A Sudden and Unexpected End of an Era

I just came home from another 10 days in the hospital. Collectively, I spent nearly half of November in a hospital bed.

I missed Thanksgiving.
I missed Gus’ first trip to the dentist.
I missed my cousin-in-law’s entire trip out for Thanksgiving weekend.

I got out of the hospital (my 1st trip) after three days, feeling like my old self, just taking the occasional tylenol and ready to get on with our planned embryo transfer, which was pushed back a few days to give me time to heal.

And I did heal, and we had our transfer, and I was feeling really optimistic and got a few positive pregnancy tests starting six days after transfer. A little darker on day 7. I never got to test on day 8 — the hospital took over at that point.

A week after my embryo transfer, and 16 days after my first hospital stay, my body exploded from the inside, and I genuinely believed I was dying.

Dying in the car on the way to the emergency room. Almost fainting from pain, until someone caught me in a wheelchair (so cliché!).

Dying in the emergency room, when there were no beds and I willingly, joyfully laid down on the waiting room floor, and enthusiastically emptied my stomach into charming little plastic bins.

Dying in a small room, begging for drugs, or for someone to just Looney Toons-style knock my ass out with a frying pan to the head. Anything.

“It’s pancreatitis!” I shouted at everyone. “I need an IV! And morphine! And another CT scan! And I’m pretty sure I’m pregnant!”

They all agreed, and they tried to help me. They did help me, but nothing was helping.

I just kept comparing it to last time. Last time, I felt better by now. Last time morphine worked quickly and consistently.

This time the pain was 1,000 times worse, and nothing was managing it for the first four days. The first moment of relief I felt was several days later — After feeling like something exploded in my chest, when I couldn’t breathe, screaming at Mike that I love him, make sure Gus knows how much I love him if something happens to me, while a rapid response team doubled my meds and rushed me sobbing to a CT scan.

So, what happened?

Apparently labs came back after the first hospitalization, that showed I had elevated triglycerides. This means nothing to me, but a doctor assures me they shouldn’t be higher than 200, and mine were more than 800. That was what they were when I left the hospital the first time, but since I’d been discharged already, no one gave us the results. (I have strong opinions about this as a policy)

Do you know what can make triglycerides really high?

Estrogen.

Guess what I was taking a crapload of, for even longer than originally planned?

Want to guess what my triglycerides were when they tested them the day I went back to the ER?

More than 5,000.

Also, I was pregnant.

But you can’t take estrogen and lower triglycerides at the same time, so all my meds stopped immediately. I was also insanely dehydrated, and wasn’t allowed to eat or drink for 90 hours, so none of us were surprised when on top of everything else I started bleeding.

What happens now?

Literally right this second all I can do is sip clear fluids, and eat a few teaspoons of food a day and hope it stays in my body and that they didn’t send me home too early.

I feel horrendous, and am trying to remind myself that recovery is going to be more severe, because this time my illness was much more so as well.

I’ve been advised by multiple doctors that I should never, ever, undergo another round of fertility treatment again. That if I take any estrogen therapies in the future, it could kill me.

And so just like that, I’ll never get pregnant again. I’ll never give birth to my own child again. And, maybe it’s because I don’t have a say in the matter, but it’s a bit of a relief to step away from all the needles, and the anxiety and the worry and the fear that comes along with trying again.

I have seven healthy embryos left. Maybe someone will show up at my door and offer to grow one of them for me (I’ll name them after you!). Maybe I’ll win the lottery, and I can pay for a gestational carrier. Maybe we’ll adopt. Maybe we’ll do all those things.

Mike and his parents, and his cousin, and my parents have been so amazing, taking care of Gus and of me. I’ve gotten so many texts and calls and emails, and I literally can’t talk about it without getting winded — I’m not ignoring you, I literally can’t talk, or stop crying, but thank you, and I love you all.

I’ve been home for a day, and we’re all settling into our new temporary normal. I can’t wait to feel normal again. I miss normal.

Mike told me tonight, after the 15th time I was crying on his shoulder, to think about karma. I asked him if I was being punished, and he told me that something wonderful would happen soon.

