Tuesday, October 12, 2010

babydays are here again!

Because we had Waffle Girl at 36 weeks, the wait for my scheduled c-section at 39 weeks (six days ago) was a little nerve-wracking. This pregnancy was not high-risk in any way, but I kept thinking, "Can we get her out yet? I know she's ready! What if something goes wrong and we're too late?! Let's just get her out so we'll know she's safe!!" Okay, so I'm a little scarred by past experiences.

Well the day finally came, and we got to rescue our baby girl from the untold dangers of my womb! On Wednesday, October 6th, we welcomed an 8 lb. 9 oz., 20" little piece of heaven.

The c-section was about the same as last time, except that it took a little longer. They cut through my old scar using a cauterizing tool. The smell of burning flesh was gross and freaked me out for a moment there. When they scooped out my baby, the OB said "Wow, she's really mad!". She was yelling and looked like a PO'd little beastie. Getting stitched up took a long time. I'm asthmatic and, even though I took my meds, I had a claustrophobic moment because the curtain was close to my face, there was a warming blanket too high up on my chest, and I felt like the table was tilting me head-down a little. I was panicking a bit, so Mr. Foxy distracted me and then the nurse brought my baby over for a kiss. *sigh*

I'm recovering okay and am happy to be home with the family. The baby doesn't have a blog pseudonym yet.. not to mention that I'm not sure where to go (and whether to go) with this infertility blog. Just wanted you to know that all is well with our (probably?) complete family and that I am so very happy!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

updates, now in spanish!

Let me start with a quick 'Hola!' to the people of Latin America. This week I got my first blog hit from the Spanish-speaking world. (This is after dozens and dozens from Europe, Asia, Oceania, and even Africa.) Not only did someone from Venezuela pop over to my blog, but apparently they accessed the site via blog.spot's automatic translator. I had no idea! It seems that 'the infertile breeder' is also known as 'el criador infertiles'. So cool.

Here's what else is cool: Peaches and my brother had themselves a healthy baby boy this weekend! He is adorable and everyone is doing well. If we weren't already envious of a lady who got PG after 2 months off the pill.. get this - she went from the first real contractions to holding her little baby in about 8 hours. After a few hours of labor at home, they raced to the hospital (as instructed) once her contractions were 5 minutes apart. They had the baby within 45 minutes! No time for an epidural or anything. They're lucky they made it!

As for me, I'm at 37.5 weeks and hangin' on. One of my OBs realized that I'm 40 years old and so I need to come in twice a week for these non-stress tests (NST). You ladies under 35 don't need to get these, right? It's pretty nifty. You lounge in a recliner for ~20 minutes with two sensors strapped to your abdomen. One sensor tracks the baby's heart rate (see my printout below) and the second records any uterine contractions. Also, I push a button whenever I feel the baby move (vertical arrow on chart). What they want to see is your baby moving and then her heart rate going up temporarily after that. If the baby's not moving, or if her heart rate doesn't react to movement, then this is a sign of fetal distress. (Mine looks good.) The doc said that I was having a lot of small uterine contractions, but nothing major.. nothing I could feel. She did an internal exam and said that I'm not effaced or dilated at all, so we're holding steady.

So.. this week I'll be working at home and I have OB appointments on Tuesday and Friday. The following week I'll have a Monday appointment and then c-section on Wednesday. If we make it that far. Not that I'm having any signs of labor or anything -I'm just super huge. This week I measured 1-2 weeks ahead. I'm still skinny(ish), so I look like a thin woman with a basketball under her shirt. It's comical and really quite uncomfortable. We've located all the essential baby gear in the basement and today I washed Waffle Girl's newborn-sized clothes. We're ready anytime! Right?!

Friday, September 17, 2010

predictions anyone?

As I told you a while ago, my sister-in-law "Peaches" is expecting her first baby. Her due date is 2 weeks before ours, or 1 week before my 39wk c-section. For your amusement, here is a double baby bump pic (me on the left). This was taken when we were respectively 35 and 37 wks.

Most likely Peaches will deliver first. But then again.. her mother had both her babies at 41 weeks, not to mention that bump looks pretty high, right? Hee hee. In theory we could deliver the same week and our baby cousins would be virtual twins!

Speaking of twins, I'm excited to see what both babies will look like. My little Waffle Girl looks like Mr. Foxy. It would be nifty if girl #2 looked like me... in which case her cousin (gender as yet unknown) might take after my family, too, and they'd totally look alike! That would be a hoot.

So, what else is going on? Not a whole lot. I turned in my PhD thesis for formatting review and am waiting for comments. The reviewer lady is going to take a couple weeks to measure my margins, check the pagination, and other such thrilling details. Depending on how long the review takes and how many changes I need to make, this could all be done before baby comes.. or not. No big deal either way. The mental heavy lifting is all done and I can certainly adjust font size or whatever while I'm home with a newborn. Bring it, lady.

The weather has finally cooled off. I would loo-o-ove to go work in the garden, but I just don't have any energy and my belly gets all cramped up with the least exertion, so forget it! The edges between my lawn and flowerbeds are a total disaster.. to be dealt with in the spring.

The baby is moving a lot, which is great. I think she's kindof a goofball, though, 'cause she keeps pushing her little body off to the right side of my belly. I'm lounging around on the coach, looking at this ridiculous asymmetric bump, thinking "What is up with this crazy child?" And her recent tendency to elbow me in the colon is just weird and unnerving. Cut it out!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

we did it!

I know my cyber friends are just dying to know, so here's the news: the fetus and I successfully defended my doctoral research this week. Sweet!

