Monday, December 1, 2008

New Blog

Alright, I'm back in the blogosphere....come visit me at
smartassmom.blogspot.com

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Time to Move On...

When I started this blog, it was really an infertility and IVF blog. Then it turned into a pregnancy after infertility blog. Then it turned into "fucked up pregnancy after infertility" blog. And now, it's time for this blog to stop.

Why? Well, when I was in the depths of infertility, I sought out blogs like mine to comiserate with. It is therapeutic to read and follow the plight of others in the same boat. But far too often, I'd peruse the blogs my friend Google Reader had suggested for me - blogs with descriptions about infertility or IVF, or miscarriage - just to stumble upon a picture like this:

Sweet Jesus, isn't that beautiful and touching? Indeed. However, it's very upsetting when you're coming off a failed cycle and just want to commiserate with those in the same boat. Half the time the so-called infertility blogs had turned into parenting blogs without warning. Kudos for beating infertility, but a little warning for us still struggling perhaps? So I won't do that. Well, besides that picture which was too great to pass up. My Photoshop skilz are pretty bad ass, and my kid is pretty freaking cute, ain't she?

For that reason alone, I don't want this blog to continue as a parenting blog. Then the other issue is, right now I just don't have much to blog about. I guess I could blog about the physical postpartum issues no one talks about, because frankly, someone SHOULD. Like how my bladder may never be the same, or how those stretch marks that were "just a little under my tummy" when I was pregnant turn into your entire tummy when you're not. Or I could be really annoying and blog about how so far, this whole mothering thing has been really easy. And get this: we're doing it all without having read a single parenting book! Can you believe that? It can be done, folks. Sometimes, things just come naturally. Now, I do think we have an easy kid. And she is only 2 1/2 weeks old so clearly things could and likely will change. But so far, eating, sleeping, pooping and peeing is going quite well. We often get a good 3-4 hour stretch of sleeping at night and her fussy times during the day aren't even that bad. I don't have much to say besides how awesome she is and how in love we are, and even in my most egotistical mood I could see how that wouldn't be entertaining to others. For very long, at least.

So for now, it's a blogging break. When I do return, it will be in a different blog and I'll post that blog here when that happens. But until then...thanks to everyone that read this thing, I never really expected anyone to read it, it was really just an outlet for me. I love the comments and feedback and it's why I'll keep it going elsewhere. I just need to wait until she starts doing funny shit.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Holy Shit, I'm a Mom.


Sabrina Frances
Born August 19th, 2008
2:34 pm
6 lbs., 8 oz
19 1/4 inches

So, I went to bed Monday night with absolutely not a single sign that Sabrina was thinking about making an appearance sooner than later. My contractions were pretty much gone, as they had been. I wasn't overly tired. I wasn't overly energetic. I didn't have a feeling...in fact, I posted that I was sure she wasn't going anywhere just hours before.

At 3:30 am, I woke up to a bit of a trickle. I turned and realized it was going to be a lot more than a trickle so I got my ass out of bed. We have a Sleep Number bed, and those things plug into the wall. It is also a new bed, and it wasn't cheap. The only place I didn't want my water to break was in bed, because I didn't want to ruin the mattress, nor did I want to electrocute us all. Somehow, I managed to avoid getting even one little drop on the mattress. Elsewhere wasn't so lucky, but it wasn't that bad. Most of it ended up in the toilet.

Chris thought I had diarrhea, hence my sprint to the bathroom, so he was just as surprised as I was when I came back to bed and told him my water had broken. He was even more surprised as I calmly told him that we would need to leave within the hour since I was Group B Strep positive and I'd need to get antibiotics, so I was going to jump in the shower and he could go ahead and vacuum while I was doing that.

Hmmmm? Yes, I asked him to vacuum because I was going to do it that morning and I wanted to come home to a vacuumed house. Sadly, this isn't a nesting thing or anything like that, it's totally normal behavior for me. The only thing not normal is that I asked Chris to do it, normally I would do it myself.

I realized when I got out of the shower that my contractions were strong and every 2-5 minutes and I would be in active labor soon. Same thing happened when I miscarried. As soon as my water breaks, it's show time. The hospital is about 45 minutes away, so we got out of here as soon as Chris got his shower.

The whole way to the hospital the contractions were getting stronger and stronger and really freaking painful. I couldn't talk through them, could barely breathe through them. By the time we got to the elevator to the L&D floor, really the only word I could say was "epidural". And I said it over and over.

They attempted to get me admitted and all set up, it took far longer than it should have because I couldn't answer the questions when I was contracting, which was all the time, and I didn't seem to know any words except "epidural", "when", and "pllllleeeeaassseee??".

The midwife checked me and said I was dilated to 2. I called her a liar and threw her right out of the room. OK, not what happened but I wasn't happy because she claimed that I needed to be dilated to 4 before getting an epi. Oh hell no. I requested a MD instead of the midwife (we really didn't connect on any level at all so it was best to get someone else) and the nice doctor felt I shouldn't suffer (as I obviously was) but the epi might slow down the labor. She also said that the number of centimeters dilated wasn't as big an issue for her, as 2 for me may be someone else at 7. Or 10, as I pointed out.

I got that epidural at 7am and lemme tell you, it is the best.thing.ever. I no longer felt any contractions. I could breathe. I could open my eyes. I could converse with people. I was even pleasant to be around. I could do this. This was going to be fun!

They checked me at 9am and any worry about the epi stalling labor were thrown out the window as I was already 7 centimeters. Checked again at 11am and I was fully dilated. We were set to start pushing at noon.

At this point, the epi is still going strong, I'm still a joy to be around and looking forward to meeting our daughter. The nurse gets me started pushing. I'm doing "great" and everything is still wonderful. The epi is starting to wear off just a tad, so just in case I push my handy little "more" button to keep me covered. I'm starting to feel the contractions a bit, and not just the pressure they said the epi won't take care of, but as long as it doesn't get too bad, I'll be fine.

About a half hour of pushing later, the epidural ceased to do a damn thing. The nurses and OB seemed to think this was a good thing, as I would have something to push towards. I strongly disagreed, but it wasn't as if they were taking away my pain meds, it just wasn't working. I pushed for 2 1/2 hours straight. The first hour was pretty unproductive so they added pitocin to my IV to help make the contractions more consistent. It didn't make them stronger, but instead made them more consistent than before. Whatever, it all still hurt like hell. Pushing through the pain is seriously an out of body experience.

If "epidural" was my word for the morning, "vacuum" became my word of the afternoon. At some point, it was suggested that they might have to use the vacuum to get her out, as she just wasn't making the progress she should have. She basically was stuck behind my pelvic bone and with each push she would edge out just a tad, but as soon as I stopped, she sucked back up there.

Now, I'm all for pain meds, natural birth isn't for me, but my rational mind would not ask for the vacuum. I do understand it's a procedure that should only be done when it absolutely must be for the health of the baby. However, I wasn't my rational self so once they mentioned that, I saw it as a way out. A way to get her out, because clearly pushing wasn't working and they weren't aware of this, but I was going to just stop. I was done. I wasn't sure how they were going to get her out, but I figured that was their problem. As a result, after just about every push I asked if the vacuum was next. Or if they had decided to use it. Or if they could just let me know when they thought they might decide, that would be great.

The last half hour of pushing I pretty much shut everyone out, kept my eyes squeezed shut and pushed as hard as I possible could muster. She finally came out and I can't even describe the instant physical relief that provides.

But Sabrina's entrance into the world wasn't going to be easy. Hell, her incubation period was a whole mess of complications, why would birth be any different? She had the cord wrapped around her neck really tightly and she wasn't breathing at all. She was blue and totally unresponsive. The nurses grabbed her and took her to the warming lamp thing and ended up having to bag her to resusitate her, and within 5 minutes she was breathing and turning pink. We didn't get to hold her for a while as she needed to warm up and stay warm.

Once she was breathing it took her a minute to make any noise and once she did, it was amazing. My daughters voice. That's what she sounds like. This is who has been inside of me, wiggling around. Our baby girl is finally here.

Two years of trying. Countless appointments. Miscarriage. In-Vitro Fertilization. Hundreds of injections. 17 weeks of bed rest. A freaking epidural that wore off.

All forgotten in an instant.

Our beautiful daughter is here.





Monday, August 18, 2008

I guess she doesn't read my blog.

