal birth.

It's funny, at first my desire to VBAC was mostly driven by the desire to avoid surgery. Not that the c-section was horrific. (It wasn't.) But, I hate the idea of surgery and would prefer to avoid that kind of recovery again, particularly since I'll have two 2.5 year olds back at home.

As time has marched on, though, my emotions have moved from a simple "I don't want surgery" to a more intense, "I actually WANT a vaginal birth." (You know, as much as you ever want that sort of thing.)

I think it's related to a bunch of things--one, that I really feel like I can do it. Like it would be a real accomplishment.

But even more than that, it's more natural. So much of my reproductive history has now been driven by man-made intervention--IVF, c-sections, etc. When given the chance to let my body do what's it's supposed to, I start feeling...empowered.

I felt similarly about breastfeeding. I was hell-bent on breastfeeding the stickies for a year. And I did, even though for a while I had to pump every two hours to ensure I got them what they needed. But there was something that felt empowering to me about it. Like, *finally* my body was doing what it was "supposed" to.

And, the more I talk to (some) doctors, the more worked up I get about the pressure to do a repeat c-section. I know there is some risk to the VBAC, but it's really not so big that more than NINETY percent of women should be avoiding it like the plague. And, in a moment of rare doctor clarity, my ob explained that VBAC avoidance was really driven by a desire to avoid being sued. "You'll never get sued for doing a c-section," he explained quite candidly.

Isn't that MADDENING!?! That major abdominal surgery has become the norm because of a fear of LITIGATION, rather than because of medical necessity??

Anyhow, all of this makes me very happy to be delivering at a hospital that's committed to reducing the c-section rate. It's a big, reputable, university hospital, but they've publicly come out in support of reducing the c-section rate from 30% of all births--the current national average--to 15%. So they and my new doctor's office are very supportive of my decision to VBAC. (That's in part because I'm a "good candidate." Since I just never went into labor with the stickies, they have no reason to believe it won't be an uneventful delivery.)

Of course, the fact that I appear to be carrying a beast does raise some eyebrows. They're having me go in for another growth ultrasound on August 10 to see how big he's gotten. I don't really know why, to be honest. He was tracking at the 97th percentile. I just assume that's going to be where he ends up. Most of the babies in my family are enormous. I was 10lbs. My brother was more than 8lbs and has the record of the smallest baby in the family--of everyone (cousins, etc.). And we were all pushed out. So, I believe in my heart of hearts I can do it.

Of course, this is one of the reasons I love one of my midwives. At my last appointment, I asked her about his size and she said: "Yup, he's in the 97th percentile. That's big. But, so are you!" (I'm nearly 5'10".)

It struck me as a pretty good point. Also, we don't know how long he is. Let's say he's 10lbs at birth. Well, 10lbs and 19 inches and 10lbs and 22 inches look a lot different, no?

Anyhow. Here's hoping I go into labor naturally, and ideally before my due date. But most of all, that this little guy arrives healthy, happy, and without incident.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Timing is everything in life

I'm at a crossroads.

I think I mentioned before that hubby is in the process of launching a national organization, and that he needs to decide whether to headquarter it in DC or NYC. We've been torn about whether to stay or go for all sorts of reasons that I won't even go into. Instead, I'll tell you about the additional wrinkle that just came up about two weeks ago.

In short, a good friend of mine is trying to get me to take a pretty high-ranking job in NJ. In theory, I could take it and we could move to NJ and hubby could headquarter his organization in NYC.

But, it would mean that we would both have really tough, time-consuming jobs. We'd be moving farther away from family. We'd be leaving the kids' school--a place where they thrive and that we like. And we'd be leaving a nanny we love as well (who it looks like may actually commit to us for a third year, which is big for all kinds of reasons I'll get into later). And we'd have to do all of this within, say, 6-12 weeks of having our third baby.

Of course, the job itself is a G-R-E-A-T opportunity. If I were 27 or 30 or 32 and either unattached or kidless, I'd jump at it. It's possibly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Maybe not, but I have to assume it is because things like this just don't come up that often.

But I'm not 30. I'm not unattached. We have a family. We have responsibilities and two (soon three) little people that count on us for everything and who want nothing more than to spend as much time with us as they can. And I recently scaled back so that I can work part time from home, and it's working out great.