Here's how it went down. It's basically a two-hour process. First I had to give a presentation to my 5-professor dissertation committee and interested parties - other students, faculty, coworkers and friends are invited. After helping me set up, Mr. Foxy sat in front and managed to stay awake and appeared to be interested, bless his heart. Then during the 2nd hour, everyone else was kicked out and my committee asked me questions, made suggestions, and offered their critique. Then they kick me out to confer and decide whether I've passed or failed the examination. This only took a couple of minutes before they called me back in to shake my hand, call me "Dr." and put their signatures on the official paperwork. I had little doubt that I would pass, but it was still stressful.
Afterward, Mr. Foxy took me out to lunch at our go-to celebratory Thai restaurant. I thought we might be able to catch a movie and goof off in the afternoon, but the hubby had to leave for work. Waffle Girl was home with a sitter, so I opted to play hooky alone. I got myself an ice cream sundae and then went to a matinee of the movie "The Kids are All Right". It's a really well written and acted story about a lesbian couple whose two teenage kids track down their sperm-donor bio-dad.. drama and complications ensue. Unlike recent romantic comedies that treat DS-IUIs like a hilarious romp, this movie approached the subject with some maturity. Go out and see it if you get the chance.

So what has Waffle Girl accomplished lately? Not to be outdone by the rest of us, she got on board with potty training in a big way. I figured out that those diaper-like pull-ups don't give any motivation to use the potty. So I ordered a few pair of thick cotton training underpants. After two days of peeing herself and near-misses, it all clicked and Waffle Girl was yelling "I have to go!" and running to the potty like a champ. So the family has a diaper-free month ahead of us before baby #2 comes along, what with the random pooping and peeing.

As for my pregnancy, I'm feeling excellent. There have been a few indignities, though. I wanted to find some comfortable pumps to wear for a wedding last week - mine were all kindof tight. I had to bite the bullet and go up a size.. *gasp!* I bought some cute shoes in a size 10! That bummed me out. Even worse, it was time to get out the electric trimmer and tidy up my "lady garden", if you know what I mean. I'm sad to tell you that I can no longer see any of my bikini area and had to go entirely by feel. When I noticed a little drop of blood on the clipper, I knew that this was not going well. What's the old saying, "It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye."? Let's just say I was in danger of lobbing off something pretty important down there, so I quit while I was ahead.

Now I'm looking forward to a mellow September. I still need to make final edits and formatting changes on my dissertation, but that's all a formality. After this weekend the heat should finally be gone and perhaps I'll even spend a little time outdoors.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

happy blogiversary to meeeee

With all the excitement lately, I almost spaced out on my blog's one year anniversary. Woo-hoo!

50 blog posts.. averaging about one per week. And culminating in pregnancy - third trimester already. Not too shabby if I do say so myself. :-p

Speaking of which, I had my 3rd trimester ultrasound this week - such are the perks of a geriatric pregnancy. Baby looks excellent. My BP is low and amniotic fluid looks good, so I'm glad there is no sign of an early delivery.

As for the dissertation.. my advisor had minimal comments on my 85% complete draft. So I finished 'er up and sent the full draft to my committee members on Tuesday. This gives them 2 weeks to review and comment before my big 8/25 defense. Did you notice that I'm still on schedule? Hells yeah.

Finally, just a random bit of weather craziness. A couple weeks ago we had a wild all-night rainstorm that dumped about 6 inches in our part of Chicago. Here's a picture of my little temporary pond. (now gone.) Stay cool, my cyber buddies!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

ticker time

Hello my darling readers. Thank you for the encouraging comments about my letter to the Washington newspaper copied in my last post. I'm proud to report that they actually emailed me back to get more info (confirm my identity, etc.) and even sent a slightly edited version of the letter that was considered for publication. But, alas they didn't end up printing it. I officially gave up hope a few days ago. The points that I made needed to be said and echoed the thoughts of my many online IF friends. So, note to self: I should be quicker to respond the next time such an opportunity comes up.

Did you notice my new tickers? Yes, I've made a lot of progress on my dissertation and am tentatively scheduled to defend it on August 25th. So far I've written about 92 pages, including nearly 50 charts, tables and figures. Having recently finished the Methods and Results chapters, I still have to write Discussion and Conclusions. This is where the real magic (a.k.a. bullshit) comes in. Hee hee.

The second ticker is counting down to my baby girl's scheduled c-section on Oct. 6th. This week I saw Dr. Single-Thin-and-Neat and we went ahead and put it on the hospital calendar. Not that I'm such a crazy control freak lady, but my in-laws will be driving up from Texas so things must be planned. Now I'm living in fear of premature labor and the possibility that a derailed baby ticker will screw up my PhD ticker. Not that I have any risk factors or symptoms of early labor, but a gal's gotta be paranoid about something, right?

At 28 weeks PG, I'm still feeling okay, but starting to slow down and get more tired. I'm definitely more of an old pregnant lady than I was just 3 years ago with Waffle Girl. My upper abs feel sore in the latter part of the day and hurt like heck when I sneeze. My heels are suffering from the extra weight - I'm actually wearing my athletic sandals around the house 'cause I need the cushioning. The weather has been rough. Today was the first day in July that wasn't anywhere near 90 degrees. Here's hoping that August will be more tolerable. I'd hate to be an A/C-addicted couch potato all summer. What's the point of that if I can't swig a brew while I'm at it?!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

why we need IF advocacy

i'll keep it brief today..

here's a feature story from the Was.hington Post this week:

"Smug Rich Lady Puts Babies on Ice While She Does More IMPORTANT Things"

(okay, so i slightly revised the title.. hee hee)

here's my letter to the editor:

Your July 6th piece, “By freezing embryos..”, reinforces the false assumption that fertility and youth are synonymous. Infertility is not a life choice of foolish women who wait too long to have children. Infertility is a disease with many underlying causes. Many women in their 20’s have reproductive organs scarred and twisted by endometriosis or previous infection.

Rather than educating your audience on the reality of couples struggling with infertility, you ran an article that belittles them and suggests that they are chumps for resorting to “Desperation IVF”. My husband and I spent years in fertility treatment - apparently I wasn’t clever enough to avoid having polycystic ovaries, another common cause of infertility.

Why does this matter? Because in most states fertility treatment is not covered by insurance – it’s considered an elective procedure. If we recognized infertility as a real medical issue and not poor planning, then treatment wouldn’t be such a traumatic and expensive ordeal. Our society makes many infertile couples literally choose between having children and buying a house to put them in. IVF is not a hobby for spoiled rich people – it is a medical necessity for couples who deserve to have the life that others take for granted.

just keepin' it real, girls!

