Saturday, May 22, 2010

Technical Difficulties

When I was seven weeks pregnant (the day after our confirmation ultrasound), I had such terrible cramping in my abdomen and lower back that I crawled into bed with a hot water bottle. About an hour after the cramping began I went to use the bathroom and a big glub of bright red blood fell into the toilet. The cramping had concerned me, but when I saw the blood I whispered, "Oh my God" and started to freak out.

I paged my reproductive endocrinologist, who did nothing to reassure me, as I'm sure he couldn't. But he did schedule an ultrasound for the very next morning and thankfully, everything appeared to be fine -- the baby had grown since our previous ultrasound just two days before and its heartbeat was still strong. We had one more ultrasound five days after that and everything continued to be fine.

Here's the bean on that day:

Then, at almost twelve weeks, I got out of bed at about 9PM, had some...ahem...unpleasantness on the toilet, and started feeling just horrible. I was suddenly very hot and nauseated. When I was done I stood up and called down the stairs to my husband and the next thing I knew I was lying on the tile bathroom floor, my right knee and left cheek throbbing.

After wiping a cool wet washcloth on my face and resting for a minute, the buzzing left my ears and I was able to go back to bed.

I guess I'm lucky I didn't land mouth-first on the porcelain sink, but it was still pretty scary. I called my midwife the next morning and she said that fainting is not uncommon in pregnancy and recommended taking an iron supplement and staying hydrated.

I haven't had any scary episodes of cramping, fainting or anything else since then. In fact, I've felt pretty good, although most nights I still go to bed with Henry at around 7:30pm.

Last Tuesday I had my first official midwife appointment and everything checked out fine. I'm hoping it's smooth sailing from here on out.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Trajectory to Human Life, True Mama Style

This baby was the result of IVF, just like Henry was. Like with Henry, it only took one cycle of IVF, but since we did IVF right away this time the journey was much shorter.

I did two cycles of birth control pills and then about thirteen days of various injections, sometimes three a night. My egg retrieval was on Thursday, March 4th and eleven eggs were retrieved. Of those, seven were mature and only three successfully fertilized.

On Sunday March 7th the embryologist called with an update. All three embryos were eight-celled (which is exactly what they want -- at least five but eight is the best) and grade A. She said they looked beautiful. She took a cell from each one and shipped them off to a gene testing facility in California. We would not find out if any of the embryos passed the genetic testing until the morning of the embryo transfer.

On Tuesday, March 9th we returned to the clinic for the transfer and were told that one of the embryos had a chromosomal defect rendering it incompatible with life. A second embryo would result in a baby, but one with severe physical and mental disabilities. (Curious, I pressed our doctor for more information, but he just insisted it would not be something we'd want.)

This left us with one chromosomally normal embryo, which the doctor and embryologist assured us was perfect-looking and "just waiting for a uterus to attach itself to." Here's a photo of what it looked under the microscope minutes before it was transferred to my uterus:

This shows the embryo in the blastocyst stage as it's hatching and preparing for implantation. It's developing into two distinct groups of cells -- one cell mass becomes the placenta, while the other becomes the fetus.

Infertility clinics always tell their patients to wait for the blood test to find out if they're pregnant instead of doing any home pregnancy tests because the HcG "trigger shot" (given just prior to the egg retrieval) can stay in the woman's system for long enough to render a false positive on a pee stick. Also, a home pregnancy test is not as sensitive as a blood test and may show up as negative even when the woman is actually pregnant.

I'm much too impatient to sit around and wait ten days for a blood test, so I tested at the end of the first week and found a faint positive line, which I assumed was the HcG from the injection. Two days later, I tested again and the test was negative. Two days after that the test was faintly positive, and the few times I tested after that the positive line was dark. So by the time I went in for my blood test on Friday, March 19th, I was thrilled but not surprised to learn that I was pregnant.

I was surprised to learn that I was considered to be four weeks along, though, even though the embryo was only fifteen days old. Gestation is figured using the date of the mother's last menstrual period, a fact that somehow escaped me despite a previous pregnancy.

The final official appointment at our clinic was a vaginal ultrasound. I'm not sure exactly why this is done, though I suspect that because more than one embryo is often transferred the clinic wants to see just how many babies are developing. So on Thursday, April 9th, when I was seven weeks along, we got to see this:

Yes, it just looks like a blob. What the photo doesn't show is the tiny little heart beating away inside that blob. It was good to get that confirmation. I was really pregnant!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Eleven Weeks Today -- Again

Things are about to change -- a lot -- around here. I'm eleven weeks pregnant; the baby is due on Thanksgiving Day.

I realized the other day that I started my previous blog the day I was eleven weeks pregnant with Henry. Since then, my life has changed more than I ever could have imagined, in ways I never could have dreamed.

I adore being Henry's mother. He is so smart, so funny, and so sweet. I love seeing him grow up and learn new things and develop into his own person. But I want him to have a sibling, one raised in the same household with the same parents, sharing the same memories. I want that for him now, growing up, but also for when he's an adult and his dad and I are elderly or deceased.

And I want another child for me, I'll admit. There's nothing wrong with having only one child, I know, yet I can't help looking forward to the day when I can refer to "my kids."

At the same time, I'm nervous about once again going through the exhaustion and stress and dirty diapers that accompany the first year or so of a new baby's life. I'm thirty-nine years old (the other day Henry greeted me with, "Hello, you old pregnant woman!"). Part of me wishes I had done all this child-rearing stuff about twenty or even ten years ago, but I know I'm a more aware and patient mother now than I would have been then.