19 weeks and MY BIRTHDAY

Today I am 34 years old.  Last year, when I turned 33, I could not have imagined the wild terrain that lay ahead of me in the coming year.  I don’t think I could have packed much more into being 33 if I tried.  It has been a year of leaps and bounds and tremendous blessings.  34 will bring it’s own unique mix the way that life does, but new life – our little girl – will come with it.

Last year, right before my birthday, Ryan and I had just completed an adoption orientation that went to absolute shit.  Ryan did not have a heart for adoption and I was utterly heartbroken.  He suggested getting a second opinion on IVF, I think more to keep me from going off the edge than actually because he thought it would do some good.  A couple days later I made the appointment, mostly because I was grasping at straws for something to make me feel better, not because I thought it would do any good, either.

That was a bad time, but God is good. He is good in the good times, and with us in the bad times, and will never abandon or forsake us.

The day after I turned 33 I saw a house for sale and told Ryan “let’s go see it.”  Thus began the long 4 month fiasco of selling our tiny craftsman and buying the 1960s ranch.  We moved, and throughout the year have poured our weekends and all our money into flooring, bathrooms, paint, drywall, siding, fixtures, appliances, recessed lighting, baseboards, and furniture just to name a few.

Our second opinion led to a cycle of IVF, which was wildly successful and yielded a healthy pregnancy with a baby girl on the first shot.

Ryan changed jobs.  I changed jobs.  We got a new car and sold mine.  Our cat Hazel almost died, but didn’t (although we have a kitty heart condition to manage – she’s doing well). Devastating wildfires in October tore through 5,000 homes and will forever change our city, but our home is safe.

TENS OF THOUSANDS of dollars were spent this year between the house and the IVF, and in all honestly I look back and can’t quite figure out where it came from or how we paid for everything.  Our savings, earnings and proceeds from the sale of the house just don’t quite add up.  We will be paying off the IVF through next year, but can easily do it.  God is good.

Next year the baby girl will be the blessing of all blessings.  God does not work on a reward system; Ryan and I did nothing to earn the relief, joy, pinch-ourselves-because-this-life-can’t-be-real feeling.  I am thankful for every good thing that came of being 33, and am thankful for a good God who will walk with me through 34, regardless of what may come.

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17 weeks 6 days and much to be thankful for

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, also when I roll into my 18th week of pregnancy.  Today is my last day at my current job.  I am changing departments once more and this time voluntarily demoting myself to my previous position.  I.CAN’T.WAIT.

I love the people I work with and the fast pace of my current role, the paycheck has been nice, too, but my goodness this job is hard.  I am a finance person working in operations and I can fake it for only so long.  Throw in the Northern California cluster fires which will change the landscape of my department permanently, and I just can’t keep up.  The weekends and evenings and constant craziness is just too much.

My job has been taking over my mental sanity long before October 8th, when the fires broke out.  The fact that I am 3 paragraphs into my infertility/pregnancy post and talking about work should be a good indication.  ANYWAY there is a light at the end of the tunnel where I will be able to sleep at night, work a normal schedule, and remember that I am pregnant.

At this point I can still *squeeze* into my regular pants. I don’t look pregnant, just like I have some extra meat around my middle.  I feel like I have a cantaloupe sized ball of liquid in my abdomen, which sags from side to side when I do Pilates and makes sleeping on my stomach uncomfortable.  We did CVS early on and were thrilled to hear that our baby GIRL is healthy and growing well.  Other updates:

Weight gain: about 2 lbs since my first weigh in at 6 weeks

Cravings/ appetite: Still obsessed with oranges and Asian foods (pho and “sushi” aka cucumber and avocado rolls with a ton of ginger).  Otherwise eating normally and feeling great.

Maternity wear: Starting to really love maternity pants.  Wearing my regular pants are such a mind trip; they are so tight and uncomfortable, but I can’t shake the feeling it’s because I need to eat better and work out, not because I’m 18 weeks along.

Exercise: I’ve been failing in this area due to the aforementioned work craziness. I’m trying to re-vamp my routine with walks and weight training and Pilates, while I still can.

Names:  The front runner right now, literally the only thing we can agree on, is Hannah.

