The rest of our hospital stay.

The last two weeks have been a whirlwind. I’m sitting here writing listening to the soundtrack of my breast pump churning and wheezing and the little peanut is across the room cooing in her Rock N’ Play (which has been a Godsend since this child won’t sleep in many other places). I’m hoping that her little chirps are just indicators of sweet dreams and not the signs of her waking as I’m not even close to being done everything I intended to work on this afternoon.

Plans.

Go.

Out.

The.

Window.

When you have a newborn.

I mean, I knew that. People told me that.  But – I still thought my child might be different.

I can’t believe she has been out of my body for more than two weeks. Three weeks ago, I would have struggled to recall what life was like before my big belly. I didn’t remember what it was like to be able to paint my toenails, or shave in the shower, sleep on my stomach, or savor the rich taste of a glass of merlot. Now I’m struggling to recall what those tiny kicks felt like, or the weekly drives to the doctor’s office for my nonstress tests, or the round fullness of my pregnant belly.

I miss it SO much, sometimes.

Don’t get me wrong: I love that she is lying across from me. I love her tiny noises, the way her mouth curls up into a smile randomly (and then uncurls just as I grab my phone to take a picture), or the way she purses her lips with milk dripping from the corners when I pull her away from my breast.

I love how she wags her head and shakes her fists when she doesn’t get food fast enough: it’s like she is already demanding a space for herself in the world…asserting her needs…helping me to understand life on her terms.

But its not the same as when she was inside. She’ll never be as safe and secure. I’ll never be quite as full of life. We’ll never be physically connected ever again. And that made me just a little sad when it all finally set in.

The first night home from the hospital was hard.

Well, the hospital itself was hard.

Hadley was born at 7am, and I didn’t get to hold her until about 6pm that evening (I think…everything was a blur at that point due to the sheer exhaustion of having been awake for almost two days straight with short cat naps in between). They wheeled me in to see her in the NICU for the first time around 9am, I think. I watched her through the glass dome of her incubator and was only able to hold her hand and push her pacifier back in when she began to cry (which made ME cry). The soundtrack of our first official meeting was the bubbling noise of her CPAP machine, and all of the beeps from the monitors she was hooked up to. She had a tiny bruise on one hand from where they tried to insert an IV but failed (and she had one to match on the other hand once they finally removed her IV).

I asked if I could hold her and the NICU nurse scolded me: reminding me that she needed that time in the incubator and that the doctor would tell me when I could hold her.

That was so hard. She was MINE – just mine – for nine months. I knew her rhythmic kicks and she knew my heartbeat. And all of the sudden she belonged to a NICU nurse and I was simply a visitor.

I had a really tough time with that entire experience. I felt like I didnt know my child when she came home from the hospital and it hit me like a ton of bricks when I finally considered how traumatic her departure from me was after her birth.

My labor was so fast and intense and she came rocketing into this world quicker than I had a chance to process. Then she was whirled away to be measured and assessed while I delivered the placenta and got stitched up.

I was so bone tired that I didnt really process what was happening:

That we didn’t get to delay her cord clamping to give her a few extra minutes to build up her iron supply.

We didnt get skin-to-skin right away to give us a chance to bond and get to know each other.

I didnt get to feed her right away to help us bond and help my milk supply to come in faster.

I really didn’t “meet” my daughter until much later.

I joked that they could have taken my baby and given me back another and I wouldnt have known the difference.

That sounds horrible, doesn’t it? What mother doesn’t instinctively know her baby. But I felt like I didn’t. And that made me very sad.

I know everything was done in her best interest. I know she is healthy and more importantly – alive – because of the efforts of that medical staff. But it was still hard and emotional.

Before she was released from the NICU, I was able to see her four more times. That evening around 6 they allowed me to feed her after a lactation consultant visited me in my room earlier in the day for a lesson on breast feeding and pumping (thank God for that woman because breastfeeding is harder than it looks….more on that, later).

We went back with both sets of our parents later that night and again in the middle of the night to breastfeed. We went back for one final visit the following morning to feed her and give her a bath. I thought I knew how to bath a baby, but apparently there was more to it than I knew (like: wash the face first and dont use the same part of the cloth to wipe their eyes twice).

Around 4pm that next day (Sunday as I would later learn…what a blur of a stay) they brought her back to my room. She was all bundled up in the standard hospital blanket with a purple knit hat. I still wonder who made that – it gave me some comfort that she was adorned with something cozy and personal during part of her NICU stay.

They let us know that night that her bilirubin levels were high (which means that she had some jaundice) and they recommended phototherapy which commenced on Monday and earned us an extra day in the hospital. Fortunately, they allowed us to “room in” with Hadley so we didnt have to leave her and we were all able to go home together on Tuesday.