Friday, June 18, 2010

the fetus begins her life of crime

One minute, I'm the picture of domesticity - baking two (not just one!) cherry pies with the berries picked from my own yard. My sister-in-law has been so helpful with last-minute babysitting and such, so I pop out at 9PM to drop off one of the pies for her. They live just a mile away. I'm zipping home and dash through a yellow light literally 1/2-block from my house. And cue the flashing lights on an unmarked police car. CRAP!

So I'm pulled over.. me, the cute little pregnant lady, dropping off a fresh-baked cherry pie at my brother's place. Who could be more wholesome? Did I mention that I left my wallet & license at home? And then I argued with the officer about whether the light was yellow or red? He basically threatened to haul me to jail for driving without a license and running a red, then he went back to his car to look up my plates.

I sat in my car, thinking that he probably didn't notice the baby bump, I didn't mention the cherry pie, and this guy has no reason to cut me any slack because I'm just some law-breaking combative broad with no evidence of baking skills. And I had flashbacks to my bloggy friend Ashley who was taken, wrongly I might add, to the pokey while PG with twins, dehydrated, and more than a little hysterical. Is that their new tactic - stick it to the pregnant ladies?! Well, I was well-hydrated and carrying a singleton, so I figured I could take it.

Mercifully and inexplicably, the officer let me off with a warning. He told me to obey the traffic lights, take my license even for a tiny little errand, and "Don't get argumentative". I'm thinking "Yes, yes, and uh.. maybe." I went home, cut a piece of pie for Mr. Foxy and me, and didn't breathe a word about my and the fetus' little brush with the law.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

pettipants and PhDs

So I have a few cute maternity skirts, perfect for summertime preggo-wear. There are some problems, though. You cross your legs and your flesh sticks together. You walk around and there's the chafing issue. Heaven forbid there's a little stubble on your thighs and suddenly you're in dreadful scrapie-scratchy territory! Of course pantyhose would alleviate these problems, but today's fashion dictates that one should go hose-less.

So what's a girl to do? Well, I found the solution:


I didn't know quite what I was looking for, but I browsed around Ama.zon until this miracle product came up. Where have you been all my life, oh pettipants?! I ordered a pair and finally got to wear them yesterday. Heaven! I flashed them at one of my over-50 lady coworkers, who squealed out "Oh pettipants!". Apparently this is an old timey kind of thing. It beats me why these things ever went away.. they're frikkin' awesome.

In other fancy scientist lady news:

I am really getting somewhere with my PhD dissertation. Over the last 2-3 months, I've had a series of meetings with my thesis advisor. At every meeting, I present him with my latest data analysis acrobatics and he says "Okay, that's interesting, but what if you tried it THIS way? Do this other thing and then we'll talk again." So we've gone back and forth like this a few times. Then this afternoon, after I spent about 45 minutes attempting to explain my latest voodoo statistics, he says these magical words to me:

"I think you've done all you can with the data analysis - it's time to write this thing up and be finished with it."

***sound of angels singing***

At last, I have a plan and a schedule to graduate! I will write the dissertation up in June-July, allow for committee review and edits in August, present/defend my work in early September, thus giving me another month to make more edits and turn the thing in before the baby comes around October 7, in advance of the October 29 university deadline. It CAN be done! I will then request that you call me "Doctor Infertile Breeder". Until then, let's keep it casual.

Monday, May 17, 2010

happy birthday to me

It's not such a great week so far - I came down with a yucky cold over the weekend and called in sick today. But things are picking up. I'm feeling better and hey yippee it's my birthday tomorrow! Not just any birthday, either - it's the big 4-0!

We have no particular plans. Mr. Foxy was out shopping today, so I guess there is a gift in my future. For mother's day he got me a cute pair of sensible Scandinavian shoes, which I promptly exchanged for some metallic pumps and fake snakeskin slides. I have plenty of sensible shoes.. a girl needs something sassy to go with a nice summer dress, no?

So now that everyone at work is starting to notice that I'm pregnant, I don't think I'll be able to help myself from saying "Yes I am.. and I'm 40 years old! How do you like that!" Yep, it feels pretty great. And I keep remembering the news stories, back when I was a teenager, about women having babies over 30 and what are the health risks, and what is this world coming to!? Well that was the 1980's.. by the time I got married at the age of 32, those concerns were just a distant memory.

Okay, there is one age-related pregnancy issue that's been buzzing around in the back of my head for a few weeks now. When my OB suggested that I might consider a VBAC delivery (vaginal birth after cesarean) and I ruled it out with hardly a thought. After the heroic effort we went through to get pregnant, I simply want to take the quick, easy, and painless route. And I'm really not interested in a prolonged labor, only to find out (36 hours later?!) that I'm not progressing and end up needing a c-section anyways.

So I made the decision to do c/s again, but part of me still felt like I was wussing out. I kindof had it stuck in my head that older moms are more likely to have labor complications, but is this really true? Maybe I was just rationalizing to justify my own wimpiness.

Well, my dears, Dr. Google has come to my defense! I looked it up.. apparently it has been shown that the chance of successful vaginal delivery decreases big-time after the age of 40. Overall there is a 20-40% failure rate for VBACs, but for chicks over 40 the risk of failure is more than doubled. This is enough of a problem that most of the guidelines for identifying a "good" or "bad" candidate specifically say that being over 40 is a poor indicator. Basically, you'd have to be highly motivated to even consider trying, knowing that you're more than 50% likely to fail. And how motivated am I? Not at all! So forget it, people, I am a bad candidate!

