Monday, November 18, 2013

How do you say good bye? (not me)

The cruelty of the fight against infertility never ceases to amaze me. I have been bruised and battered, hardened and hurt, but I have never suffered a 2nd or 3rd (knock on wood) trimester loss. I just cannot imagine the pain or what the recovery period looks like.

Holly at Oh Baby, Baby suffered two 2nd trimester losses within the last 3 weeks, and lost one embryo back at 9 weeks. She lost all her babies, the most recent last night. I only started following her blog recently when someone linked to her and asked for others to lend support (when she lost her daughter, Brinley, at 18 weeks pregnant). Last night, at 21 weeks pregnant, she lost her son, Jude. To add insult to injury, it appears Jude was completely healthy but that Brinley's placenta got infected and caused Jude's loss.

What do you say to someone who lost three embryos / babies in one pregnancy? You remember that was my fear months ago when we were told that at-the-time-baby-A had stopped growing. I was terrified that the remaining two (the embryo that split) would be lost to me. That my loss count would go from 5 to 6 to 8 in one foul swoop. I never (knock on wood) had to "learn" that lesson. Holly did, but in a much more tragic way.

What do you say? I don't know, but I said something in the hopes that knowing she has so much community support will help her in the tiniest of ways. Please go to her blog and, if you can, leave her some kind of message of support.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

35+2, hospitalized, still pregnant: an update

Tuesday I had some odd but minor symptoms: 20 seconds of nausea, some discharge, more swelling in my feet. I called into my MFM on Wednesday morning and they told me to come straight in for a blood pressure monitoring and another NST.

40 minutes later, I was hooked up to the NST having clocked a blood pressure of around 140/90. They weren't happy. I lay there for 20 minutes for the NST and then clocked two even higher bp readings: 145/102 was the highest. At that point, they were on the phone to my OB about delivery that day. She was just across the street so I walked over there and met with her. She told me she wanted me admitted to hospital for a c-section that evening or Thursday morning.

She let me run home to let my dog pee, feed the cats and chickens and grab some things for the hospital. She wanted me at the hospital by 1:30 and I got here by 1:15. I was pretty panicked because I was only 34+6 on Wednesday and was so scared of the babies coming out that early.

The oddest thing was that I had NO idea how to get to labor & delivery. Why is that strange? Well, this is exactly where I was September 2012 for my D&C. But I had blocked every. single. thing. from that experience out and even when I was parked and walking to where someone told me to go, I still ended up in the wrong building. I expressed this later to my hubby and he said the same thing happened to him. He had no recollection. We were even on the same ward but it only came back slightly to me once I walked through the locked ward doors and checked in. Interesting how a brain works. That I know, I haven't suppressed any other memories like that and found / find it very interesting that my brain protected me (and continues to protect me) from that memory.

The admitted me and had me lie down for a few hours. My bp by about 3pm was back to the new-normal-that-is-high-but-not-emergency-high. My hubby finished up his work and got here at 4:45 and then my OB showed up at 5. She said based on my bp readings, she no longer wanted to "bring 35 weekers into the world unless absolutely necessary." She ordered a blood panel, an ultrasound and a 24 hour urine catch to see the extent of my preeclampsia. Results were all due back Friday morning. Suddenly, the c-section that was scheduled for 5:15 on Wednesday got pushed until Friday lunchtime at the earliest.

I'll pause here and answer the "why a c-section?" question that many friends have asked so I suspect some of you are wondering. As it turns out, my cervix is a ROCK STAR. At 35 weeks with twins, my cervix is still totally closed. It is apparently in it for the long haul! My OB said it would take days to induce me (to first ripen my cervix and then get labor started) and she didn't think my bp could handle all that. I agreed (remember that I trust this woman implicitly).

Between Wednesday afternoon and Friday morning, they did more blood work, another ultrasound and a 24-hour urine catch to really see what my kidneys are doing as far as protein-in-urine goes. My blood work still looks good and stable and normal. The ultrasound was great. The 24-hour urine catch, however, was off the charts. They apparently want to see a number less than 300 and mine was at 1500. So it was cause for alarm. As I type this, they are redoing it to make sure things haven't become worse. I am in no danger of kidney failure, I am told, but it's still alarming to know my kidneys are taking real beatings right now.

I have been told we are on a day-by-day basis but that we won't be allowed to go past Thursday (36 weeks). So as of today, Saturday, we will have babies in 5 days ... OR LESS!

