Monday, 29 December 2014

Whirlwind

Holy crap, it's been one hell of a busy holiday!

M and I arrived at my parents' place late on the 23rd after a much delayed flight.  Christmas Eve was filled with visits to various friends and family to drop off gifts.  On Christmas Day I got up bright and early to go to my sister's house so I could enjoy the insanity of my niece opening up all her presents from Santa, and then I headed back to my folks' place for our own gift opening followed by turkey dinner with all the trimmings.  On Boxing Day my parents hosted brunch for some of their friends, and then on the 27th there was a huge extended family gathering at my aunt's place.  Finally, since this will be my last visit home before Chalupa Batman's arrival, yesterday my mom threw me a small baby shower attended by some aunts, female cousins and a few friends.

Whew!  I'm tired out from just typing that.

Anyway, that's my excuse for not having a chance before now to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas.  No matter what may or may not be happening in your uterus at this moment, I hope you've had a wonderful holiday surrounded by friends, family, warmth and love.  Oh, and cookies.  Lots and lots of cookies.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Poppin' fresh

I think I'm starting to figure out how this guy feels:


Well, OK, so strangers haven't started poking me in the tummy yet, but I have had a couple of people (luckily, semi-close friends) ask if they could rub my belly.  Since both of them were very supportive during the bad days, I let them have a go.  But I'm not planning on making a habit of it!

I guess what all of this means is that I've started to look more and more pregnant.  Which is interesting, because it means that all of a sudden people seem to only have this one thing to talk to me about.  In general, it takes one of two routes.  People who know me a little bit better have been alternately telling me how awesome I look or (jokingly) slagging me for not having a bigger belly, whereas other people (mostly co-workers I don't know so well) just give me this weird smile and a sing-song-y "So how are you feeee-ling??"  Lucky for them I'm feeling pretty good, because I doubt they'd seriously want to hear something like, "Oh, well, this morning I found something leaking out of my nipples.  Is that normal?" (Answer: yes, but I don't actually have any nipple leakage.  Yet.)

Anyway, I've been lax in posting headless bump pics, so here are a couple for anyone who's interested.  And yes, it has become painfully clear to me that it seems like my entire wardrobe consists of stripes.

21 weeks


24 weeks.  Definitely rounded out!

I had my 24 week checkup with my OB today, and was given a letter declaring me "in good health and able to travel" just in case Air Canada decides to give me any flak in a couple of weeks.  M and I are headed back east to see my family for the holidays this year, and I'm seriously counting down the days!

Monday, 1 December 2014

2nd Blogiversary

What a difference a year makes.

Last year in my first blogiversary post, I lamented the fact that I was feeling left behind, as almost half of the bloggers I was following were now either pregnant or parenting.  This year, that statistic has risen to almost 80%.  For a lot of people, it's been an awfully good year.

I'm one of them.  You might not be.  And maybe now you're one of the ones who's feeling left behind.

This post is for you.

I want you to know that you're not forgotten.  I want you to know that I remember all too well how it feels to read or hear about yet another pregnancy announcement.  To feel that bittersweet mix of happiness for someone else, tinged with more than a little sadness for yourself.  To blink back your tears until you can make it to a bathroom somewhere and let it out, just a little, only to bottle it back up again so you can head back to your desk or party or wherever it is you are without people knowing you've been crying.

To wonder if it will ever be you.

I remember all too well how it feels to grieve over and over again, month after month, year after year.  To ride the roller coaster of each new cycle from excitement to fear to disappointment, and wonder if you'll know when it's time to get off.  To question whether you'll have the strength to do so when it is.

To have hope become an enemy.

I wish I could tell you that it's all going to work out how you want it to, and that your BFP is just around the corner.  I wish I could tell you that you just have to do a few more cycles, or try IVF, or try a donor or a surrogate, and you'll get your wish.  But we both know I can't do that.  No one can.  All I can tell you is that, a year ago, I was in that same place.  I was starting to think that it would always be someone else's turn, and that it would never be mine.  And then, for a little while, it got even worse.  And then I became one of the lucky ones.

I hope with every single fibre of my being that someday it'll be you.  If I've been remiss in not saying it before, let me say it now: I'm still with you.  I haven't for one second forgotten what it feels like.  No matter what this journey holds for you, know that you're not alone.  

Everyone here is ready to go
It's been a hard year with nothing to show
From down this road
It's only on we go, on we go
Everyone here is ready to go
It's been a hard year, and I only know
From down this low
It's only up we go, up we go 


Sunday, 23 November 2014

That one time I went to prenatal yoga

I am not a bendy person.  Despite many years of dance and martial arts classes, I have and never will be able to do a split.  While other girls were extending their legs up by their ears, I was struggling to get mine to 90 degrees.  As a result, yoga and I have never been friends.  I've tried a couple of different classes, but while everyone else is smiling contentedly and breathing into their poses, I'm huffing and puffing and sweating and shaking as I fight frantically not to topple over.  I've never found anything even remotely relaxing about it, so despite how good it's supposed to be for you, I gave up trying.

A little while ago my work friend Maya signed up for a new yoga studio close to our office.  She started bugging me about coming to a lunchtime prenatal class with her as a way of using up some of her free guest passes, and after a few weeks of putting her off I finally ran out of excuses.  I figured it had been a couple of years since I'd last tortured myself with yoga, so I was due for another round.  (Side note:  No, Maya is not pregnant, although her partner is currently in the middle of a 2WW after their most recent FET.  The prenatal class was just conveniently timed.)

In my limited yoga experience, I'd discovered that the stereotype of the crunchy granola hippie yoga instructor was usually a myth.  Not this time.  Either that, or the universe had just been saving up.

The teacher started off by introducing herself as a former finance professional who'd given up the rat race to become a naturopathic doctor, yoga teacher, and lactation consultant. 


Then she casually mentioned that she was a mom of two, and that she was still breastfeeding her 4 and a half year old daughter.