And the thing is, I love all of that. I love that I get to spend leisurely mornings with the kiddos without rushing out to work at 8am or earlier. And I love that this past school year, I was able to pick them up at lunch and got to be the one who put them down for their naps everyday.

So obviously, I have to pull my name out of the running for this NJ job. Uprooting the family so soon after the little bear arrives and making the transition for MG and SP to "big sister" and "big-brother" hood that much more complicated just isn't a viable option.

But, I can't lie to you; I'm so torn. I've never felt exactly like this. Even when I left my last job to take the work from home job I have now, the decision was easier. I had been at that job for five years and had extracted all that I think I was going to.

But now? Now I really feel like I'm at a crossroads. There are two paths in front of me. One heads in the direction of a lot of the career-related things I've been working towards since I graduated from college.

The other is focused on my family.

I guess I just never thought I'd have such a deliberate and distinct choice to make. I guess I just always thought that life paths were decided by the sum total of a million tiny little decisions that added up to one direction or another. And, while I'm sure thats also true, this is definitely a bigger, "road not taken" kind of decision.

I know it's the right one, of course. I know all of the cliches that tell me that, when I'm 80, this is the decision I won't regret. And I know how much I love spending more time with the kiddos now and having flexibility.

But it's still hard. It's hard to close the door on something I've worked so hard for.

I guess I just need to let myself mourn the loss and accept the unpleasant reality that, as an adult, the right decisions, while sometimes clear, are rarely easy.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Cliche

Today is Father's Day, which of course means that empty-headed celebrities get paraded out with their kids to talk about how becoming a parent has changed their lives.

I don't mean to be flip here, but is that not the least interesting thing to say about parenting? Yes, having kids changes your life. So does not having kids, by the way. And, as those of us who've been through IF know, not having kids actually changes the course of your life even more than having kids does.

Sure, my life is different today than it was before March 2008--before the stickies were born. But what if I hadn't been lucky enough to have them? Well, that would have changed my life--my aspirations and dreams and vision of the future--so much more. I would have had to rethink and envision a new reality for myself that took me down different paths and towards different destinations.

And, let's face it, for many celebrities, having kids doesn't actually change your day-to-day life much at all. They've got nannies and night nurses and all kinds of help to ensure that they don't miss a day at the gym or a tour or a movie premier or god-knows-what-else.

So, today, too all of the men whose lives have been changed--either because of the birth of a child or because the cards they've been dealt have forced them to envision a new path for themselves--I wish you all the best. It's your day.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

179

That's the number of my sister-in-law's beta from her first IVF. She has one son a little younger than the stickies that she conceived with Clomid--she actually got very lucky on her first clomid-IUI for that cycle--and she's been through four IUIs trying for another baby. And, well, we all know how that goes...

I can't tell you how nervous I was for her waiting to hear the news about today's beta. I really revisited all of those feelings leading up to the beta from our first IVF. It's been a long time since I revisited those raw "oh-my-god-will-this-EVER-work" feelings. And, let me tell you, it made me appreciate all the more how lucky we are and how lucky we've been since that fateful first IVF beta.

She doesn't go in for her next beta for a whole week, and then has to wait two more for her first ultrasound, so she's got a while until she gets more "data." With a beta like 179, she's in the "are there 1 or 2" gray zone. Of course, in the end she just wants a healthy and uneventful pregnancy followed by an uneventful birth. But I know she's really also hoping for twins. She never thought she wanted twins, but when you transfer two good embryos, it's hard not to get attached to both.

Keep your fingers crossed for her. I'm really hoping that she gets nothing but great news from here on out...

In other news, things here are going well. I'm in denial over the fact that I'm 29 weeks. 29 weeks?!? What? It's all very strange. But, things have been uneventful, which has been great. And, because it's a singleton, I feel like I rarely go to the doctor or get ultrasounds, so there hasn't been much to update. I'm growing more and more terrified of having three kids under three, but it's a good kind of terror. More exhilaration than fear, really. Mostly, though, I just feel lucky. (Oh, and f'ing HUGE. I've put on more weight than I care to admit and it's definitely bringing me down a bit, particularly since it's the summer and impossible to hide.)

