Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Expanding by Two Feet

(Lilian's feet at 13 days old.)
Our family's about to get larger... by Two Feet.   Baby feet that is!

We're Pregnant!!!

How's that for exciting news?  I know that we're so excited we may burst.  We have kept the whole process of TTC ("trying to conceive" for those not familiar with fertility lingo) under wraps, but we have since told our parents our great news, and now we want to share with everyone.    

As of 7/12/12, we are 15 weeks pregnant!

So here's the where/when/how:

We've always had the "grand plan" of having more than one child to complete our family, it was just a matter of where/when that we had to figure out.  But since moving to our new town and larger house (we have 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, and a huge basement for storage), we began thinking about it more seriously.  In Dec 2010, I got a pretty great job, and so at some point in 2011 I began to think... this is it.  We're ready.  Missy and I talked about it for months, figuring out all the details.  And so at the end of September, we asked for "help" again... in the form of, the gift of sperm.  We asked Lilian's dad again; he has been perfect, Lilian is perfect, and the situation is perfect, and so it seemed like the obvious choice.  He said "probably, but I'd like to discuss in person", and so in November we sat in diner in Queens and discussed all the details and got our "yes!"  I'd been tracking cycles since September in preparations, and so we didn't wait, and the cycle beginning November 23, we started the process.  We met up December 9 and 10 for inseminations, and ten days later, we got two pinks lines on a test!  Pregnant!  (This cycle was 4 years after Lilian's conception cycle, so the due date for the new baby was only a week after her due date, we'd have ended up with TWO late August babies!)  I was pregnant for a week, and was so excited (and naive) I told my parents/brother and some close friends.  I felt sick and icky (like a preggo should) and on Christmas, I felt like I had received an awesome (secret) gift.  Sadly though, I kept taking pregnancy tests every day, and the pale pale pink test line never got much darker.  And the morning after Christmas, the test was white - ONE line.  Later that night i began bleeding, and the pregnancy was officially over.  I lost the baby at 4 weeks + 2 days, and then had the awkward situation of texting my family and close friends and telling them "change of plans, I'm not pregnant anymore."   I got responses of "aw, i'm sorry", "don't worry, you'll get pregnant again really soon," and "maybe you were never really pregnant to begin with."  I cried and stayed in bed for 1 day, named my poppy seed baby that was never to be "Alvin" (we had just seen Chipwrecked in the theatres, no I never had any intention of naming a living baby Alvin), and then tried to move on.

Three more months went by - with our awesome donor taking the train 100 miles after work a few days a month, arriving at our house at nearly midnight, just to wake up at 5:30am to take a train back to get to work in time.  Three months of seeing stark white pregnancy tests with just the bright pink control line.  Four months isn't a long time in the grand scheme of life, pregnancy, or even TTC... but it felt really, really long.  It started to feel like it would never happen.  Besides that, my cycles were getting wonky.  In the past 2 years, my cycles started getting longer and longer, my ovulation seemed to be later by about 12 hours each month, so after 7  months of tracking, I went from ovulation around day 15, to around day 18, then 19, etc.  My luteal phases varied hugely (11, 12, 14, 10, 15 days etc.) - while they are supposed to remain constant.   It made it harder to predict (and so i'd sometime mistime it, and my donor would have to come out one more time just to get one more try in the day before ovulation).   I was taking handfuls of pills a day:  multivitamins, B vitamin complexes (with folic acid), green tea, Synthroid for hypothyroidism, Zyrtec for allergies, wild yam pills, iron supplements, Vitex (an herb), soy isoflavones, etc.  An assortment of herbal and vitamin supplements intended to help me ovulate earlier and stronger, help my uterus develop a strong/thick lining, help balance my wacky hormones to increase fertility, etc.  Nothing seemed to help.  Someone told me about taking large doses of Insositol (which is a B vitamin) and Vitamin D to help regulate my hormones - and I did for 6+ weeks.  After about two weeks, I felt a huge increase in my energy and moods, so if nothing else, I think I found a vitamin combination that actually did make me FEEL better.  