If you’ve never experienced phototherapy for a newborn: it looks cool but is actually torture. She had to lay on the equivalent of a bright tanning bed with foam goggles and she had to be naked (sans a diaper) and be swaddled down to the surface of the light board.

She hated it and cried hysterically all day, which led to us frequently picking her up to feed and comfort her which led to an extra 12 hours with the light when they came to re-test her later that night. In the middle of the night she was pretty much over the whole ordeal and cried hysterically at which point I said, “screw it” and swaddled her (against the rules since her swaddled skin wasnt exposed to the light). She slept soundly for two hours at which point I woke up in a sweat, terrified that I hadn’t heard her in two hours (the longest we’d gone with silence before that on the light treatment was about 20 minutes) and I was to find her not breathing. Both she and my wife (who was sleeping on a cot next to her) were sound asleep. Evidently the swaddle session helped her to reset and I was able to get her to sleep for the rest of the night without any major issues. No more two hour stretches but I think she slept for an hour at a time which was great.

I was super nervous for her morning blood test after basically removing her from the light for two hours, but I wasnt torturing the kid any more than she needed to be: we all needed that sleep and she desperately needed that comfort after the rough start to her life.

Fortunately she passed both that as well as the following blood test and we were discharged that afternoon.

That Monday (the day of the phototherapy) was HARD. I didnt leave the room all day and it rained so it just left me feeling very down. It was also tough because we had almost hourly checks from various hospital staff throughout our weekend stay, but that stopped on Monday when I was discharged and just “roomed in” with my daughter. The peace was nice, but when you have a newborn (especially a sick one) it is nice to just talk to other people. It helped me maintain sanity and normalcy: even though I didn’t know any of the staff particularly well.

When I got home from the hospital I cried a lot the first few days. I thought I would transition gracefully into motherhood: I’ve wanted this my ENTIRE life. But everything made me cry. Signs of my pregnancy like the big U-shaped pillow on the bed that had been my best friend for the prior two months. Or the look of my deflated belly in the bathroom mirror complete with stretch marks that I hadn’t really seen as they were on the underside of my belly prior to Hadley’s birth. It looked like a basketball that had been used too hard in its final game and was now deflated – sitting on the sidelines.

Even the sight of Hadley’s bedroom made me sad. We decorated it in hopeful anticipation and having her home was so scary: I didnt know what she wanted or needed in those first few days, and everything was so overwhelming.

I also wasnt making enough for her to eat which was nerve wracking, and likely was related to the fact that I didnt feed her for the first 12 hours of her life. I’m still struggling with breastfeeding, but I think that warrants it’s own blog entry.

Despite all of these challenges and the hecticness with which her life started, the love I feel for this child is indescribable. Even though I get so overwhelmed when she cries (mostly because I never truly know the reason), I know that the reasons are so basic: food, sleep (or lack thereof) and comfort. That’s basically it. She is so innocent and full of possibility and hope and I want to keep that alive in her forever. I want to meet any need that she ever has before she has it. I want her to see the world as beautiful, and kind, and loving. I want to ensure that she never knows hunger or pain or heartache. I want to wrap her in my love every day for the rest of her life.

I guess that’s what  being a parent is, right? Loving and supporting your child through everything, and taking the bad moments on the chin: knowing there are more good ones to come.

If that’s not it: let me know when you figure out the secret, will you? 😊

In the interim: some pictures of our little love:

 

39 weeks: almost at the end.

When I last left off writing, I was getting ready to go into battle with a giant mosquito and a serger. Bug lovers….cover your eyes for this part:

The mosquito met an untimely demise. Hey, it was either me or it, and I’m not savvy (or fast) enough to go find a jar and somehow manage to catch it and slide a paper underneath it and release it outside. And anyway: I don’t want any mosquito born illnesses either. So I squished it with a fly swatter and that was that.

The serger made out better. I threaded it in about 10 minutes, and quickly whipped up a knit receiving blanket, followed by a baby hat and finally a pair of pants.

Alright, so I made the blanket that day, the hat a few days later, and the pants about a month and a half after that, but I did it. whalepantshatblanketI am hopeful that the pants will fit well and plan on making more. It was a pretty cool pattern I found from a website called Baste and Gather and the pants are called “Baby Got Back” as they have an extra panel in the rear for babies with larger cloth diapered booties. I have heard that some pants fit poorly with cloth diapers so I’m excited to try these!

