Friday, April 18, 2014

Birth Story

I was a complete slacker about posting during this pregnancy.  Let's just say this pregnancy was a piece of cake compared to my pregnancy with the twins (where I had preeclampsia, horrible swelling in my legs, carpal tunnel to name a few things).  The hardest part was being so huge that the boys slid off my lap when trying to read them books (my IVF twins are 2 1/2).  I was still carrying them around at full term and going strong.  Getting in and out of bed was tedious, but not too bad, all things considered.  I stressed out because I didn't feel the baby moving a lot toward the end.  I Googled too much and my mind raced with fears about cord compression and other risks.  I worried she was breech and the doctors didn't know.  I stressed every time I got a gift that I would never have this baby and how would I return the gifts.  I never got an ultrasound after my 20 week one; quite a contrast from the twins where I got an ultrasound almost every appointment.  I was never sick and generally felt great the whole pregnancy, other than the mental fears that I don't think you ever get over after experiencing infertility.  

At 38 weeks, I was content to be pregnant.  As my due date neared, I was ready to meet my little girl and was done being pregnant.  I had more severe Braxton Hicks contractions around 39 weeks and then some cramping contractions.  Some series lasted a few hours and I sometimes wondered if "this was it."

I was scheduled for a non-stress test and cervix check at the doctor on 3/25, which was almost a week past my due date.  The night before, I began having contractions around 11pm.  My husband and I went to bed around 11:30pm and I told him, "this might be it" but also thought they might go away given that's what they had been doing.  I slept until 1or 2am and then was awoken every 15 min. with contractions.  I picked up on the regularity of them and starting timing them using an app on my phone.  Eventually, I couldn't sleep.  I went in the bathroom, painted my nails, cleaned up clothes in the closet, etc.  I took a shower around 5am and told my husband that I would be shocked if "this wasn't it."  The contractions were fairly painful, but I had a good break in between and they lasted about a minute.  I decided I would go to my regular doctor's appointment that morning and figured I would end up going to the hospital after that so I packed up all my bags and got ready to go.  My husband had an important meeting that morning and I originally thought I would drive myself, but as the time got closer to leave, I wasn't sure it was safe to drive while having contractions.  So, my husband cancelled his meeting and drove me to the doctor.  It started snowing that morning - this is the end of March on the east coast...very late for snow, but we got 4+ inches that day.  We got to the doctor and they did the non stress test, and baby looked fine and withstood the contractions fine.  The contractions seemed to slow down when I lied down. They checked my cervix and said it was still very posterior and had trouble even getting to it...thought I was maybe 1 cm at best.  I was really discouraged by that considering all the Braxton Hicks in the previous weeks and the fact I had been having contractions all night long.  My doctor said I could go to the hospital but if I didn't progress in a few hours they would send me home.  I didn't want to do that, but it was also snowing and we live 30 min. away.  We decided to go back to go home.  As we drove, it became more and more difficult to withstand the contractions in the car.  My husband would stop and I would get up and face the back of the truck.  I couldn't sit down.  I went up to my father in law's house (I couldn't go home and have the twins climbing on me) and was very tired from being up all night.  I tried to lay down, but when a contraction would hit, I had to be up.  I had to stand up and lean over and hold on the bed and just sway back and forth and breathe and count.  It was so difficult to get in and out of bed.  Also when I laid down, the contractions slowed down.  On one hand it was nice, but on the other, I knew I was just delaying things.  So, I got up.  I watched the snow fall and the cows come up to the fence (my father in law lives on a farm).  I looked at the cows and felt sorry for them, knowing they had to go through this every 9 months and if they didn't breed, they went to town.  What a tough life.  We probably got 4 inches of snow that day.  My contractions got to about 4-6 min. apart.  They were closer together, but not lasting quite as long.  I was in pretty bad pain, but didn't want to go too soon and be told the same thing; that I wasn't far enough along.  Finally, my husband said we better go.  On the way, I called the doctor's office to tell them I was coming and asked that the NP that checked me that morning be able to check me again (they wanted an apples to apples comparison).  On the way, the contractions got closer and closer together; about every 2-3 minutes.  About half way there, my husband said we aren't going to the doctor; we are going to the hospital.  I didn't disagree by that point.  