Our fifth cycle trying started March 23.  I had watched a lot of my hope slip away and was sure that I might need some medical interventions, but I kept going through the motions.  Around this time, I made an appointment with an OBGYN to discuss my irregular cycles and wonky hormones, but the soonest appointment they had was 2+ months away.  And so this month, we ended up with 5 inseminations - three Easter weekend... and since i didn't ovulate on days 18/19 like I thought I would, two more during the week, and I finally ovulated on Day 21 - my latest cycle ever.  I took pregnancy tests (cheapy ones from the internet that cost about 15 cents a piece, I had long ago given up on spending $5+ per test that you buy in the drug store) on 7 and 8dpo (dpo = days past ovulation) which is mostly way too early (i got my + test with Lilian on day 8, and with my December pregnancy on day 10, but days 10-12 are more average).  And I took one more on 10dpo which was negative... and so I had no hope for that cycle.  I already started counting days on my calendar hoping that my next ovulation would fall on a weekend (which made it easier for our donor, and allowed me to get more "chances") and planning for the next cycle.  10dpo my temperature dipped way down low (like it does before you get your period), and so I expected my period on day 11... but instead my temp went back up.  Strange.  And so on the morning on 12dpo (April 24), I decided to take one more test.  And on the internet cheapy, I saw a hint of a shadow of a silvery line.  But after months of stark white, I thought "maybe it's something?"  I stewed about it all day at work, and around lunch time, went home and got out one of the few "expensive" tests I had... and ... a pale pink line!   Pregnant again!   Missy was at a hair salon with her mom that day, and so I drove over there to show her in person.  I wasn't "counting my chickens yet" because I had been burned once already, but I was cautiously excited.  Over the course of a week, I saw the pink test lines get gradually darker... a slight hint darker at a time (unlike Lilian's pregnancy, where the lines got dark pretty quick, and were as dark as the control line by 14dpo).  I was afraid that they'd never get "DARK" like in December, and it was a long week or two waiting to finally feel "safe."  But my temperature on 10dpo was an "implantation dip" and so this baby was a late implanter (implantation happens between days 5-10) and had a pretty SLOW start too.

Two pink lines = a very happy me

On May 11, I had the appointment with the OBGYN I had made months before for a different reason, so I kept the appointment and it became my first prenatal visit.  I was 6 weeks + 1 day pregnant.  They took one million vials of blood, weighed me, asked me 1,000 questions and scheduled an early ultrasound to "date" the baby/pregnancy.  We were leaving on May 16 for our "big Disney vacation" so I managed to get an ultrasound appointment for May 15 (with a lot of pleading and driving to the "next closest" office, over 2 hours away.)  So on May 15 (6 weeks + 5 days pregnant) I got my first glimpse of the baby.  Sadly, Missy had to wait in the car, because not only did we have Lily with us, but I also had the baby boy that I nanny for with us (yes, of course his mom knew, I asked her permission to take him).  This appointment didn't go as I hoped though, and I didn't get all happy news.

(U/S 6 weeks + 5 days) It's a bad quality photo of the paper, I didn't bother scanning.  Not much to see.

The ultrasound tech immediately found the baby and a heartbeat (I think it was 122 bpm), much to my relief. But because they had my due date wrong (you can see in the pic, it says 7.1 weeks, but I was only 6.5 weeks) the tech was immediately concerned because the baby measured really small.  (S)he measured 6 weeks + 1 day, which was only 4 days behind the due date I calculated based on my actual ovulation date, but over a week and a half behind based on the due date calculated by their office based only on my LMP (last menstrual period - but since that is based on a 28 day cycle, an ovulation on day 14... and I ovulated on day 21, varies by a full week from my actual due date.)  A baby being 1.5 weeks behind is a pretty big deal at that point and usually is a sign of stopped growth and an upcoming miscarriage, but because I knew they had the due dates wrong, and it was only 4 days behind (less than a week is considered "ok", since measurements can be incorrect, etc) I didn't worry too much about that.  But next, he started saying "uh oh, that shouldn't be there."  (Yes, I had a WAY too chatty ultrasound tech that left me scared as crap).  And after a lot of "seeing different angles", consulting with the doctor on duty, etc. it was decided that my embryo implanted WAY too low in the uterus and WAY too close to the c-section scar.  I left there with the impression that I'd probably miscarry soon (improper blood flow) or something else terrible could/would happen.  I definitely cried that night too.  A healthy baby with a poor chance of survival because of unlucky placement.

We left on our roadtrip the next day, and I still had no "answers" and it took a few calls to my doctor's office to finally get some kind of assistant on the phone to explain to me the prognosis.  Basically: high chance of miscarriage, possibility of a C-section Ectopic (baby growing INTO the scar and attaching to the muscle of my uterus instead of the lining where it should be), or a placenta accretia (the placenta attaching to the uterine muscle), and uterine rupture (go to the hospital ASAP for dizziness or extreme headaches which is a sign of internal bleeding) [if you Google any of these things i mentioned, it's pretty horrific the things you see including hystorectomies and death] - or maybe the baby/placenta will grow "upwards" into the big part of the uterus, away from the scar and everything will be fine.  So "wait and see" and we'll see where everything is in 7 weeks at your NT scan if you're still pregnant then.   Awesome, right?  I tried to put it all aside on our 11 day Disney vacation (which was AWESOME by the way, and will be a blog post in the future) and have fun, but it was always there in the back of my mind.  Trying to be optomistic, but trying to prepare myself for the worst.  Because of the "unknown" we didn't even tell most people we were pregnant - only a few people actually.  