So I'll be whooping it up on my birthday tomorrow. Looking forward to our big Level 2 ultrasound on Friday. We definitely intend to find out whether Lil' Scrappy is a boy or girl. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

a little pre-mother's day rant

Time for a little back story. I mentioned back in October that my brother got married to a delightful girl, let's call her Peaches. After a crappy year of IF treatment, I was kindof dreading the prospect of them getting pregnant right away, while we slog away with various FETs and maybe another IVF cycle. Well, the great news is that we both got pregnant at practically the same time! Peaches sat with Waffle Girl the day of our FET and was kind enough to not mention the fact that she'd already had a positive POAS. When I called to tell her about our beta results, she spilled the news. I was only jealous for a split-second that it was so easy for her. My overriding feeling is excitement about my future child having a cousin the same age (maybe even the same birthday) who lives just a mile away.

So who decides to rain on my parade? My mom. I saw her the other day and she says to me, "How come you're bigger than Peaches?", gazing at my belly. WTF?! I just laughed it off and said, "Well, you mother of 2, you should know that you pop out sooner with the 2nd baby because your abs have already been shot to hell." Then a few minutes later.. "And another thing .. she's a few inches taller than me - taller women don't show as much!" Several hours later, mom is long gone and I blurt out to Mr. Foxy, "Hey! I was on hormone shots and patches that made me to gain extra weight in the first few weeks. Poor Peaches had such bad morning sickness that she was losing weight for a while there." So, yes I have a baby bump.. and it's adorable! And it's well deserved! So there.

Moving on with the rants.. my dear friend Tasha got shafted in that MLB Batgirl contest. It turns out that those jerks at Kom.en don't care how many votes you got, or even whether you're an actual breast cancer survivor - they pick the chicks who have raised the most money and glory for their organization. Goodness knows they haven't found a cure yet, but they sure have raised a lot of awareness.. mainly about how awesome they are and how many pink ribbons they can slap on every product under the sun, most recently pink buckets at KFC, which is so wrong in so many ways. Anywho.. thank you to anyone who may have heeded my plea to vote for Tasha and check out her blog for the full-length rant.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

latin america doesn't care for me

I'm not the most active or thrilling blogger in recent weeks, I know this. But it's still fun to keep track of who visits your blog and see how they found you. Maybe you've noticed the little Clus.terMap I have displayed under my list of links and followers. It's nifty that I've had visitors from all over the U.S. and Canada, all across Europe, plus a few points around Asia, Africa and Oceania. But it seems that noone in Latin America gives a hoot about my struggles and triumphs. Por que?

So.. what else is new? I've gone two weeks without an ultrasound and am reasonably sure that I'm still pregnant - 16 weeks. I've come "out" to everyone at work. It's just in time, too, since I'm quickly shifting from the generally-pudgy-around-the-middle phase to the definitely-looks-like-a-baby-bump phase. I prefer the baby bump in every way.

Did you hear the new story last week about the Iranian cleric who claimed that women's immodesty was to blame for recent earthquakes? Then an Indiana student put this theory to the test by challenging women worldwide to wear low-cut tops on Monday in an event dubbed Bo.obquake. Well, you bet I participated, now that my heaving bosoms are up to a whopping B-cup - I'll take any opportunity to show off! Apparently we didn't cause any unusual seismic activity, though, so that old Iranian guy can just suck it. You can read the official findings here.
So that's all that's new around here. Work has been crazy busy, but I'm squeezing in some dissertation work here and there. Hopefully things will die down over the summer and I'll "git 'er done", as we say in academia. Toodles!

Monday, April 19, 2010

signs of life

I'm happy to tell you that Lil' Scrappy and I have gone almost a week without any spotting. Let's hope that last week's incident was just the last gasp of the first trimester. Even better - I can actually feel the Scrapper moving around when I'm quietly sitting on the couch, eating doublestuff Ore.os and watching Goss.ip Girl. (You can tell I'm a classy lady, huh?) It's so cool.

There's all kinds of new life busting out around here. Pictured here are the red tulips in front of our house. Most tulips peter out after a few years, but this variety (Red Ri.ding Hood) is one of those perennial types that actually spreads over the years. My neighbors may have a few little mousy pink or yellow tulips, but we have this big splash of fire engine red! Our cherry tree is also blooming. We put this tree in when we buried our dearly departed pooch, Ignatius. Every summer I harvest some Iggy-berries and bake a pie. Yummy!

I should also thank my blog readers for sending positive energy in the direction of my two dead-looking clematis vines. I've planted several different clematis along our back fence over the years, in hopes that they would shield us from the alley. Two dead clematis would have set me back in my slow quest for privacy. Happily, the vines in question have shown new growth and now I'm taking extra-good care of them.

But wait.. there's more! I'm also starting a few new perennials from seed this year. I like the wintersowing method of starting seeds - this is where you put the soil & seeds in containers that you just plunk outside in the middle of winter and let nature take its course. You can read more about wintersowing here. This method is low-maintenance compared with starting seeds indoors under lights, but you also have more control over the situation than if you just scattered seeds on the ground. I don't have too many sprouts yet, but the blanket flower (photo below), cardinal flower and mullein have started popping out. C'mon seedlings! Life is good.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

okay.. maybe a teeny bit of drama

I was hoping for a drama-free pregnancy, but there was a little blip this week. Technically we're in the second trimester (14 weeks tomorrow), so spotting/bleeding isn't really considered normal anymore. I had spotting for two days and called the OB to see what he thinks. Dr. Single-Thin-and-Neat said I should come in today and get checked. So I'm driving to his office this morning thinking, "Am I really concerned about a tiny bit of spotting, or am I just a crazy IF lady angling to get another ultrasound?" Well, it has been a whole 2 weeks since the 1st trimester screening, for Pete's sake!

It was definitely worth the trip. Dr. STN checked the baby's heartbeat first, to make sure Lil' Scrappy was okay. Then he did an internal exam to confirm that the blood was coming from my uterus, not some cervical surface irritation. So what's the cause? Dr. STN basically said "I dunno". Sensing that I was still a little uneasy, he asked whether an ultrasound would help ease my mind. "Uh... yeah!" The crazy IF lady got her bonus ultrasound! He didn't take measurements or anything, but could see that Scrappy is about the right size, moving around and stuff. The placenta isn't low-lying or otherwise weird-looking, so there's no apparent reason for bleeding. So I didn't get any explanation, but am very happy to know that there's nothing obviously wrong. I'll take it!