Also, I'm actually planning to switch Obs. I really want to VBAC with this baby and think there is a better hospital and better ob/gyn practice. I met with one of the doctors there and just really love him. (Ironically, he's the doctor I went to for my first miscarriage back in 2006. I really liked him then, but didn't go back because I was spending so much time with REs. Then, when I got pregnant with twins, my RE--whom I LOVE--strongly recommended working with a practice that delivered at this one particular hospital where the perinatologist was second to none. So, that's how I ended up where I am now.

So, that's the news chez Sticky...not that I make any assumptions that there's anyone reading at this point, since I've been so silent (and sporadic) for so long! If you are still checking, thank you. I wish I've been better about blogging. I guess I just never really found my post-IF voice and often find myself at a loss! (Bitter and cynical suits me better as a blogger, I think. Is that awful? :-)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A weekend away...

I spent this past weekend in DC. It was our anniversary on Saturday, and we both had to be in DC/Baltimore for work, so we took advantage of the free travel and extended the trip to spend the weekend visiting friends and our old haunts.

It was great. We miss DC terribly. Not that we regret moving. Compromises are complicated and our move from DC, while a compromise, has been overwhelmingly positive.

But, still, our hearts are still in the town where we lived when we were engaged and married, and where I had lived for years before.

And it was wonderful to reconnect with a few very close friends who came to meet us. It made me realize how much I missed being near my girlfriends. You see, I haven’t really connected with anyone in my “new” town. I’ve been here more than four (really close to five) years, and for lots of reasons—including that I spend more time with family than seeking out friends, that I had a crazy busy job for all but three months of the time I’ve been here, and that I just am not convinced I connect with or have much in common with folks up here—haven’t really made social ties. It’s kind of strange for me, to be honest. I’ve never been somewhere—a job, a school, anywhere—where I haven’t at least met one friend. So, on some level, it’s been a little lonely.

On the other hand, having family nearby has been a godsend. Literally. I don’t know how we would have gotten through the first two years of raising twins without my parents, or hubby’s parents. And the connection my kids have with my mom and dad is priceless and worth whatever compromises we’ve had to make.

But, times are changing, as they always do, and it’s looking more and more likely that we will end up moving back down to the DC area. It will be, of course, a compromise. Leaving our family at this point will be both sad and painful to our daily routines. But, on the other hand, I think hubby and I will willingly get behind the move. We don’t love our state, we miss the DC area, and we would be very excited to be back.

There’s so much to tell about the weekend that I hardly know where to begin.

Saturday was our sixth anniversary—the third anniversary I’ve passed since I started blogging. Isn’t that crazy? That means I’ve officially been blogging for more of my marriage than not. Weird. It was nice to be back down in DC for this anniversary, in particular, though. We were able to connect with our old selves—the pre-kids and pre-absolute-and-total chaos selves. I miss those people. I’m so tired and high strung these days, and it has inevitably taken its toll on our marriage. (Not in an I’m-worried-that-we-might-not-make-it way, but it can still be very tough. And I miss just getting to “be” with hubby; just the two of us, just laughing and doing fun things free from daily chores and worries.)

While I was down there, I was also able to connect with one of my best and closest friends. She was my maid of honor and my roommate for several years. She knows me better than almost anyone and we just kind of get each other. I love seeing her; it always feels like no time has gone by and like I’m coming home.

But this time was a little different. This friend is 35 and single. (She’s beautiful and the greatest person I’ve ever met, so I’m not sure why that’s so, but it is.) She wants marriage and kids but just hasn’t found the right person.

Anyhow, she’s had to endure more sadness in her life than she deserves. She lost her dad at 16 and had to deal with a lot of turmoil after that. Has watched a cousin die of Lou Gehrig’s disease (awful) and countless aunts/uncles/grandparents die of cancer. Just very sad.

And,
because she has such a history of cancer in her family—all of her grandmother’s sisters died of either ovarian or breast cancer, several in their 30s—her doctor has been pushing her to be tested for the “breast cancer gene.”

Long story short, she has it. The doctors did a full workup and this baseline scan was clean, but they are recommending an immediate double-mastectomy and removal of her ovaries at 40.