Look, I think it's really great that there are so many different parenting choices available today, and I plan on trying really hard not to judge others just like I hope they won't judge me when the time comes. But this?  Fuck this.  I'm totally judging this.

Just...no.

With this horrifying image still fresh in our minds, we started class.  And it was actually ok.  Tougher than I thought it would be for a prenatal class, but definitely not the worst class I'd ever done.  I was even starting to think that I could actually see myself doing it again.

And then we got to the cool-down meditation.  Rather than the usual "concentrate on your breath, clear your mind, connect with your baby" relaxation that I was counting on, the instructor walked us through some top-level hypnobirthing earth mother goddess stuff.  Amongst other things, we were encouraged to "feel the beauty of each contraction" and envision our cervixes "opening like a flower to the warm rays of the sun".  Now, I know I haven't given birth yet, but I've read an awful lot of birth stories and for the life of me I can't remember any of you guys talking about how beautiful your contractions felt.  So clearly, you were all doing it wrong.  I'm also pretty sure that "cervix opening like a flower" is code for "3rd degree perineal tear", in which case I'll pass.  

Either way, at that point I had one eye open scanning the room to see if anyone else was trying as hard as I was not to laugh. 

Cervix opening like a what now?

So yeah.  I don't yoga so good.

Otherwise, there's not much to report around here.  I hit 22 weeks on Friday, and I'm feeling good.  Chalupa Batman has begun regular disco sessions in my uterus.  And yet we've still made no progress on names, or the nursery, nor have we bought anything or really done a single thing to prepare.  Eep.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Teeny weeny peeny

Today we had our anatomy scan.  Everything looked great, with baby measuring a few days ahead at exactly 20 weeks.

Oh, and they saw a...thing...you know, a...


 *Apologies to anyone who doesn't watch New Girl, but that scene was frigging hilarious.

So yeah, it's a boy!  Unfortunately the $30 rip-off CD of photos that my hospital now forces you to buy in lieu of giving you free pictures did not contain a photo of the money maker itself, so you'll just have to take my word for it.  But here's a shot of our little dude!




Sunday, 26 October 2014

Where dat bump at?

I'm just going to lead off with this image, as I'm pretty sure this is what a lot of people are thinking when they look at me right now.


On Friday I hit 18 weeks, and so far reactions have been mixed.  On the one hand, one of my...ahem...rounder friends at work good-naturedly yelled at me last week because I wasn't really showing yet (quote: "I look more pregnant than you do!").  Yet only two days later, a colleague quietly asked M if we were expecting.  Now, to be fair, we were out for drinks and I was nursing a water whilst wearing a very blousy top that had always given me a bit of preggo look even before the advent of Chalupa Batman, but still.  I figure the reason she asked him instead of me was because she was a little concerned that I'd been hitting the donuts too hard and didn't want to offend me just in case.  Either that, or she was aware of this helpful infographic:


Right now, I figure I'm sitting somewhere around level 2 or 3 of this chart.  See for yourselves.

Baby?  Or pizza?

I have to admit, it's a little weird to be almost halfway (!?!) through this pregnancy without really being able to see or feel anything.  This stage of pregnancy is such a tease!  Over the past week or two I've occasionally felt little rumbles that could maybe sorta kinda be CB moving around in there, but my stupid anterior placenta makes it so faint that I can't really be sure.

Also, while my regular pants and belly band are getting pushed pretty close to the limit, I still don't seem to be quite ready for maternity clothes yet.  Especially tops.  Every time I've tried one on, even if I grab a really small size I still look like I'm wearing a potato sack because I'm not filling them out properly.  (Side rant: is it just me, or do they make maternity tops really huge at the neck??  Everything I've tried on seems like it gapes down to my boobs, which I'm sure is great for nursing but not so good for going to work and otherwise associating with humans who don't suck on your breasts regularly.  Or perhaps, as a member of the itty bitty titty committee, I'm just not filling them out properly.)

I'm also still waiting for the fabled "nesting instinct" to start kicking in, because I know the next 20 weeks will pass by in a flash, especially with Christmas holidays thrown in there.  We've done exactly zero preparation so far, which I guess is probably pretty normal, but at some point we'll have to buckle down and focus on turning "that room" (which has held junk for the past three years of our infertility process) into a nursery.  So far though, my couch has had a whole lot more appeal than the paint aisle of Home Depot.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

The Absentee Blogger

Sooo...it turns out when I'm not dealing with the daily slings and arrows of infertility, I'm a really boring person.  I keep waiting for there to be something noteworthy for me to write a blog post about, but we're just basically trucking along on an even keel here.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining AT ALL.  And I'm not deliberately avoiding writing or anything, because hopefully you guys know me well enough by now to figure out that if you're not in a good place to read about my pregnancy, there's no hard feelings.  You take care of you first.

That said, here's what's new:
  • I seem to have gotten my acid reflux issues under some semblance of control.  My OB put me on twice-daily Zantac, and I've only had one more puking incident after an ill-advised large BBQ rib meal (but DAMN it was worth it).  In general I just find that I have to eat much smaller portion sizes than I'm used to, which means I'm pretty much eating all day long.  There's breakfast, second breakfast, elevensies, lunch, afternoon snack, pre-dinner snack, dinner, and bedtime snack.  I'm literally eating like a hobbit.
  • Despite my prolific eating, I still don't have a real "baby bump".  I've put on about 6 pounds (which is on track for almost 16 weeks) and am definitely thicker around the middle, but so far I've been making do with my fat pants and a belly band.  When I finally told my dance classmates last night that I might not be doing the recital with them this year, they seemed pretty surprised that I was almost 4 months along.  Then they told me that, since I'm due in March, I have a whole three months to get back in shape and learn the choreography so I apparently have no excuse for missing the recital in June.
  • My sis told my 5 year old niece this weekend that there was a baby growing in auntie's belly.  Hilariously, my niece didn't believe her and immediately insisted on Facetiming me to ask me herself.  She didn't appear too impressed with my answer...I think she sees her days as the one and only child getting my attention coming to an end.
  • The name game has begun!  Even though we won't find out the baby's sex until the start of November, M and I have started tossing around a few suggestions.  I thought this would be fun, until I realized that his attention span for this activity is approximately 0.36 seconds before he starts firing out ridiculous shit like "Lando Boba Fett".  Also not helping?  The fact that he just recently finished binge-watching the TV comedy "The League" and now, in homage to the characters on the show, has begun to refer to our gestating fetus as Chalupa Batman.
Even worse...now I'm doing it too.
  • I had another OB appointment today and happily, Chalupa Batman's heartbeat was easily found and was thumping away.  I apparently have an anterior placenta (it's on the front of my uterus with the baby behind it), so that can sometimes make finding the heartbeat difficult because it's muffled.  It also will likely mean that I won't feel any kicks or movement until a bit later on, which kind of sucks.  Although I did have a moment other day when I thought I might have felt something...but then figured it could also be gas.  Given the amount of bloating still going on, if we're playing "baby or gas?" then there's a pretty good chance it's just gas.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Good news and gooder news

