13w1d: Nuchal Scan

May 13, 2009

I had my nuchal scan on Tuesday. But first, a few examples of how infertility still affects me.

  1. This weekend, we informed a friend-of-friends couple (you may know them as, “Have BabySmiling’s boobs always been that big?”) about the pregnancy. Wife was basically jumping up and down with joy — not easy, since she’s 8 1/2 months pregnant. Husband proceeded to make all sorts of lewd comments about the process of getting pregnant. I didn’t bother to correct him and explain that no sex was involved. Throughout the night, he kept interspersing random comments like, “Hey, you must be pregnant. Your tits are huge!” They’re a breast-oriented couple, apparently. I actually like the husband a lot, despite how jerky he sounds.
  2. I’ve had an Amazon book order in my shopping cart for more than a week, including some twin books and some regular pregnancy/baby books. I have been putting off the order in case the nuchal scan revealed that one or both of the babies are dead. Thanks, infertility mindset!
  3. The night before the nuchal scan, for the first time in this pregnancy, for hours after my husband went to bed I was unable to sleep. For once I was actually caught up with my blog-reading, so instead I tried to catch up on Creme de la Creme. Thanks, Dead Baby Thoughts!

My fears were thankfully unfounded. Nuchal scan went fine. The babies were so beautiful. I could make out the individual vertebrae of their spines, fingers, stomachs, button noses. They kept waving their arms in the air like they didn’t care (or rather, waving their arms in the amniotic fluid like they were druids?).

We also got blood draws to check for translocations and some other genetic issues. The genetic counselor said that given my two prior miscarriages, she personally would have pushed for genetic testing before conception, but I told her that Dr. Full Steam Ahead wasn’t so full-steam-ahead with genetics for some reason and didn’t want to test until after three miscarriages. That ship has presumably sailed, but if genetic testing reveals anything out of the ordinary, it will give us important information on these babies since some of the usual screens like the AFP aren’t helpful with twins. It would also be doing a service to any relatives who might share that genetic issue — for instance, if DH has any genetic issues, his four siblings who will be trying to conceive within the next 1 to 15 years would probably benefit from getting checked out.

The phlebotomist asked, “How are you with blood draws?” I wanted to say, “Fabulous! I have had more blood draws than you can possibly imagine, and I’ve given myself hundreds of injections!” But, I never want to make phlebotomists so complacent that they get rough or careless, so I blandly said, “Fine.”

And now, the main event! By the way, in case you’re keeping track, I’m pretty sure they’re still in the same positions with the same A/B assignments from the last ultrasound. But, last time, A was the bigger one, and now B has caught up and passed his/her twin. B’s heart rate is still a little faster. (For my own future reference:) currently the one on my left is A and the one on my right is B.

Baby A, measuring at 13w2d (2 days ahead), heart rate 158; it looks like A is sucking his/her thumb, but it was more like waving to us
DSCF0655

Baby B, measuring at 13w3d (3 days ahead), heart rate 162
DSCF0656

I love them so much.

Now it’s time to place that Amazon order…

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Vignettes of three mothers, in honor of Mothers’ Day.

DH’s Mother, last mentioned on this blog when I had a dream in which I called her a “fucking shrew whore”

I had another dream about DH’s mother last week.
She rudely asked me, “So when are you gonna finally have a baby?”
I replied, “November! Ha, in your face!”

Me, a mother by some reckonings but not by others

I received the following acknowledgments of Mothers’ Day this week:
OMG! You Rock Day gifts sent by Kym from I’m A Smart One, including tasty (but not too rich, due to my current food aversions — though I’m told he also makes all sorts of sexy sinful varieties) double chocolate chip cookies made by Frank, whose cookie business will launch soon; a superman/superwoman/superKym insignia; a pair of onesies that simultaneously joke about my blogging proclivities and indicate that I just might actually be someone’s mom soon (times 2). Note that both are blue, even though Kym is guessing boy-girl twins. Also note that Kym sent me many cookies, but they are so huge that I can only fit one on the plate.

