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 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 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:


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 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.


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.