Friday, August 31, 2012

23w6d- and I forgot to tell the story of how we found out I was pregnant!

I realized that I never wrote up this story- and out of my own selfishness, I do want it written so that I won't forget.

A few factors went into this surprise.  First, that we assumed I was fertility-challenged.  When you assume you are fertility-challenged, you don't think you need to be extra-careful with precautions.  I truly believe that my having taken the pill for 8 years was a big factor in my anovulation and fertility problems, and so Eric and I agreed that I wouldn't go on it again after the boys were born.  For 20 months after the boys were born, I didn't get my period at all, and I was frankly worried that I never would.  My primary care doctor and my gynecologist both assured me that as long as I was breastfeeding, I didn't need to worry, but 20 months is a long time to go without a cycle!

Once my menstrual cycle returned, it started coming every 28 days.  I could feel what I thought was ovulatory pain on Day 16, and then I would get my period on Day 28 of each cycle.  My period was short and light, and I really had no PMS symptoms to speak of.  Knowing all that I know about infertility, I could think of several ways in which I might still have trouble.  I didn't have cervical mucous, was my luteal phase (the time after ovulation) too short, was my lining too thin?  I never did anything like take my temperature or have bloodwork done to confirm that I was ovulating, so I just assumed I was.

Since my cycle was predictable, we decided to use a made-up version of the rhythm method.  There is the 2nd major factor in this surprise- I think pretty much everyone has an idea of how effective the rhythm method is, and when you make up your own version because you gave away your copy of "Taking Charge of Your Fertility," well...  I knew sperm could live for awhile waiting for an egg, so the week of ovulation, we would either be abstinent or use protection.  What I didn't remember from 3 years prior was that the egg can also live a few days.  After all my carefully timed, and completely unsuccessful, IUIs I thought eggs only live 24 hours after ovulation.  When Eric and I were intimate one night, which I believed to be 48+ hours after I ovulated (Day 18 of my cycle), I thought we were in the clear, and we didn't use any form of protection.

10 days later, Tuesday, April 10, was the day my period was due.  I usually get my period first thing in the morning, but nothing.  I went to work and felt really crampy- enough that I took some Advil, assuming my period was on its way.  Then, Wednesday morning, and still nothing.  I mentioned to my mom that my period was a day late, and she said, "Oh, I'm sure you'll get it tonight or tomorrow." Wednesday night at bedtime I was checking and re-checking how long it had been since my last period.  Eric noticed me counting on my fingers and asked, "Is there anything you need to tell me?"

We both agreed my period would DEFINITELY be there in the morning.  For sure.  No way it wouldn't.

Thursday morning- which happened to be Eric's birthday- nothing.  After breakfast, Eric and I agreed I should take a home pregnancy test.  The only problem was that I didn't have any in the house (I am not the kind of infertile who lives in constant hope, and a negative pregnancy test after you just paid a bunch of money to not get pregnant is too depressing).  I sent Eric to the Dollar Store because I didn't want to spend good money on a test in order to find out that my reproductive system was screwed up again.

Eric got back and I took the test.  We watched it for 30 seconds, and the control line showed up.  "Whew!" Eric said.  "It's negative.  You're not pregnant.  What a relief!"  I felt kind of sad, because if I wasn't pregnant, that meant something was wrong again, and that was depressing.

I continued getting ready for work- brushing teeth, putting on some makeup- and happened to look back down at the test.  Was that a second line??? I picked it up.  Yes- it was a second line.  I screamed- "ERIC!!!!!!" and went running down the stairs holding the test.  "Eric! There's another line! Eric! I might be pregnant!"

"No!  No, that second line is lighter than the first.  That means you're not pregnant."

"No... a line is a line. I've never gotten a second line before. I've never taken a positive test before.  I think I need another test.  Go to CVS and get one of the real ones this time!"  I tried to tell Eric which brand I wanted and then said, "Forget it! I'll go myself!"

In the aisle at CVS I stacked up about 4 boxes of pregnancy tests before I came to my senses.  One test would tell me all I needed to know.  I put them all back except for the First Response Early Response and went home.

This time Eric put the wrapper over the test and said neither one of us was looking until our 3 minutes were up.  I continued to get ready for work, and then it was time to look.  Eric did the honors and went in to the bathroom.  He came out, grim-faced and silent.  Two lines.  I was pregnant.

I vaguely remember flapping my arms up and down a lot and saying, "Oh, I'm sweating.  Did I put on deodorant?  I'm not sure if I'm wearing deodorant.  I should put on more deodorant," in a very panicked fashion.

"Now what?"  Eric asked.

"Now I'm pregnant." I told him.

"I don't know what to say!" he said.

"Me neither!" I said.