OMG

A gorgeous laptop briefcase from DH, who previously has been known to ask why I need so many different work bags and briefcases. It arrived on my doorstep with a Happy Mothers’ Day note when he was out of town, and was a total surprise (frankly, I had the odds at 50/50 that he’d give me a card or gift).

Briefcase

My Mother, last mentioned on this blog for creatively naming the presidents

my mom: What is the name of your cat?
me: You don’t remember?
mom: No.
me: I’ve had the same cat for 8 years!
mom: I don’t have a good relationship with your cat.

Happy Mothers’ Day to all mothers and trying-to-become-mothers. If yours wasn’t happy, at least it’s over!


Perfect Moment
Lori from Weebles Wobblog is celebrating her 2nd blogoversary! And she’s one hell of a mother — trust me, I’ve seen her in action.

At previous Show and Tells, I’ve shown you many installments of infertility-related art (my own pottery that I’ve made using gauze from IVF #1, as well as art that I’ve purchased to commemorate various unsuccessful cycles) and, more recently, hopeful post-infertility/pregnancy-commemorating art.

But, I’ve never shown you the original photo that started the whole theme. It’s time.

First, a little background. Way back in February 2004, I was coming up on 2 years of infertility, and I was trying one last treatment cycle (Clomid + IUI) with Dr. Fancy Pants before temporarily throwing in the towel due to emotional and financial exhaustion.

That one last cycle worked. I was pregnant, finally, and it was amazing.

As regular readers are well aware, that pregnancy ended in miscarriage. My first miscarriage, the one that broke my heart and changed me forever.

There were only 8 days when I was aware of being pregnant, but those were the best 8 days I’d ever had. (I’ve had some other good ones since then, but never 8 in a row like that.)

In the middle of those 8 days, DH and I decided to go hiking. I selected a new trail from my Hiking Trails of That State book (you’ll notice that we’re wearing short sleeves in February, so obviously the range of states gets narrowed down) and we headed out. We had a great hike, and on the way home we stopped for one of my favorite meals, Ethiopian food. That was a very good day.

When I got home, I immediately sent the digital photos off to be printed. By the time the prints arrived in the mail, I had lost the baby. The 5×7 photo of the happy pregnant couple standing by a waterfall, our first photo as a family, was particularly painful. I put it away for many years, unable to look at it without crying. I knew the day would come someday.

Then, one day a couple of years later, I was putting together a photo collage, and I discovered that at some point I had become okay with this photo. Finally, I could stand to look at it every day. It would still remind me of pain, but it had transformed to simultaneously remind me of enormous joy. Joy, and hope. The same hope that I’ve carried with me since then, especially since getting pregnant this time.

I don’t actively look at the photo every day, but I pass by many times a day, and most visitors to our house look at it for at least a few seconds. I don’t tell them the secret behind the photo.

But, now you’re in on the secret. I think I’ll point out the photo and tell our babies about the secret too — once they’ve mastered binocular vision.

I apologize for our disguises — I’m paranoid about our identities being discovered by people IRL, as DH and I are both distinctive-looking in our own ways. Even the t-shirts we wore that day have identifying information. But, at least you can see the waterfall.

Finally I present: The first in a surprisingly long line of infertility-related art.

First

Hey, it’s the 50th edition of Show and Tell. 50 is a round number!

8w0d: Graduation

April 7, 2009

I graduated from the RE today!

I didn’t realize this was coming now — I thought I’d have one more visit before the transition.

I’ll happily take it, especially given how little prenatal health care has actually been occurring with Dr. Full Steam Ahead: ultrasounds only; no asking about symptoms, no bloodwork, no suggestions about nutrition… “Just keep doing what you’ve been doing” doesn’t really qualify as medical advice.

Of course, this means that both babies were doing well at today’s ultrasound. I don’t usually have a lot of Dead Baby Thoughts, and it’s been a helpful distraction to be out of town for most of the past week (coming tomorrow: encounter with the Weebles family!), but the Dead Baby Thoughts did descend last night.