Keep your fingers crossed that I wake up tomorrow with no more spotting. Help me achieve my dream of a drama-free pregnancy!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Some updates, but mostly brazen shilling for votes

Hi ladies! There will be an update momentarily, but first..

If you have any spare time, would you please visit the MLB Honorary Bat Girl contest and cast a few votes for my dear friend Tasha?! In the spirit of breast cancer awareness, this is a contest to pick one person touched by cancer for each Major League Baseball team. Tasha is an actual breast cancer survivor, a triathlete, a self-made businesswoman, blogger extraordinaire, and godmother to Waffle Girl. Repeat voting is highly encouraged! (You can vote 24 times, then re-start your browser and do it again.. and again.) Anyone on bedrest looking for something constructive to do?! Voting stops at noon Eastern Time on Tuesday April 13th and my friend goes by the handle "Tasha-H".

In other news..

We got the results for 1st trimester screening last week and they are good! Down's risk is 1-in-900 and the others are like 1-in-2000 or something. Suffice it to say, there will be no CVS. I'm now counting the weeks until our 2nd trimester ultrasound and the big reveal of fetal genitalia! Hee hee. I'm feeling really good these days (13 weeks PG) - less fatigue and the nausea is almost gone. Yay!

The garden is really coming along. Our cherry tree and tulips are starting to bloom, so perhaps I'll put up some photos later this week. Gotta go fertilize the shrubs. Toodles!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

my six month plan

If everything goes as it should, we will have Baby #2 in about 6 months. So what is my vision for the next 26-odd weeks, other than gestating a perfect sibling for Waffle Girl? Well, I have a little confession to make..

I'm actually a part-time PhD student.. (Gasp!).. in addition to my many important responsibilities as a fancy government scientist lady. Before you get too impressed, just be aware that I've been able to pursue my degree during work hours. The subject matter is directly related to my job and my dissertation research is actually written into my list of duties. I've been working at it off-and-on since 2003: done with coursework, done with preliminary exams, done with ~75% of my research. So I just need to hunker down and finish it, which could certainly be accomplished in the next few months, before there is a new baby in the mix.

And I'd be a total dope if I didn't put in the effort to finally finish my degree, right? Someday I would have to tell my kids, "Yeah, I could have gotten a PhD, I was almost done, but I got pregnant again and just figured I'd blow it off." Oh, they'd be so embarrassed. I can feel the 12-week old fetus inside of me right now, glaring at me, "Don't be a putz, Mama!"

Last week I had a meeting with my dissertation committee and I let them know of my impending biological deadline. They would have figured it out eventually, but I told them now so they know that I'm really serious about finishing. And so I know that I'm really serious about it.

So what am I doing, writing in my dopey blog instead of working on my dissertation? Ya, good question. Well, I still need my cyber-networking to help deal with infertile lady issues. And I still plan to do the other things that I need to keep me sane and happy - working in the garden (while Waffle Girl keeps busy in the sand box), going to the gym (once in a while), reading, watching some junk on TV while I let my brain rest.

In baby news: we went in last week for combined 1st trimester screening. The NT scan looked great and the baby has a visible nasal bone, but we're still waiting for the u/s results to be combined with blood markers. More on this in a few days, I guess.

The weather has been great, so I squeezed in some gardening over the past week. I cut down all my perennials and am on the lookout for fresh growth - so exciting! There are no confirmed winter casualties. However I am concerned about the two clematis vines that have not sprouted yet. Please keep them in your thoughts.

Friday, March 26, 2010

everything is still awesome here

As previously noted, the idea of a pregnancy blog doesn't really thrill me. But I just couldn't stay away! I'm still reading and commenting on my infertile lady friends' blogs and it seems a little jerky not to offer something in return.

So here's the pregnancy update: I went to see Dr. Snaggletooth last week (@10 wks) for a final u/s and, thankfully, my official graduation to an OB. I was very nervous to go alone, but poor Mr. Foxy was held up at the dentist's office. He was getting a root canal while the ultrasound techie and I were going "oooh! ahh!" over the embryo's little arms and legs. My poor honey.

This week I got to meet my new OB - let's call him Dr. Single-Thin-and-Neat, or Dr.STN. My friend Tasha saw his handsome photo on the hospital website and asked whether I could set her up. Well Tasha, as you might gather from my description, I don't believe he is playing for our team - not that there's anything wrong with that! I even asked whether he was married and he mentioned a non-gender-specific person that he's been with for 6 years. So.. moving on..

Dr. STN is very nice and agreeable - he was suitably impressed with our IVF efforts and the story of Waffle Girl's treacherous gestational experience, what with the dangerous placenta/cord situation and the necessary c-section at 37 weeks. He asked whether I was interested in trying a VBAC delivery (vaginal birth after c-section) and was totally cool when I said "No way!". There was also a quick ultrasound involved, so I got to see Lil' Scrappy with perfect 11 week measurements. *sigh*

I'm going back next week for the 1st trimester screening. Then we'll have 3 weeks without a doctor's appointment. Hmm.. so what will I blog about once the medical stuff cools down? Maybe I'll thrill my bloggy friends with tales of spring gardening.. or the adventures of a sexy government scientist lady. Who knows!?

P.S. the pink flower pictured above is a dictamnus (gas plant) that I grew from seed. The highlight of last year's garden was this 4-year old plant blooming for the first time. Yes, we infertile ladies are a patient lot.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

look out, i'm quoting tolstoy today

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
- Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, Chapter 1, first line

Does the same apply to pregnancies? High-risk pregnancies (as unhappy families) can have all kinds of drama and complications - it's the stuff of soap operas. Trust me, I've been there. I had a complete placenta previa with Waffle Girl. Not only did the previa *not* resolve, but there was bleeding, weeks of bedrest, and then an early c-section finally revealed a dangerous velamentous insertion. If you don't know these medical terms, consider yourself lucky and don't bother Goog.ling - it could give you nightmares.

