Monday, June 30, 2008

Moving forward

I have been mentally composing LB's birth story for a few days now. I am, in a way, looking forward to sharing it because even though it didn't unfold the way I had hoped, there were still some very magical moments. The problem is that the only time of the day I seem to have a few moments to blog has been in the evenings and I have also been getting the blues each evening. I think it is due to how I work (Brad pointed out years ago than if I am going to get blue, it will be just as the sun is going down), hormones and fatigue. I could write it up now, but I don't want to color the story more sad than it was and I also don't want to bring myself down. So it will be on the shelf a bit longer. Hopefully it will be soon so that it will be closer to the how it really happened and not just how I remember it.

I want to take some time to say how things are feeling now that we have Little Butterfly in our arms. The most important thing is that I knew I loved her just the way she is the moment I saw her. I know not everyone bonds instantly with their baby and I was prepared for it to take some time, but it didn't. The fears and doubts about using donated eggs seemed to all but vanish. While I expect there will be some sadness about the loss of not having a mutually genetic baby, that loss will have nothing to do with LB.

I have also recognized something good about all the years to get to this point. Although I have never gotten very good at living in the moment, it is something I have been practicing more and more as I tried to be happy despite years of infertility and tragic losses. Now that LB is here, it would be easy to get wrapped up in the next diaper change (yes, using diapers, but I have "caught" more than a few eliminations and hope to get better), feeding (sometimes crying before she nurses because it hurts so much - getting better here too), or desperately trying to get more sleep. I could miss or not appreciate the happy moments like how she manages to cuddle up right next to me at night even though I put her to sleep several inches away or the way she looks around in those precious minutes when she is awake and not wanting to eat.

It isn't all bliss, but it is wonderful just the same. There is such relief in starting this new chapter. I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. The tough times we have been through to get to this point still matter, but they seem to matter less.

I would love to continue, but LB just woke up. It's funny how we work so hard to become someone else's slave. It is more than worth it.

Friday, June 27, 2008

A story

Sorry, this isn't the story, but a background story. I think it may be pertinent. It may not be, but we will never know.

The story begins years and years ago. I was in my late 20's and enjoying my relatively new hobby of mountain biking. I had been riding a lot that summer and feeling good about how much I had improved in terms of technique. On a whim I decided to compete in a race. It really was a whim - literally the night before the race. I borrowed a racing saddle and showed up the next morning.

The thing is I am not a speed demon. I don't even enjoy going fast. I liked being in the woods, getting exercise and seeing if I could make it up the next hill. Going down hill was an exercise of seeing how much I could slow myself down without falling off. Brakes were my best friend. I had planned on riding the race, not racing it. But when you get among all these people trying to go as fast as thing can, it is contagious. I hated being passed. I went much faster than my comfort zone. I stuffed away all that fear and went for it. Going up hill was great. I passed many people and despite going faster than my comfort zone, I was passed by the same people going downhill. I finished the race and felt proud of myself for doing it.

The next day, Brad and I took our bikes up to the same race when the professionals would be riding. It was a different trail than the one I rode the day before and we thought it would be fun to ride some of the trail together. I was terrified. I couldn't even ride simple terrain - something I would have considered simple on another day anyway - without putting my foot down. I was even shaking. At first I couldn't understand why I was having such a hard time. Why was I afraid? I wasn't going too fast. I wasn't pushing myself beyond my ability or comfort zone. I persevered for a bit before telling Brad that I wasn't enjoying it and wanted to go back. I think I may have even walked my bike on the return trip.

The only explanation I came up with is that all that fear I had hidden away and ignored the previous day was now coming out. I hadn't really faced the fear or worked it out, I had held it away for a while until a similar experience triggered the fear and it came bursting forth despite all rational arguments to the contrary.

I wasn't afraid when I gave birth to Ernest. I didn't know how to get through his birth without locking away all my emotions. I had to deliver him and as soon as he was born Brad and I would have to make life and death decisions. There was no room for fear or sadness. As I say in Ernest's birth story, it took a while after he was born before my emotions returned.

I thought that was the end of it until last Friday when I tried to do something similar.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The longest day of the year --- the trailer

This is just the very short version. A longer version to come, I promise! You know, I wouldn't want to pass up sharing all the drama.

