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Almost two

19 May

My little J is turning two in a few days, and I realized perhaps that’s why I’ve been a bit more emotional and thin-skinned lately. I’ve been thinking back to two years ago, when I was in the hospital for pre-e. I feel a strange longing for those days spent being watched carefully, sleeping in the hospital bed, ordering meals to my room. Of course it was hard in many ways, but the hard bits fade. The edges blur slightly and you look back and think, it wasn’t so bad.

I even do that with J’s days in the hospital. Sometimes I miss them. Should I feel guilty for that? I don’t miss her being sick or struggling or the sheer agony of the days before and after her surgery, but I kind of miss living there sometimes, which blows my mind. We were practically kicking the door down to get out of there. Yet every time we were admitted for short inpatient stays after the big one, it felt like coming home.

Now, on the almost eve of her second birthday, I am itching to go back and remember the day. I took her birth story post down long ago because of the pictures coming up in image search engines and it all made us nervous. Still, the story is a good one. I get requests for it. So I’m bringing the text of the story back, in case you’d like to take a walk down memory lane with me. If not, skip to the bottom for an update on how she’s doing.

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Turtle’s Birth Story

This is the most surreal blog post I’ve ever written. Turtle is here, you guys. Let me start at the beginning.

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On Monday they ordered more labs to check in on the state of my pre-eclampsia, including bloodwork and another 24-hr urine collection. On Tuesday, I knew my OB would be on call and stopping by sometime in the morning. DH had been leaving the hospital room around 6:45 am to get to work but I asked him to stay this day to hear what she had to say. By 9 am he was getting antsy to get to work and finally decided to leave, even though we had asked our nurse to page Dr. Caring and let her know we were waiting to meet with her.

As he’s heading out the door, our nurse says, Dr. C on the floor and consulting with Dr. Kind’s practice. She would be by soon. So he came back and waited. And I’m so glad he did because she came in and basically said, how do you feel about delivering today? I was 36w3d at that point and my pre-eclampsia seemed to be getting a little bit worse. My blood pressure readings were creeping up and one of the liver indicators in my bloodwork had made a jump. She didn’t want to wait and then have to have an emergency c-section. With Turtle’s condition, we needed to be able to plan ahead a little bit and coordinate with Children’s. So Tuesday, May 21st it would be!

We had about six hours to get ready, which included flying DH’s mom up from the DC area and making all sorts of arrangements. I was a ball of anxiety in these hours, really anxious about everything to do with the surgery. I was trying to live in the moment as much as possible but I’m afraid most of this time is a blur. I did take notice of every one of Turtle’s movements and told myself this was one of the last times I’d ever feel him move inside of me.

Eventually they got me up to labor and delivery and started prepping me for surgery (including the super fun hunt for a place to put an IV in my tiny veins). We planned for DH to be with me during the birth, then he’d go with Turtle to the NICU for stabilization, and eventually over to Children’s. At that point, my mom would come into the OR to be with me for the rest of the surgery. This was an accommodation on the hospital’s part but oh my god, no one knew how important that ended up being.

After they got my spinal in (horrible feeling, I cried), they laid me down and I tried not to think about my naked lower half splayed open for all to see while they catheterized, sterilized, and did god-knows-what-else to me. I was so glad it was my own OB doing the surgery, someone I trusted implicitly and knew well. I kept getting nauseous and the anesthesiologist kept having to fix that. I tried to just focus on a spot on the ceiling and couldn’t help but think how much courage this was requiring and how much of an equal sacrifice a c-section is.

Finally, it was time and they allowed DH to come in and sit by my head behind the curtain. I felt lots of tugging and pulling all over but nothing hurt. I think I remember hearing that they could see the baby. Then more tugging and pulling. Then something about how the baby came out peeing. Then these words that changed my life, “Is it a girl or a boy?”