Turns out that DH isn’t fond of hearing Dead Baby Thoughts. Last night, he said that he really needed to spend all morning working, and he was considering not coming to the ultrasound. He said, “I want to share in the joy and all, but…” I replied, “It’s not about the joy. It’s just that if the babies are dead, it will be hard to drive myself home.”

That did it. He set the alarm earlier, accompanied me, and managed to get his work done on time.

Enough about Dead Baby Thoughts. Time for Live Baby Pictures!

Both babies are big for their age — my due date has tentatively been moved 4 days closer, even though the date of conception is an incontrovertible fact.

Here are both gummy bears together.

8w0d-both

Baby A, heart rate 170, 19mm long, measuring 8w6d! They’re already growing up too fast — it seems like just today they were only 8w0d old… oh wait, that was today.

8w0d-a

A much better picture of Baby B, heart rate 174, 18.6mm long, measuring 8w4d.

8w0d-b

Dr. Full Steam Ahead says that given their well-matched heart rates and sizes, the odds of twins becoming a singleton, which were 20% at 6w0d, are now less than 5%.

I think this might really be happening.

Thoughtful ThursdayHappy April! It’s time to announce the March Intelligentsia (people who have commented on every Thoughtful Thursday post for the month of March).

First, there’s three-peat member Wiseguy from Woman Anyone?

Repeating their Intelligentsia status from a prior month are Cat; Ernessa from Fierce and Nerdy; Leslie Laine from What You’re Not Expecting When You’re Trying to Expect; and Shalini from By the Pricking of My Thumbs.

We also have a couple of first-timers: Kristen from Dragondreamer’s Lair and Kymberli from I’m A Smart One.

Hooray!

Thoughtful ThursdayToday’s Thoughtful Thursday is pregnancy-related, but those who haven’t been pregnant are also free to chime in. I certainly had opinions about it before I ever became pregnant for the first time — and then those opinions changed drastically when I became un-pregnant. My opinions changed again as infertility wore on for years and years, and when I became pregnant then un-pregnant the second time.

I used to think it was wise to wait a sensible time to tell the world, but that it was fun to tell lots of individual people. Now, I think it’s best to wait a longer-than-sensible time to tell almost everyone, with the caveat that it can’t always be hidden as long as you’d like (growing belly, morning sickness, etc.). Sensible for normal people and sensible for those who’ve dealt with infertility or loss are not even on the same scale — like comparing a stopwatch to geologic time.

With this pregnancy, I’ve been thinking that I’d wait at least until the end of the first trimester to make the general announcement. This includes family — we’ve told them less than anyone else throughout the past 7 years, why should we change things now? It also includes work, non-close friends, and Facebook. Actually, maybe Facebook will have to wait until the birth.

This all seemed very far away, until I realized that the second trimester begins in mid-May. Every day may be crawling by at a snail’s pace for me, but May also feels very soon. May is next month! Ultimately the exact timing will boil down to who we’re seeing when, and how long we can hold out before we can’t hide it any longer. I’d be surprised if I tell anyone who doesn’t already know about our infertility before the end of the first trimester.

The general consensus seems to be that the end of the first trimester is the sensible time for the big announcement. The reduced miscarriage risk coincides with the burgeoning inability to hide the belly. Dooce had a subtle announcement to the world right around the end of the first trimester.

Our close friends The Other Hosts waited until the day of their nuchal scan to announce it — it happened to be New Year’s Eve, so the announcement was made at the party in front of all of their friends. Their families found out around 8 weeks (except for her mom, who knew from the beginning). Mr. Other Host told DH a couple of weeks before the nuchal scan. As I have mentioned already, Mr. Other Host called and told me the morning of the big day, immediately after the nuchal scan: literally as we were backing out of the parking spot post-retrieval, which was not ideal timing for me, but it was still a kind gesture for him to tell me in advance instead of springing it on me.

A few days later, we received their belated Christmas card in the mail — they also waited until the nuchal scan for the mailing. It was a wedding picture, wishing people a happy new year from Mr., Mrs., and Baby Other Host (with due date). Anyone who didn’t hear the announcement on New Year’s Eve definitely got the message soon after.