It was a really, really long 7 weeks waiting for that next ultrasound.  An online friend of mine who also has a August 2008 baby (who i met twice in real life too) lent me a Doppler to try to hear the heartbeat, but i wasn't able to find it weeks 9, 10 and 11.  (Thank you for the loan JM!  I really appreciate it!)  I did find it in week 12, which made me feel a little better.  

On June 29 (I was 13 weeks + 1 day pregnant according to me), I had my NT scan.  For those unfamililar, they measure some sort of transluscent piece of skin on the folds of the back of the neck and that is an indicator of Down Syndrome and other trisomy genetic problems.  This little babe did NOT cooperate and it took 30-40 minutes to see him/her in profile to GET the measurement (she/he kept staring right at the probe and waving), but it was 1.3 (under 3 mm is normal and low risk) so that was good.  Heart rate was normal (somewhere in the 150's i think) and baby measured 13 weeks + 2 days (so whereas I was 4 days behind before, now it was 1 day ahead, so he/she "caught up" in growth... like i said, a slow start.)  But the best news, is that the baby DID grow upwards and is now in the main uterine cavity (rather than in the "jug handle" down low by the cervix), not as high near the fundus as they'd like to see it, but high enough to not be dangerous anymore.  The placenta however, is anterior (on the front of the uterus) and still kinda close to the scar.  So whereas a C-section Ectopic has been ruled out, the placenta growing INTO the scar still hasn't been.  I've been lead to believe that the baby is no longer at risk due to placement (as in, not more risk than any other normal pregnancy), but if the placenta DOES grow into the scar, there is a chance that removal during my c-section won't be possible, and they might have to remove the entire uterus.  But this has NOT happened yet, there is some distance between the placenta and scar for now, and hopefully it'll keep growing upwards and away.  I'm super happy that the baby is safe, but losing my uterus at 32 years old WOULD be a pretty big deal to me.   I am really, really hoping (more than I hope for most things) that this doesn't happen and that I get to keep my uterus.  I like it in there.

But now, the best part... ultrasound photos of my HEALTHY baby at 13 weeks + 1 day:

Face and hand by head "waving".
Profile and hand by face.
Legs/butt - looking to see any signs of gender, but I see nothing there!

So, though the u/s tech implied that there would be more ultrasounds (2-3 weeks) to check on the anterior placenta near the scar, my OB said they would check at my 20 week Level II anatomy scan.  So the week of August 13-17 (probably on the 17th or maybe the next week the 24th since they won't fix my wrong due date, even though my most recent u/s showed the correct date) we'll have our next ultrasound!  And YES, we're finding out the sex of the baby!  I'm DYING to know!  I actually wish we could go next week (16 weeks) to a private place to find out sooner like we did for Lily, but alas, the $60 + tax for the ultrasound plus the $40 in gas is beyond my budget right now... so we'll wait.  But I do wish!

While TTC I was hoping for a girl, and I've kinda convinced myself its a boy (partially to avoid gender disappointment)... but somewhere along the way, I've realized that i'm HOPING for a boy now!  We have awesome boy names picked out and I would be stuck picking a girl's name (again).  Though we have SO much girl clothes I'd just love to reuse.  A boy is new and different.  I guess the point is, i've hoped for BOTH ... so either will be awesome.  All first trimester though, I've "felt" boy and I was right last time too... so we'll see.  For those superstitious, the Chinese Gender calendar says this one's a boy (and it said girl for Lily.)  I can't stand to wait FIVE more weeks.

Also for those curious - baby NAMES will be kept secret until the birth (something has to be a surprise!).  We WILL be sharing the sex when we find out.  And no, I haven't taken any belly shots yet - though this week, my uterus has popped over the pelvic bone and I am starting to show.

Oh, and I think I forgot to write, my due date (according to ovulation/me/latest ultrasound) is JANUARY 3, 2013.   (According to my OB it's January 7).   But I will be having a repeat C-section (which was the plan anyway, but is now NECESSARY due to the dangerous placenta placement/situation... so baby will probably arrive anytime between December 28 and January 2 (assuming of course I don't go into early labor or there are any complications, etc.)  So we'll have a WINTER baby and possibly a CHRISTMAS / NEW YEAR'S baby!   And new baby will be 4 years and 4 months younger than Lilian (but 5 grades apart in school due to a missed cut-off date.)

How am I feeling?   Mostly fine!  I had no morning sickness with Lily and none this time either.  I had some mild nausea the weeks of 8 & 9 and a few days around week 13, but no barfing!  I'm tired ALL the time and as of two weeks ago, HUNGRY all the time.  But not sick, and that's good.   I lost 4 pounds in the first month or so I was pregnant... and I've gained NO weight since, so I'ms till down 3-4 pounds from my "start weight."  

So, I think that covers it.  Yay, Baby!

Oh... and we haven't officially told Lilian yet.  That (and her reaction) will be for another update.
Luckily, she can't read.   :)
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