**************

DH and I met eyes immediately in confusion and, frankly, terror. What did they mean, is it a girl or a boy? Of course it was a boy! We had a MaterniT21 test! We saw boy bits on an ultrasound! Was there some sort of scary ambiguous gender thing going on? It seemed to take forever. The anesthesiologist kept saying, congratulations, we’re just confirming if it’s a boy or a girl. Meanwhile, DH and I are frantic, trying to wrap our heads around the fact that it could possibly be a girl.

We hear some faint cries from the other side of the room and after an eternity, a nurse in yellow scrubs comes over to say, it’s definitely a girl. WHAT! Then she asked DH if he wanted to see her and he was like, um yes! Off he went and off my mind went spinning. At some point, a NICU resident came over to tell me something about meconium, getting a tube in her stomach… I honestly couldn’t even listen, all I could think was, TURTLE IS A GIRL!

They wheeled her over for me to see but she was far away in an isolette and I could barely view her. Then she was gone, DH was gone, and they went to fetch my mom. When she came in, she was all smiles and the nurse told me she hadn’t told her anything yet. I’m sure she was babbling on about something but I just met her eyes and said, “Mom. It’s a GIRL.”

**************

Everyone in the OR, especially my OB, is shocked. We’re all trying to figure out how this could happen. My OB is getting her office on the phone to call Dr. Kind’s office, get ultrasound records and the MaterniT21 test results. She’s resolved to get to the bottom of this. Meanwhile, my mind is still spinning.

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Here’s what I know in recovery: she’s a girl. She’s on her way to Children’s. She looks good. She weighed 7 lbs. 11 oz., same as me, but I was late and she was way early. She scored 8 and 9 on her Apgar. She was born at 3:24 pm on May 21st, 2013. She’s a she.

Then I’m throwing up and they’re starting my 24-hour magnesium sulfate treatment to prevent seizures and the nurse is being amazing and putting ice cold washcloths on my face and I can’t really think about anything. I hear she’s in surgery around 5 and out around 7. I hear she did well. DH calls me and says the NICU nurse wants to talk with me. She tells me Turtle did so well in surgery and the surgeon is really pleased with her results. Her belly was big enough to fit all of the bowel back in and close up nicely. She has a lot of healthy bowel. BUT. There are two blockages (atresias) that will need to be fixed with a subsequent surgery in 6-8 weeks. It’s my worst nightmare and a dream come true all at the same time.

**************

The past few days have been intense. I’ve been so occupied by my own recovery that I haven’t been able to really miss her or fret about her. The magnesium treatment is not at all fun and essentially knocks you out for 24 hours. Still, I was determined to see her on Wednesday, so as soon as my 24 hours were up, my nurse and parents started trying to get my to a place where I could be wheeled across the street to Children’s to see her. The pain and discomfort I felt as soon as I stood up required every ounce of determination I had to make it to the bathroom. I had to, otherwise I could not have gone. They packed me in the chair, catheter and all, popped some Per.cosset and even though I felt like hell and was really only about halfway with it, I got there. I saw her. I touched her that day for the first time. All I could do was reach into her isolette and stroke her head and cheeks but I did it.

The next day, yesterday, was a little bit better and with DH’s loving help I was able to shower and see her again, and finally hold her and fall in love. By this time, everyone was on our case about the name. It was hard to say goodbye to the perfect boy name we had for a boy Turtle (we’re still not revealing it and might save it for the unknown future). It felt like saying goodbye to the son we had been bonding with and envisioning since December.

We were determined to name her ASAP though. It just felt like she NEEDED a name, we couldn’t keep calling her “baby girl.” So yesterday we pow-wowed over lunch while the grandmas watched over her at Children’s and narrowed it down to three names (first and middle, all different). I felt strongly about one, DH loved another, so we compromised and went with the third, which we both loved.

Blog world, I’m so proud to introduce you to my darling daughter. Our wild, unpredictable little girl.

I’ll likely still call her Turtle on here for now but wanted to share her name because I’m oh so proud of her.