Maybe he was talking about the painkillers? Only time will tell I guess.

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Counting Down

I opened a new half-gallon of milk the other day, and noticed that the expiration date is after my induction date.  That’s insanity, amiright?

(Also, if you’re not doing it already, you should really switch to drinking organic milk — because it lasts forever.)

After my baby shower last weekend, I spent the last few days getting everything organized, washed, and (sort of) put away. I have no idea how big Mr. Baby is going to be when he gets here — right now he’s measuring around four pounds, so I’m guessing he’ll be around six, or seven-ish pounds in six more weeks? So I feel compelled to go buy some newborn-sized stuff, which I don’t really have a lot of. The sizing on baby clothes is driving me insane, because it’s not consistent at all.

I don’t really know what to do with baby clothes. Do you hang them? Keep them in drawers? Can’t we just all wear our PJs for like 12 weeks? I ended up putting everything I have on baby hangers and in the closet organized by size — his dresser has super-deep drawers, and I think I’ll end up losing tiny little onesies in there, so I decided to use that space for swaddles, sleep sacks, blankets and sheets.

I want to get all the artwork hung in the nursery, and I guess I should put together the Pack ‘n Play, and the swing, and the Rock ‘n Play — in case Mr. Baby decides to make an early appearance. But I have four doctors appointments this week — FOUR. I’m exhausted already just thinking about it. Thankfully three of them are local, and just regular checkups — I just have to make the all-day trip to Georgetown on Tuesday and I’m hoping it’ll be my last trip pre-baby, but we’ll see.

I need to finish the thank you cards from my shower. I’ve been setting bits and pieces for the hospital bag aside for the last few weeks, I need to finish that too. And we need to pick up a few more essential items from our registry before he gets here.

Also, I want a whole package of Oreos — I’ve been thinking about it for weeks, and I don’t even really like Oreos.

Anyway… everything is like 60% done. I seem incapable of picking a project and finishing it 100%. My nesting instincts either haven’t kicked in yet, or my desire to nap is just a lot stronger. We’ve got some childbirth classes, two weddings, a housewarming party and my cousin’s 18th birthday coming up between now and my induction date — and that’s assuming I make it that long (which I really, really hope I do).  I need to get my act together, because time is running out (despite Mike’s many reassurances that we have plenty of time.)

Mr. Baby: By the Numbers

29 — I’m 29 weeks pregnant today. It seems like yesterday we were on pin and needles, hoping to make it past six weeks, and then 12 weeks, and then into the second trimester, and then waiting to find out if baby was a Mister or a Miss. And now the doctors are all, “Oh, well the pregnancy is viable,” like I should just stop worrying about things and take it easy. Umm, I appreciate your optimism — but let’s let him bake as long as possible, athankyou.

11 — … So that means I have 11 weeks left to go. I met with my Hematologist yesterday, and he recommended that I push my OB and the High Risk docs for an induction. It’s sort of a long, medicinal story, but basically taking blood thinner and having a baby gets sort of complicated towards the end (especially if you want an epidural, which I do, because I’m not a hero). His opinion is: 1) take the meds as long as possible, 2) if you wake up one day after 37 weeks and feel funny, skip the shot, just in case. and 3) ask for an induction date so we can schedule my last dose of blood thinner accordingly. I’ve got no issues with getting induced, as long as all the docs are on board and I’m like 38+ weeks along. So we’ll see what happens…

4 — I’m still giving myself four shots a day. Two in the morning (blood thinner and insulin) and then insulin before dinner, and at bedtime. Insulin needles are adorable, compared to blood thinner needles.

2 — Pregnancy has given me a serious case of the dropsies — and so far I’ve dropped those aforementioned syringes twice, and tried to catch them. Well, I guess I successfully caught them, but I’m not sure if it counts as “catching” when you just end up with a needle sticking in your palm, and once under my fingernail. Damn cat-like reflexes.