Hmph.

"She" would be the little miss that has taken up residency in my stomach. Because, despite my pleas a couple weeks ago, I had to get a pedicure last week. Someone was supposed to make an appearance before I had to resort to getting outside help for my tootsies.

Fine. Now that she's sticking around, we request she make it to at least Saturday now, which will be one day shy of 39 weeks...who would have thought?

Why Saturday? Well, if she's born after Saturday, she'll be a Virgo instead of a Leo. No offense to the lions out there, but Virgo is just more compatible with Scorpio, which is what Chris and I both are.

Also, Chris has a root canal on Wednesday, and has requested she wait until at least after that. The man can't live on advil.

So here we sit and wait. I feel fine, the usual (I imagine) discomfort of being 9 1/2 months pregnant but my contractions are minimal (figures) and I don't anticipate any progress or changes at my appointment this week.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Happy 3rd Anniversary to US!



Three years ago today I married my best friend, my partner, and as cheesy as it sounds, the man who truly is my soul mate. He's my favorite. I like him a lot.

How does a very pregnant woman celebrate her anniversary? By eating, of course! Massive amounts of food, actually. We went to a nice dinner over the weekend and let's just say, when your "appetizer" is the cheese and fruit platter (and that was just for me, of course), it sets the tone for the rest of the evening. The tone being gluttony. But it was gooooood.

I got all dressed up, which these days means something other than shorts. I put on my best maternity frock, and figured even though I've had to wear flip flops (due to the excessive swelling) the last several weeks that I would take one for the team and get my feet into some nice heels. I'm a high heel kind of girl and the thought of wearing flip flops to a nice restaurant was horrifying.

I knew the high heel would be tight and uncomfortable, but I was willing.

Um, I couldn't even fit a toe into the shoe. My feet are so swollen, they must be three times their normal size. Have I listened too much to the people that say I am "all belly?" I believed them! But clearly they are lying. I am, best case scenario, all belly and feet.

After the high heel incident, I'm beginning to wonder if I'm being delusional by thinking I can fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans...up to the tummy, of course. Is it possible my pregnant thighs and ass won't fit into them now?? Should I try and see?

Nahhhhhh.

Monday, August 11, 2008

FYI - Celebrities are NOT infertile.

I think I discovered a cure to infertility...become a celebrity.

Infertility has been in the media quite a bit in the last couple years, primarily because several celebs are suddenly popping out twins in their late 30's and even later, prompting the usual knee-jerk response any time this happens..."Are they natural?"

Now, realistically...hell, statistically, the chances of all these twins popping up without intervention, is slim. While women over 35 have a greater chance of having twins (as you near menopause - and yes, it the process starts that early and goes on for years - your body produces more FSH which in turn can make you release 2 or more mature eggs in one cycle, hence resulting in a greater chance of twins than she would have had in her 20's), it's still statistically about 1% without infertility treatments. So chances are quite good many of the celebs have sought treatment.

Big deal.

Really. I'm not trying to dismiss the magnitude of going through In-Vitro Fertilization. It is a big deal to us that have done it. I'm not dismissing the magnitude of dealing with infertility, it is, to be frank, the shits. But we all have our crosses to bear. I'm just saying, using fertility treatments to conceive really isn't that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. When I watch my daughter run around the playground, how she got here isn't going to matter much. We are very open about IVF, and our daughter will know all about it. But, I won't watch her and think of her early beginnings as an 8-cell embryo in a petri dish. Do fertiles sit and watch their children and think of the night they conceived with their partner? If they do, that's weird and gross. But I digress.

I have no issues with fertility treatments and I do have a hard time grasping why people do, but to each his own. Then again, I'm not religious, I don't care too much what people think, and my morals and ethics, at best, are questionable. So basically I don't relate to any of the usual reasons people cite for fertility treatments to be something to be ashamed of.

Plenty of non-celebs choose to keep their infertility and treatments private. Very private. Some because of the before noted religious/moral stuff that I just don't get, others feel like talking about infertility or fertility treatments is like talking about their sex life (uh, not to dismiss that feeling but I don't know what kind of embryo transfer these people had), others just feel it ain't nobody's business, and it truly isn't. I know when we discussed IVF with our friends and family there were more than a few people who couldn't get past the fact that Chris had to provide a "sample". This was the focus. Not the emotional roller coaster we were on, not the physical pain of the shots and the meds, not the money, not the worry...it was the masturbation. For Christ's Sakes. Seriously, children.

So celebs and non-celebs alike, everyone has the right to keep it private if they choose. I don't begrudge the celebrities that. And I don't want or expect them to become spokespeople for all us infertiles. Because plenty of them have "come out" with their problems, and honestly, no one really cared. Nothing changed. Brooke Sheilds has been very open, it didn't hurt her career and it didn't help our cause. The infertile community's expectation that an infertile celebrity will somehow help us is confusing. And we should not condemn those that choose not to reveal that aspect of their personal life to the media.

But let's condemn those that make it clear they did not use that fertility treatment crap. That they didn't need to...ick. That icky in-vitro, no thanks. Nothing wrong with us! Totally natural. We can condemn them. Because regardless if they used fertility treatments or not, hey, don't make them out to be this horrible thing that you wouldn't consider. I'm totally okay with them not answering or acknowledging the question to protect their privacy. I'd even be okay with lying by saying a simple "no" if they were really pressed in an interview. But to crinkle your nose and look confused when someone mentions in-vitro fertilization, or to throw out the preemptive denial like Rebecca Romijn and Jerry O'Connell recently did when they announced she was pregnant with twins. They felt the need to issue the statement that they were not conceived using the fertility drug Clomid or In-Vitro Fertilization.

Well. Clearly, they used IUI's (intra-uterine insemination) then. Clomid to IVF is a big leap and they left out a huge chunk of other options. But the whole fertility question was more of a focus than anything, because, let's be honest, who cares about Rebecca Romijn and Jerry O'Connell? Anyone?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Ahhhh....the Golden Ring

Guess who is off of bed rest? (well, kind of).

Me! 17 weeks of bed rest is done (well, mostly), we made it to 36 weeks, the golden ring we thought we would never grasp.

So my OB would prefer I make it to 37 weeks and doesn't want to lift all my restrictions, but I think we're just being greedy at this point. Of course I want her to cook as long as she needs, but it's not like I'm running a marathon.

I don't however, want her to go overdue. I get all wound up about things that could happen. Like if I see one more Discovery Health show where a baby is born with meconium all over it, I might scream. Poo in the amniotic fluid is a concern. A concern that gets greater if you go past your due date. Hence, one of many reasons why I am OK with getting to 40 weeks, but I know my anxiety level will start to sky rocket if we go any further.

Also, I gave myself a pedicure a couple days ago, and at 9 months pregnant, that is no easy feat. (ha!!, feet, feat. get it?). Really, it takes hours. I hate getting pedicures so I've managed to do it myself this whole time. Each time I say, "I think that's the last time I'll be able to do that" but somehow, my bed rest body is able to contort enough to get those toes all purty and painted. However, this last time I think really will be the last. So, ideally, little miss will make an appearance before my toes need attention again. Which is about 2 weeks, give or take a couple days. Are you listening? Mama does not want to go get a pedicure. Don't make me.

A few noteworthy things from the past week:
  • I was dilated one centimeter at my last appt. Surely it has nothing to do with the fact that I may have cheated a tiny bit last week and gone on some walks.
  • I believe I lost most of my mucus plug over the weekend. Sadly, I didn't get a picture to post! Ha.
  • I have less contractions now than I have the entire pregnancy. It's as if this is some kind of cruel joke.
  • I was re-tested for Group B Strep and it - poof! - seems to have disappeared. Bizarre. But, one less thing to worry about.
  • My OB proclaimed my weight gain thus far excellent (I'm not ashamed to say I'm up about 25-30 pounds, for those that are wondering) despite 17 weeks of bedrest and a clearly unhealthy obsession with mini Twix bars, and a disturbing disinterest in vegetables.
  • My laptop stumped the local computer fixers and has been referred to a specialist. Seriously, even my material possessions have to see specialists?

Monday, July 28, 2008

35 weeks...almost there!


My bed rest buddy, Sara reminds me that I can't just post on and on about my pre term labor issues than disappear from the blogosphere for days on end.