"How did this happen?!?" he asked.

"I have no idea!" I told him.  Let me now mention that I have a doctorate in psychology and a masters degree in human sexuality.  I have no idea how it happened?!?!  Oy- another case of book smart not translating to street smart.  Perhaps they'll ask for that masters degree back...

When I left for work, we were both a little distraught.  I had a busy day at work, and we didn't get a chance to talk, so I was very eager to get home that evening.  At first Eric was upset- this wasn't our plan, how can we afford another child, what about the small size of our home? and so on.  I shared all those anxieties.  But I felt as though, after all we went through to conceive our boys, to be able to conceive a 3rd on our own, without even trying, was a miracle.  And we are fairly lucky as these things go- we have my parents nearby for emotional support, we do have another bedroom to squeeze another person into, we live in a great neighborhood with great public schools and really wouldn't need to move.

Eric said, very sadly, "This wasn't what I wanted for my birthday," but fortunately, my mom had come by with a bottle of gin as an alternative gift. By the end of the evening, with a gin & tonic for him and a bowl of ice cream for me, we were both feeling somewhat better about the news.

The next night, Eric's parents arrived from Maine to help us celebrate the boys' birthday party and to help build our new powder room.  After dinner, and when starting dessert, we gave them the news.  I am pretty sure they were surprised!

It still feels very surreal- both that I am pregnant and that we conceived the way we did.  I want to remember our shock and denial at the time we found out, because I know once she is here and part of our lives, we will feel that we always planned for her.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Cape Cod, Part 2

Our vacation ended well.  Our biggest problems were:

  • The boys didn't always want to eat when or what we were eating.  Especially breakfast, Asher would totally skip, and then around 10 or 10:30 he would go nuts yelling, "Eat food! EEEAAT FOOOOOD!" At which point he would devour whatever I offered, like cold pancakes or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
  • Asher is in love with pajamas.  He doesn't want to take them off, ever.  Every morning we would go to the pond to play and swim and he would scream, "No clothes, no! No swimsuit! No!" as if I were killing him.  Once he was in his swimsuit, he was fine.  And once his swimsuit was wet, he was only too eager to get into his clothes.  We are having none of it- even if it is 2 adults wrestling him into a pair of shorts.
  • Benjamin fell in love with a cheap plastic front-loader we bought for him to play with on the beach.  He played with it the whole time we were at the beach, and would then insist on taking it to bed with him, which filled his bed, and ours (when he climbed in in the morning) with sand.
Content Benjamin: cookie, iPad, front-loader, milk

We had some adventures, of course.  One afternoon we went to the ocean beach to have our afternoon snack, and the boys were eating granola bars while walking up and down on the sand. It was a beautiful afternoon, and apparently also high tide.
Playing on the beach at high tide
Shortly after I took that lovely picture, I heard a rumbling noise.  I turned to Elana and said, "that sounds like a big wave!" and the next thing I knew, a huge wave came crashing over the sand.  I leapt up and grabbed the camera and the bags that were holding our phones and ran for it.  Well, what kind of mommy am I?  I forgot to grab my children!  Fortunately another kind woman grabbed Asher, and Benjamin got knocked over (the water was shallow, but the pull of the tide when it went out knocked him down).  When Benjamin fell, his granola bar got washed out to sea, resulting in major tears and hysterics.
a little wet, and missing his cookie
Beautiful beach baby

The boys got lots of quality time with their grandparents.  They are in love with my parents.  Every morning they would wake up and we would hold them in our room until 7, but they would ask for my dad, who they call "Nee," and sometimes my sister, who they call Lana.  I actually think Nee is universal for both Nick and Meema, a nice combination of the two names.
watching a movie with Grandpa Nick
Reading with Meema
Our other difficulty was with some discipline.  We told Asher he couldn't have ice cream if he didn't eat any of his dinner.  Well, he decided he didn't want to eat any dinner at all.  So no ice cream.  Everyone else put on their shoes and left, and Asher and I had to stay home.  It was really heartbreaking for me, to hear the excitement in his voice when he said, "ice cream!!!!" and ran for the door, and i had to tell him we were staying home.  He stood at the door and cried hysterically for daddy for a few minutes, and I went to clean up from dinner.  He came to me after a little, and we looked at his baby pictures together, which he loved.  We both recovered well, but it was not easy for me to be the disciplinarian- this is definitely a weak spot of mine which I hadn't anticipated before I actually had children.