(P.S. the whale pattern that is going one way up one leg and the other way down the other is um…intentional. Yes, I meant to do that 😉 )

http://www.basteandgather.com/blog/free-sewing-pattern-baby-got-back-leggings-for-cloth-diapered-babies

I then made another set with a head band, knot cap, and a big receiving blanket to match a set I had seen online for about 4x the price. I thought it would be cute for photos in the hospital as I’ll have a somewhat-matching navy blue bathrobe to wear in the hospital. We still aren’t sure if babes is a boy or a girl, but are ready to go with a little bow just in case. I figured a BLUE bow would somewhat be breaking stereotypical gender norms, right?

bowhatblanket

 

So we are at Week 39. Overall, I’ve had an uneventful pregnancy (which is just fine by me since the rest of my life has had enough events for me AND baby). After the shower, I started to get nervous that some symptoms that showed up would be staying for the remainder of the pregnancy (I had some pretty severe pain in my left rib at one point, heartburn, and some back pain while sleeping) but everything ended up being mild and short lasting. I feel like one of the luckiest pregnant women. I am actually really sad that its almost over.

Tomorrow will likely be the last full day with baby inside. They are inducing me tomorrow evening due to the single umbilical artery (the recommendation is to not exceed your due date with this diagnosis and since I’m due on Sunday the latest they wanted to have the delivery is Friday – hence a Thursday evening induction).

I’m feeling a decent amount of pressure. I had a doctor’s appointment this afternoon and they did a membrane sweep along with my standard cervical check. I’m hoping that helps to bring on labor without the drugs: I’ve heard that pitocin inductions are much more painful than regular deliveries.

Doctor said that I’m 80% effaced, a little more than a centimeter dilated, and that baby’s head was pretty low. In fact, both he and the doctor who checked me last week said they could touch the baby’s head during my cervical check. I’m not sure if that’s normal or not, but I can totally feel that pressure when I walk or sit.

This baby has been so chill throughout my pregnancy, though. They move regularly enough for us to feel comfortable that they are safe (though we did have a “scare” or two that was quickly quelled by our doctors and a brief kick count), but I haven’t had anything crazy. I’ve heard of women being woken up in the middle of the night. This baby has done that maybe three times this entire pregnancy. The kicks are usually pretty gentle and always make me smile.

I don’t know if I’ll feel differently after delivery, but I really think that after we complete our family (which we are still discussing how/when we want to) I’d like to be a surrogate for another couple who can’t have their own baby: particularly a gay couple if I can. I think it would be something wonderful that I could do with a body that seems to tolerate pregnancy relatively well, given the hardships we’d encountered to get here.

I had no gestational diabetes, my blood pressure has been excellent, I’ve felt great, I didn’t gain a TON of weight (though I did increase six pounds from last week to today which is odd given my overall weight gain of 40 pounds) and I just think it would be a cool gift for another couple. Again – may feel totally different in a few days after giving birth, but it’s a thought for sure.

In the meantime, I’m thrilled to meet this babe and absolutely terrified of labor. I don’t tend to tolerate pain well, and I’m just so afraid that I’ll chicken out and not be able to go through with the vaginal delivery. Women have told me that you find strength that you didn’t know you had during the labor process: I just hope that is true for me, too.

We finished the peanut’s bedroom. I’m attempting to incorporate some minimalist concepts into our lives, so even though we already have a lot of baby “things” as a result of our shower, we’re really trying to minimize any other nonessentials that we bring in to keep down the clutter and focus on things that really make our lives better. I’m happy with the neatness of the room and am hopeful that we can keep it this way as baby grows. I love to watch YouTube videos featuring minimalist lifestyles – some of it is a bit too advanced for me, but I love incorporating as much as I can. I welcome any suggestions that any of you may have! Would also love any cloth diapering tips if any cloth diapering mamas follow me here.

(please ignore the backpack and items on the floor. I was packing the babe’s hospital bag and really just wanted a quick picture before I finished this blog.)

babysroom

 

I really need to get better with my updates. Wishing you all well and I can’t wait to update this blog with a birth story and vitals on the baby after tomorrow.

