Wednesday, December 7, 2011

One Year Ago This Week...

One year ago this week we found out that I was pregnant from our first IVF cycle. I'm not usually sentimental about small milestones, but this time it feels appropriate to reflect.

We are so very thankful to have made it through pregnancy and delivery relatively unscathed. We are eternally grateful for our wonderful family and friends who supported and encouraged us along the way. We are ecstatic that baby Eli is healthy and thriving...

Thanksgiving day outfit change... one of many 'cause I like to throw up most of what I eat.

Also, adjusting to life with a baby is really, really hard.

I understand better than most just how fortunate we are to be able to stand here today with our perfect, beautiful baby. And I get that it could be so much harder -- we are extremely lucky that I carried him to full term and we avoided the hell of coping with a baby in the NICU. I'm thrilled that he didn't inherit my heart defect or any serious medical problems for that matter...

But wow, we were so focused on getting a baby, we were totally unprepared for actually raising one. I spent the first few months of Eli's life torn up with guilt about how hard I found all of the changes. I thought I understood exhaustion before; as it turns out I had no idea. I thought breastfeeding would be the most natural, easiest thing in the world; nothing prepared me for the excruciating pain at first and then later the frustration of having a baby who didn't nurse well. I assumed I would fall in love with Eli at first sight and adore every moment I spent with him; however there was very little I found loveable about a constantly crying baby I couldn't seem to soothe.

A year ago, I was convinced that finally having my own baby would instantly erase all of the grief and sadness from my 5 failed pregnancies. Today, I understand that there's nothing easy about living with a baby and depression doesn't just lift overnight. I was shocked to discover that finally having my dream come true actually made me more depressed. Every time Eli cried (which was a lot), I cried too. I thought maternity leave would be a time of wonder and discovery while I got to know my baby, but in reality I was too exhausted and overwhelmed to find it very enjoyable. I know some women find the newborn stage amazing and fulfilling, but I'm not one of them. I wanted to love it more than anything especially given my history, and I despised myself for feeling miserable instead.

I'm so fortunate to have family who helped me get through the dark days. Tracy and Dave, thanks again for being there for me every night while Chad was overseas and I felt like I was drowning. Mom and Dad, thank you so much for making it possible for Eli and I to stay with you in Connecticut for a few weeks. Jacque, Nicole, and Shelley, thank you for sharing your stories and helping me feel less alone. Chad, I love you so much for everything you do to make my life easier (and especially for taking over the night shift so I can get more sleep!) All of you helped me regain my perspective so I was finally able to bond with my baby.

Eli and my mom at the end of our CT visit in October

This week, Eli is 4 months old. For the past month, things have been so much better. We made it through the ordeal of sleep training (thanks, Dr. Ferber) and now he frequently sleeps through the night, in his own room. He is full of smiles and adorable baby giggles. His face lights up in delight when we greet him after a nap. Finally, finally I have completely fallen for him. Picking him up from day care is the best part of my day.

Playing on his activity mat a couple of weeks ago

Eli may never be an easy child, but I'm okay with that now. He's perfect as he is and I can't imagine life without him. As Jeff Atwood said in his blog, raising a child is 49% the most incredible pain in the ass and 51% the most sublime joy you've ever felt. It's the 1% that makes all the difference.

Smiling at Tracy last weekend during our holiday photo shoot. Thanks again, Tracy!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Quick Eli Update

I apologize for not writing sooner, but as you can imagine, life has gotten a LOT more hectic! Chad and I are getting the hang of things, but it's a slow process. We are extremely grateful to everyone who has been helping us get through the last four weeks: Chad's parents, my sister and her fiance, and of course my parents. I don't know how we'd cope without them! My mom in particular has been a life saver and we can't thank her enough for being willing to stay a few weeks longer to help us out.

It's already been a month since Eli was born, and he's doing great overall. He's frequently fussy, which has made it difficult to find time to write or do anything other than care for him. He's eating a ton and gaining weight and was up to 8lbs 1 ounce at his 2 week checkup. We're guessing he's probably close to 10 pounds now as he's already wearing 3 month clothes. We have good days and bad days; nights where he sleeps 4.5 - 5 hours at a time, and nights where he barely makes it past 2 hours. We can't wait for his schedule to even out more.