My controlled breathing and counting had turned into major groans and I could feel the intensity of things picking up.  As we pulled up to the hospital, we were trying to figure out what to do with our car; it said 10 min. parking and the lot was far away. On the way, I didn't know if I had lost more of my mucous plug (which started coming out when she checked me that morning) or what had happened, but I knew I felt wet (turns out my water broke).  When we pulled up to the hospital, I told my husband to park the car and I was going to find a bathroom.  As soon as I got out of the truck, a contraction hit and I had to stop outside in the snow and get through it.  Two women came up to me and asked if I needed a wheelchair.  I told them no.  The last thing I wanted was to sit down.  The overrode me and said, "GET HER A WHEELCHAIR!"  I sat after that contraction and they took me in the lobby.  They asked if I wanted to wait for my husband.  I said yes.  Then another contraction hit and I got up.  They said, you need to go up to labor and delivery; we'll tell your husband where you are.  When we got up there, I saw my doctor and he asked if I had been back to the office since I saw him that morning.  I said I was planning to, but things progressed and thought we better come here.  They weighed me and tried to do the normal things like make me pee in a cup, get in a hospital gown, ask questions and do paperwork.  None of that happened.  I basically just took off my pants, my doctor checked me and said that I was at least 8 cm and almost complete. He felt it was really borderline about getting an epidural.  Part of me wanted to just do it with no drugs; I had come that far. but the other part felt like I didn't know if I could take much more.  I was on the fence until the next contraction hit and my husband basically said, "I think you should get it" and I agreed.  So the anesthesiologist came in and it took about 15 min. to get the epidural in.  We had to pause between contractions.  Once I had the epidural, they checked again and said it was time to push.  I didn't feel like I needed to push yet.  I still felt every contraction, but they were a little more bearable.  I think it did help with the pain I felt from delivery.  So with each contraction they told me to push.  I felt like there were a million people in the room and no one was helping me except my husband.  One nurse was telling me some things, but I had to tell them a contraction was coming and basically ask that they help me with my legs.  They were literally taking my fingerprints in between contractions and doing their computer work.  I didn't feel like I was pushing effectively, but my doctor seemed encouraged.  So I kept going.  Finally I felt the head and my doctor said you can probably deliver her on your next push.  That was the motivation I needed.  So I pushed with all my might and here she came.  I felt this amazing relief as she exited my body.  They put her up on my chest and I saw my husband cut the cord.  I was in complete awe of her.  My doctor pushed on my stomach to try and get the placenta to detach and he and my husband began telling the doctor what happened with my placenta the last time; that they had to be manually detached (it was an AWFUL experience and caused lots of blood loss the last time so we were praying it didn't happen again).  He stitched me up (level 2 laceration), while they waited, and I tried to concentrate on my baby.  Then he pushed some more and the placenta was delivered and he said it was whole.  The crowd seemed to exit and the baby was with us and one nurse getting info in the computer.  I nursed her within about 45 min. after she was born.  She got 9/10 and 10/10 on APGAR.  She weighed 7 lbs 14 oz. and was 20 inches long.  The staff seemed pretty disorganized, but I guess I put them in quite a tailspin coming in so late.  

I felt amazing compared to my delivery with the twins.  My Mom brought the boys to the hospital that night to visit.  One of my boys didn't like the hospital gown that I was wearing and the hospital bracelets and IV.  He did like the baby.  The other twin didn't want to see the baby.  It was going to take some adjusting with the boys.

I immediately felt so in love with this baby.  Everything seemed so calm, controlled.  Her little cries were the sweetest thing ever.  She nursed like a champ from the very beginning. I am usually a Type A stress case; and I felt so wonderful and relaxed with this baby.  So relieved she was here and healthy, and calm from being an "experienced" mom having done this before.  One baby versus two makes a HUGE difference.  

Will post more, but in general, I feel so incredibly blessed.  I feel like this little girl was just meant to be.  None of our embryos were girls; it wasn't in the cards, but somehow God brought her to us.  I cannot wait to see who she will become; she is bound to do amazing things.  I cannot even believe I have three beautiful children and just a few short years ago, I didn't think I would have any.  The silence in my house was deafening; now I feel like wearing earmuffs to drown out the 2 year olds racing around the house with their firetrucks and four-wheelers.   