xoxo

28/29 Weeks

I have been so bad at keeping up with this blog. I always wondered why people dropped off writing after they were able to successfully conceive. While I still don’t have the answer, I am going to guess that it’s a combination of fatigue (oh you all: it’s so, so real), investment in planning and preparation (though I must confess that I haven’t made it all the way through a single baby book, yet, and the baby’s room is still a hot mess with no crib – long story – and piles of unwashed clothes and baby gear all over), and just general chaos.
I’m currently starting this entry on my Kindle as I’m parked in a beach chair with my toes in some densely packed, damp sand under a fishing pier at a beach not far from my in-laws home in South Carolina. I figured: no excuses. It’s now or never (or more accurately now or 32 weeks or whenever I set aside the rest of my chores to write again))). This is devotion, though. The keyboard on a kindle is larger than my phone, but smaller than a regular keyboard so typing is awkward and I can’t balance it on my belly because every time I set it down the baby must wind one of its limbs back in an effort to shove the device out of its space. I’m not complaining, though. I waited all morning for one of these kicks and began to grow panicked when the first one arrived later than it did the last two days. I swear: some days it feels like my life revolves around drinking enough water, peeing, and waiting for that next kick (but it NEVER grows old). Every one is still magical and even though this kid has been nestled in close for almost 7 months, I still can’t believe that I’m pregnant and I feel so freaking lucky every morning when I wake up.
This week, the baby has been in five different states. We started out at home on the east coast (drove to a neighboring state to catch a flight to the Midwest where we spent the next four days for work) then we caught another flight to South Carolina (and had a layover in between). I really want to plan to travel often once the babe gets here. I didn’t travel much as a child and I want this babe to experience everything we can expose it to. We actually even planned the nursery around that idea and have an assortment of map prints and a beautiful blue and gold globe with which to decorate the nursery.
We haven’t had any big scares since the SUA diagnosis at 20 weeks, and that feels like a distant dream, now. But every so often (such as this morning) when baby’s movements seem irregular, my wife and I both tend to panic and I lay on my side and grab a cold drink and hold my belly waiting for kicks.
Babe moved pretty regularly this week during my travel (which was a blessing since I tend to worry even more without my wife there to calm me) but when we arrived at her parent’s house (where she was waiting for us after a flight she took earlier in the week) the movements got stronger than the rest of the week and I really do wonder if the baby was happy to hear her voice after 4 days away from her. Whenever she puts her hands on my belly she tends to elicit some kicks, too. What can I say: babe loves its Mommy.
(I sound so horrible calling my baby an “it” but he/she takes longer to type…please know that our little “it” is loved profusely. ❤)
My colleagues at my travel office threw me a shower when I was in town this week. They told me I had a short meeting at the end of the day and had a conference room waiting with cake, a guessing game, gifts, and adorable Oreo truffle favors that one of my favorite co-workers made.
They were even kind enough to ship everything back to my office for me as I grew increasingly panicked with each beautiful gift that I opened that I wouldn’t be able to find a home for it in my small carryon bag (I’m a good packer….but not THAT good!)
Our families are throwing us a shower next week. I honestly prefer to be surprised, but they felt like it would be easier to plan if they didnt also have to worry about figuring out how to surprise me with an elaborate story.
If you live in the US, you probably know that Babies R’ Us is going out of business. My wife and I stop in weekly as the sales climb and have already bought a lot of what we need. She is starting to get overwhelmed thinking of the additional piles of STUFF that are going to flood the house post-shower. I suppose we will figure it out.
My wife is incredibly neat, a minimalist, and cant stand when things get messy. After a small disagreement a few weeks ago when we both started to get overwhelmed by how we’d fit everything for baby into our – already crowded – two bedroom condo, we decided to rent a small storage unit. It helped tremendously, but now we have to make sure we dont amass too much more just because we have the unit to fall back on.
Anyway: at 28 weeks (now 29 as I am finalizing this post the next day and officially turned 29 weeks today). Babe is supposedly the size of a butternut squash and weighs 2.5-3.5 lbs. (Which is unfortunate to read since I gained about 20 lbs so far…) It kicks pretty regularly now (except on days like yesterday when we have dry spells and I freak out) and we have learned that it either loves or hates live music (I like to think it loves it) because whenever we hear live music it starts kicking more than usual.
I still feel pretty good for the most part. Every so often I have cramps for a few minutes at a time, and I have this pain in my left rib that comes and goes and based been on what I’ve read I think it may be costochondritis which is inflammation of the cartilage(?) tissue in my ribs. Some days it is unbearable, but stretching seems to help and it isn’t consistent which is nice. Sleeping is getting harder (especially this week since I haven’t slept in my bed for 7 days now), but overall I really cannot complain. As long as this babe is healthy, I’m happy.
Leaving you with an obligatory  beach bathroom shot. I forgot to ask my wife to snap a picture in this full outfit with the hat while we were out so I grabbed one before I jumped in the shower. I’ll try to get a few more before we wrap up our trip.
20180525_141709
Xoxo
Jenn

A nightmare in a dream.

“So everything looked great today,” the ultrasound tech said as she wrapped up our anatomy scan. “But I do have one TINY concern. Nothing to worry about at all. I’m going to have the doctor talk to you before you leave. Your baby is supposed to have two arteries and one vein going into the umbilical cord, but it only has one. No big deal.”

My heart sank.

I felt the way my niece must feel after she falls or bumps herself and I scoop her up and tell her she’s fine before she has the chance to react or cry. Stunned. Confused. Not worried? Kind of worried. Panicky.

My wife and I looked at each other, and I think my eyes started to well up a little. “Seriously, you guys. Happens all the time. Practically normal. You’re VIP today so I’m going to grab the doctor and he’ll come out to get you in the waiting room.”

My brother-in-law happened to work on a play with one of the doctors of this particular MFM practice, so he called her and asked if she could help to ensure that we were placed with my sister-in-law’s favorite ultrasound tech (since she just had my niece two years ago and basically knew them all.)