This is awful in its own right, but complicated by three things:

  1. She’s single, but wants kids. So now she must decide, fairly quickly, whether she’s going to seek out a sperm donor and have a baby on her own and whether she’ll try to freeze some of her eggs (a very experimental procedure with no guarantees of anything),
  2. She’s dedicated her career to working in Catholic education and there is a nonzero chance that she would be fired if she did fertility treatments and got pregnant as a single woman, and
  3. If she switches her insurance company now, she runs the risk of never being covered again because this genetic discovery is a pretty serious “pre-existing condition.”

It’s so awful on so many levels and it makes me so very angry that I can hardly see straight.

As some of you know, I’m a HUGE supporter of Catholic education, so I’m not looking for piling on the Catholic church or Catholic schools.

But, I just can’t help but look at her situation and be FURIOUS. She just deserves better. More. She shouldn’t have to weigh whether she’ll lose her insurance—or her JOB—if she decides to pursue what may be her only chance to have a baby.

I don’t even know how to process all of this for her. I’m of course helping her try to look for jobs, and connecting her to my sister-in-law who might be able to give her advice on the medical side. But other than that, I just feel so helpless.I really wish I understood why such awful things happen to such wonderful people. I just don’t get it and never will. And I don’t understand how I got so lucky when so many others have to suffer so regularly.

So, for today, I’ll be thinking of my dear friend. And counting my many blessings.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Anatomy scan

Today was the infamous anatomy scan. I have to say, I was super nervous. I mean, ultrasounds always kind of make me nervous (and excited), but since the last one was so...well...iffy, I was just nervous that they'd find something troubling on this one.

The good news is, they didn't. Everything looks normal. Great, even. In fact, since the nuchal scan, the baby's risk for Down's has gone from my age-related risk of 1:350 (ish) to 1:750(ish) with the first round of scan/bloodwork, to 1:1,000(ish) with my second round of bloodwork (taken last week), to 1:3,500(ish) after today's ultrasound.

That's good news. Makes me sort of irritated that the tech ever raised the alarm at 12 weeks, but what can you do. I get that that's the risk of the early screening. I also get that this is only a screening and non of this means that my baby couldn't have something wrong. But the perinatologist said--very strongly--that she didn't think I need to do ANYTHING. (i.e.: no amnio, etc.) So, I'm taking that as a good sign.

I left the ultrasound feeling pretty excited, actually. It's finally starting to feel real. Up until this point, I've been really quite detached from this pregnancy. It still just felt very tentative. But, being back at the hospital where the stickies were born, seeing the little ones in the nursery, and thinking that we might be back there soon got me all teary.

And then, of course, learning that this little one is a little boy helped, too. Now I'm really picturing a little person. It's not just an abstract embryo or fetus, it feels more like a baby.

Of course, there's a scary part that goes along with that, but for now, it makes me excited.

I'm 1/2 through the pregnancy as of tomorrow. Getting closer everyday to viability. And to, I hope, meeting our little one. Hooray! One day at a time!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

2x2

My sweet stickies turned two today. Two years old. They've almost been with us longer than we suffered through any IF nonsense. And, I can honestly say that these two sweet, smiling faces do make the pain we felt fade away. Not completely, but pretty dramatically. I know that's in part because the pain we felt, while so raw at the time, is so much less than so many others have and are suffering through. And my heart still aches for everyone who's seen so much worse, and for everyone on at the beginning of a very long journey.

And, because of all of that, I can't help but look at these faces everyday and just be so very thankful about how lucky we are.

At the same time, I can't believe they're two. I really feel like we went from 0 to 60 in about 3 seconds.




Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Normal

First, can I tell you how much I HATE dealing with a "regular" ob? I miss the kindness and compassion--and, yes, the handholding--of both Smirky and my perinatologist. I feel like the nurses at the ob's office see so many "normal" fertiles and normal pregnancies that they just get nervous when an uptight infertile with a history of miscarriages calls the office.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself.

After last week's nuchal scan I called my ob's office to ask some follow-up questions about my normal-but-still-higher-than-we'd-really-like translucency measurements. I got transferred to a nurse and explained my situation:

"Hi, I had my nuchal scan yesterday and the translucency measurement was technically in the 'normal' range, but was higher than we'd like, so I'm naturally very nervous. I know that we don't get the full results until my bloodwork comes back, so I'm hoping you can tell me when I could expect the full results."