Little Butterfly is a beautiful baby girl! We welcomed her to the Interesting Times Gang on Friday night at 11:36pm. She was 8 lbs 6 oz and 21" long. We had a pretty traumatic birth and I am not ready yet to talk about it. The short version is it didn't work out the way I hoped, but LB didn't seem to suffer for it. We labored at home for 8 hours, transported when progression stopped and heart tones dropped. After 6 hours in the care of Dr. Wonderful (he came in just for us) and no progress, LB was born via cesarean birth.

We have picked a first name but are still deciding on the middle name. I think for the blog world I will just continue to call her Little Butterfly.

Thank you for all your support, congratulations and comments. It means a great deal.

Oh . . . we are over the moon and could not be happier! We have a baby!

Friday, June 20, 2008

The beginning of interesting times?

I think I am in early labor. I woke up this morning with stronger than usual Braxton Hicks (BR) contractions and after a short walk through a nearby field with Ender (our dog), I think I lost my mucus plug. I have been having what feels like one long BR (my uterus stays hard, but not painful) punctuated by brief, more painful contractions. They happen every few minutes, but only last a few seconds.

I know this is the time to practice being in the moment. If I notice every contraction now or get too excited about the possibility of having that real, live baby I have longed for for so long; it is going to be a really long day or possibly long several days. It is hard though. I have called Brad, Stacey, Cathy (midwife) and Dr. Wonderful (OB). Brad is on the way home. Stacey reminded me to start practicing calm thoughts now and is ready to come over as soon as I say the word. Cathy told me to go shopping, walks, whatever sounds good and distracting. I just let Dr. W. know so that he is in the loop if things don't go as well as we hoped.

I am about to put on some music and dance. I think if anything will calm my mind and distract me from the pain it will be that. Before I go to the calm place though, I wanted to share my current emotional state. I seem to go somewhat randomly from a calm state of mind to some fear that the pain will get the best of me (usually during a contraction) to so unbelievable excited and hopeful that I start crying and feeling like I just might lose my mind. Then I laugh at the absurdity of my bouncing emotions.

My plan is to continue to update this post as things progress - or not if I don't feel like it. I have asked Stacey and Brad to put in any updates they feel like too. We will see how things go.

I am off to dance.

10:34 The contractions have gotten stronger although perhaps not longer. They have been mostly in my back. I finally put together what Dr. Wonderful said about the baby's position on the u/s yesterday. He could see the face really well. The baby is posterior. Ouch! We are going to try to turn the baby by getting on all fours with my hiney in the air. We are also going to use some tuning forks on my pinky toes - it is supposed to help. Let's hope!

One Day Later...

Kami & a healthy baby are recovering at the hospital where Dr. W resides. Quite the story to tell. She will start as soon as I can get my laptop to her.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

41 weeks today and lots of good news

I recently got back from seeing Dr. Wonderful. It was a very reassuring visit. But that is starting somewhat in the middle. Let me backtrack a bit.

This morning my midwife called and suggested that I get in to see Dr. Wonderful before the weekend. As I mentioned in the previous post, we talked about when it was time to induce medically. I could feel the dragon breathing down my neck, but it was good to get it out in the open. Cathy thought it would be good to see my OB and talk with him about options just in case we need to make that decision this weekend so as not to surprise him. This time I asked her directly if she was being more conservative with me than she normally would be. She said that she was concerned the drugs from multiple IVF cycles might interfere with my body's ability to go into labor naturally. She was also concerned because of my anxiety levels. Whether she meant because she was afraid increased anxiety would equal increased adrenaline and therefor impede labor or she was concerned that I was picking up on something, I am not sure. Either way, I appreciated her concern and openness.

Then I called Stacey, my doula and close friend to tell her Cathy's thoughts. Stacey said, "You can have a hospital birth and still have a natural birth. Brad and I will be there to protect your space." If it was in a hospital it wouldn't be completely natural because I wouldn't be there if we weren't inducing or otherwise intervening, but she meant it could be as natural as possible. She suggested I put together a birth plan. I argued that if I ended up in the hospital, I would probably get some satisfaction out of being a really nasty patient (sorry any caring OB nurses out there). I imagine yelling, "Get the F out of my room!" or sarcastically saying, "Did I give you permission to come in here?" Actually, I don't think I would do that, but it is nice imagining it. I might still communicate they weren't welcome, but doubt I would be so obviously nasty. I would be subtly, but not too subtly nasty. I just don't like the way hospitals, nurses and doctors try to manipulate birth and thereby the mother. I also just might have a few unresolved issues with how poorly the nurses treated me when I was in the hospital with Ernest. The thought of getting even by proxy has a certain charm.