The good news:  We had our follow-up appointment at the OB's office today to get the results of our first trimester screening bloodwork.  Combined with our normal NT scan, our risk of Down's and other chromosomal abnormalities has been assessed as 1 in 37000.  Seriously, 37000?!?!  That's pretty damn low, and better than I could even have hoped for.

The gooder news:  That whole freakout I had about the possibility of having a single uterine artery (with its accompanying risk of birth defects)?  Totally unnecessary.  I asked the nurse about it today and she looked through our file, and saw that our OB had recorded seeing 3 vessels (one vein, two arteries) in her u/s notes.  If she hadn't seen the third vessel at all, it would have said "not visualized".  So either she found it afterwards when reviewing the u/s photos, or she saw it at the time and didn't communicate it to us.  Either way, another needless worry averted.  We have a normal umbilical cord.  Phew!

The prospect of us coming home with a real, honest-to-goodness baby in March is starting to feel more and more real!

Sunday, 21 September 2014

My first pregnancy puke

It happened the day I hit 12 weeks.  So much for the whole "starting to feel better in the second trimester" thing.

Honestly, I can't really complain too much about my first trimester.  My nausea was super mild, and though I was going to bed maybe an hour earlier than normal I wasn't particularly exhausted.  Then, somewhere around my 9th or 10th week, I started getting this really uncomfortable feeling of something being stuck in my throat from time to time.

At first I couldn't figure it out, until my brother in law suggested that maybe I was suffering from some kind of acid reflux.  I didn't think that could be it, since I wasn't getting any heartburn or anything.  But the symptom kept worsening to the point that I was getting it almost every day, sometimes all day, so I kept Googling.  My Google-fu didn't fail me, and I'm pretty sure I'm getting what's called silent reflux.  It's basically the same type of thing as heartburn, but rather than the stomach acid sitting in my esophagus and causing a burning sensation it's going all the way up to my throat instead.

If you're wondering what the sensation feels like and why it's bothering me so much, here's a handy home demonstration for you.  Find the hollow of your throat, and press your finger there.  Not so hard you choke, just lightly enough that you can feel your gag reflex sort of engage.  Now swallow.  That's how I feel ALL THE TIME now.  It's horrendous.  It's like a constant throat punch.

All day, err' day.


I've tried everything I can think of to make it go away.  I've eaten smaller, more frequent meals.  I've cut out citrus and tomatoes and chocolate.  I've chewed gum.  I've drunk baking soda mixed with water.  I've started eating Gaviscon like it's my job.  Some days are better, and I rack my brains trying to figure out what I did that made it go away.  Then it comes back for no reason I can think of, and whatever worked the day before doesn't work anymore.

Last Friday night, the day I hit 12 weeks, I was feeling so shitty that I had to force myself to eat a plain bagel for dinner.  I was starving but the lump in my throat had been so bad all day I was terrified to put anything in my stomach.  A few hours later, while getting ready for bed, I was brushing my teeth and made the mistake of brushing my tongue just a leetle too far back.  I gagged.  I thought I was gonna blow, then I didn't.  I made my way to the bedroom and sat on the bed.  M asked if I was ok.  Then all of a sudden I knew I wasn't going to be and ran to the bathroom and took part in that grand tradition of pregnant ladies everywhere, the porcelain hug.

And you guys?  When it was all over I felt like a million fucking dollars!!!  For the first time in days, the lump in my throat was gone.  Until the next morning, that is.  Apparently a whole wheat English muffin with peanut butter is more than my stomach can handle anymore, and it was back.  But man, it was good while it lasted!

So here I am, 13w2d today, and I still haven't figured out how to make it go away.  The only thing that seems to work for certain is puking, which I'm not willing to make myself do (no matter how good it would make me feel) because yuck.  And I'm sure it's not good for the baby.  But I'm really hoping my OB has some kind of suggestion at our appointment this Wednesday (possibly some kind of prescription acid reducer that's safe in pregnancy) because I might go insane if this keeps up for the next 7 months.

If anyone else has dealt with this particularly evil brand of reflux (or knows anyone else who has), and has some suggestions for me, please let me know!  At this point I'm not above voodoo or possibly the sacrifice of a small animal.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Looking for trouble

Infertility is such a mindfuck.  Even when you start to think that you've kinda, sorta started to leave it behind you, you realize how badly it's messed you up.

Case in point: on Thursday M and I met our OB for the first time to have our nuchal translucency (NT) scan.  It had been a month since our last ultrasound, so I was nervous going in but I'd been having enough ongoing pregnancy symptoms that deep down I thought everything would probably be OK.  And it was.  Our OB very quickly told me that I could take a deep breath because everything looked great.