Baby Prep: None whatsoever.  We are focusing on getting our bathrooms functioning first, then we will worry about a kid’s room.  I have received a few gifts already, here and there, which is very sweet.  I have a bag amassing in my closet of baby stuff which is unbelievable.

Movement: I feel nothing

What is going well with pregnancy:  (Aside from the obvious, that we failed to conceive for 5 long years and now have our very own baby on the way.) I feel perfectly normal.  I’m glad I haven’t started to show super early, which took some getting used to (i.e. “why can’t I see anything yet?!”).  We are out of the “danger zone,” the uncomfortable moments of telling everyone are behind us (I don’t like attention) and now we can just move forward and enjoy the time.  Ryan and I are both pretty private people, so we like to talk about it with each other, but not many others.  It feels like we are already a bigger family.

What is not going well with pregnancy:  Consistently, since day 1, I have been short of breath and have had trouble sleeping.  Both not like me.  I’ve also started getting grey hair for the first time in my life – am I just getting old, or is it the hormones?

Next week is my anatomy scan, which I hear is the “best” one since it’s long and in-depth.  Ryan gets to join me, and he hasn’t been able to make the last few appointments, so he’s excited.  We have long weekend ahead of us and are escaping the Thanksgiving madness and heading to Yosemite, which I have never seen in my adult life.  and then come Monday I start a slower paced, easier job.  Hallelujah.  Much, very much, to be thankful for.

 

 

Burning

This little baby is strong.  It held through IVF, ICSI and on our first transfer it made itself right at home – no big deal.  A chorionic hemorrhage didn’t phase it – I saw it bounce around gleefully on the ultrasound shortly after.  And this week, as my city burns down around me and I work late nights at Emergency Operations and get little sleep in a guest room at a house with 9 other evacuees, the little heart beats away.

My prenatal appointments have been indefinitely cancelled because Kaiser has burned.  I’m not sure when the next time will be that I can check on our baby.  Despite the utter devastation that surrounds us, the dozens of people we know who have lost everything, and the never ending worry our home will be next, I feel like this baby is saying “I got this.  Don’t worry about me.”

The physical and emotional stress I am going through can’t be good for it, but tomorrow I will be 12 weeks, so we are feeling some extra assurance.   As a government employee I am required to work in disaster relief efforts, but the work shifts are demanding and long.  I feel terrible – there is so much need – but I am trying to do what I can to meet this baby half way.  It’s a terrifying week, and the least I can do is refuse a 12 hour graveyard shift – try to keep the stress levels at bay.

Pray for Santa Rosa, for all of Sonoma and Napa counties, and for the public safety staff out there trying to save our city.

Bleeding

Warning: Some TMI pregnancy and bodily function details ahead.

On Saturday morning I woke up and the usual discharge from the nightly progesterone suppository was light brown.  This had never happened before – day after day since the embryo transfer, it was bright white.  I felt fine otherwise.  I told Ryan what I saw, and went about my day.

At about 1 p.m. I went to the bathroom and my entire panty liner was soaked in blood.  Oh Lord, no, give me strength to get through this was my guttural reaction.  Was this happening?  Was this actually happening after 10 weeks of no issues? I immediately called the advice nurse and spend 45 minutes on the phone only to be told do nothing, just take Tylenol for pain and come into the ER if the bleeding becomes very heavy.  The soonest I could get in for an ultrasound was Monday morning.

Miraculously, the bleeding stopped.  I had light pink discharge for the rest of the day, but never any cramps and the bleeding didn’t resume.  I took it easy for the rest of the day, and all day Sunday, which meant cancelling plans for a BBQ with friends and family and I know it sounds silly but I felt so terrible for ruining everyone’s day.  I was thinking everything was probably just fine until Monday morning, when I woke up and found my panty liner soaked in blood again.  I was shaking as I showered, got dressed, and went to Kaiser for my 9 a.m. ultrasound.

The first thing the doctor said to me was “has anyone discussed the results of your last ultrasound with you?” and I told her no.  Turns out the “twin” was noted to maybe not be a twin at all, but a chorionic hemorrhage, which my body might now be passing.  She did an ultrasound and praise the lord the little baby had a strong heartbeat and even jumped up and down a couple times.  I texted Ryan immediately and he was beside himself.  He told me later he’d been 95% sure the baby was lost.