On our last night on the Cape, we had dinner on the bay.  The light was beautiful. 
Bear in a buoy
Look at those lips!
Benjamin in the buoy
23 weeks
Forget lobster, I'm having Benjaboo for dinner!
I was really sad to leave.  I am having a lot of anxiety about having another baby.  We have so much fun as a family of 4, and this was probably our last vacation as just the 4 of us.  It went so smoothly, I can't believe I'm going to go and throw a wrench in everything by having another baby!  The ride home yesterday took forever- partly because we stopped for about 2 hours in New York City to see our friends Alissa and Greg and their 2 week-old baby girl, but the boys were so great and really didn't complain the whole time.  They are getting so mature, already!

Today was back to real life, and I felt very stressed out by it.  We got the paperwork for the boys' preschool, and I am having a hard time thinking about sending them out to school 3 days a week, but that is another post in and of itself.

We don't have anything big or fun planned for the fall, and I am having the end-of-summer letdown.  I guess I will have to plan some fall activities for us to enjoy- maybe this year we will actually get it right with apple picking!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Cape Cod 2012, part 1

Here are some pictures from the start of our vacation.  So far we have enjoyed ourselves, the boys have slept well, have generally eaten well, and we have all been in fairly good moods.  What more could you ask for?
Waiting for our dinner, on the bay

Meema and her grandsons

Out for ice cream- Brrr!

A Bear and his cone

Asher's version of sharing- it's all his

"Ice cream. NOM."

"Mama, choo choo cheese!" (this means, take a picture of my train)

Benjamin says cheese, showing off his stylish goatee

Game night. We stopped mid-game- to be continued!

Playing soccer with Daddy

Too tired to swim

Then our friends Cass and Walter came to visit us yesterday, and Cass took lots of pictures of us.
Grandpa Nick with Meema
Daddy with Asher

 Going on a walk to the bay:
Two boys

Snuggle bug
Sea-weed. Nom.

Picking seaweed
Handsome young man
Contemplating fiddler crabs
Looking at a snail in its shell
Meema with Asher
Happy with life
Benjamin with Grandpa Nick
 We ended the night our usual way- ice cream!
Everyone has an ice cream
Vanilla moustache
Horsing around
Today we went to the pond to swim and play in the sand.  Asher had skipped breakfast at home, but was only too happy to eat all of his leftovers at the pond.  He insisted on eating with a fork, and would run around between bites with a plastic fork in his hand.
"More pancake, mama"
Brothers at play
We did manage to squeeze in ice cream yet again tonight.  I have found it makes for an excellent bribe- saying "No ice cream unless you eat a good dinner" has resulted in closer attention to real food.  Did I ever say I wouldn't do that?  I'm sure I did, but that was before I had two year olds!

Tomorrow afternoon Aunt Elana will join us, and I am sure we have much more eating to do after she gets here.  Our schedule so far has been: morning activity (beach, pond, or playground), lunch, nap time, short afternoon activity, dinner, ice cream, bedtime for little ones, and grown-up quiet time.  It seems to be working well!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

21 weeks & anxious ramblings


There are a few things I'm anxious about- we are approaching the point where I went on bed rest with my guys.  Of course this pregnancy has been different in pretty much every single way, but I can't help but feel a little superstitious, or worried.

I have an ultrasound on Wednesday to check my cervix again- I think this will be the last time I will come in for the specific purpose of having it checked.  I did look online and see that for most women with incompetent cervix, the cervix shortens between 18 and 22 weeks, and I am almost at 22 weeks.  But my ultrasound will be at 21w4d, which is exactly where I was when I found out my cervix was shortening in my last pregnancy.  I just don't know how I will take the news if it isn't good.

I am not a total worrywart- to be honest, I think everything will be fine.  I don't know if it is intuition or what, but in my last pregnancy I was worried that something was wrong, and that was what sent me in at 21w4d for an extra check.  This time I really feel like everything is just as it should be.  I hope that I'm right!

Then I am starting to think about labor and delivery.  A friend just found out her baby is breech (she is 34 weeks, so there is time for the baby to turn).  This friend had planned on a natural labor and delivery at the birthing center, so a breech baby would really screw with that plan!

In my last pregnancy I didn't really have my heart set on a vaginal delivery.  Of course I wanted one, but I felt like with a conception and pregnancy where nothing had gone as planned, I wouldn't get too wrapped in what I wanted- in the end, all I really wanted was two healthy, full-term babies.  Now that I have had an easy and quick labor and vaginal delivery, I really, really want another.  My OB has told me that he expects I will be able to have another easy vaginal delivery, which I like hearing.

I have thought about taking some kind of birthing class, which we didn't have the opportunity to do the last time around (hmmm... as I type this- am I behind on this one? Will the classes be full? What kind of class do I want?).  I know about labor, I know about the drugs available to me and how all that works, but I might want some kind of Lamaze or Bradley.  Realistically, I don't see myself going drug-free.  Those contractions were a BITCH.  Can you imagine going through that for hours?!?  If someone could promise me I would only be in labor for 4 hours, ok, I would try no drugs.  But longer than that, and forget it.