My wife and I walked silently to the waiting room, and I began frantically googling once my butt hit the chair.

Still birth.

Heart defects.

Chromosomal Abnormalities. 

Low birth weight. 

Kidney problems. 

My face must have registered my panic. “You need to turn your phone off and stop googling, now.” My wife glared at me.

By the time the doctor called us back, I already had a list of questions ready. He explained that while Single Umbilical Artery (SUA) is often found in conjunction with other problems – including chromosomal abnormalities – it is often found on its own and in those cases it is simply a variation of normal. Pregnancies progress with no problem and babies are born perfectly healthy. Of course, if SUA is caused by another factor: it could lead to a host of other problems, but he recommended a fetal echocardiogram and monthly growth scans and sent us on our way.

“Do you think we should hold off on buying the crib?” my wife asked. My eyes welled up. “I mean, just in case…you know…”

Nope. No way.

This is my baby. This is our baby. There are no guarantees with pregnancy. Ever. If this child isn’t meant to be ours forever, it is at least ours now and I plan to prepare as though it will live a very long life. And that means purchasing the convertible crib we picked out that will follow our child into adulthood once it turns into a full sized bed.

(Side note: it still took me a month to buy the damn crib, but not because of the SUA. I’m partially indecisive and partially a procrastinator, but the crib is officially on order as of two days ago.)

evolurparker

An appointment with our regular OB the following day, provided more of the same information.

Variation of normal.

Early testing showed no signs of chromosomal abnormalities.

Fetal echo and growth scans will help us monitor things.

A week later, we went in for the fetal echocardiogram which was done at our local MFM by a pediatric cardiologist from one of the leading children’s hospitals in our area, and she said that baby’s heart is looking PERFECT and she has no cause for concern. She confirmed what two other doctors (and my best friend, a Nurse Practitioner) all also confirmed: this appears to be a stand alone case of SUA with no other complicating issues, and we have every right to hope for a normal pregnancy and birth.

(although my friend added that we should likely not expect to go past my August 12th due date, as research suggests that babies with SUA should be delivered on or before their expected due dates to prevent further complications and since we are 100% certain of the due date because of our IVF procedure, I can expect that we’ll be meeting this kid in 113 days or less).

What a rollercoaster ride pregnancy is.

We started out fearful. Afraid to get our hopes up. Anxiously waiting.

For the 12th week.

For the heartbeat.

For the kicks.

For the week of viability.

And throughout that process, the little milestones set your heart on fire. Those first kicks. (oh, those first kicks). Those ultrasound pictures. Those sweet little baby belongings that pile up in the guest bedroom (that is really no longer a guest bedroom) waiting to be washed and sorted and put into the baby’s closet and drawers.

Then you get some kind of crazy news. Either a health problem for you, or a potential complication for baby.

And if you’re lucky, it resolves itself.

Gestational diabetes.

A hole in the heart.

A cyst.

Hypertension.

Sometimes it doesn’t. If you’re lucky, you still get to walk away healthy at the end with a sweet little babe to raise.

Then there are the ones that don’t walk away. Either at all, or with a baby. And those hurt my heart and scare me the most.

Bu then you feel another kick.

And everything feels right in the world.

Overall I feel so incredibly blessed. I have wanted this experience for longer than I can remember.

My mom said that when my sister was born [I was 17 months old at the time] she would find me trying to “breastfeed” my own dolls like she would feed my sister. When I got a little older, I would stuff a rolled up blanket under my shirt and tell her I was pregnant.

When I got older, still, I got this doll: it was Magic Nursery doll (shout out to my fellow 80s/90s mamas!) and it came in this pouch that you could wear on your belly (like a backwards backpack of sorts) and when you pushed a button it would mimic kicking sensations). I mean…in retrospect, it was probably a bad idea and maybe contributed to the rise in teen pregnancy rates in my generation…but I thought it was SO AMAZING and anxiously awaited the day when I’d feel it for real. I was like…8-years-old, y’all.

My sisters and I used to play “house” all the time as well. I was ALWAYS the mom, and had a plethora of children of assorted ages.

I get that having a baby is half of the process. Raising a human is the larger – inevitably more important half – and over the years, my dreams of baby kicks and snuggles grew to include teaching a toddler about being kind, and teaching a elementary school child to learn, and love art, and volunteer. Now my dreams even include watching a young adult graduate from high school, college, grad school, and whatever level of education and reach any level of success that his/her heart can possibly dream of: enjoying life and friends and art and culture and every piece of joy that the world has to offer in the process.

But first, I can’t wait to snuggle them.

And now…I can’t wait for that next kick.