No more bleeding today, but I was told these hemorrhages might take a week to resolve themselves.  If it happens again, I will schedule another ultrasound ASAP.  What a scare! I am so thankful everything is fine, but my heart goes out to any woman who has been in my shoes and things were not fine.  In the moment, I found myself terrified to experience the physical miscarriage.  It would not be like “having a period.”  Women have endured this throughout the ages and I feel for them today.  On top of the emotional toll, what an insult to injury.

I will keep an eye on things, but for today at 10 weeks 5 days, all is ok.

10 Weeks

Today I am 10 weeks pregnant. The baby is the size of a date and has arm buds and leg buds and can taste what I eat through the amniotic fluids (!!!).  All my regular pre-natal appointments are scheduled.  The baby did have a twin – an identical twin that split off, developed its own sac, but never formed a fetal pole.  The doctor said this happens, and it will pass during delivery and will be so small that no one will notice.

Something unexpected – I find myself eager and brimming with pride to tell all medical staff anywhere “This is an IVF pregnancy.”  I never want to tell any layman such a personal thing, but medical staff who know what IVF is and what it involves are another story.  This pregnancy was the result of a long fight and unbelievable modern medicine, and it’s nothing short of a miracle.  To anyone who will listen I proudly clarify “this is an IVF pregnancy.”

At 10 weeks, my pants are all tight on me so I resort to “fat pants” and elastic waist bands. I have acne, feel bloated and tired, and overall the polar opposite of any “pregnancy glow.”  But it’s wonderful to know I am drained because my body is growing a human, and my hormones are going haywire because I am pregnant.  Ryan and I look at each other and still don’t believe it.  Or oddly, we believe I’m pregnant, just can’t believe I’m pregnant with a child that is biologically ours.

About 2 weeks ago I woke up one morning and felt dramatically better. It was such a change I worried something could be wrong, but no, the pregnancy nausea that plagued me for weeks let up considerably.  I have my moments of exhaustion and being utterly turned off by things, but it’s manageable.  I had tried to brace myself for another month of feeling like everything made me gag, and it just seemed so draining, so I am THANKFUL.

What I’ve been doing right: I exercise 5-6 days a week.  Sometimes it’s a strenuous hike or weight training, other days it’s a slow 30-minute walk around the neighborhood, but I am making a point to keep exercise a regular part of my routine.  I’m also sleeping plenty, and I’m looooving it. I haven’t touched soda or diet soda or any sugary drinks. And I pray fervently for this baby every day, all the time.

What I’ve been doing wrong: My eating habits have been atrocious.  I so desperately wanted to eat clean and organic during this pregnancy, but that has turned out to mean organic bread and organic cheddar cheese for all 3 meals.  Other times it means sour patch kids.

What’s different: My appetite, obviously.  I can’t eat the quantity that I used to and don’t like many of the foods that I used to.  I also require an unreasonable amount of water.  I used to drink a lot of water, now I drink twice that, and if I don’t, I feel sick to my stomach and like I’m dying of thirst in the dessert.  Literally I drink over 200 oz of water of day and just want more and more.

Cravings: Cold fruit and fruit juice; water; pretzels; udon, miso and pho soups; Chinese food; cheddar cheese; bread

Aversions: vegetables; old food; dried fruit; spicy foods

Weight gain: I haven’t been on the scale in a week and I’m terrified.  I don’t even know what I weight when I started IVF.  I think I’m up about 10 lbs from earlier this summer.

Alcohol/ caffeine: I drink 8 oz of coffee every morning, measured out by my Keurig.  I wish it was more. I haven’t touched alcohol apart from one work-sponsored happy hour I had to attend.  I didn’t want to be the awkward person not drinking and didn’t want to tell my coworkers I was pregnant, so I ordered a light beer and sipped half of it over the course of 2 hours.  I felt so terrible about it and ashamed and will not do it again.

Baby names/ Gender: We haven’t talked about names, and probably won’t until we know the gender.  Historically, we haven’t agreed much on names at all.  We will find out the gender as soon as we can.  Ryan wants a boy.  As long as I can remember I have always assumed Ryan and I would have a boy, but for some reason now I feel like it’s a girl.  I wouldn’t put money on that, but if I had to guess, I’d say girl.