I'm planning to write a detailed account of our birth story complete with pictures since Tracy was brave enough to photograph it. Hopefully I'll have a chance to write it within the next month or so. I've included a few of Eli from the photo shoot Tracy did when he was 5 days old to tide you over for now.

Eli's Birth Stats:

Full Name: Eli Anderle Verrall
Birthday: August 5th, 2011, 12:54 PM
Birth Weight: 6 lbs, 14 ounces
Length: 19.5 inches
Eye color: Dark Blue (we suspect they will change to brown)
Hair: straight, dark brown
Apgar Score: 9 (out of 10)
Labor length: 11 hours + 20 minutes of pushing
Epidural: Yes
Days in hospital: 2.5

Friday, August 5, 2011

August 5th: induction!

It's officially delivery day! I'm lying in my hospital bed, iv in one arm, blood pressure cuff on the other, getting antibiotics, fluids, and pitocin to induce labor. Two monitors are strapped to my belly, one to track the baby's heart rate and one to measure contractions. We've been here since midnight. Our lovely nurse, Nicole, comes in every 30 minutes to take my blood pressure and increase the pitocin.

We should have a good idea by 6 am how things are going to go. I came in at 3 cm dilated and 60% effaced after having lots of (painful) early labor contractions for the past 3 days. Despite the pitocin, I don't think I'm in an active labor pattern yet. I'm having lots of contractions, but they don't seem to be all that regular. I'm uncomfortable, but it's not unbearable. So far so good!

It's interesting that I already started dilating on my own. Dr. P. said she wouldn't expect me to go much longer naturally even if we hadn't planned on inducing labor. I was still fairly comfortable up until Tuesday, however once the painful contractions began that morning, I was totally ready to serve Eli an eviction notice.

I'll write another update tomorrow after the baby is here!

Final stats:
Gestational age: 38 weeks, 2 days
Weight: Dr. P's guess is 7 lbs
Vegetable comparison: watermelon
My total weight gain: 13 lbs

Monday, August 1, 2011

Maternity Photos

I apologize for not posting photos of myself until now -- I'm generally not a big fan of having my picture taken. However, Tracy and Dave were extremely generous and patient with us and offered to do a maternity photo shoot a couple of weeks ago. I'm really happy with the photos. Thank you guys so much!!

Here are a few of my favorites:

Everything continues to go well. I'm off work this week and enjoying my last few days of relaxation. I'll update again on Thursday with the final stats before my induction later than evening (!!).

Thursday, July 21, 2011

36 weeks

I find it pretty incredible that I made it to the ninth month of pregnancy!

I'm happy to say that I'm still feeling pretty good overall. I'm still working full time and probably would continue all the way until my delivery date if my parents weren't coming into town the week before. Since I'd like to spend a little time with them while I'm still independent, my last day of work will be July 29th. I also get my 5 year service award that day, which is a full size, steel sword. Pretty cool!

Today's appointment went fairly well. Baby Eli cooperated with the monitoring session for once, however I had 5 contractions within 30 minutes. Dr. P. ended up checking me to see if the contractions were actually causing any cervical changes (and thus if I was experiencing, or at risk of pre term labor). As it turns out, I'm still closed up tight, so the likelihood of early labor is slim. Unfortunately, that also means that my induction will likely be fairly lengthy unless something changes in the next two weeks...

I also got my prescription for heparin injections today. I'll switching to that twice a day until delivery. We've decided that I will not go back on blood thinners after birth since Dr. P. feels that bleeding complications with my uc outweigh the slight risk of developing a clot.

As far as preparations go, we are just about ready! Baby clothes are washed, hospital bags are packed, car seat is purchased... I have two pediatrician appointments lined up since we have to choose one before the birth. Other than that, we're just in waiting mode.

Today's Stats

Gestational age: 36 weeks, 1 day
Weight: 5 lbs, 14 ounces
Percentile: 33rd
Heart rate: 157 bpm
My weight gain: 12 pounds
Weeks until delivery: 2!
Weeks left of work: 1

Thursday, July 7, 2011

34 weeks & things are looking good!

We can all breathe a little easier today as the baby is looking very healthy and gained some weight. He's still a little behind his former growth curve, but not as far behind as two weeks ago. He's now in the 40% percentile for his age.