Mr. Other Host is an “I’m so excited and I just can’t hide it” kind of guy, and they got pregnant the first month they tried, so I’m not surprised about the Christmas card. At the same time, I would never be so presumptuous to send a Christmas card — even if the pregnancy was 8 months along when the cards went out. I have learned the hard way, through my own tears and those of too many friends, that there are no guarantees.

I’m going to see one of my closest friends today, and another one tomorrow. They’ve been with me the whole way on this journey; how could I not tell them? They seem to be an exception to my “wait a very long time to tell” rule. I’m very excited for those announcements, actually. I’m dreading some of the others, though. The worst: I would bet money that DH’s mother will berate us for not telling her about this pregnancy earlier, for telling anyone before her, for not telling her about the previous pregnancies, for not confiding about infertility… Yet another reason to put the announcement off.

Today’s questions (answer based on what you’ve done, if you’ve had the opportunity, or what you’ve imagined, if you haven’t): When does a pregnancy feel real enough (or safe enough) to tell the world (anonymous billions on the internet notwithstanding)? When would/did you tell your inner circle? When does it feel real enough to “announce” it to yourself? How much do you think that your answers to all of the above are influenced by infertility and/or loss?

Thoughtful ThursdayToday we’ll be taking a field trip in the Thoughtful Thursday Time Machine, far into the distant past, before dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Before you started trying to have a baby.

I realize that our time machines need to be set to different points. For some, a couple of years. For me, seven years. For others, longer.

So let’s get into our respective time machines, buckle up, and return to the days when most of us blindly, blissfully thought we could just decide to become parents and then a baby would magically appear 9 months later.

Today’s question: How did you decide when it was time to try to start a family?

DH and I got married very young, immediately after college. Children were out of the question at that point. Marriage for us meant being with each other, not creating a family. We’d raised some eyebrows by getting married so young — though DH’s father, who’d been married at the same age and divorced a dozen years later, told us “You are both infinitely more mature than I was at your age. I am not worried.” Young married couple, we could handle. Young parents, nope. Not the kind of people we wanted to be. Spouses support your career, but babies derail it. Nope nope nope.

Thus, babies were entirely off my radar for several years, until one of my classmates in graduate school announced that she was pregnant.

I was happy for her, because I didn’t have a reason not to be.

It also got me thinking. “How do you know when you’re ready to become a parent?”

I posed this hypothetical question to another (single and childless) classmate, and she said, “I don’t know when people know, but I am sure that you are ready now. You will be an awesome mother. Let me know when you decide and I will go shopping! I would love to shop for your baby clothes. I’ll buy them when they go on sale at the end of each season, and then we can time it so that the baby can wear the right size for the weather.” She’s a little cart-before-the-horse, that one.

This all happened two years before I started TTC. And then, I kept sitting with that decision, finding reasons to wait, until finally I couldn’t come up with any more compelling reasons against TTC. So my decision was not so much a decision, as an end to procrastination.

DH and I had always intended to be parents, and were both very excited about it even when our ages ended with -teen, but we had other things to accomplish first. As young marrieds, we considered TTC to be a different phase of life, and it took a lot of gearing up to move into that phase. I know many other people for whom “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in a baby carriage” cascades in a quick sequence. But we had all the time in the world… or so we thought.

Once I was on the cusp of saying that I was ready, I determined that there were several things I needed to accomplish before I could start TTC. I didn’t feel “ready” to be pregnant until these boxes had been checked off.

  1. Buy safety-oriented four-door car to supplement our two-door sports car (still own it, but almost every part has been repaired or replaced)
  2. Purchase supportive desk chair for office with my own money to nurture my soon-to-be-pregnant body (sat in it for a few years, then it broke and I threw it out… over 3 years ago)
  3. Stop birth control pills and chart cycles for several months while using condoms to begin assessing fertility and getting used to charting so that we could conceive immediately after our decision had been made (I have a couple dozen charts tucked away in a file cabinet somewhere, but I stopped charting after miscarriage #1 or I’d have –gulp!– almost 100 by now)

Throughout all of my stalling and list-making, DH was “ready when you are.” When I said “GO!” he said, “Tell me where to put the sperm.” No, actually he had already figured that part out. Little did we know, sex doesn’t actually make babies. If we had know that… ah, but this is Time Machine day, not Crystal Ball day.