In any case, I have been fantasizing and romanticizing giving birth to a single, full-term baby.  I'll get to deliver in my labor room rather than an OR, I'll get the baby right away and for somewhat longer, we will hopefully be able to try to breast feed immediately as well. I remember them taking the boys away right after they were born, and I would like to keep this baby with me for longer, if I can.

Oh- this baby has a nickname, courtesy of my mom: Petunia.  Every time we say it, someone thinks that is her real name.  No, no plans to name her Petunia after birth, but it will work for the time being!

And, finally, a congratulations today to our good friends who welcomed their first child- a baby girl- this afternoon!  We hope she and Petunia will be good friends, too.

How far along?  21 weeks (although I won't publish this til tomorrow, when I will be 21w1d)
Total weight gain/loss?  Hmph. I feel like my hips are rapidly spreading.
Maternity clothes?  Yes. I even have a maternity bathing suit.
Pregnancy symptoms?  Sore breasts, some irritability (or is that because I am tired and have a cold?)
Stretch marks? Nothing new. But I seriously could end up bigger with one than with two, so maybe I will get them later.
Sleep?  Still not great. Sometimes trouble falling asleep, lots of dreams- some of them anxiety dreams. I am also still waking up early some mornings.
Best moment last week? I had my first stranger ask when I was due!  Then, last night (after I had initially written this) Eric got to feel Petunia move. He was mostly asleep, so I am not sure if he remembers, but it happened.
Movement?  Yes, movement. Just like mommy, she is most excited right around meal time- even before I eat!
Food cravings? No big or crazy cravings. I did mention to Eric that we haven't had steak in a while, so he went out and bought filet steaks for our dinner. They were pretty good!
Gender? Still a girl- we were told that for a 3rd time at our anatomy scan a week ago, so it must be true!
Labor signs? No, and fewer Braxton-Hicks than I was having a couple of weeks ago.
Belly button in/out? In.
What I miss: Taking cold medication when I am sick.
What I am looking forward to: another ultrasound to check my cervix and hopefully show everything is ok.
Milestones: Last week was 20 weeks- halfway through!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

3 years since IVF & embryo donation

Yesterday was 3 years since my embryo transfer, the day where we transferred two blastocysts, just hoping for one baby, and not really imagining we might get two!

It is less poignant this year than it was last year, which was less than the year before. I wonder if the time will come that these dates won't mean anything at all?  My life is so different now, that peace and time for reflection that I had while going through my IVF is not a part of my day at all.

The anniversary of our IVF also brings the bill for maintaining our frozen embryos.  We have 9 of them- 7 of them were frozen the day after fertilization at 2 cells, and 2 of them were frozen as blastocysts after we chose the 2 that became our children.  We have every reason to assume that they are genetically normal, and if our two living children are any indication, might make pretty cute babies.

For a long time, I have hoped that Eric and I would donate any of our unused embryos (anonymously) to another couple. I have known people who have considered embryo adoption, and it is often a very long wait for embryos to come.  The nice part about adopting an embryo, for another couple, is that they have control of the pregnancy and prenatal care.  And that a woman with fertility problems gets to experience pregnancy.

So we are filling out the forms, giving our family medical histories, describing ourselves.  I feel very boring. I have no musical or artistic talent, and nothing that I feel is especially outstanding.  I think I'm a nice person, I think I'm smart, but I know a lot of nice, smart people.  I also have 4 living grandparents, which I think speaks to the strength of my family's health. Then I had to fill out the family medical history- we have a history of Type II diabetes and now Alzheimers.  The Alzheimer's was diagnosed in both of my grandmothers around the age of 86. Is it better to be long-lived with dementia or die younger before all these old-age problems set in?

I wish that we could include pictures of our boys, just so we could sell our product.  "See?  Good DNA. Cute babies." (Yes, I am biased.)  I worry, what if no one wants our embryos?  I will feel rejected... or maybe I will never know what becomes of them.  I guess I can only do so much- by doing what feels right to me and letting others decide the rest.

That is where things lie- it is an experience, to be pregnant again, this time without assistance.  I feel so strongly that my boys are miracles- miracles of science, of medicine; miracles because they are so wonderful and bring me such joy, and because I was able to conceive and carry them after fearing I would not be able to.  And this unborn child is also a miracle- that we were able to conceive through intercourse alone, in the privacy of our own bedroom, for the cost of $0 (that is not including the dinner and wine I had out with the girls earlier in the night, of course).  I am hoping that somehow, we can help another family have their own miracle.