His kidneys are still holding a very small amount of extra fluid, so they will need to be checked by his pediatrician after birth. However, Dr. P. thinks that it will probably resolve without any intervention as the amount is barely over the normal cutoff (6mm instead of 5mm).

In other news, I met with my gastroenterologist last week to discuss my colitis flare and birth options. He said my flare sounds pretty mild and there's a good chance it will resolve by delivery. Even better, he doesn't think there's any need for a c-section at this point since UC doesn't typically cause fistulas unless it's very severe (which mine is not). So, we are currently planning on an induction around August 5th. I'll know the final date and time on Monday!

I'm feeling very fortunate these days. I'm thrilled that I'm almost at the end of the pregnancy (something which I never believed would actually happen, based on my history), and even better, the third trimester has been pretty easy overall. I know of so many women who are just miserable at this point, and I was warned over and over about how difficult it would be. Amazingly, I still feel really good. I'm not experiencing swelling, or varicose veins, or hemorrhoids, or severe heartburn, or almost any of the myriad of third trimester discomforts. My back is a little sore at the end of the day, and I'm slightly more tired than normal, but honestly, I think the first trimester was a lot harder than this one. Dr. P. said she thinks this can be attributed to how much I love my job as I'm really motivated to work as long as possible. She said if I hated my job, I'd probably be miserable and in pain. Interesting, no?

Today's Stats:
Gestational Age: 34 weeks, 1 day
Baby's Weight: 5 lbs, 1 ounce
Fruit Comparison: Honeydew Melon
Weeks until delivery: 4
Weeks until I stop work: 3
My weight change: + 11 lbs

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Nursery Decorations

This past long weekend was a productive one. We finished framing and hanging pictures, broke down a mountain of boxes, washed and folded baby laundry, put together the stroller, packed the hospital bag, took a trip to Ikea, and Chad finally tackled cleaning up and organizing our disaster office. Somewhere in there I found time to get a massage (wonderful) and we watched 3 towns' fireworks shows from our back yard. Oh, and I nearly blew us all up by starting an inferno in our gas grill... luckily I managed to turn the propane off before it caught fire too. Anyone know how to clean fire extinguisher foam off a grill?? :-P

Now that the nursery is done, I'm feeling much less stressed. It's really starting to set in that this baby will be here in just a few more weeks! I'm excited and nervous at the same time -- I can't wait to meet him, but I'm also really not looking forward to the delivery part...

Anyway, here are a few pictures of the nursery:

We spent an afternoon painting these.

The tree and monsters are vinyl decals.

My next ultrasound is tomorrow afternoon, so I will update you afterwards with the latest stats.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

32 Weeks

Following a rough night of frequent contractions and insomnia, today's ultrasound was also somewhat disturbing. While the baby is still looking normal and healthy overall, he only gained 2 ounces in the past two weeks. With so little growth, he slipped from the 60% percentile to the 33rd. Dr. P. feels like it's too early to be overly concerned right now as this could just be an anomaly (maybe due to the terrible cold/flu I had last week?). However, if his growth doesn't pick up within the next two weeks, then we may be looking at a problem requiring intervention...

The other possible issue is that one of his kidneys is retaining slightly more urine than is normal. Normal range is less than 4mm, and his measured 5mm. Again, Dr. P. said not to worry about it yet as slight abnormal readings are common with baby boys and usually resolves by birth. However, if we continue to see a trend over the next few weeks, then he may need a procedure to correct it.

In better news, my blood pressure is still looking good and the ulcerative colitis flare I've been coping with is possibly starting to settle down. We're really hoping it does so I can avoid a scheduled c section... Speaking of which, we also have our delivery date set! If I'm induced, it will be at midnight on August 5th. If I have a c-section, it will be at 7 AM. For the time being, Dr. P. has the OR booked for the c-section route since that is currently the most likely scenario.

We finally have a picture to show today; however it's not the greatest. Since the baby is head down, we're not likely to get many more decent photos.

Following my ultrasound, I spent the next 40 minutes in the monitoring room while the nurse chased the baby around with the monitors in an attempt to do a non-stress test. He wasn't very cooperative and kept moving away from the monitor every time she got it placed! Eventually she got it in the right spot long enough to determine that everything looks good.