All is well, actually better than usual, on the pregnancy front. My contractions have been better the last week or so than they have been the entire pregnancy. I just know that now that we're almost at the golden ring, 36 weeks, all my PTL issues are going to come to a screeching halt and she's going to stay put for weeks and weeks. She is already screwing with us.

All is not well, however, on the laptop front.

I've been MIA because my laptop is having some trouble. As in freezing all the time, can't do anything, barely got some important files backed up, trouble. He had to go to the doctor today, and I don't expect him back until later this week. Considering I didn't pay much for the laptop, if it's an expensive fix I'm guessing I may never get him back. I really don't have the right to complain too much, we still have a functioning perfectly fine desktop (but it's in the garage and it's hot in there) and I do have my laptop for work that I can use for Internet access (but it's heavy, and it gets hot and it's slow and ugly) so it's not like I'm completely shut off from the world, it's just far more inconvenient.

Less than a week from freedom...at 36 weeks, it's expected that my bed rest will be lifted! I have no idea what I'll do with myself.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Grumpy Clitoris

How could I forget to post this gem of the week?

The Pre Term Birth Prevention Program I'm in includes a weekly phone call from my perinatal nurse. It's scheduled for the same day, same time each week. I had my weekly appointment with my OB the same time as my weekly call last week, and if I'm not home to take the call, they consider it a missed appointment. Two or more missed appointments and you're out of the program. So, like a good patient, I called before I left to advise them I wasn't going to be home for the call, but everything was pretty much status quo and I was on my way to my OB anyway.

Unfortunately, I they didn't transfer me to my nurse, but to a trainee who didn't seem to understand why I was calling. To compound the confusion, her accent was very thick and I was having a hard time communicating with her.

The banter started predictably enough.

"Are you having contractions?"
"Uh, yeah...always. But that's normal for me and I'm on my way to my appointment anyway..."
"You're drinking water and laying on your side?"
"Um, no, I'm leaving. But it's not an issue anyway, I always have lots of contractions and there is no-"
"HOW MANY?"
"Oh, well, typically right now it's anywhere from about 5-7 or more, but you see, that's not why I'm calling, like I said that's normal (is she not looking at my chart??) and I've been to L&D enough times for us to know there hasn't really been any real cervical change, sooooo..."
"No cervical change?"
"Nope! Just a really grumpy uterus."
"Hmmm. Grumpy CLITORIS."
Er, what?

Virtually the entire conversation I was straining to understand her, but I'll be damned, that clitoris comment came through loud and clear.

I have no doubt that my clitoris is grumpy at this point, but I certainly wasn't discussing it with the perinatal nurse. I don't think that's contributing to my pre term labor issues.

Monday, July 14, 2008

That Pesky Insurance Coverage for Infertility Argument

Ahhhh, all is right with the world. A recent post on a message board I frequent regarding whether or not insurance companies should cover infertility or not had me worried. The vast majority of the replies were yes! And this was not a board full of infertiles. Finally, someone said "as long as the world's population continues to explode, I'm not going to change my mind on increasing my premiums to pay for someone else's uncontrollable desire to have a baby with their own DNA." I was getting worried they were all going soft with this bizarre support for us infertiles until that sweet little princess posted that comment.

I've considered posting about insurance coverage and infertility for quite a while, but have always stopped myself for some reason. It is a cause near and dear to my heart. I even created an online petition a while back to send to Congress as they reviewed HR 2892 which would mandate infertility coverage nationally (this bill has been introduced 6 times and never made it to the voting stage...this year was no exception). We had over 2,000 signatures last I looked. Shitty thing is, my Congressperson ignored the petition (all 50 pages I sent her), and the other Congresspeople I sent it to (those on the committees reviewing the bill) didn't give a shit either, since I couldn't vote for them. Gotta love America.

At any rate, it's a volatile argument on both sides and I really wish we could just take the emotion out of it and debate it rationally. That means no "uncontrollable desire to reproduce their DNA" argument from the NO side and no long drawn out stories from our side about how painful it is to go through infertility and all that. No one cares. Let's just talk facts, shall we?

The reason infertility should be covered is because it is not fair to not cover it.

Does that do it for you? Good enough? Because that really is it in a nutshell.

My parents did a good job and didn't overly indulge me as a child. When I said something wasn't fair, they were quick to swing around and growl "LIFE'S NOT FAIR!", something I never really understood since I felt that was just validating my point. But I don't believe infertility should be covered just because it has cost me a shit load of money. I don't think it should be covered because it really sucks to go through it, and then turn around and realize you're going to have to spend your life savings treating it. Talk about adding insult to injury. But still, that isn't reason for me to think that an entire (cough *corrupt* cough) industry should change their policies. I understand they're in it for the money. I understand covering infertility would cost them money. I understand they really don't give a shit that I have to spend my life savings treating my disease even though I have full medical coverage. I get it. And I wouldn't fight it...IF it was fair across the board.

My point has always been this: infertility should be covered because it is a disease. It is specifically excluded from insurance policies for reasons unknown (besides the cost factor). Now, if all diseases were excluded, I wouldn't agrue. Hey, even if all non-life threatening diseases were excluded, sure, I get it. Not covered. Or even all reproductive issues. OK, got it. Or hey, anything that has to do with vaginas, ok, no problem. Or diseases that start with the letter I. See my point? I'm not asking for special treatment. I'm asking for the same treatment as any other disease.

You see, when I reviewed one of my company's insurance policies that was available to me, I thumbed to the "what is not covered" section. In addition to the regular non-medical things that aren't covered with most policies - dental work, vision exams, cosmetic surgery, etc. - there were three other items listed. Inexplicably, these three were singled out:
  • Infertility
  • Diagnosis and/or Treatment of HIV/AIDS in excess of $15,000
  • Prosthetics
Honestly, I couldn't make this shit up.

So I concluded that infertility and the cap put on HIV/AIDS had to do with moral or religious issues. I decided the Catholic church had somehow infiltrated the insurance industry. Infertility treatment could include IVF, which the Vatican has adamantly opposed and they feel it is just soooo wrong. HIV/AIDS - well, it's a gay disease isn't it? Can't be too obvious about discriminating against them, so give them a little bit of coverage. Not too much though, not enough to...oh you know, keep them alive. $15K may sound like a lot to you, but the medications to control HIV/AIDS are beyond expensive and $15K doesn't go very far.

I have yet to figure out how the amputees have offended the religious right or the ultra conservatives. I'd be really interested in hearing anyone's theory about that one.

Once I heard a semi-rational reason for excluding infertility: it was considered experimental, and insurance does not cover experimental treatments. Now, I would have been okay with this since infertility isn't being singled out, it's just part of experimental treatments. But, that's old news and not applicable anymore. The AMA (American Medical Association) has not categorized infertility treatments as experimental since the 1980's. Next. Gotta give me something better than that.

Because I can give you something better. Beyond infertility being a disease and should be covered because it is such, I can also throw a Supreme Court case at you. In case you don't like my disease argument, how about this: In 1998, Bragdon vs. Abbott, the United State Supreme Court rule that reproduction is a "major life activity." Any person with substantial limitations to reproduce meets the definition for disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act and should, therefore, not be denied medical treatment for his or her condition. Excluding coverage for infertility treatment would be a violation of the ADA according to this decision. Ha! I win!

For those of you that don't want to pay for me to choose to treat my disease, I get it. (I won't bore you with the research that shows that it would actually cost as little as $3 per person per year and would actually lower premiums in many respects because it would lower the risk of multiple - especially high order multiple - pregnancies). But I didn't create the system. I don't want to pay for Bob to get his ingrown toenail worked on because I think had he just cut his toenails properly from the start, it wouldn't be an issue and I don't think I should have to pay for that. But that's how insurance works. We all pay in so that when we need it, it's covered. I would be all for a reform where your premium, even in a group health care setting like an employer plan - was reflective of how much you utilize the service. I don't think it's fair that my co-worker that never goes to the doctor - ever - should have to pay the same monthly premium as me, someone who is like Norm from Cheers at my doctor's office, just in case he needs medical care sometime in the future. I don't agree that's fair. But it is the way it is, and I didn't make the rules.