4 — In between those four shots, I also get to check my blood sugar four times a day. Once in the morning, and then again after breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s really not that bad — aside from the morning check, which needs to happen around 7-8 hours after my last meal the night before. So, if I eat a snack at 10 and go to bed, I need to test between 5-6am. But I don’t have a “real job” and I get to sleep a lot, so I have to wake up like three hours early and prick my finger, while I’m half-asleep. #Housewifeproblems, I know.

20 — I mean, I have a job — I’m just not there very often. I work two days a week (and that’s assuming I don’t have to spend the day in Georgetown, visiting my Hematologist, despite my best attempts to schedule things on my days off). So, say I’m induced at 39 weeks — that’s only 10 weeks away, which means I only work 20 more days, and then I have a baby, which is crazy.

5 — Sorry pregnant ladies everywhere, but at almost seven months pregnant, I still weigh five pounds LESS than I did when I got pregnant (I’m not really sorry, I’m super excited).

2.5 — Yet, despite my magical negative pregnancy weight gain, Mr. Baby is weighing in at an impressive 2.5 pounds, and the internet assures me he’s the size of a butternut squash. I have another growth scan in a few days (the only plus of dealing with gestational diabetes, is lots and lots of ultrasounds) so we’ll be able to see if he’s still growing on schedule (which he has been so far).

3 — We (and by “we,” I mean “I”) registered at three places. Mike was a big help for our main registry — he followed me around and said things like, “whatever you want, dear,” and “sure that sounds good,” and “when I scan your head with the scanner, nothing comes up.” The other two I did on my own, because Mike could care less what crib sheets we have, or how many muslin swaddles I pick out. I cannot stop checking my registries to see what’s been purchased already (I did the same thing when we got married, don’t judge me!).

1 — Cases of “Sleep Sadness.” What’s that, you ask? Well, I sort of made it up. The other night I was asleep, on my wrong side, and apparently I started snoring right in Mike’s ear. So he very sweetly and quietly woke me up, and asked me to roll over, and I BURST INTO TEARS. I was just so, so sad that I was keeping him awake. He was like, “Gah! Don’t cry, I love you!” and I sleepily yelled (on my way to the bathroom, because helllooooo that’s all I do now), “I’m fine, I just have sleep sadness!” Mike insisted that’s not a thing, but obviously it is.

153 — The number of times I roll my eyes while reading posts on BabyCenter. Super-fertile people complain about everything, and most of them don’t understand anything about baby shower etiquette. It’s also nice to know there’s no correlation between being able to spell, or read and write, and the ability to get pregnant whenever you feel like it. Also, there are going to be a bunch of kids with really, really weird names growing up with Mr. Baby. In short, BabyCenter is the worst (unless you have to take blood thinner — those ladies are cool, and not annoying.)

1 — So, I broke down last week, and cheated on my GD diet, just once. I didn’t feel great, I’d had a terrible night’s sleep, and all I wanted was a bowl of pasta for dinner. Nothing else sounded remotely appetizing, and after doing a little reading — I decided to just indulge the craving. I figure a sporadic increase in blood sugar isn’t going to do any long-term damage to me or Mr. Baby (if it did, OBs wouldn’t order glucose testing, sometimes repeatedly, right?) and since I don’t plan on doing it all day, every day, I just said screw it — bring me the tortellini. Here’s hoping I don’t end up with a 13 pound baby.

3 — Starting in about three weeks, I get to go to the doctor(s) three times a week. Once to my regular OB, and twice for monitoring and non-stress tests with the High Risk team at the hospital. I’ll make the one- to two-hour drive to check in with the Hematologist a few more times too. It’s a lot of appointments, yes — but you won’t hear me complaining. After everything we’ve gone through to get to this point, I’m all for extra attention and monitoring. Thrice-weekly checks to make sure I’m not in early labor, and Mr. Baby is OK? That sounds good to me.

Let’s Talk About Food, Baby

Yes, I’m still talking about food.

I officially want to eat everything. After almost four months of gagging at the idea of anything more substantial than water, I’ve finally reached the point in my pregnancy where I am a bottomless pit. Well, sort of — I still can’t eat very much, but at least now I actually want to eat things.