Eventually Stacey convinced me that the best thing for all parties involved (including her and Brad) would be to make sure everyone is on the same page. Alright, for Stacey, I can do that. If I need to. I still don't think I will. The important thing about this exchange and the one with my midwife moments before is that I realized I could survive a hospital birth if I needed to. I opened that door of acceptance just a crack.

This morning I headed of to see Dr. Wonderful with a new question added to my list: What would it look like to induce and what would be the possible outcomes.

The appointment couldn't have gone better. My blood pressure was up again, but no worse than usual, I was not spilling protein and I hadn't gained any weight. He is not concerned about PIH at this point. We did an ultrasound and saw that the baby had good movement (including movements that indicate normal mental development such as blinking and subtle lip and jaw movements), the fluid levels were good and the placenta looked good.

I asked him what the stats said about waiting. He said that after 42 weeks things start to look bad pretty quickly, there is heightened concern between 41 and 42 weeks, but he is fine with waiting as long as baby and fluid levels continue to be healthy. This was just what I wanted to hear. I felt like the dragon breathing down my neck disappeared. I have another whole week to let nature take it's course. I am convinced if I am still pregnant on Monday when I get rechecked, things will still look good. I have a good feeling LB will come on his/her own within the next week.

Just to be on the safe side, we talked about what it might look like if Monday things don't look good with the fluid levels.

Dr. W: If you were my patient, I would induce you that day.
Me: Well, I am your patient in many ways. How would you induce?
Dr. W: With Cervidil or Cytotec
Me: Can I do that as an outpatient?
Dr. W: No. They have done research in doing this on an outpatient basis and it is too dangerous.
Me: If the Cervidil or Cytotec get things going, can we continue without drugs.
Dr. W: Yes and that is a possibility. Sometimes, that is all it takes. Once the cervix has ripened, we may need to switch to pitocin. If you are on drugs you will need to be constantly monitored.
Me: Constantly?
Dr. W: Yes. They can cause placental abruption.
Me: What about the fact that constant fetal monitoring can cause a lot of unnecessary scares?
Dr. W: You mean false positives? I would rather deal with false positive than worry about missing an actual emergency.
Me: Sure, you might leave the room feeling ok after a false positive, but I am going to have heightened fear which could interfere with labor.
Dr. W: If you are giving birth in a hospital, I would need to deal with increased adrenaline issues anyway. It is unfortunate we can't monitor you and allow you move movement, but it just isn't safe.
Me: What if I refuse constant monitoring?
Dr. W: Then I would send you home and not induce.

Well, at least we understand each other. Honestly, I am now less afraid of a hospital induction than I was before the appointment. At least I know what it might look like and where I might win an argument and where I might not. Knowing that I can give my body and LB at least another week to let things happen is the best news, of course. If it does come to a hospital induction, I will be more likely to agree with the need at 42 weeks than I do nowl.

One other little tidbit. When I was looking at pictures yesterday to do my post, I came across the ones I took of Belinda before we cycled. It occurred to me that LB's ultrasounds do look a bit like her. I was ok with that. It is what it is. Hopefully that means progress.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

40 weeks and 6 days and still pregnant!

Ha! It is funny how I was so much more excited to still be pregnant in the early days. I am still happily holding an active baby, but would very much like him/her to come out and meet us properly.

I have been actively attempting to induce with acupuncture since last Sunday. In fact, Sunday morning felt so hopeful (I had, for the first time, woken up in the night from some strong braxton-hicks contractions) that we actually washed some of the baby stuff we have. Ok, all of it because we don't have much. The night before I took some pictures which are posted below.

On the induction front, I am not sure if it is helping or not. During Sunday's treatment I think I felt a couple of actual, radiating contractions; but nothing happened afterwards. It may have been the poem the acupuncturist, let's call her Katie, read to me. It was a poem about a woman giving birth and talking to her baby in a motherly fashion during labor. I don't remember most of it, but part was about the mother saying that her contracting uterus was her caressing her baby. It was too much for me. I can be happy with a moving baby inside of me, I can visualize being a mom, but to be motherly to a baby not yet in my arms . . . well, it was so hard to try to let go as Katie suggested. I was literally sobbing and felt physically in pain. After the treatment, I worried that I wouldn't go into labor until I could feel motherly toward this baby now, but the thought of opening my heart to that extent is terrifying. That caused a great deal of anxiety and I decided it was just too much to ask. I told Cathy, my midwife, about it and she said just try to be in the moment and let this pregnancy unfold as it will. That works for me.