And I really have to giggle when people say coverage for infertility would raise their premiums, blah blah blah. Because the cost of my IVF (that we paid out of pocket for) was a tiny drop in the bucket compared to the amount I've sucked out of the system with my high risk pregnancy. All of my pre-natal care is 100% free with my insurance policy. I don't even pay a co-pay. So do the math. Weekly appointments since I was 4 1/2 months pregnant, all free. Four trips (so far) to Labor & Delivery, all free. My delivery will cost a $500 co-pay, that's it. My pregnancy could raise my company's premiums, but no one complains about maternity coverage.

Incidentally, I should point out that I have tendencies towards hypochondria, so pregnant or not, infertile or not, it's highly probably I can raise any company's premiums just being me. Giggle, giggle.

Friday, July 11, 2008

&*@#%*!

Another trip to Labor & Delivery?!

Yeah.

Three days of consistent (every 5-10 minutes), strong contractions will do that to you. Good news is, it's the same false labor I continue to have and I'm not dilating at all. FFN was negative again. Bad news is, this is just how my pregnancy will continue and there's nothing we can do about it.

You see, my uterus is irritable. As am I, these days. So what is an irritable uterus?

For the most part, Braxton Hicks contractions are rarely painful and will remain quite irregular. During periods of heavy activity, however, you may find the contractions become uncomfortable. If so, resting with your feet up will usually lessen your discomfort.

For many women, having Braxton Hicks contractions would be a blessing. For those who have been told they have an "irritable uterus" the onset of mildly uncomfortable contractions during the last weeks and months of the pregnancy would be ideal. Irritable uterus is a term used by doctors to describe painful contractions that do not cause changes in the cervix, like those seen during labor. These contractions can be frighteningly similar to the real deal, only without the regularity of true labor.

Yes, this means I experience labor-like contractions all the freaking time. And that freaking sucks! It's painful, it's tiring, it's annoying and there's really no way of me knowing if I'm having cervical changes without having to go to L&D. Luckily, they've been very nice to us. We're regulars. I'm waiting for them to just point to the room we'll be in and allow me to hook myself up to the monitors, enter my info into the computer ("yes, I feel safe in my home. No, no alcohol or smoking during the pregnancy. Nope, I don't have herpes. No allergies to drugs.") and even administer my own FFN test. If I could only check my own cervix...

The highlight of our trips to L&D is getting to hear her heartbeat the whole time we're there AND see the BPM (which fascinates me). She's a little superstar and always does perfect while on the monitor. Which is interesting, since I've noticed she can be having a very quiet day but strap that monitor on her and she starts doing flips and turns and moving all around. She either a) is a show off or b) doesn't like the monitor and tries to kick it off my stomach. Considering who her parents are, I think it's probably A. Trouble.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

32 weeks and counting....





(ok, so I'm a few days late posting...I hit 32 weeks on Sunday. Sue me, I've been soooo busy on bed rest you know).

Still hanging in there. The contractions have come back full force yet again and I'm trying very hard to avoid L&D today because frankly, So You Think You Can Dance just isn't as enjoyable from a hospital bed as it is from home.

They have calmed down a bit from the every 5 minute pattern my uterus likes to employ.

My weekly internal yesterday is probably the reason the party started in my uterus. My internal where my OB declared my cervix "oooey and gooey" and in the same breath said, "it's the same." Really? My cervix has been oozing this entire time? That's not a comforting thought. What if it just oozes right out of me? I need a cervix, don't I?

Monday, June 30, 2008

FFN = Negative = WOO!

I knew when I woke up at 2am wondering if I could get away with taking some bleach and a toothbrush to the tile grout in our bathroom that could be considered nesting and not a good sign for someone barely 31 weeks pregnant....

So I had to return to L&D on Saturday. I tracked contractions for about 12 hours, and they were consistently 5 minutes apart...except for about a 1 hour stretch where they were 20 minutes apart, that I was really hoping would last, but of course, it didn't.

I didn't want to go, because I figured it was the same situation as just days before. But at the same time, I couldn't just assume that - what if, God forbid, I was in labor? I couldn't jeopardize my daughter's well being just because I don't want to make a trip that will likely be a waste.

So off we went. A much shorter trip than last time, and we had a great OB that talked to us about everything and really understood my history, so we were in good hands. She decided to do the FFN test, a test that can determine with about 99% accuracy that you are not going to deliver within the next 7-14 days. Basically if that came back positive, I would have been admitted while they watched for changes to my cervix. But if it was negative, we were free to go, despite all the contractions. Even though my contractions have a clear labor pattern, they are considered false labor as long as the contractions don't change the cervix.

Aaannnd, it was negative! So the good - no great - news is that little miss will likely hold on until I hit 32-33 weeks, hopefully longer. The bad news is I get to experience pseudo labor until then, meaning I have contractions constantly now and they freaking hurt. I see women 39 weeks pregnant asking things like, "Is this a contraction" on my message boards and I glare at the screen. Not that it's their fault they've had uncomplicated pregnancies, or haven't had the joy of tracking contractions since they were 4 1/2 months pregnant, but it's just a reminder that we haven't had one ounce of normalcy in this entire process. From infertility, to miscarriage, to pregnancy loss to a high risk pregnancy that at this point is bordering on becoming an episode for Discovery Health's "Mystery Diagnosis" show, we just haven't experienced anything "normal" and sometimes, it's annoying. This is our journey, we accept it and laugh about it as much as possible, but it doesn't mean I don't internally complain once in a while.

On our way home from one of our L&D trips, I told Chris, "You know, I hear some people just get pregnant (I also heard this was achieved from having sex but since I wouldn't know about that first hand I don't want to run around telling tales out of school), have their monthly appointments where they don't even have to take their pants off, then one day when their full term start having contractions, go to the hospital and have a baby. That's it."

He said he didn't believe me.

Friday, June 27, 2008

My Poor Vagina.

OK, who's cringing at the title? I'm going to guess my brother is probably cringing the most. Chris might be a close second, but don't worry - I'm sure he'll be the number one cringer later on in this post.

But vag deserved a shout out. After 1 colposcopy and 5 internals in about 24 hours, she's traumatized. Perhaps I should back up a bit...

Little Miss tried to make a break for it earlier this week. I had a colposcopy (don't ask, I have the cervix from hell) and of course right after the contractions started full force. Totally expected that. My contractions have been worse lately...more like 2-4 an hour instead of 1-3, but actually a couple days before the colpo they had gone back to the 1-3. Which of course afterwards, that all changed. I monitored like a good Pre Term Birth Prevention Program patient, and called the perinatal nurse later that night after tracking 7 in one hour, 4 in the next. Because we figured the colpo was the culprit, she said to monitor for another hour and call if I had 4 again. I had 3, then fell asleep (whoops, contracting makes me tired!). Every time I woke up during the middle of the night, I was contracting, but I also had a full bladder which causes contractions for me so I didn't think much of it. By morning, it seemed more constant and consistent than is my norm, I tracked for 2 hours and called the perinatal nurse and let them know I was still having 4 an hour. They said to go to L&D so they could stop the contractions since we don't want my cervix shortening any more. Cool, I'll get some drugs and be out of there in an hour.

Not exactly.

So we get checked in and hooked up and start the monitoring. They can tell right away that I'm having some contractions (mmmmkkkk, that's why I'm here) and the OB on-call and nurse we had were getting ready for surgery so they wanted to do an internal to check my cervix and then just monitor me for a couple hours. Oh. Ok. Well, I'm sure when they get back we'll just get our drugs and be on our merry way. When she came back to check later, I was still contracting, she does another internal and apparently - and I say apparently because she didn't tell us anything - she felt the cervix was softer and maybe a little more dialated than the previous check (I'm externally dilated about 1.5cm but not internally) so in her mind, I was in labor. I was having consistent contractions and now she felt they were changing my cervix. Next thing we know we're being whisked down to ultrasound for a cervix length check - and I mean whisked, the transporter had me in a wheel chair and I swear I saw Chris jogging behind us trying to keep up - which, was great - 2.4 cm! That means I've only lost 4 milimeters in my 12 weeks of bedrest. Not bad for a chick who shed a centimeter in 4 weeks early on. Anyway, we got to briefly see the little one, who is (and had been for a few weeks) totally head down and has her head planted firmly on my cervix. She's also using my bladder as a pillow, and has it squished to the point that it looks like a crescent moon (I'll be talking to her about this after she's born). I'd like to be flip and say her fat head is on my cervix, but I can't as it looked like quite the perfect little head to me. She also looks bald, and I love me some bald babies.