Seeing our baby wriggling around on the screen was nothing short of surreal.  Both of us sat there, pretty much in stunned silence, as our OB pointed out various features and took measurements.  Almost as amazing as seeing our baby was watching M's face, filled with wonderment as he looked at the screen.  This was his first time seeing an ultrasound image in person and, as he told me later, he could have sat there watching it for hours.  I can't even explain how much I loved seeing him like that.

The NT part of the scan went fine, with a normal NT measurement (our OB didn't tell us exactly what it was) and a nasal bone clearly visible.  Then, towards the end of the scan, she started looking at the umbilical cord.  She got quiet for a while, and explained that she was trying to make sure that "all three vessels" were there.  After more poking around, she nonchalantly said something like "well I can see two, so I'm sure there's a third" and then she moved on.  At the end of the scan she congratulated us and I headed to the lab to have my blood taken for the rest of the first trimester screening tests.

We left the hospital walking on air.  We stopped for lunch and called our respective moms and told them the great news.  Then, back at the office, out of curiosity I Googled to find out more about the umbilical cord and the "three vessels".

That was a mistake.

In a nutshell, the umbilical cord is supposed to have three blood vessels in it: a vein which carries oxygen and nutrients to the baby, and two arteries that take waste products away from it.  Sometimes, in about 1% of cases, there's only one artery.  Most of the time this isn't a big deal at all, but on occasion it can be a sign of chromosomal or other defects, ranging from the minor to the fatal.

Now, let's just stop for a second and realize that my OB seemed completely unconcerned  about this.  At no point did she actually say that there were only two vessels, just that she couldn't see the third, which I'm sure is completely normal at this early stage.  The rest of the NT scan was perfect.  But what do you think I ended up obsessing over for the rest of the day?

M could immediately tell something was up, and I told him what I'd found.  He told me to stop worrying, but I didn't.  I kept Googling and making things worse.  By that evening, all of the joy that I'd experienced that morning had been sucked away into a vortex of "what if".  And the worst part?  It had started to affect M as well.  The happy, excited dad-to-be of that morning was gone, replaced by a husband getting increasingly pissed off that his wife just couldn't be positive for a change.

Later that night, he called me out on it.  He said that it felt every time we got some much-needed good news, I found a way to undercut it.  It was like I couldn't just let us be happy; I needed to find some problem to worry about or some way to bring us down a bit.  And he was absolutely right.  I've been doing this from the start, turning our high beta into an imaginary molar pregnancy or a day with a lack of pregnancy symptoms into an impending miscarriage.  None of which has come to pass.

I'm trying really hard to figure out why I do this, and of course it all comes back to three years of infertility.  How many times have I read about bloggers not being able to accept that they'll have a healthy baby in their arms until so late in their pregnancies?  I would always offer words of solace, and tell them that unless their doctor told them they had something to worry about then they should start trying to be happy and enjoy their pregnancies.  And now here I am, needing to listen to my own advice.  Not only for my own sake, but for my husband's too.  He deserves to have a happy pregnancy every bit as much as I do.  And I'll be damned if I let my insecurities take that away from him again.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

10 weeks, body image, and my life with a FUPA

My little brother was the first person to ever call me "fat".  He was trying to get under my skin, and boy oh boy did it ever work.  I was about 12 or 13 at the time, and I'd already been noticing that my body had lumps and bumps where other girls didn't.  Most noticeable (to me, anyway) was my lack of a flat tummy.  I thought about it in ballet class, using the full-length mirrors to surreptitiously check and see if any of the other girls in my class had the same little pooch below their belly button.  I thought about it at the beach, lying on my back and noticing the concave dip between my friends' hipbones while my belly stubbornly curved outward, despite the assistance of gravity.  I thought about it more and more as I got older and gained a few more pounds, most of which seemed determined to concentrate itself in the real estate directly beneath my navel.

Fast forward to university, I'd figured out some basics about nutrition and fitness and had managed to drop most of the excess weight I'd put on in high school.  But try as I might, no amount of step aerobics (ah, the 90s!) could entirely get rid of what my mother (who carries her fat the same way) referred to as my "pot belly".  Such a cutesy name for the bane of my existence!  Let's just call a spade a spade.  I have a Fat Upper Pubic Area (FUPA).

I know.  You don't need to remind me.

Given the inordinate amount of time and energy that I've spent lamenting and trying to get rid of the FUPA, it stands to reason that I've always wondered how I'd deal with weight gain in pregnancy.  For a while there it looked like it wasn't going to be an issue I'd have to deal with at all.  Except now it is, and I'm not sure I'm doing very well so far.

After my last post, the lovely Amber commented that the first few months of pregnancy "when you just feel fat and not really pregnant" can be hard.  I'm learning that this is absolutely true.  In the past when I felt my pants getting tighter, there was always a solution: I'd either been indulging too much and needed to cut back, or I'd been slacking on working out and needed to move more.  This time there's nothing I can do about it, and it's only going to get worse.  Don't get me wrong, I know that this is what we've been striving for and I wouldn't have it any other way!  But after 38 years of mentally conditioning myself to avoid gaining weight, it's really really hard to flip that switch to the off position.

The more I think about this stuff, the more I've been realizing that this is definitely an attitude that I don't want to pass on to our baby.  Whether we have a girl or a boy, I don't want our child to live in a house where its mother teaches it that a woman's worth is based on her weight or body shape.  I want our child to see that eating well and being active is good because it's healthy, not because it affects how you look.  Society and pop culture will do a good enough job sending those other messages anyway; I want our child to have a solid base of confidence from which to contradict them.

In the meantime, I've been trying to do a better job of choosing healthier snacks (because STILL SO HUNGRY) and getting out for more long walks with Buddy.  I even fired up my prenatal workout video again and am looking forward to starting dance class when the studio opens next week.  I'm not gonna lie; I'm still terrified about gaining a ton of unnecessary weight and having to deal with a saggier, flabbier FUPA when this is all over (at which point I've learned it gains the horrible, terrible nickname "mother's apron").  But even if I do, this baby isn't going to hear a single word about it.  Which will probably be good for both of us.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Fat pants

Yup.  I'm wearin' em.