This Week's Stats:
Gestational Age: 32 weeks, 1 day
Weeks until delivery: 6 (!)
Weight: 3 pounds, 13 ounces
Heart Rate: 125 bmp baseline with accelerations up to 155 bmp
Fruit Comparison: Winter Squash
My weight change: +10 pounds (no change from last time)
Stretch Marks: nothing obvious; maybe a tiny one in my belly button.

Monday, June 20, 2011

First Non-Stress Test

Today was my first NST (non-stress test) at the hospital. From now until delivery, I'll be going every Monday and Thursday for these tests. It's basically just simple monitoring to ensure that the baby is doing well and to check for signs of pre-eclampsia and pre-term labor. Today, the nurse took my blood pressure (normal), did a quick ultrasound to see how the baby was positioned (head down), and then hooked me up to two monitors around my belly for 20 minutes. The first monitor records the baby's heart rate and the second contractions. They want to see the heart rate at a good baseline level (anything between 110 - 160 bmp is normal; our baby's is around 145 bmp) and then accelerate when he moves. What they don't want to see are any long decelerations that don't come back to baseline quickly.

For the first 10 minutes or so, the baby was sleeping as he'd been super active all morning, so the nurse woke him up with a vibrator (!) against my belly. After that, he rolled and kicked like crazy. He had one brief deceleration during the test, but since it was quick and his heart rate came back up to baseline and stayed there afterwards, she said it wasn't concerning. Most likely he compressed his cord a little during one of his rolls.

We're relieved that everything still appears stable despite me losing my mucus plug yesterday. This rather gross substance helps to prevent infection and doesn't normally come out this early. However, since I'm not having increased contractions since losing it, the doctors aren't concerned.

I return on Thursday for my ultrasound and another NST session. Cross your fingers he cooperates so we can get a good picture!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

30 Weeks

There's not a whole lot to report this week. Baby continues to do well and is as active as always. I'm starting to feel huge and experiencing plenty of third trimester fun such as heartburn, backache, insomnia, etc. Fortunately all of that is minor and so far I haven't had any issues with swelling or blood pressure.

We're pretty sure the baby's not deaf as he is very responsive to music. We've been watching the tv show "So You Think You Can Dance" and he kicks and rolls around like crazy during the whole thing! It's pretty weird to watch my belly rippling and bulging from his gymnastics.

We have a good start made on getting the nursery set up. All of the furniture is in the room (pics are up on Facebook or you can email me if you want to see them). We will work on decorations this weekend, so hopefully I'll have finished pics for this blog by my next update.

Tracy and my good friend Stephanie are hosting a local baby shower for me this Saturday. I'm very excited and can't wait to celebrate with everyone!

Today's ultrasound was quick and uneventful. Baby was facing inwards, so no photos again. Dr. P checked the umbilical cord blood flow and it's still looking great. :)

Today's stats
Gestational age: 30 weeks 1 day
Baby's weight: 3 lbs 11 ounces
Weight percentile: 62%
Heartrate: 151 bpm
Fruit comparison: winter squash
My total weight gain: + 10 pounds

Thursday, May 26, 2011

28 Weeks

If our baby was born this week, he would have a 95% chance of survival. Fortunately, there's no sign of those odds being tested as everything continues to go well. My blood pressure is still normal and hasn't begun to rise yet.

At today's ultrasound, we discussed kick counts and birth options (or possible lack thereof). With respect to kicking, I'm supposed to start tracking how long it takes the baby to kick 10 times and keep a log every day. If his normal kick pattern changes or decreases, then there could be a problem. While I haven't been actually physically tracking his kicking so far, he's generally very active especially after I eat. He reaches 10 kicks in about 2 minutes! This afternoon, work took us out to see Kung Fu Panda 2, and the baby kicked constantly throughout the whole movie.

As for birth options, at the moment a c-section is looking more and more likely. Up until recently, my ulcerative colitis had been pretty quiet, but over the last few weeks it's started to flare. Unfortunately, if it's still active by delivery, the best option for me will be a c-section to reduce the risk of a fistula or intestinal tear. My flares usually last for a couple of months, so it remains to be seen if it will be quiet again by early August...

Today's ultrasound pictures aren't really good enough to post, so no eye candy this week. Sorry!

This Week's Stats:
Gestational Age: 28 weeks, 1 day
Baby's Weight: 2 lbs 9 ounces
Heart Rate: 143 bmp
Vegetable Comparison: Eggplant
My Weight change: + 8 pounds

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I passed the GTT!!