So at this point, I feel the contractions aren't doing anything to my cervix and we should just be able to go home. It appears they don't agree. They gave me the first of two of the steriod shot to mature her lungs, and it was at that point I knew they weren't telling us everything because I know they don't give those shots unless they feel delivery is imminent. They give me three separate dosages of nifedipin to stop the contractions, which my uterus laughed at. No response. I got an IV of saline to push fluids, no change. Those contractions kept a'coming. Finally I found a spot on my side where the monitor didn't seem to pick up the contractions so I stayed there hoping they would see I wasn't contracting and let us go home. See, I hadn't planned on being there longer than an hour, I had no toothbrush, nothing, the bed is beyond uncomfortable, I'm pissed that we aren't getting any information which is really what is pissing me off. So if no one is going to tell us what's going on, we might as well leave. This made sense at the time, believe me.

Around 6pm, the OB shift change occurred and we were told the new OB would be in to see us and let us know what was going on. Our nurse was attentive but somewhat mute, so for two hours I layed there while she checked on me but couldn't tell us anything. We told her we were probably going to just go ahead and go, and she told us we'd have to sign out against medical consenst. For some reason, I worried what my normal OB would think of that. I have no idea why that became an issue, I didn't seem to care about the staff that was trying to take care of us at that moment, I was more concerned with disappointing my regular OB. Perhaps I'm too attached to her. Anyway.

New OB finally comes to see us around 8pm, and he doesn't look thrilled with us. Mute nurse told on us and our plan to escape. Good news is, new OB isn't a mute and had plans to actually tell us what was going on. Great news was he was a hottie with a South African accent s0 we'll now refer to new OB as Dr.HotStuff (Chris is starting to cringe). Other good news is the nurse that took over for mute nurse was also a hottie so Chris wasn't totally left out (now he's really cringing, but it will get worse, don't worry). Basically Dr.HotStuff broke it down like this:
  • I think you should stay overnight for observation (I disagree)
  • You are and have been contracting every two minutes and have the best labor pattern of any patient on the floor (I have to admit I blushed at that accomplishment, until I realized I am only 30 weeks pregnant and that's not something you strive for amongst a floor of women that are actually full term)
  • The previous OB felt a change in your cervix which indicates the contractions are changing it and you need to be watched.
This is where the bargaining started. It may sound like I was more concerned with being home than my daughter, which is far from the case. I've been doing everything possible to keep her inside and haven't complained all that much about it (now Chris isn't cringing but instead rolling his eyes. You can stop that, mister.) The thing is, I know my body at this point. If this happened 3 months ago, I would have moved into the hospital. But at this point, while I was having a hell of a lot more contractions than I realized, and they had a pattern which is not normal for me, I knew they weren't changing my cervix so I didn't need to stay. Not to mention, as soon as they actually admitted me my hospital admission co-pay would have kicked in and that was $500 I didn't think we needed to spend. So we bargained. I expressed concern over our pet at home that shouldn't be alone this long and hadn't been fed. Note I used the word pet instead of one specifying what kind of pet. When they asked if it was a dog, I said no, a cat (now Chris is really cringing because he not only had to witness this first hand, but also now see that I am sharing this story outside of the hospital room). I tried to explain that after 3 months of bed rest, my cat and I are very close. It didn't seem to phase them, guess they aren't cat lovers. At any rate, Dr.HotStuff agreed that the cervical ultrasound measurment was encouraging and not concerning. He decided that he was willing to do an internal, then come back in two hours and do another one. If he didn't feel any change, he was willing to let us go. WOOO! At this point, "So You Think You Can Dance" had come on so I had enough distraction for the next two hours. Two hours later - on the dot, mind you - Dr.HotStuff and Nurse Hottie returned for the next internal. No change, and we got to go home! I was still contracting, and continued to do so regularly until around 11 the next morning, but things have calmed down and I'm close to back to my regular patterns. I have my weekly appointment next week, and I think we should do the FFN (fetal fibronectin test) which can help predict if I'll go into labor within the next two weeks. They wanted to do it in the hospital, but having had the colposcopy the day before would have made the results invalid. The next goal is 32 weeks, but I would be a lot more comfortable at 34 weeks, even with her lungs all 'roided out from the shots. Of course ideal would be term, but at this point I need to be more realistic. We can hope for at least 37 weeks, but I can't expect it.

If you've read this entire marathon post, you either:
  1. Are really, really bored
  2. Really, really like me
  3. Were really, really interested in what happened to my vagina.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Thinking Back

A re-run of Beverly Hills, 90210 (a series I am not ashamed to admit I watch daily in re-runs) got me to thinking recently. It was an episode where Kelly, following a pregnancy scare which turned out to be an early miscarriage was told she had endometriosis and that she probably wouldn't be able to conceive, and if she was able to, probably wouldn't be able to carry to term.

She was devastated. For that episode, only. Seems she got over it rather quickly...but I guess I should cut her some slack since she did get shot in a drive by shooting not long after and did lose some of her short term memory...so perhaps it slipped her mind.

At any rate, I was taken back to when I was just nineteen, sitting in a gynecologist's office, being told the same thing. I hadn't had a pregnancy scare or miscarriage, but after my endo diagnosis, I was told almost verbatim the same thing she was told in that episode. I had only gone to the gyn (for my first time) just to see if I could get some pain pills because my cramps were so bad. Next thing I knew, I was scheduled for surgery, then sitting in the office going over the results and being told, rather non nonchalantly, that I probably couldn't have children.

And my reaction? "Oh. Okay. Aaaannd, those pain pills?"

I wasn't devastated. I don't remember being all that concerned.

It just became part of me. I probably can't have kids. OK. Next. I didn't dwell on it, and I didn't care too much. It was what it was. It was pretty abstract, something far in the future and something I wasn't even sure I wanted, anyway. The internet didn't exist then, so I didn't spend hours researching my endo diagnosis...I (gasp) just took what the doctor said as the truth and figured that was it.

My indifference to this revelation didn't change for many years. I actually thought of my infertility as a back up birth control. I didn't have the best taste in boyfriends and had no desire to reproduce with any of them. I didn't have a biological clock, I didn't long for what I couldn't have, it didn't occur to me to be upset about infertility.

Until I met Chris. Then everything changed.

Suddenly, I was infertile.

I knew nothing about infertility treatment. I knew nothing about options. I naively thought that it was black and white...as in, once we decided to have children, I would be told, "Yes, you can!!" or "Nope, sorry, not gonna happen." None of this trying this, trying that, wait and see roller coaster.

I told Chris early on. I knew he wanted kids and to be fair, he had to know what I knew (which turns out was very little). I didn't have a choice in infertility, but he did. If he needed to have a biological child, I wasn't the woman for him. He stayed.

For the first time since I was diagnosed, infertility became a problem. I realize now it had no impact on me until I met "the one", because I couldn't care less about having a biological child. But, when I met Chris, I wanted his child. I was open to adoption, as was Chris, but it was all still so abstract to both of us. There was nothing for sure, so it didn't seem there was anything to really worry about...until we had to worry about it. Which, turns out, was shortly after we were married.

We jumped head first into treatment, holding each others hand the entire time. But my stance never changed. My motivation wasn't about producing my own spawn. I have never needed to be pregnant. It has always been a means to and end for me. While half the infertile population would burn me at the stake for that comment, it's the truth. Even as arrogant as I can be, I still have no true desire to see a mini me running around. What I wanted, what kept me going through all of the ups and mostly downs of infertility, was Chris' child. I want his mini-me. Not in a foot-stamping, spoiled brat way. Just in a heartbreaking way. I think my husband is one of the most amazing people on the planet. Why wouldn't I want to have his child?

I clearly remember the evening after my D&C. After watching his wife writhe in pain as the "remnants of conception" were removed from my body, we were both traumatized. To the point where when we left, we said, "that's it. Only adoption now." We couldn't go through that again. Instantly, a weight was lifted from my shoulders. I felt so much lighter. No more treatments, no more failures, no more hell. Moving on.

I felt pretty good until we went to bed that night. Chris kissed me good night and gave me his sweet smile. Immediately, I felt my blood run cold. I couldn't give up on having his child. I couldn't give up on seeing his smile in our child, or seeing something and thinking, "Just like his daddy." I couldn't give up on making another Chris. I didn't want to. Was adoption still a possibility, as it had always been? Of course. But I needed to try at least once more. Which we did, and were so fortunate that it worked.