Every day I realize how lucky I am. I try to remember to say a prayer of gratitude every night (not always successful, but I’m working on it). This was my dream. This IS my dream. And I am so thankful for it all. And with that, I leave you with what was my favorite printed shot from the anatomy scan session.

babyfoot

(have you EVER seen such a cute little foot?)

Here comes the 2nd trimester…and the stomach bug :(

Even though I watch my belly daily for signs of growth: poking and prodding it, hoping that the baby will show some sign of life in between these now – very distant – ultrasound visits;

Even though I open the Bump and Baby Center apps weekly: eager to see what new feat my baby has conquered since the prior week, and how many precious milimeters and fractions-of-an-ounce little one has added on over the last few precious days;

Even though work and life have kept us as busy as ever….

the 2nd trimester has actually kind of snuck up on me. I can’t believe I’m 1/3 of the way through this pregnancy: especially since I don’t feel pregnant at all half of the time.

I imagines what I would look and feel like at 14 weeks, and I wasn’t envisioning fat, tired, and still pretty nauseous.

Of course, acquiring the stomach bug this week wasn’t a huge help with that. My sister and her kids had it about 3 weeks ago, and we thought they were all clear when they came to visit last weekend, as they’d been asymptomatic for weeks, and feeling pretty healthy overall.

I saw them Friday, Saturday, and on Superbowl Sunday and by Monday afternoon both my wife and I were feeling a little under-the-weather. She felt worse than I with a fever and chills, but we both felt pretty nauseous.

[I should probably add here that I have a pretty severe case of emetophobia – or an intense fear of vomiting – and I’ve had it for as long as I can remember. I can’t stand vomiting, or seeing/hearing others vomit…which has made for a few pretty interesting plane flights earlier this year. Seeing/hearing others get sick makes me shake and sometimes cry and it’s something I’ve really been working on tackling over the last few years. Yes, I know kids vomit. Yes, I know my kid will vomit. No, I don’t know what I’m going to do about that yet. Here’s to hoping I can work my way up from spit up. Anyway, I haven’t thrown up in about 20 years – aside from maybe 2-3 times when I was drinking heavily and don’t really remember the act of getting sick – so everytime I get any kind of stomach bug, I lay down and breath deeply until the feeling passes.]

Thank goodness our home has two bathrooms, because around 7pm the virus took both of us down. No amount of deep breathing was stopping anything. And just as soon as it started, it passed…and left a low grade fever and very sore stomach in its wake.

In a way, the experience was actually kind of nice – hear me out – as I have had this intense fear for 3 decades now, and it’s been YEARS since I’ve experienced the act of throwing up. I think this experience helped me to feel a TINY bit less fearful, and more compassionate toward others who get sick (the fear is so intense that in addition to being shaky and completely upset, I get angry at the offender – as if they could control it. I know – it’s crazy), and I was kind of glad that if we both had to be taken down by something that severe: that we could have the experience BEFORE kids came along.

We both took as good of care of each other as we could, and it helped us both to hone in on our motherly instincts.

I mean, if it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger…right?

This experience also helped me to realize that my pregnancy nausea isn’t nearly as bad as it could be, although now every time I feel nauseous I’m terrified that the virus is making an ugly return, so I just kind of want to experience this 2nd trimester relief that I’ve heard so much about.

So far, my belly just looks fat: I’m eager to see it round out more so that my coworkers and strangers stop looking at me like I can’t control myself around donuts (I mean, I can’t but…) and I’ve gained 8 pounds, which is really making me get upset with myself, but I keep trying to remember that this will all be worth it. In the meantime, I just bought a stationary bike from a local yard sale and am going to try to get more active on a daily basis: I think it will be good for me and for baby.

We are beginning to toss around nursery ideas (leaning toward a grey/white theme, or navy/gold…any suggestions one way or the other? We want something gender neutral as we won’t find out the sex until baby gets here…)

I am also eagerly waiting to feel some movement. I swore I felt a kick earlier this week, but nothing since which leads me to believe that it may have been a muscle spasm or gas.

There are still moments when I have to stop and remind myself that this is all real, and pray that it won’t be yanked away. I envy women who get excited at every milestone. I am always fearful that the next will never come.

But then I think: we made it this far…why NOT us?! And I keep hoping and praying that a healthy little nugget is still growing inside me: kicking away, and that one day soon I will feel them.

Love and hugs to everyone for healthy continued pregnancies, sticky embryos, successful stimming, and good news all around.

Jenn

 

It’s been a while!

All I do is work, work, work, no matter what…

Today I am packing and preparing for yet another work trip: another four days and four nights away from my wife, puppy, and comfy, familiar bed.

While I sometimes enjoy traveling, it just isn’t the same when you share the giant king size hotel bed alone. Somehow I can never position the overstuffed pillows the way my own rests under my head, and the other side of the bed is cold and flat, instead of warm and curved under the weight of my wife’s curled up, sleeping body.