They're doing non-stress tests twice daily and checking my blood pressure every 4 hours. They'll do another ultrasound tomorrow and a biophysical profile of the babies at that time. And by lunchtime tomorrow, we'll have the blood work (they'll draw tomorrow morning) and the urine results. So we'll get another snapshot of what my body is doing.

For now, I'm trying my best to relax and enjoy my last few days of pregnancy /  without children. Friends are stopping by regularly, which is lovely, and my hubby is coming by, too. I have been sending him home at night so he gets a good night's sleep but last night he brought dinner and we sat cuddled up in my hospital bed watching football. It was lovely. I think that'll be our evening routine! He left on Wednesday on paternity leave and we decided he would not go back and instead would just take the week to himself (like I am doing). It'll mean one less week at the other end, but we both think it's important and worth it for him to have some down time and prep time before the babies come.

More soon!


Monday, November 11, 2013

"50/50 chance of babies within 10 days" ... !!!

Went in for our weekly NST today. Pushed it to today instead of the regular Tuesday because our specialist is going out of town tomorrow for 2 weeks and we wanted to see him one more time and say good bye and thank you.

Babies are still PERFECT in there. I had two slight contractions (one I didn't feel at all) during the 20 minute NST and the babies' lines were absolutely text book perfect.

My blood pressure, however, was all over the place. They took it right when I got into the room (after leaving a pee sample, picking up my bag, getting weighed which requires taking my shoes off, and waddling to the room) and it was 159/90. EEK! They took it again about 45 seconds later after I'd been sitting down and had some cold water and it was down to a lovely 127/90. They took it at the very end of the NST and it was at 139/90. So it's all over the map but our MFM calls it "stable."

My protein in urine count was a different story. It was at 2+ for the first time ever. Made me cringe, but specialist said "we don't induce delivery on 2+ alone." He ordered another blood panel to see what things are doing so we can know for sure. Results later today. To be clear: I am NOT pre-eclamptic ... yet. But our MFM thinks it's a matter of time, unfortunately. Hence the babies coming early (me being induced).

We had a nice long talk with him and he said "there's a 50/50 chance of babies within 10 days." We both kind of stopped hearing or listening at that point as it sunk in.

10 days.

That's getting us to 36 weeks pregnant and no further.

Put a different way ... THAT'S NEXT GOD DAMNED THURSDAY!!!!! oh. my. god.

I find myself in a strange place. The infertile in me a year ago would have almost-KILLED to be in my position today. Almost 35 weeks pregnant with two perfect baby girls on the way. But the mama bear in me - the person who has grown over the last 9 months to be a mama to these girls - wants them to cook longer. Is MAD MAD MAD at my body that my body again will cause problems. It's been a long time (on an infertility timeline) since my body screwed up. But now, once again, it is causing problems. I should be grateful - no TTTS, no gestational diabetes, no complications at all until now - but I'm not. These babies are in this for the long haul - they want to go to term - but because of my body, they will likely have to come out early.

So what does a mama bear do in this situation? After spending the week eating tons of fruit in the hopes that it'll help? She consults Dr. Google about whether protein intake can help ward off pre-eclampsia. And, it turns out, there is some research to suggest it can. And mama bear realizes that her problems seems to have begun when she became less diligent about her three-times-a-day Boost intake (remember I was taking those religiously to stave off TTTS). So mama bear starts those back up (after calling papa bear to tell him that's her plan).

Mama bear also vows to increase her water intake even higher. I will not leave a stone unturned if said stone could hold the chance at a few extra days of cookin' or maybe even longer.

On more fun news (well, different news because babies within 10 days is actually pretty damned fun!), we got our nursery finished this weekend!!!


video


And on fantastic closing news, one of the donor egg IVF women I blogged about here got her first ever BFP! And it's a solid one with a fantastic beta this morning.


Friday, November 8, 2013

34+1

Appointment went well. Blood pressure is lower (130/90) and protein in my urine is still at 1+. MFM was happy about that and told us we have "at least one more week." But then told us the babies will be here before he gets back from vacation (2 1/2 weeks from now). So we're having pre-Thanksgiving babies it appears!

We were so anxious going into the appointment. I even did things at home expecting to not return from the appointment! We had a tiny argument in the car ride (great for my bp!) because my hubby was just so anxious. After the good appointment, we had a nice lunch downtown before hubby went back to work and I went home to take a much needed nap.