I think my journey from not giving a shit about infertility to really giving a shit is why I'm not offended by statements about not understanding why people would pursue treatment...because I can relate. Not that I cared either way what people did, but I do understand the statement, "If I couldn't have kids, I just wouldn't have kids, or I'd adopt" because that was how I felt. Clearly I did a 180 when I met Chris so I know both sides and I wouldn't crucify anyone for making that comment. Now, talk out of your ass around me about IVF and the perils of pursuing that particular treatment, and I will crucify you. Publicly, if I can. But not understanding the motivation for those of us that do pursue treatment? Yeah, I get it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My New Favorite Country:

Portugal.

I know nothing about Portugal. In fact, I'm really hoping Portugal is indeed a country so I don't look terribly stupid here. To say my geography skills are lacking is a gross understatement. I was part of a pull-out program in elementary school and was pulled from geography and social science class to take part in the GATE program curriculum. So, ironically, I'm stupider as a result. I know very little geography but thankfully, I know Blooms Taxonomy. That's what's important, right?

Back to Portugal. They've landed on my list of coolest countries because they recently introduced what appears to be the world's first Infertility Postage Stamp.

We love them for that. "We", includes you, as a reader of this blog. Embrace the stamp.

The stamp itself is beautiful. A fantastic painting that truly epitomizes how infertility can feel. What an awesome way to raise awareness for a disease that affects 1 in 6 couples in the United States, and I imagine the number is about the same in Portugal.

Why can't the United States Postal Service do something like this? Aren't stamps (while we're still using them) a perfect way for our government to raise awareness about social issues, health issues affecting our country, etc? Apparently the USPS doesn't feel that way.

Sure, as I was looking at stamps over the past 10 years, there are a few highlighting diseases: breast cancer, prostate cancer, diabetes. All worthy causes. But that's it? What about Heart Disease, the number one killer in America? What about HIV awareness? What about other cancers, or hey, just cancer in general? Am I missing something in the USPS Stamp Release Archive?

I was happy to see an Adoption Awareness stamp, as well as Organ Donation Awareness. These are great things to bring to America's attention. But there are so many other stamps that simply don't make sense. As in, who gives a rat's ass about bats?
Is that a stamp you want on your Christmas cards? I can't imagine an Infertility stamp being anywhere near as offensive as a stamp of a flying rat.

I won't hold my breath that the USPS will come out with any stamps that raise awareness for infertility. But I might just purchase some of the Portugal stamps and stick them on my mail and see what happens. Because I'm thinking that the postal carrier who races past my house even though the flag is up, then returns realizing he has a package that he walks to the door, then leaves again without addressing, oh, the mailbox, then finally returns a half hour later to pick up and deliver our mail (and it's now past 6pm) probably won't notice that the stamp on my rent check isn't a US stamp. I'm just saying.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Bye, bye engagement ring

The time has come.

I had to take my engagement ring off this morning. I still have my wedding band, which is a little bigger and I'm hoping I can keep it on for the duration. But my beautiful, sentimental and wonderful engagement ring lies lonely in my jewelry box for now.

Sadly, I thought I wouldn't have to ever take it off. Why, I have no idea...you can't gain over 20 pounds by 29 weeks (I think I'll refrain from saying how many over 20 pounds for now) and not see the effects on your hands and feet. But it's like it happened over night. Suddenly, my feet look like little potatoes, and my rings are way too tight.

Well, here's hoping I don't outgrow my wedding band any time soon.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

28 weeks

The first golden ring. We made it this far.

Kick-ass.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Lullabies for Dummies?

I realized the other day that I don't know any lullabies. Except "The Itsy Bitsy Spider", which I not only know the lyrics by heart, but also the hand gestures that accompany it. But that's about it. I don't know all the lyrics to one other lullaby, and frankly, that's concerning.

What will I sing to our daughter? Something from my punk collection?

I know parts of some popular songs, but not all. I also have a bad habit of messing up the words to songs, so what few lullaby lyrics I do know, I am not confident are the actual lyrics.

Like many people, I thought Credence Clearwater Revival was advising us there was a bathroom on the right, as opposed to a Bad Moon (an innocent mistake considering I don't know what a Bad Moon is), and I thought Johnny Rivers was singing about a Secret Asian Man, not a Secret Agent Man. But it wasn't until the time that I was singing along to a White Stripes song when a racial slur flew melodically out of my mouth. I watched Chris' horrified expression and our near accident as he veered into oncoming traffic and I realized that I quite possibly had many lyrics wrong. VERY wrong.

As a result, I don't sing along to most songs in public for fear that my interpretation is not only wrong, but offensive. I'll mumble the words in question, but I just don't think that's a good example to set for our daughter. "Bah bah black sheep, have you any wool? Mumble, mumble, 3 bags full."

I start thinking I should get some music so I can bone up on my lullaby skills before she's born, so I'm singing actual songs, with actual correct lyrics. But the lullabies I heard as a kid are terrible! Rock a Bye Baby? Uh, the cradle breaks. That's horrid. Humpty Dumpty? All cracked up and on the ground. Hush Little Baby...just feeds into expectations we can't meet. We can't buy her a diamond ring just because her mockingbird won't sing. Besides, I have a bird phobia and we won't be dealing with any birds.

Then I stumbled upon Punk Rock Baby.




This is perfect. Songs I do know the lyrics to (Sheena is a Punk Rocker, Smash it Up, London Calling) "re-worked Lullaby Style."

We can play this CD when she is wearing her uber-baby-punk Vans she got at her shower:

Thursday, June 5, 2008

It Rained, It Poured

I had my baby shower! It was fabulous. I've included a few pictures, you'll note there is only one that really looks like I was actually at a shower...see, for some reason, I have a double chin in the other pictures of me opening presents so I didn't include them. I can only assume it was the angle the picture was taken at, right? So I've included my belly shot from 27 weeks (I had a growth spurt, ok?), my mom and I, Chris and I (he came to help load up the gifts...we had two cars full of stuff!), and my two very best girlfriends.

When I started on bed rest I didn't think we'd have a shower - yet another "normal" pregnancy thing we would not get to do. But I did get to go, and held up pretty well!

Everyone was so very generous, and we got a ton of adorable girl clothes. I'm convinced women like to buy baby clothes for girls. My mom (pictured in one of the pics above), a couple of my aunts and my cousin hosted and did a great job. Decorations were super cute (lots of pink and yellow), food was great, cake was great, even though no one else liked it but me. I requested a Tres Leches cake, ever heard of it? It's a white cake soaked in well, 3 milks. It tastes kind of like when your vanilla ice cream melts and soaks your cake, which is fantastic, in my opinion. But apparently I'm alone in that opinion. One of my cousins whispered to her neighbor, "My cake is wet."

Now it's time to get the nursery ready. This is where bed rest really sucks. I want to do everything NOW, but I can't do a damn thing. I did wash her clothes, including 17 pairs of tiny baby socks...and I'm proud to say, I ended up with 17 pairs of tiny baby socks to put away. Not 16 pairs + 1 sock. All 34 tiny little socks made it from the dryer to the dresser.

This parenting stuff is easy.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Twins?

I don't get out much. At all, really.

But twice in the last 7 weeks of bed rest, I have been allowed to go to my local drug store after my weekly appointment. This is a big outing for me. I get to pick out cards for people's birthdays coming up, I get to pick out a new nail polish (since painting my nails is a weekly hobby at this point), I get to be around people that aren't my husband or aren't wearing white lab coats. Even if it's just for a few minutes. I look forward to this. I spend time on my hair and make up. I plan my outfit the day before.

Yesterday I was browsing the nail section when a middle aged man walks by, turns and stops and says, "When is the baby due?" I was totally taken aback. I haven't been in public hardly at all since 18 weeks pregnant - where I felt I clearly looked pregnant but strangers probably thought I looked chubby. To me, this was thrilling. A stranger asking about my pregnancy! A normal pregnancy moment, something I miss out on daily. So I responded, "August" with a sweet smile.

Then he says, "TWINS?"

No, dickhead, not twins.

Just one baby, and a mom that's not feeling too great about her bed rest body these days. Thanks for taking my glow away.

I think this might be worse than my co-worker saying, when I was 16 weeks pregnant, "Wow, you're going to be HUGE, aren't you?"