It’s going to be the first of what is looking like four trips over the next three months.

dont-make-me-go

…but, as I told my wife yesterday when we got into a small argument about all of this traveling I’ve had to do (she HATES staying alone), we have to take the good with the bad when it comes to my job. I work in sales training for a fairly large company, and these trips are to help facilitate training sessions for our new hires.

The problem is, this is somewhat of an “add-on” to my everyday job (I also manage a group of anywhere between 10-14 people…at least, this year) and I have to leave that team to help with these training sessions, and I never saw a pay or title increase when I took on this added responsibility last year. So she wants me to push for more, and while I agree and plan to address the topic with my boss when I see her in person next week, I also feel like I am losing a bargaining chip when I announce my pregnancy, as I will be unable to commit to travel in the later part of this year, and will also need time away from my regular group (and I am the only person available to supervise and train them).

Any strong negotiators or badass lady bosses following this blog who have any advice, here?

Speaking of the pregnancy….

I’m 10 weeks, six days today. We’ve met some milestones since my last post. Last week, we officially graduated from our fertility clinic (a bittersweet moment, and I only cried a little…) and were FINALLY able to stop the progesterone shots, 2x/daily estrogen, and baby asprin.

I told my wife, I still sometimes put off brushing my teeth at night, because I sometimes forget that I don’t have to take a shot immediately afterward anymore. It’s been kind of glorious.

We are two weeks from being out of the risky first trimester and being able to tell our friends and extended family about the pregnancy. I have to admit, though: every day until then will continue to be a struggle.

I never considered how hard the first trimester may be. Not just because it is typically when most women experience the worst symptoms (though I’ve been quite lucky and have just been mildly nauseous and ridiculously tired); rather, you can’t yet feel the baby, hear a heartbeat, or have any inkling that they are alive other than ultrasounds. You don’t really FEEL pregnant (and sometimes I forget there is a tiny person living inside me). We were very fortunate and super spoiled to have had ultrasounds weekly throughout most of the first trimester. When we had our first OB visit yesterday, they were incredibly warm and welcoming and put me at ease right away, but they explained that neither a fetal heart scan, nor an ultrasound would be part of our first appointment, and I began to freak out a little since I’m headed across the country without my wife for the next few days and just want to know that I’m traveling with a living tiny travel buddy. They were so kind and understanding and squeezed us in for an ultrasound at a local radiology(?) facility, and I had my first trans-abdominal ultrasound (visualize a light shining down from the heavens and a chorus singing “ahhhhhhh!”), during which we saw baby moving around and his/her heart beating furiously at 155 BPM. The picture was not quite as clear as our prior trans-vaginal ultrasounds, so I am attaching the photo from last week (during which baby’s hand was at his/her mouth as the Doctor suggested…or perhaps they actually look like one of the Whoville Who’s from Dr. Seuss’ books…time will tell).

LO

I want to soak up every moment of this experience, but I’d also like to fast forward by a few weeks and feel some kicks, or SOME sign of a healthy, growing baby on a regular basis.

So…bring on the next ultrasound at week 12! We’ll hopefully hear the heartbeat and see another image of this sweet baby, and hopefully be able to put our first trimester fears behind us.

Love and baby dust to all. ❤

The two week wait: again.

Today we are 2DPT (or days past transfer for anyone new to the IVF lingo). I forgot how difficult this period of waiting was. Before we get to that, though, let’s talk transfer.

The transfer: 

Our transfer was the day after Thanksgiving here in the United States – on “Black Friday” (a.k.a. shopping heaven or hell – depending on how much you like deals or dislike people). My sisters and I usually make an early trek out to a few stores to start our holiday shopping, with the exception of last year: as I was busy getting married. This year, our anniversary fell a day later; however, the date of our transfer happened to be another special occasion: my in-law’s wedding anniversary (and odder still, the day we will get our pregnancy test results will be my parent’s wedding anniversary.) I think many people would attribute that to serendipity, but I hope there is something even more special and meaningful behind it all. I hope this process works and we get that good news on a day that’s always been special in my family.)

The second transfer was significantly easier and less painful than the first. We arrived at the clinic an hour ahead of time so that I could have an accupuncture treatment (I had read that it is helpful, and when I asked my clinic about it, they actually said they recommend it and share the name of a local acupuncturist who frequently visits their facility to perform day-of-transfer acupuncture treatments.

The woman we met with was amazing. She brought my wife and I back into the room together for the treatment, called me “love” and “dear” and kept asking if I was warm and comfortable enough. She put the acupuncture needles into my feet, hands, abdomen, forehead, and the top of my head, and explained that it helps to increase blood flow to the uterus and can increase the success rates of IVF by up to 13%. I am pretty skeptical by nature, but since my clinic recommended it (and they are very science/evidence based in their practice) I figured it was worth the $250 we spent on an in-clinic treatment. Afterward, the woman hugged my wife and I, and told us to let her know how our procedure pans out. It was such a loving and warm way to kick off the transfer, and I think it may have been worth it for that hug alone.