So Katie came back today. She didn't read the poem and eventually I learned that she had spoken to Cathy about me so Cathy must have told her. Katie is very nurturing, she comes to my house and she sings or hums a very simple birthing song during part of the treatment. I think she alternates between the verse in Hebrew and English. The English is, in part, "Give you love, give you love, give you love and all of my peace." That works for me. Simple, loving, not too much detail. Today I didn't feel the contractions, but I figure it can't hurt. She is going to come each day until we either have this baby or opt for Plan B (yet to be determined). At the very least, I will know I did every thing possible to avoided a dreaded (to me) hospital birth.

Yesterday I saw Cathy and we talked about Plan B a bit. She asked me what I want to do if I don't go into labor on my own soon. I told her that I would rather live with regrets about transporting / moving to a medical birth too soon than live with regrets of not doing it soon enough. She has been so supportive in this regard. I believe she wouldn't even be having this conversation with the vast majority of her clients. She would just say, "Some babies take longer than others", but she is understandably more conservative with me. I am sure it has also occurred to her that this is also a political decision. Just like a doctor who needs to follow "standard of care" even if it isn't the best for the patient to avoid a lawsuit, given that I am also seeing an OB - and the current anti-homebirth climate - she needs to take extra care to protect herself. That's ok with me too. I would do the same thing.

Cathy also checked my cervix yesterday. Maybe 1 cm dilated and 50% effaced. That means things haven't changed since Dr. Wonderful checked it nearly two weeks ago. At least my body seems to be acting differently and the baby is lower. It's funny (and sad) that babies can come a week or so early and it is no big deal, but a baby a week or so late and we start to feel the threat of a medical intervention. I will see Dr. Wonderful tomorrow and ask him what the stats are for going over. I know there is an increased risk of a stillbirth, but my research shows it is very slight. If he feels we have some breathing room (he supported my sister waiting and she went into labor at over 42 weeks), I am going to feel better.

Now for some pictures. The first is our nursery. We painted it a kid color before our second IVF two years ago. Yes, I tried the "if you believe it, it will work" stuff too. It is a current picture. It is still empty except for the bookshelf we have taken over in the last 2 years and the sewing table that is out of the frame (small house, remember?).

The next picture is of our homebirth supplies complete with birth pool, towels, absorbent pads for the floor, hydrogen peroxide for any accidents and a variety of herbs.

In the third picture, I added the baby stuff. I didn't want to clear off the table and start over and our baby collection is pretty small. We have some blankets, a few shirts, socks, hats, leg warmers and diapers from a diaper service. Also in the picture is a baby bjorn potty chair - micro sized but still bigger than newborn. The blue bucket inside is for a potty you can hold between your legs.

In the fourth picture are the four baby blankets I crocheted mostly during our IVF cycles. It helped keep me calm and hopeful. During the 2ww, I would sometimes crochet and think with each stitch that we were just one moment closer to hopefully good news. The two receiving blankets were purchased for Ernest. I thought they should be in the picture.

The last picture is my attempt to demonstrate that one of the blankets has a little hood attached. Petra wasn't very happy about it.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Truth

A quick note to let you know I updated the "Four truths and a lie" post.

For those of you who just want the short answer, the lie was working as a clown. I thought I was being terribly clever thinking that it was just plausible enough with really not being me at all. Within minutes of posting, Lisa guessed correctly. I guess that shows how much I know.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Hello LB! I think I'm ready!

I believe I am ready to have this baby. Things are feeling better and better. Oh, and the sun is out which is always a plus.

On the physical side, my blood pressure is staying below my OB's suggested danger zone. It was below 135/80 all week - including after my meltdown the other day. At my midwifery appointment yesterday it was 120/70 which has been my baseline through this pregnancy. I credit two acupuncture visits and one session with my hypnotherapist, my OB is convinced it is the bed rest and my midwife thinks the high readings were just flukes. I got a little carried away in my activity level yesterday and today it was 133/84 so we can throw a few bonus points toward my OB.