Apparently so, just ask the guy at Rite.Aid.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I should write an acceptance speech...

Why do I need an acceptance speech, you might ask? Or you might not...which would be rather rude, actually.

Because I was accepted into the Pre Term Birth Prevention Program! I really am a mess!

I'm not officially in the program until I complete the orientation class, where we learn all about pre-term labor and the signs (ooooh, they're gonna love me. "I have that." "That happens to me all the time.") and then I'm in. It's pretty much all done over the phone, I'll have my very own perinatal nurse to talk to 24/7 and they'll continue to monitor me through 36 weeks. This means no more "don't pass Go, go straight to labor and delivery" that I get from the regular advice nurses. These God-sends will know my history, know what's going on with me and know what is a concern and what is not.

Not to mention, the program's rates of births prior to 35 weeks is about 3%, where the average population in my state is about 10%.

I'm positively giddy.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

24 weeks


We made it to 24 weeks this past Sunday, which was our first goal on the road to bringing our daughter home safe and sound.

"After this week your baby is officially considered viable. 36% of babies can survive premature birth at 24 weeks - However, serious complications are still possible."

I realize that blurb sounds far from ideal, but when you're put on bed rest at 18+ weeks and no chance of viability, just having a chance is huge. Of course now we need to get to the next goal, which is 28 weeks...and her chances are much better at that point. Then 30 weeks, then 32...hang in there little girl. You need to keep cooking.

In the meantime my OB is trying to get me into the Pre Term Birth Prevention Program. It's a great program that helps monitor very high risk patients from 24 to 36 weeks. My weekly appointments have been pretty good, cervix is holding stable at about 2.7 cm (give or take a bit) and still 50% effaced but no change in a few weeks. I am borderline for meeting the criteria in the program, so my doctor will have to push them to accept me...and they still will likely say no. But it would be a great thing for me. And for all health care officials that work with me - if accepted, I'd only have one nice perinatal nurse to bother with my constant neurosis. That alone would be a big money saver for them.

Just letting everyone know, I will make a conscious decision to NOT wear a white top in any future belly pictures. I do wear other colors.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Is it any wonder...

...that I'm confused?

Here's the problem. My pregnancy, as my doctor repeated over and over last week, is not normal. "You're not normal!" she screamed. Ok, that didn't happen but it felt like it did.

I have a shortening cervix. I have contractions daily. I have cramping daily. I've had the feeling of pressure since about 14 weeks (at the time I thought it was the baby moving. Yes, the baby that weighed less than an ounce, I thought I could feel it moving and changing position. Thus the feeling of pressure.). I have a dull ache in my back or sometimes a radiating pain in my lower back. I've been bleeding off and on since I was 10 weeks.

So here are the symptoms of preterm labor to watch out for, according to my medical provider:

  • Contractions (CALL if you have 4 in under one hour)
  • Menstrual like cramping
  • Feeling of pressure
  • A dull back ache that doesn't go away
  • Increase in discharge, could be tinged with blood
  • Leaking or gushing fluid from your vagina
With the exception of the last two, I have every symptom and have had every symptom forever. So when I innocently call my provider because it's Friday and I think I might have a bladder infection and could I just get a quick urine test so I don't end up with a raging infection on a Sunday because I refuse to go to the ER for a bladder infection, I get shuffled to the advice nurse. The advice nurse who asks all of the questions she has to ask a pregnant lady, and when all my answers come back yes (Do you have contractions? Er, yeah but I have for weeks. That's not an issue...yes cramping but that's the same. Uh-huh, well the bleeding is because I have a polyp...) she panics and tells me I need to go to Labor and Delivery. Not only that, but she won't let me get a urinalysis done anywhere else because clearly I'm in labor and need to be seen.

I need a "this is not a normal pregnancy" nurse.

Otherwise I'm going to end up in L&D every day, and it's not a short drive to the hospital.

Needless to say, I'm fine. I wasn't even having contractions except for maybe 1 or 2, and the monitor didn't pick them up anyway. I'm not dilating, cervix is about the same, blah blah. It doesn't look like I have a bladder infection, either. I'd much rather be safe than sorry, but I really don't want to hang out in Labor and Delivery unless I really need to.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Parenting Books Suck.

There. I said it. No surprise, I have lots of unpopular opinions.

I'm an avid reader...of fiction and have course read a lot on bed rest. It also seemed like a good idea to read some parenting books I hear people rave about. I'm not interested in pregnancy books, as I read one during my last pregnancy and it was fine, but non fiction books have never really been my thing. Plus, my pregnancy is far from normal and I can't relate to those books. If there was a "Hey, you've got one fucked up pregnancy going on" book, I'd probably check it out of the library. But I haven't seen one yet.

So I ventured into the land of parenting books and I regret it. I did like one book, and which book it is will probably give you an idea of why I didn't like the rest of them: Sippy Cups are Not for Chardonnay, by Stefanie Wilder-Taylor. That is my kind of book. The highly recommended bible of sleeping strategies, The Happiest Baby on the Block, is not my kind of book.

Without going into details of why this book bothered me (um, 4th trimester theory? Clearly something only a man could come up with), there are many general reasons why I think parenting books are crap. I'm well aware that I'm not dealing with a newborn yet and I may eat my words...but I don't think so.

What bothers me is the mentality that these methods, whatever they may be, will work for every single baby. Not all babies want to be swaddled. Not all babies will react the same to each method. It's a false sense of security that you'll read this book, know what to do and have an infant sleeping through the night by the time they're a week old. Your baby may respond well, but your baby may not. Then what do you do?

But what bothers me even most is the need for these books, and the fact that they are such money makers, in the first place. What happened to trusting your instincts and asking your friends and family for help or suggestions when you need them? Oh yeah, I forgot. That's not always a good idea, either.

For whatever reason, women are grossly unsupportive of other women who raise their child differently from themselves. Whether it's attachment parenting versus crying it out, formula feeding versus breast feeding, routine versus no routine...somewhere along the line, instead of accepting each other's parenting styles as whatever works for your family, it became a different parenting style equalled a wrong way to raise your child. As a result, many women don't share their tips or advice with new moms for fear of being crucified because Johnny drinks juice before he's 2 years old. Who cares? Really, how does it affect them?

For me, and what works best for my family, is I'll stay away from the books that I think are crap and ask my friends and family for their advice when I need it. By the way, Kyera - I have a question about bottles. So email me, k?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Rooster Hell

4:00 a.m. - a rooster crows several times and stops.

5:00 a.m. - a rooster crows again several times and eventually stops.

5:55 a.m. - a rooster starts crowing really loudly and incessantly and doesn't stop.

We are victims of a stray, wild rooster that has decided he really likes the area between our house and our neighbors (that is filled with bushes and trees) and this rooster crows all.day.long. We've come to terms with that after numerous attempts to make him leave, and a serious lack of help from animal control. But, the early morning roostering is new and unacceptable.

At just before 6 this morning, we were both wide awake and couldn't take it anymore. We couldn't figure out if he was in the front yard or the back yard but upon further inspection, it was clear he was much louder in the front yard. Chris went out to investigate. At 6 am. In boxers and a t-shirt and bare feet. He comes back in and informs me he must be out front.

"Did you spray him?" (We attempt to spray him with water by shooting it in the general direction of the noise. We can't exactly go into the neighbors yard so this is all we have.)

sigh. "No, I'll go back out there."

I get my robe and slippers on and join my husband in the rooster hunt. By the time I get out there, he's spraying water into the bushes. The rooster has stopped, maybe he got him and he'll shut up for a couple hours.

Suddenly, a bird flies out of the tree (in our front yard) that Chris is standing over. A big bird. A big ass, black and white bird. The fucking rooster was in our tree, watching Chris shoot water into the neighbors yard.

I didn't realize roosters could actually fly. I'm aware they have wings, but all I've seen is a little hop, nothing you would call flying.

In my defense, it didn't look like the rooster had much experience. It was almost as if he was sideways, didn't get a ton of air but did manage to land on the neighbors roof.

Chris is now laughing as I'm screaming, "It was in the tree! It was in the TREE!" I'm really hoping this doesn't end up on You Tube.

The pathetic thing is, it's not like it was hidden inside a massive redwood covered in branches and leaves. The tree he chose is a very Charlie Brown-ish tree, with just a couple bare branches and very few leaves. I don't know what kind of tree it is, but it's little and very much a "how-in-the-fuck-did-you-not-notice-a-big-ass-white-black-
and-red-rooster-in-the-tree" kind of tree.