In terms of the gastroschisis, all of her bowel was able to be placed back in her belly on her birth day. She came through the surgery like a champ and the surgeons, like I said, were so pleased with the result. However, we’re still looking at another 6 weeks or more until they can get in there to repair the blocked portions of bowel, and then possibly another 6 weeks or more after that until she can leave the hospital. It’s a long haul but I feel surprisingly okay with all of it. And just so, so lucky to have our precious little girl here with us after EVERYTHING. Infertility, IVF, vanishing twin, early bleeding, gastroschisis, breech position, pre-eclampsia, no one ever said it would be easy and it wasn’t but she is a miracle and she is here.

ps. She is 100% a girl. A strong, feisty, pulling her tubes out girl. They confirmed her uterus and ovaries in surgery just to make sure. The MaterniT21 mix up is being blamed on the vanishing twin. The ultrasound showing us “boy parts” was early, around 14 weeks, when a mix up can easily occur. After that, we couldn’t see anything due to the gastroschisis. And that, my friends, is how even the best of modern medicine and 30+ ultrasounds can miss the fact that you’re having a girl, not a boy.

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And now, she is almost two years old. She is walking, running, climbing, sliding, balancing, kicking, dancing, even doing yoga with me. And she has more words than I can count and is starting to pay attention to pronunciation. (Big Bird is now just Big Bird, “dede” no longer.) She’s stringing little phrases together. Counting, “one thumb, TWO thumbs!” (She very much loves having two thumbs.) Like most little girls, she is equal parts sass and love. But she’s friendlier than most and generally loves life. Doing things. Being outside! It’s all the best thing ever.

On the medical side, we are still challenged by her bacterial overgrowth. But she did get her g-tube out a few weeks ago! That was a victory, for sure. But it won’t feel complete until she has surgery to close the hole, which doesn’t seem to want to close on its own. It’s more of a procedure than a full surgery, but it does require general anesthesia so a part of me is already nervous about it.

Still, as the months continue to roll by, and the person she is continues to emerge, all the pain and anxiety described above gets minimized. Which is good and natural, but some days, like today, you want to hang on. And remember. And fist bump your former self and your husband and your baby and everyone because, we are the lucky ones who survived and thrived. And I won’t ever forget that.

A note from my Dad

24 Jan

Just got this email from my Dad and had to repost here in full, because he’s the best ever and because I want to remember it forever.

Shel,

Hope you are continuing to feel better overall.   It was so very nice to get that pic from you yesterday.   It seems about right from the time we saw you at Christmas to now.   You look great and also lovely and also beautiful.   I am grateful for all of us reaching the cusp of parenthood/grandparenthood.  It is an exciting time both for the new experiences we are encountering along the way, and for the always present jitters we feel about the unknown.   But that is the way the future is and, historically speaking, always has been…unknown until we get there.   I know there is always so much to think about, but in between making lists and plans, do take moments each day to reflect upon and take pleasure in the miracles that are occurring within you and around you.

Dad

Good advice for all those struggling with the transition from struggling to get pregnant to struggling with pregnancy after infertility (you know who you are!).

Okay, I might have to go cry now.

Scary points

12 Oct

It hit me last night, just as I was drifting off to sleep, why I’m so crazy anxious these days. It’s because this is the general time frame when my only other dips into the pregnancy waters have ended. With my first miscarriage, I was so naive and out of sorts that I honestly don’t even know how far we got exactly. I want to say 6w4d, but I’m not entirely certain. I know we got to the ultrasound where we should have seen a heartbeat, and we did not. I know we never saw 7 weeks.

My chemical? Really went south between the 2nd and 3rd beta. Sound familiar? Of course the numbers were low from the beginning. My first beta was 17, the second was 44 (doubled! More than! Clearly didn’t matter!), the third was 15. And I’m also trying to take heart in the fact that during that whole roller coaster, my betas were each 48 hours apart. I’m taking it as a good sign that they decided they didn’t need to repeat the third beta until a week from Wednesday. The same was the case for Theresa and she just saw two amazing little heartbeats!