I've gained a grand total of two pounds, which I think is probably OK for being almost 9 weeks along.  I'm actually surprised it's not more, given that I've been famished all the time and I haven't been working out.  I can't really do much about the former, but I have to admit I'm pretty ticked at myself about the latter.  After spending the better part of the last year and a half working out regularly and getting into the best shape I've ever been in, I've been letting it all go to hell since June.  First we had our big sewer backup, which effectively destroyed the downstairs area where I do all my workouts.  Then we were gone for most of July (to Prague and then Vancouver), and since we've been back I just haven't gotten into the groove.

I'm really just full of excuses.  I didn't want to restart my high-intensity interval and weight training, figuring it would probably be too intense for pregnancy.  But I waffled on buying any pregnancy workouts out of fear that I'd jinx the whole thing.  I finally forced myself to just pick one off iTunes, and I've done it exactly once.  I went into it with gusto, not realizing that two months off is a lot longer than it seems.  I hurt for days afterwards, and haven't done it since.  Add to that the fact that my nausea tends to act up in the late afternoon/after work/before dinner (which is exactly when I do my workouts) and it's just a recipe for laziness.

So I shouldn't have been shocked when I went to put on a pair of skinny corduroys the other day, only to be faced with some pretty serious discomfort and muffin top.  (Yeah, ok, the thighs were kind of tight too, so obviously this isn't just a belly issue.)  Lucky for me, I hadn't yet ditched/donated most of the pants that I was wearing before I went on my health kick, so a few of them are starting to make it back into the rotation.  

Soon...

Otherwise, I'm actually pretty stoked because tomorrow my sis, her husband and my adorable almost-5-year-old niece are coming to Toronto for a week!  My niece hasn't been here since my wedding when she was 2, so this will be the first time that we'll be able to do fun kid activities like the zoo and the beach.  I don't know who's more excited, me or her!  It'll also be a nice way to kill some time between now and our NT scan/first OB appointment, which isn't until the second week of September.  Feels like a lifetime until then!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

So far, so good

Still here!  And still pregnant.  We had another ultrasound on Monday (7w3d) and baby (holyshitBABY!!) was measuring two days ahead with a heartbeat of 158.  We've officially graduated from our RE and don't have another appointment until our nuchal translucency scan around 11 weeks.  Guess I'll just have to somehow get through the next month assuming things are still developing as they should!

Actually, I'm weirdly positive about this whole thing. Weirdly for me, anyway, given my tendency towards pessimism in all things.  I think it might have something to do with the fact that we're not dealing with my crappy old eggs anymore.  Every time we did a cycle with my eggs, I knew the odds were stacked against us so I kind of just assumed that things wouldn't work out.  Knowing that my egg quality was so poor, I think even if I'd managed a sustained pregnancy I probably would have been super stressed thinking that it wouldn't last.  But because we're dealing with phenomenal 27-year old donor eggs, that worry is a lot less present right now.  It's not entirely absent, though, and so far we've only told a handful of people including close family and a few friends who knew we were going to Prague for DEIVF.

So yeah, things have been going pretty well overall.  At first I didn't have any morning sickness at all, and then when I finally got it a little bit it wasn't at all like I expected.  I always figured it would be like on TV where all of a sudden, a pregnant lady gets hit with a wave of nausea and runs to the bathroom to puke her guts up.  I'm sure it's like that for some people, but for me it's been more like a constant low-level generally icky queasy feeling that hangs around throughout the day, but never really gets bad enough to make me vomit.


And speaking of handling, the one pregnancy symptom that M has been loving so far: BOOBS.  I've never been particularly well-endowed, and when I'm working out regularly and eating well I can drop as low as an A-cup.  And, since I'm pushing 40, that A-cup has gotten steadily flatter and decidedly less perky as the years pass.

Not anymore, baby.  Right now I'm rockin' some tig ol' bitties!  Well, OK, I'm sure I'm only a generous B-cup at the moment but these things are defying gravity.  I take my bra off before bed and they do.  Not.  Move.  They're firm and proud and perfectly round.  It's like I've had implants.  Which, considering how much money we spent to finally get me pregnant, seems like a fair deal.  Luckily for me, my breasts have never really been that sensitive (playing with my boobs as foreplay?  You might as well be fondling my elbow) so I haven't had to worry about tenderness or anything that would prevent M from having tons of motorboating fun.


My trifecta of symptoms is also including freakish levels of hunger that come on with lightning speed.  I've been trying to eat smaller, more frequent meals but some days it seems like I can barely go half an hour without needing to eat.  If I don't deal with the issue right away, my body skips that in-between phase of "a little gurgly in the tummy" hunger and fast-forwards straight to "my stomach is devouring itself" levels of hunger.  I get cranky and confused and all I can think about is how soon can I get some food in my face.


All in all, things are have been pretty uneventful and that's just fine by me. 

Thursday, 31 July 2014

One

One gestational sac.

One embryo.

One teensy, tiny, fluttering heartbeat.

One VERY relieved pregnant lady.

One super happy RE.

One RE's assistant who needs her clock cleaned for being an idiot, communicating poorly and causing unnecessary worry.

Oh, screw it.  I'm in a good mood today.  I'll let her off the hook.

One absolutely awesome group of strangers from the internet who remind me every day that I'm not alone, that there's a ton of people rooting for us, and that no matter how crazy I get, they're here for me.

And finally, one picture to sum up how I feel right now.


Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Beta #2: Bag of nerves

"The doctor would like you to come in for an ultrasound at 8:30 tomorrow morning."

Not exactly the way you want your RE's secretary to start the call with your second beta results.

My second beta came back at "just under 26,000".  I didn't get the exact number.  Now, here's the ironic part.  I had been all concerned that my betas were too high and that I might be having a molar pregnancy.  But apparently now my beta didn't increase enough for my RE's comfort.

What.  The.  Everloving.  Fuck.