Little Butterfly continues to be active. Some times more than others, but always enough to convince me his little heart is still beating. I confess when I haven't noticed movement for awhile, I try to wake her up by pushing on her foot or her bottom or drinking some juice. When Cathy felt for his positioning yesterday, she said it was good and his head was engaged. I think he probably moves up and down which is not unusual (I understand) with second pregnancies.

On the emotional side, I think I have been improving as well. Three weeks ago when my OB said, "I would induce today" it really freaked me out because I realized I still had some fears and insecurities regarding having a DE baby. It was easy to convince myself everything would be ok - that I would bond and the genetic connection would no longer matter while it was in theory, but realizing I was about to find out if it would really be ok was another story.

Being the resourceful person I am, I immediately contracted the services of someone who could brainwash me into believing what I wanted to believe. I made an appointment with KJ, my hpynotherapist. To be fair, KJ would hate for me to describe it this way, but it kind of feels like it sometimes. KJ guided me through a meditation combined with acupressure where I visualized / felt the hurt and fear of this journey to parenthood, then we visualized healing, and then we visualized what I would choose to be the outcome. I had tears running down my face as I visualized LB being born and feeling only love and caring for this little one. There was no room in my heart for bitterness or pain or hurt. I didn't look for traits of Brad or Belinda - I just saw LB as LB. I put him to my breast and she looked at me while she nursed.

We have gotten together twice since then (who knew I still had enough time for 2 more appointments?) . In one session we talked about a realization I had about my relationship with my father. I think it speaks to how we can have programs running in our brains that we aren't even aware of. Anyone who has ever found herself saying or doing things that her parents did that she swore she never would, probably knows what I mean.

In a nutshell, my father was mostly absent from the later years of my childhood. He was physically there and I think he did the best he could, but because of his programming (very narcissistic) and a medical condition that left him sleeping a good amount of time, I never felt he took an interest in me. He did, however, brag about my good looks and my intelligence (Hey, this is my dad after all. I would admit to considering myself "above average", but then who doesn't think they are at least above average?). In my mind the only thing that gave him any right to take credit for these two aspects about my life was because half of my genes were from him.

When a friend recently described with pride how well his children were doing in school, my first thought was that I would never be able to take pride in LB's accomplishments. (My second was to wonder if anyone ought to take pride or credit for their children, but that is another post). This lead to my discussion with KJ and some visualizations where I created a "good dad" who loved me just for who I was and because I was his daughter - not for what he saw of himself in me.

I realize this might be psychobabble or as fuzzy as dream interpretation, but I felt better after the session and more confident that LB and I will bond.

Finally, at my last visit with my acupuncturist we did some points to induce. She said it would only work if my body was ready. When we spoke on the phone a couple of days later, I told her I didn't feel any different and it seemed like labor would still be at least a few days away. She commented that she felt some things had to happen for me first. "You need to get excited first," she gave as an example.

Blame it on sunnier, warmer days or more confidence in my body or some happy visualizations or perhaps the waxing moon; but I am excited.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A little perspective

Suddenly, my pity party evaporated in a puff of smoke.

I was actually doing better this morning, but had some residual "blues". I should know better than to go to bed sad since it often seems to lead to nightmares. Last night I dreamed that when you give birth to a DE baby, the baby is immediately placed in foster care until you can adopt it. The worst part is that my sister was trying to claim the baby as hers. "But I carried LB, I gave birth to LB - how can you take her?" "She isn't any more your baby than she is mine!", was her reply. But "Brad can prove he is the father and I am married to Brad!" Then I immediately started trying to call Brad to get him to come and prove he was the father with a DNA test. Except my sister had forwarded all phone lines to her phone. It was impossible to reach him. Then I woke up. I guess that is a reason for frequent night time trips to the bathroom.

This morning I read all the supportive comments on my blog. Once again, thank you so much for your understanding. Thanks for letting me vent and not telling me I am a horrible person or that I shouldn't compare myself to others. I know I shouldn't. I know we all carry some pain in our hearts. At that moment all I cared about was my pain.

At this moment I am so grateful for all that I have. I told you I would feel grateful soon, I just didn't know it would happen like a sudden sun break on a cloudy day.

As I often do, I followed my commenters back to their blogs and on The Clam came across a link to this blog, but it is probably better to start here.