Babies passed their (second) biophysical profile with flying colors: each baby got an 8 out of 8! We saw more practice breathing and happy content babies. Baby A is head down and baby B is still breech - it appears she got stuck in that position so there she stays until A comes out!

I've been having some light contractions since yesterday. Nothing that hurts or stops me from doing stuff, but definitely something going on.

So now we wait! This is very very VERY exciting!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

34 weeks ... we owe them a car!

We got here. Many of you will remember that back at the end of May, at our first specialist appointment (when we were deathly afraid of TTTS and all other things potentially coming our way), hubby and I shook hands over my (then tiny) belly and made a deal with the babies: you stay in until 34 weeks and we'll buy you a car.

Is it silly for me to think they heard us?! Because it appears that they did.

Tomorrow, at 34w1d, I go back to the MFM. My blood pressure has been climbing every so slowly and then took quite a hike last week. My doc signed disability paperwork so I've been home this week lying around. I had hoped that a few days of lying around would help my blood pressure but then I went in for another NST on Tuesday (after a lovely coffee shop sit down with a friend) and my blood pressure was even higher than when I was working! To say I was disappointed and surprised does not do my emotions justice. When I started and all the way through until a few weeks ago, my blood pressure was always around 116/60. Tuesday's first reading was 139/94 and the second reading was 149/94. So things are looking a bit grim.

The good news is that lying around has REALLY helped my swelling. My feet no longer look like horrible painful (they weren't) sausages. I can see my ankle bones again and can even see a bone or maybe two on the top of each foot. And last night, I forgot to put my hand brace on to go to sleep but when I woke up to pee, I realized my hand wasn't hurting. I didn't put the brace on as an experiment and it wasn't until about 5am that it started to tingle and hurt. But I still didn't put my brace on.

Another scary thing that came out of Tuesday's appointment was that the protein in my urine was 1+. It's been "negative" most of the time and has come back "trace" a few times. They test the protein in one's urine because it can be a sign of pre-eclampsia (so too can elevating blood pressure). So I've got two red flags.

The good news is that my blood work (drawn on Tuesday) came back all within normal range. We see the MFM tomorrow for an ultrasound so we'll check in with him. The blood work may be within normal range, but is it rising? Is that a cause for concern?

I know we asked these girls for 34 weeks, but now I want more. I want them to be chubby and healthy. I want 2 more weeks at least. Keep your fingers crossed for us, please.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The power of RESOLVE

Anasara recently attended the Resolve of New England's super conference. I say "super conference" because it sounds like it was truly amazing and I wish I had had the opportunity to go to one out here (Pacific Northwest). Her positive experience got me thinking about RESOLVE in general and then got me weepy about how much credit I give the RESOLVE Portland group for helping me get and stay pregnant.

If you've never been to a RESOLVE meeting and happen to have one nearby, I urge you TO GO. GO. GO. GO. I suppose there is always a chance you'll regret it but I can't imagine that chance actually coming true. To even the most shy person, who doesn't like to interact with people regularly, I urge you TO GO.

Why? The power of being in a room with women who "get it" and who are going through what you're going through is absolutely, positively PRICELESS. I had looked at going to my first meeting back in spring 2012. The meetings here happen on the third Tuesday of the month and it turned out that I learned about it just after it happened. And then I managed to forget I wanted to go. It wasn't until two weeks after my miscarriage and D&C that I went and let me tell you my ONLY regret: that I hadn't gone sooner. That regret is one I heard from most women who showed up at the meetings. They all wished they found the group sooner.

That first meeting, I chose to open up and talk about our experiences. As I sobbed my way through our "resume" and ended with our recent miscarriage of two weeks earlier, the "ugggs" and groans I heard did not make me sad. They gave me strength. I realized I was in a room where it was ok for me to sob and to talk about having no hope left. And it was also a room full of women who would help me get my hope back and get back into the saddle to try again. I did not go there seeking pity. I don't know what specifically I went there for - it was absolutely a last resort of a zombie me just going through the motions - but I found it, whatever it was. I also found: friendship, safety, understanding, a place to vent, love, similarity and acceptance. I also saw that I was NOT a two-headed monster completely alone in this world of infertility. That this is an epidemic that picks anyone as its victim. And that first night, the other victims were smart, funny, educated, kind, beautiful women who helped me begin the healing process that would allow me to see myself as those positive things once again.