Life is so complicated.  I still feel tremendous guilt for being "on the other side" when I know there are so many people who are struggling.  I have heard from a few people, mostly impacted by balanced translocations, saying my story gives them hope.  I am so, so glad.  That is what I want most...for people to know - I was there.  I was you.  I had all but given up.  And now I have three beautiful children.  Stay strong.  God has a plan.

She's here!!

Our perfect, little miracle baby, Brooke, made her debut on March 25th weighing 7 lbs 13 oz and 20 inches long.  I am completely in love.  Birth story and more to come...

Monday, November 18, 2013

Amnio normal...23 week update

I never got a call from my doctor's office the week after my amnio as expected, so that Friday (exactly 1 week later), I decided to call.  The woman with whom I was supposed to talk was out of the office, so I figured I would have to wait out a long weekend until Monday to hear anything.  However, she called back on her day off and told me they had preliminary results that were normal and the baby doesn't even have the balanced translocation that my husband has.  Completely normal.  HUGE sigh of relief and awe in amazement that this is even possible!!  She explained they didn't have quite enough results to call them final though.  So, on Monday I called back, and nothing...Tuesday nothing, finally Wednesday they said everything was final!  Those were a long few days. I think the final actually came on Monday but there was some miscommunication.  Also, I kept asking to confirm if the baby was a girl and my conversation  kept getting interrupted/sidetracked, so I anxiously awaited the results in the mail to see that "XX."  Finally, 3 weeks later, it came!

I had my 22 week ultrasound last week and everything is on track and baby is looking great - just measuring a few days behind my due date.

I had a wonderful friend (who has 2 beautiful girls) give me all her little girl clothes and crib bedding.  Seeing those adorable, tiny pink outfits is just amazing and exciting!

I had one of my first moments that completely caught me off guard shortly after my amnio.  I was driving by the local ballet studio and standing outside were all these little girls in their leotards and tights.  I had a pit in my throat and my eyes filled with tears.  Being a dancer and gymnast growing up, and knowing I was only having boys, I never thought I would have a daughter who I could possibly take to dance class.  Gulp!  So, so special beyond words.  That being said, I'm sure she'll want nothing to do with dance!  : )

I am still overhwhelmed at the thought of three kids.  I am utterly exhausted at the end of the day with my two 2 year-olds and I pray to God I will have the patience to be a good Mommy to them and my baby girl.  I can tell my patience and temperament toward them (and my husband) are so much worse when I don't get enough sleep, so I can only imagine how the first few months will be. That being said, I am in complete amazement every day that my body is actually working, that my husband and I were able to make this baby without any assistance, and just feel God must have wanted this for our family.  I am nervous about the short run, but so excited for the dynamic of having 3 little children...2 that I gave every ounce of blood, sweat and tears (and money) that I didn't think I have to bring into this world, and this special little girl who is a complete miracle.  Feeling so grateful, and though I don't think anyone is reading this blog anymore, if you are and you are still fighting the fight, hang in there.  Breathe, take the time you need, but dig deep and fight if you heart is telling you to continue.  I truly believe in miracles...and I can tell you that if you hit the re-wind button on my story, I didn't think I would have ANY kids, nevermind be buying a minivan for 3!  I heard these stories, but never thought I would be one of them "on the other side," but here I am.  It is possible.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Amnio update (and IT'S A GIRL!)

So, I did it.  I had the amnio this morning.  And I found out that the baby is likely a girl!  I never thought I would have a girl...all our "normal" embryos were boys, so this is exciting!

The amnio was actually much less painful than I was expecting.  The doctor was cool and calm (a little too relaxed), but that helped me to be calm.  I watched the baby on the screen and could see the needle inside my stomach.  As a sidenote - I was surprised at how high up on my stomach he inserted the needle.  It was less than an inch below my belly button (I guess my uterus is up that high already?!)  The needle going through my stomach didn't hurt hardly at all (probably less than a blood draw), but once it went through my uterus, there was some pressure.  I could feel some pressure as he extracted the fluid and it wasn't necessarily painful, just uncomfortable, and kind of "ok, let's get this thing out of my stomach" kinda  feeling.  Afterwards, I had to get a RhoGAM shot because I am Rh negative.

Hubby and I still had/have mixed feelings about the whole thing.  We have a great chance that the baby is either balanced or a non-carrier, so we kept asking ourselves why the heck are we doing this?  I guess it comes down to the fact that we don't know for sure and we have been on the wrong side of statistics throughout our entire journey.  So, we closed our eyes and jumped.