Now, let's just start with the fact that everything I've found online tells me that once your beta HCG levels hit 6000 or more, your doubling time can drop to over 96 hours.  It sucks that I don't have the exact number from today, but even if we go with a very conservative 25,500 that still gives me the best possible doubling time of 107 hours.  Which is not that far above 96 hours.  Which I would actually feel kind of fine with otherwise.

It's the fucking urgency to get me in tomorrow morning that's killing me.  The secretary bumbled around with all kinds of reasons like "well, we didn't do your transfer so we don't know exactly what they transferred and when they transferred it and you didn't do your beta on the normal day so she doesn't have a good baseline to compare it to and she just wants to have a look."  I call bullshit on that, though, because I've already told them we did a 5 day single embryo transfer on July 9th, so they should know damn well that today I'm supposed to be 5w5d.  And a beta of 26,000 is still well above average for today.

I also have no idea what they're going to be able to see tomorrow at 5w6d, but the last thing I want (well, OK, the second last thing after dead/no baby) is "well, we can see something but we're not sure what it is so you have to torture yourself wait all weekend and come back next week."

I just wish one of my goddamn tests would come back normal.  Just one.  Now my stomach's in a knot of anxiety (which isn't good for whatever baby may/may not be inside me) and I just want to cry and go to sleep and have it be tomorrow morning and get this over with.

I'll update tomorrow when I can.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Too much of a good thing?

Sorry to leave you all in suspense after my last post.  I won't drag things out.  So far, so good.  I'm still pregnant.  VERY pregnant, in fact.

After my BFP we flew to Vancouver for my friend's wedding, where I did a piss poor job of hiding the fact that I wasn't drinking.  Turns out that if you're planning to lie about drinking gin and tonics, you'd probably better make sure the bar is actually serving gin.  Otherwise people will demand to know where you got it and you'll be forced to admit that it's actually just club soda with a lime in it.

Best movie ever!

Fortunately for me the person who caught me is a discreet friend, and I was able to get away with just explaining that we were doing IVF treatment without having to disclose the results.  Thank goodness for people who have no idea about ART timelines!

My original plan was to wait almost a week before testing again, but of course paranoia got the better of me and I peed again the day after the wedding (11dp5dt), which was three days after the first test.  To my delight, the line was darker and in fact was starting to eclipse the control line.  After that I was able to relax a bit, and M and I decided to let our moms in on the news.  We obviously cautioned them to wait for the results of a blood test before getting too excited.

On the second last day of our trip, I called my RE's clinic and was happy to learn that they had no problem scheduling me for a beta when we got back.  To make sure I wasn't going to be disappointed (and to quell the crazy voice inside my head that kept telling me I had no symptoms so hence I wasn't really pregnant), I peed again on 16dp5dt.

It was the weirdest test result I've ever seen.  There was virtually no control line at all.  All the dye got sucked up by the test line.  It looked like my chemical pregnancy pee stick, but in reverse.

I think I broke it.

Hilariously, when you're as pessimistic as I am you don't think "OMG look how pregnant I am!".  Instead you think, "Shit, I must have gotten a defective test.  What if they accidentally reversed the strip and I'm having another CP??"

Fortunately I didn't have long to wait.   This morning (19dp5dt, or 5w3d) I had my first beta.  The results were pretty shocking.

18,689.

Yeah.  That's high.  Really freaking high, and to be honest it's scaring me more than a little bit.  My RE's office didn't seem concerned, but then again they seemed to assume I'd done a double embryo transfer and were surprised when I told them we'd transferred a single.  I asked them if there was such a thing as beta HCG numbers being too high, and they said no.  But Betabase is telling me that it's high even for triplets, and Dr. Google is frightening me with tales of molar pregnancies.  That would just be, like, the worst possible shitty icing on the infertility cake, so I'm doing my best to put it out of my mind for now.  A dose of reassurance from everyone's favourite infertile Ob/Gyn practitioner Jane Allen has helped immensely.  Molar pregnancies are extremely rare, and I know it's far more likely that I have either a very healthy singleton or quite possibly a set of identical twins bubbling away in there.  If it's the latter, it makes me even more happy that we did a single transfer!  I have a follow-up beta on Wednesday, and then they'll schedule me for an ultrasound at 7 weeks.

Oh, and my RE's secretary mentioned that I should get an OB referral from my family doctor and start thinking about which hospital I want to give birth at.  Yeah, OK, lady.  One step at a time here!

Thursday, 17 July 2014

20 seconds

Well, I managed to hold out until this morning.  8dp5dt.  I woke up at 5:30 in the morning and thought to myself:


I went to the bathroom, peed, and then did something I never do.  I watched the test.  Normally I turn that shit over, set my phone alarm and walk away.  This time I sort of figured that it might ease the blow if I just watched it the whole time rather than mentally torturing myself until the big reveal at 3 minutes.  

It took 20 seconds.

So, yeah.  This happened.

I want to be excited, but as I'm sure many of you know the experience of a prior chemical pregnancy kind of ruins that for you.  I guess we could say I'm cautiously optimistic?  The line is clearly much darker than it was for my CP, when I also tested at 8dp5dt.  No squinting or lamp light required.  Honestly, you could have knocked me over with a feather.  I had several crying spells yesterday because I've been so convinced that this didn't work.  I just somehow felt like I knew I wasn't pregnant.  The total lack of any discernable symptoms hasn't helped.

So what's the plan?  We leave for Vancouver early tomorrow, and my clinic doesn't do betas on Friday anyway ('cause no one gets pregnant on Fridays, duh).  I'm thinking that I'll bring my remaining test and take it somewhere around 14dp5dt, when the Czech clinic recommends testing.  If the line's still looking good I'll call my clinic and try to schedule a beta for when we get back.  It's still up in the air whether they'll do that for me at all, though.  Recall how unhelpful they've been with me getting meds and ultrasound monitoring because I'm not technically cycling with them or one of their "official" partner clinics.  I'm hoping the tune changes with an actual pregnancy though, since I'd be covered by OHIP again and hence them getting paid is no longer an issue.