Your turn: How did you decide when it was time to try to start a family? Or, if the initial decision was not yours but someone else’s or fate’s, why had you decided that it wasn’t yet time?

(On your way back to 2009 in your time machine, please wave hello to the dinosaurs. They’ve been a little anxious lately… some rumors about an upcoming ice age.)

Show and Tell: Blanket

January 25, 2009

ER update: Angela Bassett’s character had her egg retrieval! Spoiler alert: didn’t go well. Several aspects of the depiction were nothing like I’ve ever experienced (ultrasound to count the number of follicles the day of retrieval, husband in the operating room, private room for post-op recovery) but I suppose since the doctor on the show is an OB/GYN instead of an RE, anything goes. On the upside, the extensive talk about follicles and high-grade embryos was a triumph for infertility awareness. It also served to debunk the myth that IVF is a guarantee for older women (or anyone).


And now, Show and Tell. Years ago, I wasn’t yet a potter. Instead, I was a knitter. I was a very slow knitter, but I made a few lovely pieces — mostly scarves gifted to family members. I particularly enjoyed working with complex stitch patterns. Because I was so slow, I quickly figured out that I should only use very high-quality yarn — it was impossible to rack up a high yarn bill when it took me two months to make one scarf, and it’s much more pleasant to work with cashmere, silk, and merino wool than acrylic.

The last piece that I was working on before a computer-based repetitive stress injury ended my knitting career was a baby blanket — for the baby I was expecting to have in the near future. Periwinkle, because it’s gender-neutral. Cotton, because at the time we lived in a warm climate.

I actually learned to crochet just so that I could make the border of this blanket. I was almost finished with the border when I realized that the last ball of yarn I’d used for the main body was from a different dye lot than the rest. This means that there’s a few inches at the end that are a slightly different color. The border is a different color on purpose for contrast, but the different color within the body just looks strange. A perfectionist by nature, I realized that I would need to rip out the border and then unravel the section of the blanket with the wrong yarn. Around the time of that realization, I also realized that my repetitive stress injury was being aggravated by knitting… and then I had my first miscarriage, and I didn’t have the heart to keep working on the blanket.

And so, for five years this blanket has sat in a plastic bin in the closet, with a half-finished border and a discolored strip. I’ve figured that whenever I do finally get stay pregnant, I would fix the mismatch problem once and for all. Hasn’t happened yet, but whenever it does, I’ll bring it back out of the closet and finish what I started so long ago.

Blanket

What caused me to bring the blanket out of the closet after all of these years?

In a blog comment on one of Cara’s blogs, I made an offhand remark about knitting. She responded by emailing me to ask me if I still knitted, and if so, would I be willing to make a few buntings in which to bury babies. I sadly told her that I no longer knit, but I kept thinking about the tiny babies and their grieving parents, and the knitting that I used to do.

Last week I invited people to cost me some money by commenting ($1) or delurking ($2 for first-time commenters), which I would then donate to charity. My secret idea was that I could make up for my lack of knitting by subsidizing others’ knitting. For the four posts since I announced that plan, you’ve cost me $97: 26 new commenters, and 45 returning commenters.

I am donating the money to Share Southern Vermont. Some will be earmarked to cover the cost of yarn for some knitters in Cara’s area who are donating their knitting skills to make buntings, and the rest will be used for the general startup fund. If you’d like to help bring Share Southern Vermont closer to their goal, head to Building Heavenly Bridges or Share Southern Vermont to make a donation (and enter the scrapbook raffle). And if you happen to knit, I’m sure Cara would welcome a bunting. Unfortunately, the demand never stops.

Join Miss Lollipop and the rest of the class at Show and Tell.