Oh, but damn you gestational diabetes! Damn you straight to hell! All the things I want to eat are off limits.

I’m told as soon as I have this baby, I’ll be back to normal. So, naturally my thought process is something like:

1) Have a baby!
2) Hold that baby!
3) Kiss my husband!
4) EAT EVERYTHING.

And because I like to daydream about food, and torture myself, here’s what I have planned for November:

photo (9)photo (11)photo (8)photo (7)photo (10)

It’s a … BABY?!

1) Surprise, I’m pregnant!*

Like, kind of super pregnant.

As in, I’m halfway to giving birth to a human child.

thatsmyboy

We’re not the type to take a pregnancy test and start shouting the results from the rooftops. As far as IVF is concerned, I’m a champ when it comes to getting pregnant — I just don’t have the best track record staying that way.

So, in the beginning, we waited for some good bloodwork, and then only told family and close friends. In the past, I’d never made it to the first sonogram, so that was a big deal. Six weeks in, we saw a tiny, flickering blob, and were told it was perfect. Two more weeks, and we could see a little dancing gummy bear with waving arms and legs. (One advantage to fertility treatments AND being high-risk? I get a lot of sonograms.)

Months later, it hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows. We’ve had some wonky blood work, and no one can really explain it, and follow up testing has been inconclusive — hence our delayed announcement. But everything seems fine — Mr. Baby is growing on schedule, has a consistently strong heartbeat, dances around like his momma, and is definitely a boy.

It’s hard, given our track record, not to think “well, if we stay pregnant,” or “if we have a baby this time,” but we’re finally to a point where we just said — screw it. Being nervous nellies with twitchy eyes is soooo 2012 — I’m ready to be excited, and buy some damn baby stuff already!

2) Wait, it’s a boy?!

Yes, a male child. This is exceptional news, if we are not related — because the last boy born in my immediate family is almost 27, I think. That’s 27 years of nothing but girl babies. People are already referring to him as “The Little Prince,” which I’m hoping doesn’t stick. My cousin immediately started screaming, “BUT I SAVED YOU ALL THESE SUNDRESSES!” Because that’s just how it is — we make girls… until now, apparently.

Hopefully he has at least some of my personality or that child will never, ever, get a word in edgewise.

3) Pregnancy sort of suits me.

But not really. Like, I didn’t have terrible morning sickness (I don’t think) but I did lose my appetite completely for about three months (and sort of counting, it’s getting a little better). All I wanted was ice water with lemons (Mr. Baby is really well hydrated) and a plain soft pretzels. My first trimester I think I lost 15 pounds, and I’m still a few pounds under where I started in February.

As a result, I’m barely showing. Well, maybe I’m showing? But my boobs are so huge, I think it’s impossible to tell. So I can still wear all my regular clothes, my skin is awesome (thanks, water!), and my love affair with food appears to be over, for good.

In other news, I have heartburn that could stop a grizzly bear in it’s tracks, I haven’t been able to brush my teeth without dry heaving since March, and every fan in our house has been on full blast since February. But you won’t hear me complaining (unless you are my husband).

4) Boo! I’m due on Halloween!

Perfect timing, if you ask me, because October is the best.

And now I get to register for stuff! And be super-duper pregnant during the summer! And there’s a nursery to decorate!

AND OH MY GOD, BABY CLOTHES ARE ADORABLE.

*This is probably not a surprise if we are 1) related, 2) bffs, 3) pinterest friends

Shut Your Mouth When You’re Talking to Me.

I realize that a lot of people don’t know what to say with regard to fertility treatments. I’m one of those rare, beautiful creatures, who doesn’t mind talking about it — but it’s one of those things you can’t really understand unless you (or someone close to you) have been through it yourself.

We’re stressed out, we’re pumped full of drugs, we already feel like a failure, and we’re hormonally-fueled balls of emotion — so here’s a list of things, that you should never, ever, say to a woman in the middle of fertility treatments (unless you want to get punched in the throat).