Oh yeah, one last thing.  Last night just before bed I thought I glimpsed a teensy tinge of pink when I wiped.  I did the TP detective thing (including sticking my finger up there) but couldn't figure out if it was coming from me or possibly a slight discoloration from the progesterone suppositories.  This morning before I tested there was some very slight brown when I wiped.  I figure it's a bit late for implantation bleeding but I know spotting is super common, so I'm not freaking out yet.  But it's definitely contributing to tempering my expectations.

Now I just need to come up with a plausible excuse as to why I'm not drinking at the wedding this weekend!

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Testing dilemmas

To pee or not to pee, that is the question.

For the record, I hate POASing.  For an infertility veteran (yes I think I've earned the right to call myself this by now) I've peed on a remarkably small number of sticks.  One after my first IVF, three during my chemical pregnancy, and one waaaaaay back when I first went off the pill and my period didn't come back.  Five times.  I can literally count the number of pee sticks I've used in my life on one hand.

I'm usually a strong believer in waiting until at least 8 or 9 days past transfer to pee on anything.  The idea of squinting and tearing a test apart in search of a second line just seems like it would only make my anxiety over testing even worse.  I'll take a clear positive or negative, thank you very much.

Except this time I'm fighting really hard not to pee early.  Today is 6dp5dt, and I very nearly tested yesterday afternoon on the basis of a lot of Googling and forum chats where people got faint positives as early as 5dp5dt.  Part of me just feels like, if this worked and it's a healthy pregnancy, there has got to be a detectable (though small) amount of HCG in my system by now.  The only thing stopping me is the crippling fear of finding out that it didn't work.  Because, my friends, as usual The Little Voice has reared its ugly head and is telling me that this whole thing is a bust.

Fitting, don't you think?

Here's the added wrinkle this time: on Friday M and I leave town again to go to Vancouver for a friend's wedding.  We decided to take advantage of the fact that we're flying out west to tack on a few days of vacation, so we've booked a cottage and are planning on doing some more surf lessons since we had such a blast in Mexico last year.

So the dilemma is that if I test before the wedding and it's negative, I'm going to be pretty damn depressed for our whole trip.  On the plus side, I can drink my face off at the wedding and get in the hot tub at the cottage.  And do I honestly think that I can wait until our vacation is over to test?  That will be something like 17dp5dt.  I'll go insane well before then.  Or M will kill me because I'm really annoying to be around right now.

The other snag is that, because I didn't do this cycle through my Toronto clinic, there's no beta date in my future.  I've thought about calling them up if I get a positive HPT and I'm pretty sure they'll book one for me, but I obviously can't do that if I'm in Vancouver.  So I could get a positive pee stick but then have absolutely no idea how pregnant I am or if I'm staying that way this time.  I'd basically just have to wait until I got home and go for a blood test like a ... gasp ... normal fertile woman.

Eep!

I don't know what to do.  Tell me what to do, internet!!

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Czech-ing out

I can't believe it's over already.  Today was our last day in Prague.  In the wee hours of the morning we'll be heading to the airport and back to Toronto.  I can't help but feel a little melancholy.  We've had such a wonderful time here, above and beyond how well our donor egg cycle has gone so far.  I was a little worried before we came that, if I didn't wind up pregnant, I'd feel like we had wasted our time and money in coming here.  But we've had such an amazing vacation on top of things that I know that even in the face of a BFN, that won't be the case.  We needed this.  We deserved this.

We took it easy the day of the transfer and stayed at the hotel, apart from a quick jaunt to a nearby restaurant for dinner.  The next day we headed to the National Gallery of Prague to check out its exhibits of 19th and 20th century Czech and European art.  Imagine how I felt when we walked in the front door and this was the very first thing we saw:



There was no placard or anything nearby (these were in the lobby) to tell us who the artist was or what the piece was titled, but its meaning was obvious.  I'd love to take it as a sign of some kind, but then again we all know I don't believe in that sort of stuff.  Right?

One of the other really cool things we did was take a dinner cruise on the Vltava River at sunset.  There was a small band playing jazz and swing while we ate, and the only thing that would have made the meal better would have been if I could have had wine.  Sad trombone.  It also gave us an opportunity to take some awesome nighttime photos of the city from the river.



What can I say, I like me some dramatic moon shots.

As of right now I'm 3dp5dt and feeling nada.  Not like I ever do, or even should.  I know that.  I'm also trying really hard not to think about how I'm going to be feeling a week from now, because every time I even remotely contemplate peeing on a stick my heart starts to pound and my stomach clenches and I want to crawl into bed and curl into a ball.

If only I could stay here for the rest of my two week wait.  I think that might help.  Oh well.  At least I'll be seeing this little face pretty soon:

Missed this guy!

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

And now for something completely different

Today we transferred one hatching blastocyst graded 5AA.  We have four more blasts in the freezer.  FOUR!

Never had one of these pics to post before!!

We arrived at the clinic well in advance of our noon transfer time and had a quick meeting with the embryologist, who filled us in on our blasts.  In addition to the one we transferred, we had another top quality hatching blast and three more worthy of freezing.  For someone who's constantly been worried about having ONE left to transfer, five blasts seems like an embarrassment of riches.

The transfer went smoothly, although the one down side was that they didn't allow M in the room during the procedure.  I got to see our blast on a TV screen in the procedure room before the embryologist loaded it up, then the catheter went in and I saw the familiar but always breathtaking flash of light appear inside my uterus.  Mentally, I thanked the donor again and welcomed our embryo home.

The nurse wheeled me into the recovery room, where I was the only patient.  I lay in the quiet, darkened room, closed my eyes and tried my best to communicate with the tiny little ball of cells inside me.  I told it how much it was wanted.  I sent it mental images of its grandparents, its cousin, and M.  I wished he could be there with me, but the nurse had already left and I had no way to get him without getting up myself.  I just lay there and tried to send relaxing, calming, implant-y thoughts.  After about half an hour, I got up and got dressed, then M and I came back to the hotel where we've spent the afternoon chilling out and watching TV.