7.5 Week Scan

We have a heartbeat! BIG sigh of relief.  Yesterday was our last 2-hour drive to the clinic and visit with the RE.  We were told we had “graduated” to the regular OBGYN now, but to keep in touch. Kind of bittersweet.  I told our doctor that IVF was a pleasant surprise.  After 5 long, painful years of infertility, the actual treatment was a breeze for us.  I know we are lucky.

Every couple’s infertility journey and diagnosis is different.  As a male-factor couple, our toughest moments were spurred by marital dynamics and deciding what to do.  Not to mention that one doctor that told us we were basically sterile, prompting us to tell all our family and friends to back off with the “when are you going to have a baby” questions because all iotas of hope were lost.  Adoption was a disaster.  The unsolicited advice and comments infuriating.  But actually seeking treatment?  Straightforward.

We are extremely blessed that on our first IVF round of with ICSI we transferred one embryo and we have a beating heart!  Oddly the doctor saw another sac in there too – he can only speculate that the embryo split and there were identical twins, only one stopped developing very early on.  I have a follow up scan in a few days to see what the regular OBGYN has to say.

At just shy of 8 weeks I am feeling all the glorious nausea and food aversions and exhaustion that I’ve heard about.  I’m learning to manage it, but my main concern is gaining too much weight.  I know it sounds superficial, but I am not a small girl to begin with and want nothing more than to give this baby a healthy start in life.  Unfortunately, due to the months of hormones, surgery, pregnancy, exercise restrictions and wayward appetite, I have already gained 10 lbs.  I am usually a healthy eater but suddenly can’t stomach the thought of fruits or vegetables.  All I want is bread and butter about 8 times a day.  I am still exercising (although embarrassingly out of breath all the time) and trying to just let my body have what it needs at this point.

It’s such a small complaint, though. I am pregnant.  My body is growing a baby.  If I have to look like a cow doing it I will gladly take it, because for years there I wasn’t sure this day would come.

We told my mom and my sisters yesterday, and there was celebrating.  I still selfishly feel uncomfortable talking about it; is that odd?  All along infertility, especially my husband’s sperm count, has been an awkward thing to discuss with anyone by Ryan or the doctor.  With all the questions that come our way I half feel like saying “back off! none of your business! I am pregnant and done talking about it.”

But I remind myself this isn’t all about me; this is God’s work and His glory working through me.  I have not enjoyed one moment of my marital reproductive life being laid out for open discussion, but I am trying to humble myself and just let it happen.  If this is how God wants to show His power and His goodness and His there-ness, then ok.  I’d better step back and not get in the way.  We aren’t out of the woods yet, I know the worry and concern is only just beginning.  Still, no matter what happens tomorrow, I feel incredibly blessed to have made it to today.

“Every good and perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

 

Beta #2

Beta #2, drawn on 8/21/17, was 590.  An excellent rise!  My progesterone and estradiol levels were also looking good, so I was told to stop taking Estrace, but to continue the progesterone 3X a day.  So it will be an existence of panty liners, vaginal suppositories, and no sex until our ultrasound on 9/11.

To say we are excited is the understatement of the year.  We are in pure disbelief and quite frankly wondering how we got here.  I mean, we know painfully well what we did to get here, but after suffering through 5 long years of infertility, saying “I’m pregnant” seems unnatural, but unbelievably welcome, on every level.

We are cautious though.  That scan on 9/11 will hopefully show a heartbeat, and I’m not breathing easily until then.  We haven’t told anyone we even did a cycle so definitely no one knows we were successful.  I don’t even want to think about telling people until I see a heartbeat.

However I am not cautious in every way – I bought a couple baby items online today.  I couldn’t help myself.  I hope I didn’t jinx it.

I don’t remember enough to thank God, to try to humbly divert any excitement or gratitude His way.  I’m not sure why He chose to lead us through the valley for years on end before executing a textbook, straightforward IVF cycle resulting in 10 frozen embryos and a pregnancy.  But I am THANKFUL, and taking it day by day, and trying to put my trust in him.