I am so lucky to have such a wonderful husband, a house that is more than big enough, three "cuddle bunny" cats and a dog whom I never really liked in his puppy years, but now I think will make a great uncle to LB. Not to mention many good friends (IRL and via the internet) and some wonderful caregivers that have helped us along the way.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A post in which I cuss a lot.

Note: This is an ugly vent. It may offend some people, but I am not in the mood to apologize. If you don't like it, don't read it. And please, no comments about how I should be grateful. At another time, I will be, but not right now.

I just got back from picking Brad up at work. I sobbed all the way home. Let me tell you a story about a "fellow" infertile.

Brad and I used to work together. Brad still works at the same company. There was another couple trying to conceive at the same time we were. Lets call them Charles and Laurie. I used to work with Charles and while he could be nice at times, he could also be a jerk. Laurie worked in another department, but we got to know her better when she started dating and then married Charles. She always seemed nice and I don't know why she married Charles.

Brad and I started trying to conceive about a year before Charles and Laurie. When we got pregnant with Ernest, they found out we had fertility issues and we started to come together because of our shared experience. Both of us were dealing with male factor infertility. Then Ernest died and another year went by. Charles and Laurie moved to Arizona, but we stayed in touch via email.

When we were both getting ready to move on to IVF from IUI at the end of 2005, we got together for dinner while they were in town. I remember being surprised that Laurie didn't know when she ovulated. She didn't even understand what a trigger shot was for. She didn't change her diet, she didn't do acupuncture. She was hardly even trying! AND she was married to a jerk.

In the beginning of 2006 we both did our first IVF. We both got pregnant. Ours was a blighted ovum. Theirs seemed healthy. Brad and I did our second IVF. "We saw a heartbeat!" I was happy to email Laurie as she entered her second trimester. "The baby died." I emailed a few weeks later. She never emailed back. I told myself that she couldn't deal with the possibility of her child dying and so couldn't communicate with someone who knew all too well that babies die and pregnancies end. I thought she might email down the road, maybe after they had their baby.

And she did, but only to send a birth announcement - with pictures, no less. I couldn't believe it. Surely she should know how heartbreaking that would be for me. Even if she had said, "I am thinking about you and thought you should know we had a baby boy," and left it at that I might have forgiven her. As most of you know, some infertiles forget too easily. It was a bubbly "look at me and the baby we made!" kind of email. We decided we were done with them.

Fast forward to today. I had just come from an appointment with my hypnotherapist. We had been working on letting go of the grief of the last six years and especially the last four since we lost our son. I left there feeling so much better. Maybe things will be ok. Maybe I won't always grieve for the loss of a mutually genetic child. Maybe the heartache of trying every damn thing possible while still failing to make a baby will dissipate. Maybe LB will be born alive and healthy and we will finally enter a new, happier chapter of our lives.

As I waited for Brad to come out of the building, one of my old coworkers spotted me and came over to the car. Everyone who knows Brad and I know what we have been through so I have gotten used to them stopping by to say hello and ask how the pregnancy is going. I rolled down the window. He leaned in and said, "Did you hear Charles and Laurie had their babies?"

I didn't even know they were pregnant. They just had twins.

I wasn't very gracious. I didn't even fake it. I said, "I don't give a fucking rat's ass about those people." I gave the short version of the above story as I cried and then apologized for falling apart and then cried some more. My ex-coworker held my hand and said he was sorry. I pulled myself together eventually and apologized again. Then Brad came out and I could fall to pieces in private.

Why is it so unfair? Why is it so unbelievable easy for some people? People who aren't even nice. People who don't even try that hard. Why has it been so freaking hard for us? This just is all so unbearable sometimes.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Happy Blogoversary to Me!

I almost missed it! One year ago today, I started this blog. I had been thinking about it for a while, but like so many of us, it was Mel at Stirrup Queens who got me started.

I had been exploring how people dealt with having a child through donor eggs and landed on one of Mel's early guest blogs on the subject. That started a correspondence which finally gave me the extra boost to get started blogging my journey. The funny thing is, I really thought I was doing a generic "infertility blog" although I was really starting a "donor egg blog". Just 2 months before retrieval, I was still hoping I was going to find a way to avoid donor eggs. I'm guess I am good at denial.

Then it all happened pretty fast and here I am, one year later just two days before my official due date and still hoping everything will be ok. Not just with the baby being healthy, but that I will someday be ok with the path we have taken to get here.