By November, we had a "small group spin off." Four of us met one off-Tuesday at a Japanese restaurant. That was the first and only time we met at a restaurant. Since then - over a year now - the small group meetings have been happening at someone's home. There were only four of us that first small group meeting. The group size has now grown to over 15. Of the four of us who started the small group, two are new moms, I am almost there, and the fourth is 7 weeks pregnant. Of the 15+ in the group, there are at least 6 others (not including me or the 7 week pregnant lady) who are pregnant and on their way to being RESOLVed.

Do I credit RESOLVE with getting me and all those other women pregnant? Not entirely, but certainly to some degree. There is research out there showing that the power of being in a support group is astounding. That women who are engaged in some kind of in-person support group of some kind get pregnant faster despite years of infertility. The power of the hugs and cell phone numbers (for emergency texts in a panic) was invaluable.

Many of us now attend what was initially dubbed "pregnant after infertility" meetings, another group we started. But we don't talk about infertility much at all, and even changed the title to "future moms and beyond" because two women from the small group who are pursuing adoption now come. We talk about car seats and bottle versus breast feeding. We talk about pregnancy symptoms and stroller options. We exchange maternity clothing and any baby items we don't need or got duplicates of. We ply each other with so much information that we walk away happy and content, filled with more than just anxiety about being pregnant. We are filled with love, hope and excitement for what is coming our way.

If you have a RESOLVE (or other) meeting nearby and have been considering going - or even if you have decided you don't want to go - I urge you to get your butt there asap. You can always choose to not go back, but I do suspect you won't make that choice.


Saturday, November 2, 2013

When donor egg doesn't work

I have been sitting on and thinking about this blog post for many months. What does one do when donor egg doesn't work?!

Back in June and then over the summer, I watched the heartache of "when DE doesn't work" in person. And it brought back all the memories from last summer when our DE miracle pregnancy went completely south.

There is a woman here I met through resolve meetings. Let's call her Z. She has become a very good friend outside of infertility stuff and I can't imagine her not being my friend. We have so much in common and see each other - even now as I am 33 weeks pregnant - on a regular basis.

When I met Z, she had just done her fresh DE transfer ... and it had failed. I met her through another resolve member. Z was in a very dark space and, having just come out of a very dark space myself, I wanted to help. We bonded and we both geared up for another transfer: both FETs this time.

My FET worked. Hers did not. That was the last of her embryos and she and her husband were left in a place that felt very much like the beginning of the road (or end of the road): what in the hell next?!

Then, over blogging, I watched Rebecca go through a DE cycle that was also supposed to work. Like Z, she did everything right. She had high quality embryos. And she still got a bfn. She is now bravely gearing up for a transfer with a donor egg embryo and a full-on donor embryo. Please stop over there and wish her luck and support.

And then, through a FB group, I watched another woman who has gone through multiple DE cycles - all of which have failed.

DE is. supposed. to. work. Period. I think it's safe to say that women who go the DE route do not do so lightly. We choose / decide to give up on our own eggs, our own DNA and family legacy and history. We sometimes give up the chance at having our child(ren) look like us. We do so because our drive to experience pregnancy, to share life, to birth a child beats the need to pass on our DNA. Most of us end up saying "I don't want to have a daughter and pass along my infertility problems anyway" when talking about the choice to go DE. We go the DE route knowing that our children will not have our parents' DNA. Our children won't be biologically related to my (the woman's) sister's future children. Even if we get a good medical history on our donor, we will never ever know the full extent of her and her family's medical history so we will never be able to properly and fully answer medical questions at a doctor's office; neither will our donor egg children when they are grown.

DE is supposed to give us what we yearn for, after we choose to give up what comes so naturally and easily to many others. Too often, as I have seen, DE does not work. Is the fall and despair from a failed DE cycle worse than a non-DE cycle? While I have not had a bfn, I did miscarry after a DE cycle and I can tell you that was the worst experience of my IF "career." When we got pregnant and then saw and heard a heartbeat, we thought we had made it out. We would have a baby. Things would finally go our way. To have DE fail was more destructive to me (and my hubby and our marriage) than anything else we experienced.

Most DE transfers happen with perfect, high-quality embryos. Those transfers are supposed to work. It is beyond unfair when they fail once, and even worse when they fail more than once.