"What? Well...er...you don't get the full results until your next blood draw at 16 weeks."

"Well, yes, but I know that we get a risk assessment from these tests and I'd like to know what they are. You see, I'm 12 weeks pregnant and understand I can only get a CVS until I'm 13 weeks pregnant, so I really have less than a week to decide whether I want to go that route. And, I don't want to make that decision without the results of this test."

"Let me look for your chart."

Long Pause...

"We don't have any results yet."

"Yes, I didn't expect you would, but my measurement was higher than normal so I'd like to know when you will."

"Higher than normal? Well, I wouldn't worry unless it was lower than normal."

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"Yeah. I'm pretty sure that's wrong. Can you direct me to a genetics counselor?"

And that's how I ended up back on the phone with my fabulous perinatologist who both understood my concern and explained lots of helpful options, including the fact that I could call them Tuesday (today) to get the full results and discuss next steps. I heart them.

So, call today I did. Unfortunately, I got a woman on the phone who basically said, well yes, I have your results right here, but I can't GIVE them to you.

????!!!

She couldn't read me the results but instead had to fax them to my useless Ob. I'm sure there's some horrible privacy law about why they couldn't, but it was bullshit. I'm a person. Who's scared. And on the phone RIGHT NOW. Please just tell me whether I need to worry!!

So, I had to hang up and call my ob. I got another nurse...let's call her nurse snippy.

Me: (I open with the whole backstory above, but I'll spare you.) "So I'm calling to get the results."

Snippy: **SIGH** Hang on...

Snippy: The first part is normal, you'll get the results of the second part and your paperwork later.

Me: "Um...I don't understand what you're saying. Can you please explain it to me? I'm really scared about all of this and really want to understand all of it."

Snippy: *sigh* "The results are normal."

Me: Now on the verge of tears..."Well, can you at least tell me the numbers that go along with it?

She did. And then got off the phone quickly.

I hated her. I mean, I hate to bother your busy important schedule, but I'm scared sh*tless that something is wrong with my baby. A little bit of fucking compassion wouldn't kill you. Bitch.

The bottom line is that it seems like everything is "fine." The risk of the baby having Down's went to 1:710. (My age-related risk is something like 1:365 or 400.) And the risk of the other trisomies was 1:10,000.

So, good news. I will now not be totally assured until...well, until delivery, really, but short of that until my 16 week blooddraw and 18-week anatomy scan. But, I'm glad that my risk didn't trip a "quick get this girl an amnio STAT" radar.

Exhale.

Let's hope no more excitement lies in store for me down the road. I would like to hear "normal" over and over again between now and September. Here's hoping!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

In the high range of normal

When you've been through what any of us has--pregnancy, miscarriage, infertility, treatments, etc.--you want to go into every doctor's appointment and hear only one thing: "everything looks perfect!" Anything short of that--even if it's merely a less-than-effusive, "sure, everything's fine" will send most of us into a panic.

So, you can understand how I felt when the ultrasound tech was nearly silent for 40 minutes of today's nuchal screen and as she kept trying to jolt the baby into a different position by jostling my belly over and over again.

This was NOT the reassuring 12-week ultrasound I was hoping for.

The problem, apparently, was that the baby was lying in such a way that made it difficult to accurately measure it's nuchal translucency. She took a bunch of different measurments, each time getting something in the range of 2.8-3.1mm. (Apparently anything above 3.0mm is considered abnormal.)

Thankfully, she finally gave up and brought in another tech, who was able to take the measurements in about two and half minutes. He took three measurements in a row that put the thickness at 2.6mm. Better, but not altogether reassuring.

The good news is that everything else looks fine: the heartbeat was a strong 153bpm, you could see a four-chamber heart, a stomach, the bladder, the lungs, arms, legs, etc. And, you could see a clearly defined nasal bone, which is apparently a reassuring sign.

The second tech tried his hardest to be reassuring, but the damage from the first tech was done, and now I'm freaked. And, Dr. Google is even more useless than ever when researching this topic. I can find some info that suggests that any reading over 2.5mm at this point is high, some that say anything over 3.0mm is. Either way, this isn't the super-thin result that I think everyone wants to see.