This goes back to a conversation I remember having with Cristy at some point (I can’t remember if it was on the podcast or not), that everyone who has experienced miscarriage or baby loss has a “scary point” in pregnancy, where their loss(es) happened in the past. I was talking yesterday to a support group friend who is about two weeks ahead of me and also pg with twins. She’s naturally worried, of course, but not a basket case like me. She has never lost though (and knock on everything, I hope she never will). I was reading back through Alissa’s blog last night too, and at the eight week mark she wrote:

“So today I am 8 weeks and I can’t believe I am starting all over again. Everyone hates the worry and the stress of the first trimester and honestly I can tell you that I have been doing pretty well with it. Of course I am nervous for each ultrasound, hoping with everything I have that I see that sweet little heartbeat. But I am more nervous for the second trimester. That is when everything went to hell for us. So for now, I am trying to stay calm and believe that this will work out however it needs to. At this point, I can’t do anything much to alter the outcome, so I will trust in my little baby. One week at a time.”

Her scary point is the point at which she lost Michael and Alena. Speaking of which, today is their angelversary. Please go read Alissa’s moving tribute and send her some love today! Wait til you see the very special present Alissa and her husband got for the twins.

So this is my scary point. There’s some comfort in realizing that, knowing there’s a real reason behind the madness inside my head (which by the way guys, you’ve only seen the tip on iceberg).  I’m also so hesitant to actually call myself “pregnant.” I was looking at my HPT lineup photo yesterday at work and noticed that I feel so removed from them. I’ll have trouble doing that until we have a successful ultrasound (if we ever do). We’ve never ever seen a heartbeat on an ultrasound. So even if the third beta is good, I’m still going be a basket case. I’ve got two weeks of basket casery ahead of me, if this journey continues. Guess I might as well settle in and get used to it!

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In other news, I’ve got a real tale from the waiting room for you. I met a woman from my clinic while waiting for my bloodwork on Wednesday who has been through 5 IUIs and 3 IVFs. She’s never had a positive pregnancy test and never had anything to freeze. She was there for her beta following her third IVF cycle but she said she took an HPT the day before and it was negative. My heart went out to her! She said she’s looking at February for their fourth round. I asked her if she was planning on having any further testing before entering into another round. Karyotyping? Endometrial biopsy? Anything? These terms all seemed foreign to her. The crazy thing is – she’s a physician! She said she was doing her fellowship at Harvard no less. She has about six months before her fellowship ends and she has to move back down south, where of course there is no IF coverage. So she’s trying to squeeze in one more cycle before then. At this point, I politely suggested she get a second opinion. I know I’ll probably never see her again, but I hope, hope, hope she finds her way to success.

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There was so much good news around the blogosphere this morning!

Ali @ Not All Dreams are Free got her BFP follow FET #1!

B @ Just Cycling Along got good news on beta #4 following a little scare!

And now for something completely different, Keiko @ The Infertility Voice is going to be on The Katie Show!

Go wish these ladies luck! Love good news.

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5 days til beta!

All Great Achievements Require Time.

4 Jul

I appreciate so much about this short documentary. Its silent strength, its ability to tell a story purely through visuals, without any narrative and very little dialogue. The picture of a young boy working very, very hard to get somewhere.

And even though we live a world apart and our paths will likely never cross, I learned something from Amar when I watched this. We have something in common, Amar and I. A determination to see things through, to work hard for what we know we can have.

All great achievements require time. I’ll win this war, battle by battle. And Amar, it goes without saying, is going places.

Amar (all great achievements require time) from Pilgrim Films on Vimeo.

Waiting for period

1 Jul

It’s always a strange sensation for an infertile, to actually be anxiously, impatiently, hopefully awaiting the arrival of her period. It goes against the very laws of our existence. An existence that’s devoted to achieving one singular goal: getting pregnant. Which of course, implies the absence of a period.

But sometimes, we need it to come, so that we can get pregnant. So that we can move on to things that give us a better chance to reaching that ever elusive goal.

For me, this is a goal that has nearly eluded me, save for two early losses, for more than two whole years. Over two years. Two years is a long time. It’s time enough for others to have not one, but two babies. Time enough to watch the leaves change color and then drop and then grow again and thrive, and then change color and then drop and then grow again and thrive, and then change color and drop again.