The acupuncturist told me ahead of time to stay hydrated the morning of my treatment. The clinic asks you to arrive at the time of your treatment with an uncomfortably full bladder, but since you have an hour of acupuncture ahead of the actual procedure, they suggest going to the bathroom on arrival and then making sure to drink throughout the procedure so that it’s filled again for the transfer.

Long story short: the receptionist ended up having to give me about 4 cups to continue letting out a little at a time while I waited for my actual transfer to start, as I was apparently too hydrated. I kept only going a little at a time as I was afraid to go into the transfer with a bladder that wasn’t full enough (and the receptionist gave me a few evil glances when I kept asking for cups and assured me that I’d be scolded by the doctor), but when I got up on the table to start the transfer, the doctor told me that it was still too full and that she couldn’t get a good read, so she asked me to go again, and I was literally SO comfortable after that, after having sat with a painfully full bladder for about 30 minutes prior to the procedure starting. I guess I am also used to the range of tools that pry open, poke, and prod my lady parts as I watched this entire procedure (unlike the last time when I couldn’t bare to do anything but wince in pain and barely glance up at any of the images) including the beautiful image of my hatching 5AB embryo after having been fully re-hydrated after spending a few months in the freezer. I could make out every part of the ultrasound screen: my bladder, my uterus (and the lining) and even the catheter going in, and eventually the tiny embryo flashing out at the tip. It was magical compared to the last experience.

Lesson: they tell you to have a painfully full bladder, but literally: a glass of water should do the trick. My pain was totally unnecessary as I was able to walk in completely comfortable once my bladder was the size they actually wanted it to be.

After the procedure, we went to lunch (we ate in the car so I could recline a bit and stay warm), and then I went home to nap on the couch, do a little online shopping, and finally go over to see my parents, sisters, my nieces, and even my cousin and her daughter who are currently living with my parents. It was a really nice night surrounded by family.

As we were getting ready to leave my parents house, I asked my 2-year-old niece if I could have a hug. She usually ignores me or tells me “no” but she ran up with a huge smile and flew into my arms, and I was so caught off guard by her spontaneous affection that I stood up with her in my arms and hugged her tightly. As soon as I assumed the standing position, I remembered my clinic discharge paperwork about not lifting anything heavy, and I looked at my wife and waited to be scolded (she really makes sure I follow all of the orders) and I went home afterward and cried – thinking I may have just cost us the entire procedure because of an unexpected hug. My wife comforted me as I fell asleep crying (I’ve been more emotional than normal these last two weeks anyway, but was pretty hysterical on Friday night). I asked my nurse about it in the morning when the clinic called to check up on me and she told me that she wouldn’t think twice about it. She said that the instructions are important, but when it comes to lifting she said it was more important for women coming out of retrievals due to the size of their ovaries and potential to injure themselves. She said that the microscopic embryo is well protected in my uterus and that I shouldn’t worry about picking up a two-year-old one time.

Has anyone else ever messed up their orders or done anything you thought was going to jeopardize your procedure? What did you do?

Symptoms: 

After my first transfer, I felt very light period-like cramps in the middle of my abdomen around the time I was going to bed the day after my procedure, and they came and went periodically in the two weeks that followed. So I have been cautiously watching and waiting for those cramps, while also reminding myself that this could feel different and that every attempt may not yield the same symptoms for the same person. (No cramps, yet). It’s just so incredibly hard not to compare, and it’s basically impossible not to worry everyday: especially after the last time.

After the cramping commenced the last time, I also got really sore breasts – another symptom that hasn’t kicked in yet, this time.

All I’ve really had this time is some light abdominal aches and pains, but I don’t know if it’s implantation, gas, or even just my hopeful imagination.

My wife is very against taking a home test this time, due to the last outcome (we tested early, got a faint positive, got really excited, and then got a low initial beta followed by an eventual miscarriage). I am on the fence – part of me thinks it will help to ease my unsettled mind and/or help manage my expectations, but another part of me knows very well that it could crush me. We will likely end up waiting (just another week at this point) for the actual results from the clinic.

It’s just so hard: part of me wants to hope and dream, and get excited (and I do) and another part of me is so jaded by what happened, and fearful of an outright failure of this cycle altogether, that I know that hope will only lead to a more heartbreaking end, if this does – in fact – end negatively. It’s SO HARD not to think that way.

In the meantime, I have one last work trip that I leave for in two days, so I am going to try to let that distract me and get through the week and take the clinic test on my parent’s anniversary and hope/pray for good news.

We welcome any extra hopes and prayers.

This is working. This embryo is growing. This is going to be good.