“Just relax! Drink some wine! It’ll happen!”
Um, no. No it won’t. Sure, it does for some people, who don’t have fertility issues — but not us. If it was that simple, and alcohol helped that much, I would have left college with like a dozen babies. We’ve been at this for years, thanks — so, we obviously require medical intervention. I know you’re just throwing in your two cents, but you don’t know what you’re talking about.

“He just looks at me, and I get pregnant!”
Oh, good for you, Fertile Myrtle! You probably just had some wine, and relaxed too, right?! Thanks for pointing out your natural ability to get pregnant without even trying. Your parents must be so proud.

“You’re still young!”
1) Thank you. But, 2) It doesn’t feel that way. Not when people you went to high school with are on babies #3 or 4, and your newsfeed is full of pregnancy announcements. Like I said, we’ve been at this for years, and I’m not getting any younger.

“Oh, I had a friend who had trouble getting pregnant, but they like, had to do it in a petri dish.”
Uhhh, yeah! So did we! What do you think I’ve been talking about this whole time?

“Take some of my kids!”
Oh, how hilarious! You’re kids are annoying, and you don’t want them anymore! Hahaha! You have sooooo many kids, you’re just giving them away!

“Here comes the next Octomom!!”
Octomom is a great example of irresponsible decision making (also, insanity). Any respectable fertility specialist would never transfer more embryos than necessary, and only a crazy person (who is young, has had success with IVF before, and already has six kids) would insist on transferring 12 embryos. TWELVE. She was 32. I’m 32 — you know how many I’m allowed to transfer? Two, max. That’s why that doctor lost his medical license, and she’s a bankrupt lunatic. Please don’t compare me to her.

“You should just adopt — then it’ll happen!”
First of all, this isn’t the 50s. You can’t just stroll down to your neighborhood orphanage and pick up that adorable infant that poor girl in secretarial school left on their doorstep in the dead of night. Adoptions take years, and cost tens of thousands of dollars — and even then it’s not a sure thing! As for magically getting pregnant once you’ve adopted (because, you know — the pressure is off, so you’re… relaxed) please see #1.

A Teeny Tiny Baby Update

And by teeny tiny, I mean, I don’t really know anything yet for sure — but I’m doing laundry and waiting for some paint to dry, so there you go.

After our second miscarriage, my fertility doctor sent me for another round of tests — specifically dealing with clotting issues. Everything was normal, with the exception of Factor V Leiden, which I already knew I had, and was the reason I was also already taking blood thinner once we found out I was pregnant.

Since there weren’t any other indicators present, they decided to send us both for a chromosomal screening to make sure that our genes were, you know, in order. Basically, I should have 46 XX chromosomes, and Mike should have 46 XYs. There are situations where one or both of us could have a gene or two that is missing information, or things are inverted, etc. If that were the case, all of our embryos could have inherited the genetic disorders, which would explain why they stop developing. The doctor explained that in a “normal” fertile couple, the natural risk of miscarriage is 20-30%, but if you have an inverse chromosomal situation, the natural risk is 70-80%.

If that is the case, we’d have to biopsy each embryo, and then determine what was healthy and usable, and what was not.

It’s also unlikely that is what the problem is. We’ll find out for sure in another week when our test results come back, and I guess cross that very expensive bridge when we come to it.

If there is an issue — we’ll have to decide if we should biopsy the 13 frozen embryos we already have (which would require them all to be thawed, biopsied, and refrozen which they may not survive), or if it’s better (and cheaper, because that’s a consideration, obviously) to do another fresh cycle and biopsy them pre-freeze.

If there’s not an issue (fingers crossed, athank you) then we’ll do a frozen transfer in the beginning of 2013, only I’ll start my blood thinner weeks earlier than before, and possibly at a higher dose. I’m trying to meet with a new hematologist (my last doctor passed away suddenly over the summer) but I won’t know until later this week if he’s accepting new patients, or if I can even get in to see him before the next cycle starts.

In the meantime, I’m trying to get over a cold that knocked me on my ass a week ago, painting a kitchen door (theoretically) with some chalkboard paint, and trying to figure out what the hell I’m going to get anyone for Christmas this year…