I want so much to believe that this time things will be different.  So far it has been.  Everything about this cycle has so completely exceeded my expectations that it almost feels like it has to work.  And when you have obvious egg quality issues like me, it's hard not to fall into the trap of thinking that you've fixed the problem by using donor eggs and therefore success is guaranteed.  It's not.  Far from it.  I've read enough of your donor egg stories to know that most definitely isn't the case.  The odds are better, sure, but they're still not even close to 100%.  I'm trying my best to be prepared for that.

And yet, I want to enjoy this optimism.  Because there's a reason to!  We transferred a top quality donor blastocyst made from 27 year old eggs today.  Also, while I don't put a whole lot of stock in this stuff, I've had so many people tell me that they have a really good feeling about this cycle.  That this is the one that will stick.  I want to believe that they know something I don't.  I want to believe they're right!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

The eve of transfer

First things first: an embryo update.  As of yesterday (Day 3) we were told that we had "8 high quality embryos".  Full stop.  I have no idea if the other three arrested or are just poor quality, nor do I know what cell division stage the remaining 8 are at.  That's all the information I got.  I'm starting to get used to the Czech brevity in delivering medical info, and in a way I'm kind of digging it.  They're not giving me enough to obsess over or Google, and the almost nonchalant way I get my updates makes me feel like they're pretty confident that we'll have lots of good blastocysts tomorrow.  They're already talking about freezing leftovers, so that's clearly a good sign.

In the meantime, we've been keeping ourselves so busy with sightseeing and activities that I've really hardly had time to worry.  I highly recommend this method of distraction!  Over the last couple of days we've walked over what feels like every square foot of Prague, and yet I know there's tons we've missed down all the crooked little streets.  Some of the cool stuff:

A gun concealed in a cigarette holder at the KGB Museum

Mock interrogation room at the Museum of Communism

One of the coolest things at the Museum of Communism was watching film footage of protesters and soldiers during the Velvet Revolution, the series of protests in 1989 that ultimately resulted in the overthrow of the Soviet-backed government and the institution of democracy in Czechoslovakia.  Wenceslas Square was the hub of the protests, and is now a huge tourist shopping destination lined with things like restaurants, casinos and clothing retailers.  We've walked through it several times already, but seeing it how it was in 1989 was a whole different story.  It's hard to believe I was just 13 years old back then, and didn't really know what has happening at the time.  So much change in just a few short decades.

Another day, we took a sweaty hike in the hot sun up to the top of Petrin Hill, which is a huge park complex overlooking the city.  It's gorgeous up there, and instead of being filled with tourists it also had a lot of locals just enjoying the sunshine or sitting in the shade under the trees eating ice cream.

Petrin Hill lookout tower

One of the many rose gardens on Petrin Hill

We've also paid a visit to Vysehrad, which is Prague's second smaller castle complex that is apparently often overlooked by tourists.  It's a 5-minute walk from our hotel, so today we hiked on up and took in some more amazing views of the city.  There's also another beautiful cathedral there and a very cool cemetery.

Cathedral as seen from cemetery at Vysehrad
 
Vltava River from the top of Vysehrad

Me being artsy with my camera at the cemetery

So now we just wait for tomorrow to find out how many blasts we have.  Thanks to everyone for your comments on my last post asking advice about how many to transfer.  Right now we're leaning towards one, based both on the assumption that they'll be of high quality as well as how difficult we think it would be for us to manage twins on our own without any family within screaming distance to help us out.  We'll see what the RE and embryologists have to say, though.

Yikes.  I can't believe this day is almost here.  And that I'm not looking at it with total pessimism like I have in my past cycles.  I wouldn't say I'm 100% planning on it working, but I'm definitely preparing for the possibility.  What's happening to me??  WHO AM I?? 

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Drum roll, please...

The fertilization report is in, and with it comes what seems to be an answer to our previous crappy fertilization rates.

It was my shitty eggs the whole time.  11 out of our 12 donor eggs fertilized!!


Yet again, this is even more than I dared to hope for.  We were shooting for 8, which would have been a solid 75%.  To have more than that...well, it puts me in the scary position of actually starting to feel an emotion I haven't had in a while: hope.  The pessimistic part of me keeps intruding into my happy thoughts, saying that things have been going so well up to now that the other shoe is bound to drop sometime.  I've been doing my best to shut it up with sightseeing and beer.

This development also means that M and I may have to do some serious talking over the next few days on a subject that hasn't been an issue for us in the past: whether we transfer one or two embryos.  I have to admit that the idea of having our family all in one go is sort of appealing, especially at the ripe old age of 38.  But I've read about enough twin experiences from my fellow bloggers to know that there's almost always some sort of complication, and while things have almost always worked out well in the end, it can make for some scary times.  A single embryo transfer would avoid that, and we could always come back for a sibling later if we have anything to freeze.  I'm open to input here, so have at it in the comments.  Especially you twin moms.  Would you do it again if you had the choice?

After getting our fert report, M and I headed out for some more Prague exploring.  We thought we'd try some shopping in Wenceslas Square, but discovered it to be very touristy and cheap there so we wandered through and kept on going to Josefov (the Jewish Quarter) where we window shopped the fancy stores (Gucci, Prada, and the like) and picked up a few small souvenirs.  I had the best traditional Czech meal of our trip so far, roast duck leg (pečená kachna) with braised red cabbage and potato dumplings, then we strolled back along the river to our hotel.  Right now we're pretty exhausted, so to finish off I'll post a few pics of some of the sights we've seen the past few days.

Prague castle

St. Vitus' Cathedral (facade under renovation)

View of Prague from the castle grounds

National Museum building, also under renovation

Spanish Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter

The Old-New Synagogue, also in the Jewish Quarter