But how interesting is a run-of-the-mill healthy pregnancy? Sure, it's a wonderful, joyous thing - one that many of us dream about and work toward for years and years. But is it really blog-worthy? Do you get on-line every few days and say, "Yep, everything is still awesome here!"?

Well, I'm nearing the point where I'll have to make a decision about this. We had our second ultrasound today at 8 weeks and, yep, everything is still awesome here! The measurements were spot-on (16mm) and heartbeat was great (166 bpm). Dr. Snaggletooth wants to see our lil' Mutt one last time in 2 weeks, then we'll be done with him, maybe forever. Oh, this boring-ness is sooo delightful!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

ultra-cool ultrasound

So we had our first post-FET ultrasound yesterday. I would have posted a quick synopsis last night, but the annoying Mr. Foxy was hogging the laptop, looking up tiles and whatnot for his big bathroom rehab project. This is what IF husbands do while IF wives are busy blogging, posting on support boards, and getting opinions from Dr. Goog.le.

Our exam was one day short of 6 weeks, so we expected to see a fetal pole and (maybe or maybe not) a heartbeat. I was relieved and surprised to see that, even though the embryo was a mere 2 mm long, the technician was able to point out to us a faint little heart flicker. The whole thing was too tiny to zero in and actually measure the heart-rate, but the techie was upbeat and went so far as to label "BABY" on the u/s printout. Our ill-fated pregnancy in October never got beyond the "SAC" label. Ugh.

Dr. Snaggletooth wants us to come back in 2 weeks for another u/s. I expected him to have us back in one week, so I guess 2 weeks is a sign that he's pretty confident in Lil' Scrappy's growing potential. He said that if things look good at 8 weeks then he can comfortably pass us on to a regular OB. All-in-all this is very encouraging. I'm not yet 100% convinced that this is for real, but I definitely feel more "pregnant" than "in limbo".

I took the opportunity to inquire about our other frosties and to mildly critique my clinic's freezing protocols. (You may recall that our highest quality AA and AB blasts were frozen in pairs and the lower-grade BB that we transferred was the only one frozen as a single.) The doctor confirmed that our 4 remaining blasts are frozen in pairs and so there's no easy way to do a single transfer again in the future. If Lil' Scrappy doesn't pull through, or if we want another child in the future, we'll have to thaw 2 embryos and either transfer both or do one and discard the other. (It's not really advisable to freeze-thaw embies repeatedly.) I refrained from complaining about the single BB we received (instead of the AA or AB), because *knock wood* this one is going great guns so far.

Dr. Snaggletooth didn't really have a good explanation except that 2 embies is their standard procedure, most patients transfer 2-3, I'm really a "special case", yadda yadda. I didn't lay it on too thick, but I did suggest that they should get their freezing protocols more in line with the trend toward doing more single transfers. (It was their idea, not mine, but I've read up on it since and think it's a very good thing.) I may be a special case for my age group, but I know they have much younger patients with great embies who are increasingly inclined to do single transfers.

In the next few days, our embie should grow from the size of a sesame seed to a lentil bean. Then it goes through a progression of ever-larger beans, followed by a sequence of increasingly large fruit. I really hope we get to do the whole gastronomical sequence.. fingers crossed.

Monday, February 8, 2010

the other 2 week wait

I'm pleased to report that our scrappy little embryo is kicking ass and taking names. The HCG level today (beta#2 @18 dpo) was 1296. Hmm.. it's kindof hard to read that number.. I should use a comma, right? Yep, let's call it 1,296.
The nurse told me to come in for a 3rd beta on Wednesday morning, but I might wait until Thursday in order to avoid driving in a blizzard. Yes, I'm confident enough to delay the next blood test by one day.

What am I NOT so confident about? The first ultrasound on Tuesday 2/16. This is where everything started going to hell during our last cycle in October. I'm trying not to worry too much, though, because our betas are great and so far everything looks like the '07 cycle that gave us Waffle Girl. So I'm in that other 2 week wait. The two weeks between a first positive pee-on-a-stick and possible ultrasound confirmation that we have a viable embryo.

Luckily Mr. Foxy was good for a laugh today. I texted him from work with results of the blood test and next steps. He responded with a single word: Titties! Thank goodness noone heard me laugh, because there's no way I was going to explain THAT one. *swoon*

Friday, February 5, 2010

i've been holding out on you

Yes, I've been doing home pregnancy tests every day this week. Monday was 6 days past a 5-day transfer, which means 11 days past ovulation, or 11dpo as we say in the business. (Never mind the 4 months frozen in a nitrogen tank.. that's just a little embryo nap.)

Well, my dears, between 11dpo to 14dpo we went from a very faint pink line to a line that basically matches up with the control line. (see photo, for posterity, below). I only bought 4 pee sticks, so there was nothing left to pee on this morning - the day of our official blood test @15dpo. I woke up well before the alarm clock and killed a little time on the computer before heading out early. Mr. Foxy called out from bed "Good luck to us!" I was in the phlebotomists' chair 15 minutes before my actual appointment.

I picked up coffee and donuts on the way home. As I walk in, Mr. Foxy asks, "So how did it go? What was the result?" Silly man. I said, "Is this the first time we've done this? You know they won't call until later in the day!" I had showed him the pee sticks all week, so he was obviously a little keyed up. For extra hilarity, he asks me about 30 minutes later, "Did they call yet?!"

** many hours pass **

I finally called at 3:00 and got the good word. We have a big-time BFP: 384! There's no questioning THAT number. I'm super-relieved and DH is pretty giddy, too. I'm trying not to think ahead too much, but it will be a few weeks before we hopefully get some confirmation and then maybe slide into a comfort zone. For now.. *sigh*.. happiness.