We live in a cyclical world. Nature, at her very core, is cycles. This can be a cruel fact for an infertile. We are rocks, where the whole world is rushing and swirling around us. Going in, going out. We are static. We are waiting.

We are rocks and we are strong but we long to rush and swirl with everyone else. We live our lives, trudging from one wait to another. We’re waiting to ovulate, then we’re waiting to test. Then we’re waiting for our period. Waiting for the RE’s office to call. Or we’re waiting to start an assisted cycle. Or we’re waiting to start Lupron, waiting for our baseline, waiting for our retrieval, waiting for the call, waiting for the transfer, waiting to test. Waiting for period.

I’ll never grow used to waiting. I am, by nature, an impatient person.

I don’t know if it’s sad anymore. Is it sad, when someone doesn’t get what they want? Happens all the time, every day, around the world. Is it sad, when someone doesn’t get what they want, when what they wanted was something ingrained in the very fiber of their DNA? Perhaps, a little. I’ve stopped thinking it’s so sad. Some people have babies, some people don’t. Some people never own a pair of shoes. Some people go their whole lives without ever feeling full in their belly. Some people witness horrible crimes, some people experience those crimes. Some people have lots of money. Most people don’t. Life isn’t fair, but it’s been more than kind to me.

I’m starting to make my peace with, however this turns out, that will be my lot. The cards I’ve been dealt. I won’t rest until we’ve traveled every avenue. But if after we’ve done all that, our arms are still empty of children, I will find a way to peace and happiness.

But for now I wait. Wait for a period that must show before Thursday’s baseline.

Teabag Tidbit no. 2

25 Jun

You must know that you can swim

through every tide

and change of time.

That was the wisdom on my teabag today and I thought it worth sharing. I’ve written about how infertility has made me stronger, more comfortable facing my fears and more confident that I can overcome some of the hardest obstacles imaginable. All of these things have made me more and more secure in who I am and what’s yet to come.

My friends and family have all been amazing as we’ve embarked on this journey. My parents remembered when I would be starting Lupron and made a point to reach out to me with words of encouragement and well wishes. It meant a lot. And yesterday on our weekly call we talked about everything that’s to come with IVF in great detail. It means the world to me that I can be this open with them as they support me through all of this. I really have a set of amazing parents for whom I couldn’t be more grateful and whom I hope to emulate one day!

Then one of my best friends send us a little good luck card that arrived over the weekend. It means so much that these people are taking note of my important days and going out of their way to be there for us. As I suspected when I made a goal of drawing in my support network in advance of the cycle, even though most of them can’t relate to what I’m going through, they still can be there for me. And they are. And I’m grateful.

In other news, I’m getting nervous about how everything will work out with taking time off from work. I want to take one sick day each on my retrieval day and my transfer day, then at least 1-2 days of working from home after that. My office has said they will support whatever I need but it’s still going to be potentially a week that I’m out of the office, depending on how the procedures fall, how fertilization goes, etc. The weird thing is, I’m less concerned about my actual work getting done, more just concerned about how it will “look” that I am out for so long. Though my superiors are aware of the situation, everyone else doesn’t know. That is intentional because there are a lot of young people at my office and I don’t really want it getting out to that whole group.

To my IVF friends out there, how much time did you take off from work around your retrieval and transfer?

Teabag Tidbit no. 1

11 Jun

Here’s some wisdom from my teabag today that I thought particularly fitting. Perhaps I’ll start sharing these with you all from time to time, at least the very best ones.

Be proud of who you are.

I really appreciate this on today, my birthday! I may not be a mom to any little kidlets yet, but I have a great family that loves me, two amazing animals that fill my heart every day, I have my health, a job, and a wonderful life. I am proud of who I am and everything I’ve accomplished so far. And I can’t wait for what’s yet to come!

I also wanted to share this additional piece of wisdom from the card my parents sent me today:

Hold on to what’s important.
Let worries go.
No matter how you look at it,
some things just don’t make sense.
The way you choose to carry on
is what really
matters.

 Touché, padres. Touché.