It really was shocking to see it "fly" out of there, and given that I'm 22 weeks pregnant and bladder control isn't what it used to be, it's amazing I didn't have an accident.

So now it's on the roof. We can't get to it. I try, repeatedly, to get the water to spray onto their roof but it won't come close to reaching. I storm back into the house and head into the back yard to see if I can get it from there.

In the meantime, our poor cat is traumatized by the whole experience. He excitedly thought he was getting breakfast early but instead had to witness mom and dad both storming in and out of the house repeatedly. It was like he was trying to say, "Hey, canned chicken is just fine. You don't need to kill one fresh for me." (a shout out to Chris for that one, that was his line from early this morning during our rooster hunting frenzy. It was too funny to pass up.)

In the back yard, I still can't see it. But I can hear it. Not roostering, though...clucking. Like a chicken. Cluck, cluck, cluck...which shortly turned into laughter. I shit you not, it was laughing. Then I saw it, climbing to the very top of the neighbors roof. Waving the white flag, I went back inside.

He won. Again.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Things I've Learned on Bed Rest

(Latest update...no change! Still hanging in there.)

I'm not a bed rest kind of gal. I'm your typical Type A, and lemme tell you, Type A plus a baby on the way and not being able to do everything I'd like to get ready for that is a bad combo. But clearly there is no choice in the matter and I have to do this to try and keep her safe and sound, so that's what I'm doing. I'm lucky that I'm not on strict bed rest as in I can get up and move around some, take care of some things around the house here and there - as long as I spend the majority of the time laying down or reclining, and make sure I stay down if I start cramping and having contractions.

I have never not worked for a long period of time, and I've worked since I was 13 years old. I think the longest stretch was when I started college in a new city and it took a couple months to get a job...but at least I was in school full time. This is a huge adjustment for me. But I have learned a few things:
  • We do not have the same mailman every day.
  • The free local newspaper is only being delivered to people who pay for the other local newspaper, the free paper's competition. Since we don't pay for the other one, now we don't get the free one. And the guy delivering the free paper drives a Lexus.
  • Roosters are stupid and will crow at any time during the day.
  • Daytime television consists almost entirely of soap operas and shows about babies.
  • Too much television will indeed rot your brain. Since being on bed rest, I am unable to answer hardly any questions on Jeopardy. Frankly, I don't even understand some of the questions these days.
  • My depression over both Rock of Love 2 and Real Housewives of New York City ending is abnormal and should be concerning to those around me.
  • My anxiety over Big Brother ending this week is also concerning.
  • My teenage neighbor and her friend seem to cut class every single day, and they play music really loud and it irritates me.
  • I think Kelly Ripa and I would get along great and have a lot of fun together.
  • I've developed a hatred for Elizabeth (the blond) on the View.
  • I'm suffocating my cat with attention because we don't have anything else to do.
  • My cat seems jealous of the laptop and I'm concerned about how it's going to affect us.
  • As appealing as it has sounded in the past (especially when my alarm goes off), I don't think I could just not work. I need some kind of mental stimulation outside the home.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Update


The latest and greatest from the land of bed rest...

We made it to twenty weeks on Sunday! Halfway there, although realistically for us, we're more than halfway there. And Mama is gettin' big. Hence the full panel skirt in the belly pic. Jeez.

The good news is the cervix is holding stable at 2.8. Not a great length for 20 weeks, but no change since last ultrasound a little over a week ago and that's all I could ask for. I'm on bed rest through the duration of the pregnancy, though, but...we ordered a laptop so I'll be back in the land of the living - soon. I have a ton of blog posts in my head but can't spend the time at the desktop to post them, so I'll probably overload the blog once the laptop arrives.

Last week was pretty hairy, I was really wound up about the cervix and then I started realizing that weird feeling wasn't the baby rolling around but actually contractions. I tested positive for Group B Strep, not normally an issue until you deliver, but since I was symptomatic I started antibiotics for it. It's helped the contractions and cramping quite a bit. I still have a lot more than I'm comfortable with, but they are far less frequent (from several an hour to several a day) and much less intense. At this point, there isn't anything that can be done to stop them, medication won't work this early (and my doc won't administer it unless I am dilating, which I am not) and the monitors won't even pick up most contractions. They think I may have an irritable uterus on top of everything else. Polyps, short cervix, irritable uterus...oh, my.

I'm really happy with my doctor and how she has agreed to monitor and treat me, and I feel with my twice weekly appointments, weekly ultrasounds and bed rest, we're doing all we can to keep our little girl safe and inside for as long as possible.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Majority was right!

It's aGIRL! A perfect, beautiful baby girl. Everything is wonderful with our daughter.

Mom, on the other hand, needs some help. My cervix has shortened a little too much (down to 2.8 cm, from 3.7 six weeks prior...a big jump and not a good number) so I'll be on bedrest for now. We'll evaluate next week. So this may be my last post for a while since I don't have a laptop and I'll be following all instructions to keep pressure of my cervix, which includes sitting at the computer. Gotta do everything I can to keep our little girl safe.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Let's Talk About Sex

Or gender, I should say.
In just a matter of days, we have our “big”, level II ultrasound. Obviously, first and foremost, we are hoping for a healthy baby so far, and that’s why I’m most anxious about. But as a bonus, we will hopefully find out the sex.

From day 1, the minute we got the positive beta, I have said boy. Hands down, without a doubt, boy. A few weeks ago I would have been absolutely stunned if I was wrong. It was that strong a feeling. But now, and for the last couple weeks…eh, I’m not so sure. Right now, I don’t really know.

So what’s a girl to do? Turn to the Old Wive’s Tales, of course! But even those are hardly clear.

1) If you carry high, it’s a girl. Low, it’s a boy. I think it’s low, so that would be BOY
2) If the heartbeat is under 140 bpm, it’s a boy. If it is over 140 bpm, it’s a girl. Well, we’ve only had it tracked twice. Once was 150 bpm, the other time was 173bpm. So I guess, GIRL.
3) Tie your wedding ring to a string and dangle it over your belly. If it swings back and forth, it’s a boy. If it goes in circles, it’s a girl. You can also do this holding the string over your open palm. I did both and both were circles…GIRL.
4) Chinese Gender Chart (http://parenting.ivillage.com/ttc/ttcsigns/0,,j736,00.html ) Some say this is correct 90% of the time. This one is easy, BOY
5) If you have acne during pregnancy, it’s a girl. If you don’t, it’s a boy. No pimples here, BOY
6) If you have morning sickness, you’re having a girl. If you don’t, you’re having a boy. I had really mild morning sickness at night, nothing I would really even call morning sickness. So I’ll go with BOY on that one.
7) If your breasts have gotten bigger, you’re having a girl! If they’ve stayed the same, it’s a boy. Oh lordy, then it’s definitely a GIRL with the size of these things.
8) If your left breast is bigger than the right, you’re having a girl. If the right breast is bigger than the left, it’s a boy. I think they’re pretty much neck and neck (or boob and boob?) but I was just commenting this week that my left boob seems bigger…GIRL
9) If your urine is neon yellow, it’s a boy. If it’s a dull yellow, it’s a girl. Um, GIRL. And I don’t like talking about my urine.
10) If you’re hair on your legs grows faster, it’s a girl. If it stays the same, it’s a boy. I can’t stand stubble so I shave daily no matter what, but I haven’t noticed any kind of sudden overgrowth on my legs. BOY. Now, if we’re talking about the sudden development of fur on my stomach…that’s a different story.
11) If the dad to be is gaining weight with you, it’s a boy. If he stays the same, it’s a girl. I should check with Chris to be sure, but I’m going to say GIRL.
12) If you have headaches, you’re having a boy. If you don’t, it’s a girl. Huh, I would have thought this would be the other way around. BOY.
13) Girls steal your beauty. If you look better than before, it’s a boy. If you don’t, it’s a girl. All I can say is people say I look good. I however, have already noticed the Tori Spelling pregnancy fat face starting. But since my OB said I looked good and it might be a boy, we’ll say BOY.
14) If your feet are colder than usual, it’s a boy. If they’re the same, it’s a girl. GIRL.

The results? 14 questions. 7 boy. 7 girl. 50% chance of either one. Didn’t help much, did it? What do you think??