So far so good.  I do feel like I may be leaking a little fluid (underwear feels damp), but no big gushes and no cramps that they warned of.  Fingers crossed everything is back to complete normal very soon.

And now the waiting game begins.  I am in the middle of potty training my 2 year olds so that has kept me very busy (and tired) so hoping they will help the time pass more quickly until we get results.  7-10 days...tick tock...

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Amnio - deciding whether or not to have one

Decision, decisions...  I have spent much of the last 2 weeks waffling back and forth between having an amnio or not.  We had a great nuchal ultrasound at 13 weeks.  Baby looked great, very low risk for all the age-related risks (e.g, Down's, Trisomy 13, 18).  I thought if I got a good ultrasound that I would feel ok proceeding without more invasive testing.  And then I start reading stories about people who had normal ultrasounds, but their babies were born with horrible conditions.  Some lived a few days, some a few months, one as long as 3 years.  I know people feel differently about these things, but for me, if the baby had a condition not compatible with life, I would rather end things now than put myself and our whole family through that type of heartache.  That's part of the catch, though.  We can do an amnio and find there is an unbalanced chromosome situation, but if everything still looks fine on ultrasound, would I really be willing to terminate?  I am not so sure.  The doctors tell me if the baby is unbalanced, and physically looks fine, they will definitely have mental issues, but they cannot tell me how severe.  So how the heck am I supposed to make a decision??

Here is more of what I have learned in my research and what weighs in on my decision:

  • Amnio miscarriage rate is no longer 1% as published is so many places.  It's more like 1 in 200- 1 in 400 and less if the doctor is experienced.  My doctor's office indiciated that they quote 1 in 500 and that is very conservative.
  • My doctor's office feels that any miscarriages associated with amnios are likely because there is already an underlying infection or complications present.  They do an indepth screening and won't perform the amnio if conditions are not ideal (they even question having a cold).  
  • Cost - we are able to get a discount, but even then the amnio will cost north of $1500 which we pay out of pocket.
  • Peace of mind - something in my gut tells me everything is fine with this baby.  It's my head that is getting in the way - the "what if's."  One thing I would LOVE is to be able to have assurance that this baby is chromosomally normal and maybe I can learn to relax and enjoy this pregnancy.  So far, I feel very guarded and I know it's my own way of emotionally protecting myself.
  • On the flip side of peace of mind, I have to ask myself how I will feel if I do miscarry as a result of this procedure.  Will I blame myself?  I honestly cannot put myself in the proper frame of mind to answer that question.  I truly don't know and every time I try and imagine it to see how I would feel, I just can't get there.  As a sidenote, you can also have complications like amniotic fluid leaking and be put on bedrest.  I cannot afford to be on bedrest for the next 6 months!
  • What I will do with the results.  Many people do not choose to do amnios because they know they will not terminate regardless of the outcome.  There are others that know they won't terminate, but want to know, so they can research and be prepared for their baby's condition.  I actually read some beautiful stories about Down Syndrome babies and how their mothers felt so prepared in knowing and told the hospital staff when the baby was being delivered that this is not a sad occasion, but a wonderful, wonderful thing, and this is their baby - so they didn't want anyone being in shock or upset at delivery.  For me, I truly don't know what I will do with the results.  The only way I can see terminating is if things are REALLY messed up (way too much or way too little chromosome material) and if the ultrasound is showing there are major problems.  Outside of that, I think I will have a very difficult time.  As a sidenote, I have also contemplated the fact that I will be 17 weeks by the time we get results, which is no joke in terms of terminating at that point.  There is apparently only 1 doctor in my state that does pregnancy terminations beyond 14 weeks.  
  • My doctor's opinion - the genetic counselor feels strongly that I should do it.  She had me consider the impact to my whole family (my existing 2 children) and the peace of mind I will feel if everything is ok.  I flat out asked my doctor his opinion (he is VERY busy and very skilled at what he does, but doesn't usually weigh in on decisions like this)....I could tell from his body language that he didn't feel it was necessary.  he felt that I would have either miscarried, or something would be showing wrong on the ultrasound with growth being delayed or other issues with physical development.  So, when you flat out ask the doctor, and you don't get a warm and fuzzy...then what??  