I now have to wait at least a week until we get the results of my bloodwork back to assess the actual chances of this baby having a genetic abnormality.

Of course, I hope that everything comes back just fine and we can put this behind us. But, I actually suspect that the results will be inconclusive. Apparently the point of this screening is to get your risk down to something less than 1:1,000. The risk for my age (35 at delivery) is something like 1:350. I'm willing to bet I get something right around that number, which will tell me only that I should have skipped the damn test entirely. (Of course, there is also a chance that my risk will go up and that I'll see a number higher than that. Let's just hope that isn't the case.)

I'm still trying to process all of this--and to talk myself down. I just have to hope everything is fine. I'm sure I'll post something more coherent eventually. For now, just keep your fingers crossed that this little bean is just fine.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Exhale...

I have to say, I think I grow about 50 extra gray hairs in the 10 minutes between getting called back for the ultrasound and when we actually see something on the monitor. Today was no different. My heart was literally pounding out of my chest. It was RACING. I just wanted to get on with it because, at this point, I just wanted an answer. (Well, okay, I wanted a particular answer, but you get it.)

Smirky inserted the wand and very quickly poked around to see a lovely, beating heart. 148bpm--the exact same as one of the stickies back at that 7.5 week ultrasound.

I cried. It was like the release of 7 weeks worth of built-up tension. I have to admit that, while I did let hope in, I was having trouble envisioning anything but another "I'm sorry but..." conversation.

So, we're going to start the PIO weaning process this week--HOORAY for that. And I need to make an appointment with my OB to officially transfer me into their care.

I know better than to think this means we just sail smoothly to the happy delivery of a healthy baby, but it's certainly a good step in that direction.

I guess my next big milestone isn't until the nuchal scan, which if memory serves doesn't happen until about 11 or 12 weeks. It's going to be a long way until then!

D-Day

T-minus 70 minutes until the ultrasound. It's hard for me to sort out my feelings right now. It's a mixture of nervous, resigned, hopeful, and petrified. No matter what, this is the big one. A day rivaled only by beta #1 for it's meaning and finality.

Fingers tightly crossed for a heartbeat.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Reassuring

I remember the 5.5 week ultrasound from the FET this summer vividly. Smirky was almost silent. He poked around, showed that there was one sac. Looked for a yolk sac, took a few measurements, and said that we should come back in two weeks.

I remember asking if everything looked okay. He didn't say much, other than "there isn't much to see at this ultrasound." We were mainly confirming that the pregnancy was intrauterine, he cooly explained.

I left that ultrasound feeling pretty crappy--I remember talking to the nurse that afternoon and specifically asking about the yolk sac. Did it mean something ominous when we didn't see one? She took out my chart and explained that there was a small one, and there was nothing diagnostic that they could tell from that ultrasound, other than to confirm the presence or absence of an intrauterine pregnancy.

In hindsight, I realize that Smirky was being deliberately cautious. He never said, but I suspect he had doubts about that pregnancy from that day.

I'm happy to say that his demeanor today lies in stark contrast to the Smirky who scanned me this summer. He inserted the wand and we instantly saw the gestational sac and a clear, distinct yolk sac. He pointed them both out happily as he took measurements. I asked if things looked okay and he said, "everything is exactly as it should be. The measurements are perfect." For Smirky, that's high praise.

I go back in two weeks for the all-important heartbeat scan. I know we're nowhere near out of the woods yet, but I have to say that I feel better than I did at this point last time. I feel...hopeful.

Come on, l'il sticky jr! Hang in there. (Please.) You have two parents and two siblings who want nothing more than to meet you.

Monday, January 04, 2010

3,607

The levels continue to rise nicely--my level was 3,607 today (23dper). I wanted better than 3,000, so feel pretty good about that.

They're bringing me in for an ultrasound tomorrow--I was sort of hoping to wait a few days so there would be fewer days between this ultrasound and the all-important heartbeat ultrasound, which I assume will be roughly two weeks from tomorrow or Wednesday. But, it will be good to get a glimpse at things tomorrow to see how it's going.

All in all, I'm feeling almost hopeful today. Come on, sticky jrs!

(PS: I realize these updates have become quite utilitarian. I'll try to be more clever soon. :-)