Thank you to all the people who have listened to me (often on the same topic again and again) and continued to offer your support. For those of you who have been steady lurkers, I hope you find some value in my thoughts and experiences.

If you haven't made your guess on the previous post, I encourage you to take a stab at it - anonymously for any lurkers who would like to de-lurk for a bit. I will be posting the answer in a couple of days if I am not otherwise occupied.

Jam Tan ("peace only" in the Fula language of West Africa)

Monday, June 9, 2008

Four truths and a lie - Updated

I was tagged by Pam at Baby Wanted for this game. I am usually bad at follow through for these things, but since I have nothing else to do with my time these days, I have no excuses.

Here are 5 "facts" about me. One is a lie. Can you guess which one?

1) I am a liturgical dancer at a liberal Catholic church. That means I dance, as part of a group, during mass. Sometimes it is as simple as dancing the bread / wine up the isle. It can be more complex such as interpreting scripture either to music or to the spoken word.

True: Yes, I am an liturgical dancer who does not believe in any sort of divine power. I joined the group while I still considered myself agnostic. I stay in because I like the chance to dance as part of a group with very low commitment and the ladies in the group are wonderful. They also know about my beliefs although I don't think the rest of the congregation does. I may not dance "prayerfully" but I do my best to make the experience more spiritual for the congregation.

2) Before all this infertility stuff, I used to moonlight as a clown at (mostly) children's parties. I can tie a pretty mean balloon animal too.

False: I have tied few balloon animals in my time though. Ok, maybe 10 times in my life.

3) If the definition of "high maintenance patient" is having your OB's home and cell phone numbers, then that's me.

True: My OB has been a part of this IF roller coaster longer than any of my current caregivers and there were a few times when he asked me to call his cell or home numbers. I don't think I abuse the privilege and have used one of his personal lines without prior permission maybe twice in the last 4 years.

4) If it wasn't for Brad's blind optimism and determination, we would not be together today. We were "just friends" for a year and a half when I knew he wanted to date me. After we started dating, I dumped him twice - although I maintain it was a "break" the first time and a misunderstanding the second.

True: That optimism sure keeps me going. In retrospect, I think I was afraid of the commitment. I remember one time after dating for about six months, Brad held up our hands and said, "You love me. You just don't know it yet." He was right.

5) I once broke into the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. Who knew they would have guard dogs on the premises?

True: I was in my early 20's and had spent 6 days in Greece and had not seen a single significant ruin (there were a few along the roadside). It was our last day and we went to see the Acropolis. Who would have predicted it would be closed just because it was a Sunday? I jumped the fence thinking I would just take a quick peek, but I didn't get more than 10 yards in before I heard the dogs. Later, I found out they keep them pinned up, but I wasn't taking that chance.

Please leave your guess in the comments. For those of you with blogs, consider yourself tagged. I promise to update this post in a few days with the answer.

Friday, June 6, 2008

OB appt # 11-ish: 39 weeks 1 day

Just a quick update: More bed rest.

Longer update:
  • Cervix isn't close (50% effaced, 1 cm dilated, baby -2)
  • Dr. Wonderful seems to be ok with waiting - although he would prefer we didn't have a blood pressure issue.
  • He wants an update after my midwife appointment on Tuesday
  • He doesn't like the cohoshes - esp. blue. He does recommend nipple stimulation
  • B/p hasn't gotten worse and I seem to have less swelling - my OB thinks the bed rest is working.
  • After bugging him a bit, he said a daily 10 minute walk would be ok. Woo-hoo!!
Extraneous information: The waiting room was FULL of the worst kind of pregnant people. My two favorites: a couple who appeared in late teens wearing filthy clothes. The woman was wearing pajama pants and an oversized sweatshirt. She looked like she was living on the street (maybe she was). The other girl - she looked about 16 - was there with her mom and brother (mom looked about 40). She was pregnant with her third. The other two kids will filthy. One was about 1.5 years and the other 2.5-3 years old. I am so glad my friend Leah came along because I feel like I need a glass of wine as it is.

I just read this to Brad. He seems to think I am being a snob about the icky pregnant people. What do you think?

Now, since I probably shouldn't have the glass of wine, I am going to calm my mind with some ice cream instead. Ben & Jerry's coffee, I think.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Midwife appt # 9: 39 weeks 0 days

We have gotten some good news and some not-so-good news.