With all of that said, I am leaning toward doing it, but I am scared.  Really scared, mostly of making the wrong decision.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Riff in the Fam - need advice

Ok, so this definitely isn't an infertility related post...more like a post on toddlers and family dynamics, but this is my outlet, so here goes....

My BIL/SIL and I have kids 2 months apart from one another.  We thought this would be awesome; that all 3 cousins would be so close and instant playmates (they live nearby and our family sees a lot of each other). Instead, it has kind of turned out to be a disaster.  Their little girl is extremely outgoing.  She runs up and hugs anyone (even people she doesn't really know, which I find kind of strange).  She is happy, independent, and VERY loving and hands on.  All great qualities, but in my opinion, she can be very overbearing (e.g., she tackled me as I am trying to sit on the floor and eat lunch and it sent my plate flying).  My boys are not shy, but one in particular clams up a bit around larger groups and just wants to know where I am, or if he gets in an uncomfortable situation, he comes back to me.  My other boy is pretty outgoing and independent himself, but not nearly to the extent of his cousin.  Anyway, every time we get together, we have this awkward dynamic and it is never a positive experience.  She immediately tackles and bear hugs my boys as soon as she sees them.  They hate it, especially my quieter one and now that he is talking he says, "No hug!" and swats at her.  If one of my boys sits in a chair, she comes up and starts rocking it.  They don't want that.  They want to rock on their own.  She is constantly messing with them and they just want to be left alone.  I feel like she appears to the family as this happy, loving girl; while my boys look like they are total sticks-in-the-mud.  Her parents (my BIL/SIL) don't really try and reign her in.  Often, me and DH have to tell her to leave them alone or suggest that our kids move away if they don't like it.  It's really uncomfortable and I am not sure what to do about it.  Any thoughts/suggestions?

Infertility Never Leaves Us

I know that title isn't rocket science.  I always knew it would be a part of me, but I have to say that the last two years, raising my twin boys has been a top priority and because we weren't TTC, infertility was never at the forefront of my mind, which was a huge change given it consumed me for so many years.

A few things have happened recently that I thought we worth writing about.

1) I am in awe every day that I wake up and I am pregnant.  I am in awe that I don't have to insert progesterone suppositories, take medication and baby aspirin.  My body is just working.  And to me, that is a miracle.

2) I still detest people who get pregnant easily and have no appreciation for how difficult it is for so many people.  My SIL is apparently pregnant.  I say apparently because she has not officially announced, however, wearing belly bands, the size of her tummy, and her comments speak otherwise.  She casually drops in, "I am going to eat and drink whatever I want" as she switches from coffee to coke and a few hours later eats deli meats.  I am not going to judge (ok, maybe a little)...people can do what they feel comfortable in moderation; it's just the lack of appreciation and utter "in your face" attitude about it.

3) Seeing a baby on an ultrasound makes your heart swell and your eyes fill with tears.  I have such mixed emotions on this pregnancy - nervous, yet excited; guarded, yet hopeful.  I can't help but smile and fill with warmth and love when I see that baby and his/her little legs kick and heart beat on the ultrasound.  It is absolutely amazing.

4)  Scared, yet hopeful.  This is definitely TMI, but after being away from home and eating too much over Labor Day weekend, I was apparently constipated.  After a BM, I started bleeding bright red.  It wasn't that small of an amount, but it stopped very quickly.  The next day, same thing.  My google research says I may have a sensitive cervix.  I am also wondering if it has anything to do with the fact I had a pap smear on Friday and maybe my cervix is still not quite happy yet.  Regardless, seeing red blood when you are pregnant is never a good sign.  My boys were up and their normal full-of-energy selves.  I found myself having this sulking bad attitude full of, "this is over" and just wanted to go in my room and close the door instead of play with them.  I was also mad at myself for feeling that way.  I wondered why when just a few weeks back, I wasn't sure I was all that happy about having another child and now I am depressed about the thought of losing the baby.  I still don't understand it all; such a ball of conflicting emotions.  I do think everything is ok with the pregnancy and it was an isolated incident, but the experience showed me that I obviously really do want this to work and I am somewhat protecting myself by having an ambivalent attitude about it to this point.

Ok, nap time is over.  Just wanted to jot down those few thoughts before they escaped me.