Friday, January 29, 2010

let's call it a science experiment

As you read in my last entry, my feelings ranged from befuddled to PISSED after our frozen embryo transfer on Tuesday. To recap, in preparing for our 2nd single-blastocyst FET, our clinic skipped over one super-fantastic-grade-AA embryo and two Waffle-Girl-level ABs to roll the dice with one of our mediocre BBs. Now I know that people get PG all the time with BB's, I just thought it was totally mental to pick the worst of 5 blasts for a single embryo transfer.

My mood has picked up since Tuesday for a few reasons:

1) I figured, "Meh, what can you do? Stuff happens."

2) Thai food and subsequent Thai food leftovers.

3) The "mutt" embryo seems to be trying pretty hard. I've had cramping on-and-off since the day after transfer. This is exactly when implantation should happen, so I am encouraged.

4) I've come to see this as a science experiment. As a fancy government scientist lady, I am able to step back and look at this objectively.

These are the facts:

FACT #1 - An AB-embie implanted in '07 and then an AA implanted in '09. Thus, any embryo with an "A" in the grade can be expected to implant.

FACT #2 - The BC embryo transferred in '07 did not implant. Thus, an embryo with a "C" in the grade will not implant.

Study question: What will happen when a BB is transferred? There is no "A" to predict implantation and no "C" to predict failure.

HYPOTHESIS #1 - The BB will fail to implant due to lack of an "A" in the grade.

HYPOTHESIS #2 - The BB will successfully implant due to lack of a "C" in the grade.

Just where is the cut-0ff between implanting-embryos and bupkus-embryos for the infertile breeder and Mr. Foxy? Super sexy government scientists all over the world want to know. And I'm willing to put in the time and effort to investigate this important question.

The cool thing about a scientific study is that, whatever the outcome, you've learned something. Even if your theorum is shown to be false, this is a valuable piece of information. In particular, we will learn whether our other frozen BB is likely to be another dud.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

processing.. processing..

Our frozen embryo transfer went great yesterday and I've been lounging on the couch since then, thinking fertile thoughts. Okay, that's not totally true. I've been sulking and stewing, too. I feel like Dr. Snaggletooth executed a "bait and switch" with our day-5 blastocysts.

We had previously agreed to a single-embryo transfer, same as what we did in September, using the second of our excellent quality (AA) blasts. See this link for more info about day-5 blastocyst grading . As I'm getting prepped for the transfer, the Doc tells me we're transferring a "beautiful BB" embryo. Sure, a BB isn't bad, but why did we pass over the remaining AA and the two ABs?! The answer is that the BB was frozen in a single straw (the obvious choice for a single transfer) while the 4 higher-grade embies were frozen in pairs. Well why wasn't the AA frozen as a single, given the fact that yours truly was an obvious candidate for a future single blast transfer? It's just dumb.

So I have my legs in stirrups already and the embryologist comes to check our IDs and she explains that the AAs and BBs have the same implantation rate, so it doesn't really matter. Obviously I was in no position to argue. I figured that they'd have to defrost 2 more embies (total of 3) just to get the one AA that I wanted. So I sucked it up and went ahead with the transfer, even though I feel like we'd been shanghaied.

As a frame of reference, Waffle Girl is the result of the AB transferred in '07, along with another blast, a BC, which did not ever implant. So the BB we took home yesterday is somewhere between Waffle Girl and bupkus in terms of implantation.

I feel that we have a less-than-50% shot that this one could work. So what.. we'll do another FET in two months. Well the problem is that, after having 2 failed single-blast transfers, we'll be advised to do a double-blast transfer (pairing up the AA and an AB) next time around. We'll be at a high risk for twins, which is exactly what I'd hoped to avoid by doing singles in the first place! I think there is a definite dis-connect between how the lab freezes the embryos versus a logical progression of future FETs. I'm not sure whether I'll come in to gripe about this before or after my beta, but believe me they will hear about this.

I know I sound bitchy and greedy. I'm just frustrated by the various fuck-ups and delays in the span of one year. I know we can have another IVF baby - I don't doubt this. But I feel like it's been dangled in front of us for months and I just keep grabbing at it like a kitten at a feather.

So my lil' BB embryo is floating in a womb full of confusion and angst. Luckily, Mr. Foxy has been very encouraging. He's holding the good thought that this embryo is the little scrappy one, the mutt who will work really hard to earn his place in the family. Sure, I'll buy that. I've been promised Thai food for dinner tonight, so hopefully that will help turn my crappy attitude around.

P.S. If you're interested in the pre-FET drug protocol, here's a photo of my daily dose of meds for the week before transfer. Since the transfer, I got to stop Lupro.n and antibiotics, but all else remains the same. Is it any wonder I'm getting emotional?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

i'm a sucker for estrogen

I gave money to a crack whore today.

I went in this morning for a final blood and ultrasound check before confirming our FET for Tuesday, 1/26. There are currently 4 estrogen patches on my belly, as I am in the pretend-ovulation phase of my fake-menstrual-cycle in the leadup to embryo transfer. You can definitely tell that I'm hopped-up on estrogen because I'm getting sentimental and teary-eyed with the slightest provocation.. like a bad chick-flick on cable.. or a soup commercial. I had warned my coworkers that I may be on the warpath this week, expecting major bitchiness, but it turns out that I'm a pathetic sap.

So as I walk out of the clinic, this disheveled woman walks up to me with some wacky story about how she's HIV-positive and pregnant and she needs to get to this hospital across town where she's being treated. Normally I'd have walked on by and rushed off to work. But she was so distraught and she said she was 3-months pregnant and bleeding and I just got sucked in! She asked me to drive her to the hospital, which wasn't about to happen. Then she asked for cab fare and I gave it to her. I helped her hail a cab and get in, even though the security guard at the nearby office building gave me a disapproving look and said "be careful".

I knew at that moment that most likely I was being scammed, but I just couldn't help it. The estrogen got the best of me. I coughed up some money on the off-chance that this lady would really go to a place that will give her some needed treatment. I know what it's like to be early in pregnancy and bleeding. I know what it's like to be in the 2nd trimester and bleeding. And to have a chronic disease and possibly homelessness on top of that? Yikes.

So maybe I helped someone today. Probably not.