The not-so-good news is that my blood pressure was up with the midwife too. That kind of surprised me. The frustrating thing is that her recommendation is to . . . wait for it . . . get more exercise! Yep, the exact opposite of what my OB recommends.

The good news is that she actually agrees with my OB on two counts: 1) if my b/p continues to go up then we will induce, although she means by using alternative means such as herbs and acupuncture and 2) If my b/p gets up around 150/100 during labor we will be at a critical point (my OB said to go to the hospital, my midwife said, "Then we have to get the baby out.")

Even better news is that I got my blood work results back from my OB this morning and in the 6 days between blood tests the numbers have gotten only slightly worse, although the difference is within the error margin of the test. So far, only my kidneys have taken a hit - and it isn't too bad.

Dr. Wonderful asked why Cathy didn't just induce right away, but then answered his own question by saying, "She probably wants to give you a little more time." I told him we were going to try alternative means to induce if needed and he thought that was an option. Since I would prefer to be successful with an out-of-hospital induction (if needed) and not wait to the point where that is not an option, I have agreed to let him check my cervix when I see him tomorrow. He believes that if the cervix indicates a Bishop Score of 10 then induction is likely to lead to labor.

The best news is that I asked him if he thought I was likely to end up in a hospital and he said no. Yeah!

Now I just have to figure out how to get more exercise while on strict bed rest.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Strict bedrest

I went back to my OB yesterday. Despite having taken my blood pressure twice a day all weekend - and never having it as elevated as it was in the office (again, barely over the limit), it was up again yesterday. And my edema? Barely there too. I have seen pregnant women really puff up. I just don't understand what he is basing his concern on. Usually I can, with a little discussion, understand where my doc is coming from, but this seems so completely unreasonable.

Likewise, I am sure I seem completely unreasonable to my OB. He pretty much asked me why I was coming to see him. I told him I valued his opinion. "What is the point, if you don't take my advice?" was his reply. Can't I value his opinion without agreeing with it? I was trying to understand why a once-in-awhile, very slightly elevated b/p and slight edema would warrant bed rest - or even concern - but was getting nowhere. I finally asked, "What is your gut feeling about my symptoms?" He said, "My gut feeling is that you are heading toward toxemia."

So, there you have it. This OB - who I like a great deal, who was willing to let my sister go to over 42 weeks, who has told patients during labor to not push to hard to protect her perineum (two things I consider non-typical OB points of view), who comes highly recommended by my RE whom I respect a great deal, who has more than 20 years experience, has a gut feeling I am not going down the safest path. That is a little unnerving.

He reiterated that "If you were my patient, I would check your cervix and if it indicated induction would lead to labor, I would induce you today. If not, then I would put you on strict bedrest and see you in four days." His concern is that I would get worse during labor and he didn't want a phone call at 2:00 in the morning to hear that my b/p was 150/100 and my water had broken 18 hours ago. "Then we will be doing mag and (lots of details I missed) and likely end up doing a cesarean which is none of things that you want."

Then he softened a bit and asked which nurse took my b/p. When I told him, he said that nurse tends to hear it a little high - so he took it again. While he was taking it, I told him (trying not to tear up) that very little has gone the way I wanted it to on this journey and . . . "I know," he said gently.

By the way, the b/p was lower - I didn't quite catch the number because he was in a hurry to attend to an urgent situation in maternity. But it left me wondering . . . is all of this because a nurse tends to hear a higher number when taking blood pressures?

I left his office feeling more than a bit shaken. I called my friend (and doula) Stacey and asked if I could come over and figure out what to do. I probably mentioned Stacey before. She suggested we see a doctor after only 6 months of TTC - I ignored her advice. She was there for Ernest's birth. She used my midwife for the birth of her second child. She is also the middle ground neither my OB nor midwife are. Her suggestion? Take my OB's advice and take it easy then follow up with him in 4 days. What's the harm? "Wouldn't it be worth it to be able to have a home birth?" Brad concurred. So hear I am, taking it easy.

The good news is that when I called my OB to let him know - and to ask if he was willing to see me again (of course, he said) - he said that he thinks I will be ok. He was happy to see I hadn't gained any weight between the last 2 visits - meaning the edema hasn't gotten worse and if we manage things a bit now, it could mean keeping the PIH under control. "That way you will have the most options available when you go into labor." That was the most reassuring comment Brad and I could have hoped for. I felt like he was on my side again - that he wants what we want - not just a healthy baby, but a healthy baby at home.