My bloodwork and ultrasound were good, so we are a "go". We're transferring a single 5-day grade-AA blast next week. Yeah, you read that right - I'm a 39-year-old doing a single embryo transfer. Cocky? Maybe. The RE encouraged it and I'm okay with doing repeat FETs if needed. More on my rockin' frosties next time.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

good luck tasha!

My dear friend and godmother to Waffle Girl, Tasha the Triathlon Goddess, is going in for surgery tomorrow morning. Tasha was treated for breast cancer over a year ago. Now she's getting breast reconstruction plus a little upgrade, a.k.a. her long awaited "Rackotomy."

If you ever get the urge to read a blog about something other than infertility (huh?!), feel free to check out Tasha's blog. You could even convert a smidgen of your IF "babydust" to "boobydust," then send it her way for a speedy recovery and continued fight against The Cancer.

Like many cancer survivors, Tasha bristles every time she sees another tacky pink ribbon-adorned product. Even worse are fundraising events with ridiculous names like the A.von Walk for Breast Cancer (wait.. aren't we *against* cancer?!). As annoying as these things are, the underlying problem is that money is being raised to do more and more awareness programs when the public is already in a state of awareness overload. And where's the cure already?

So the next time you get the urge to buy a Snugg.ie "For the Cure".. yes, there is such a thing and, no, I won't give you the link.. consider donating to an organization that puts most of its money toward medical research. Here's a link to an article "Where the Money Goes: A Breast Cancer Donation Guide" that helps sort out which groups have awareness (a.k.a. more pink ribbons) as a primary missions versus those that put all of their program dollars toward finding a cure.

Tasha - I wish you a smooth recovery and many happy years to show off the new rack. I love you!

Friday, January 15, 2010

retroactive pregnancy

As creepy and weird as fertility treatments are, there is more oddness to come (hopefully) when you're pregnant. For example, the way they calculate the length of pregnancy is interesting. We all know about the alleged 9-months of gestation. But medical professionals count a pregnancy as having 40 weeks. I didn't know this until we conceived Waffle Girl, since I hadn't bought all the baby books and was pretty clueless.

So when does the clock start ticking off those 40 weeks? You might think it's the moment of conception.. or the end of the month when you get your positive test result, the elusive BFP (big freakin' positive). Well you would be wrong! The 40 weeks start at the beginning of your last period, i.e. the first day of your menstrual cycle. The weird thing about this is that you get "credit" for being pregnant during the two weeks before you even ovulated! So, you get pregnant, which is fantastic enough by itself, only to learn that you're officially 4 weeks into it already. Bonus!

Why am I thinking of this when we are still 11 days away from our embryo transfer? Because I may already be pregnant! In a totally theoretical way. If we get our frozen embryo on 1/26 and it "sticks" and we get a BFP, then within a matter of days an actual medical expert will retroactively declare that we've been pregnant since 1/5! Which means that I am, as of this writing, already 10 days pregnant. Woo-hoo! In the present tense, this is utterly 100% untrue (not to mention physically impossible). But I truly hope that Dr. Snaggletooth will do a little time travel and make it so.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

continuing the "flip off" theme

As you saw in my final post of 2009, I was rather amused when I saw the vial of Lupron was encouraging me to rudely gesticulate at the world ("FLIP OFF" on the cap). Now the hilarity continues. The instructions the nurse gave me last week indicate that on Cycle Day #7 (see the circled portion of the photo on the left) I should tell them all "F-You!" Right?! I'm pretty sure that I understood this correctly. (Ha ha!) Tomorrow's appointment is for bloodwork and ultrasound. My best guess is that the shorthand "f/u" stands for phlebotomy and ultrasound.. kindof. Oh, whatever.

Okay, moving on. I was advised a few weeks ago that, in addition to my beloved progesterone shots, the frozen transfer would also require vaginal suppositories of hormones. Although I'm not thrilled about shoving a capsule of meds up where the sun don't shine, I figured it's just another indignity I must endure. I imagined the "vag-candies" would come individually wrapped, in a little box. I was taken aback when they arrived in the form of a space pod, pictured below. WTF?! This looks like some type of ammunition.. maybe. It's definitely from the future, that's for sure.

And finally, if there was any doubt about how to administer this medication.. umm... see my last photo. 'Nuff said.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Suppression? Check.

After a month on birth-control pills and almost 2 weeks of Lupron shots, it looks like my internal lady-bits are in a deep sleep. I went in for an ultrasound yesterday and the technician confirmed that all's quiet on the ovarian front.
Besides the well-known flashy aspects of IVF treatment (egg retrieval, Petri-dish fertilization, etc.) I have to say I find the suppression of your reproductive system to be kindof interesting, in a mad scientist way. You're blocking your body's own production of hormones, telling your pituitary gland, "OK, you shut up now, we'll handle this." Once everything is fully suppressed, then you start taking the meds (synthetic hormones) to produce a bunch of eggs, grow your uterine lining, etc. The doc prescribes very precise levels of estrogen/FSH/etc. and doesn't want your body to contribute some unknown amount of hormones into the mix. No contribution from you, silly patient!

So, currently my natural system is totally zeroed out and ready to receive further orders.. to be sent in the form of hormone shots, patches and tablets tucked up into my hoo-ha. Crikey! I'll talk more about my protocol and schedule later. The main thing is that the embryo transfer is set for 1/26, hence the new countdown ticker widget on my blog.

In related news, I've done really well lately in suppressing my urge to say stupid things to Mr. Foxy. The kind of things that get me in trouble 'cause I appear critical/bitchy at a time when I should just shut up and be grateful. Case in point: Mr. Foxy spent many days researching and visiting auto dealerships after I made an offhand comment about wanting a newer car. On Monday night I had so many reasons to tell him he was nuts when he said he wanted me to come out to test-drive a car. But even though I was literally suffering PMS and menopause at the same time, I sucked it up. It took forever (of course) and poor Waffle Girl was over 2 hours past her bedtime, but I got a new-ish jazzy RED car.. with seatwarmers. Ahhhh..