Great news -- I do NOT have gestational diabetes! I passed the GTT with flying colors. Woohoo! I'm so relieved as I was genuinely concerned that I was going to fail it. Now I can thoroughly enjoy our anniversary dinner and dessert this weekend. =)

Since Tuesday was our 3 year wedding anniversary, Chad is taking me to Stonehill Tavern, which is a very upscale establishment within the St. Regis resort in Dana Point. I'm excited -- the food is amazing and the views of the ocean at sunset are really breathtaking.

It's hard to believe that we've already been married for 3 years. It's certainly been an eventful journey so far. The last year especially has been very emotional with so many ups and downs from infertility treatments and miscarriages. I'm glad that our relationship has remained strong despite the challenges. I know it has been difficult for Chad to cope with my anxiety and depression, but he's done a great job of being supportive. I know we're both thrilled to finally be able to move past all that and get to start the next phase of our lives. Hopefully we're able to handle all of the changes without too many growing pains!

In other news, our first shipment of fancy cloth diapers arrived yesterday. They are bumGenius 4.0's and are a pocket diaper, which means you simply stuff an absorbant pad inside of them, add a disposable liner, and voila, they're as easy as a disposable to put on. When it's time for a diaper change, we'll simple dump the liner and its icky contents in the toilet and throw the diaper into the washing machine. So much easier than the old style prefolds and plastic pants and pins and swishing disgusting diapers in the toilet! I figure I still need another dozen or so. I'll probably get some Fuzzibunz and maybe some Bummis (aren't the names a riot??). Thanks again to Mandi for all of her thoughts on brands and detergents and general awesome advice!

I love how soft and colorful cloth diapers are!

Hopefully whichever day care we use won't have a problem with them as they really are nearly as simple to use as disposables. =)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Glucose Challenge Test Blues

Yesterday was my fourteenth ultrasound as well as tests to check my thyroid, blood sugar, iron levels, etc. The glucose challenge test consists of drinking a super disgusting, sickly sweet cool-aid type drink and then having blood drawn 1 hour later to check blood sugar levels. The purpose is to screen for gestational diabetes (GD). The cutoff level for passing the test is 140 mg/dl. Of course I failed the test; my reading came back at 149 mg/dl. :-( The good news is that it doesn't automatically mean that I have GD. In fact, my nurse said that 90% of women who fail by such a small amount ultimately don't have GD.

The next step is to take the 3 hour glucose tolerance test, in which I will fast overnight and then drink even more of the disgusting sugary drink, followed by blood draws every hour for 3 hours. Fun! If I fail two or more of those readings, then I'll be diagnosed with GD. Unfortunately, I already suspect that I'll fail at least the initial fasting draw, as it has to be below 95 mg/dl and my typical fasting reading is around 105...

In happier news, I had another great ultrasound. The baby continues to do well and is measuring in the 50% percentile. The placenta is also still looking very normal as is the umbilical cord blood flow. So far there's no indication that my anticardiolipin syndrome is causing any problems, so we can assume that the blood thinner is doing its job.=)

I think he has Chad's long fingers.

This week's stats:
Gestational Age: 26 weeks, 1 day
Heart Rate: 140 bmp
Weight: 1 pound, 15 ounces
Fruit Comparison: Still an eggplant
My weight change: +6 pounds
Cravings: Steak and lemon meringue pie

Thursday, April 28, 2011

24 Weeks -- Viability!

If our baby was born today, he would have a 25% chance of surviving. His odds get better every week he stays in utero. The good news is that my blood pressure is still normal and hasn't begun to rise yet, so there's no danger of an early delivery at this point. I'm crossing my fingers that it stays down for awhile longer!

Dr. P. did a thorough echo of the baby's heart as well. Everything looks totally normal. Her thought is that if he actually has inherited any sort of heart defect from me, it's very minor and won't be detectable until after birth. He definitely doesn't have anything as severe as my defect was as it would have been very obvious on the echo by this point. So that's great news!

He gained over half a pound over the last two weeks, which explains why I've been so tired lately. His growth is on target for his age and he's in the 51% percentile, which is great. If my blood pressure had started to be an issue, we'd  expect him to be below the 10% percentile.

Last week I overdid it a bit and had quite a few braxton hicks contractions and some brown spotting. I'm still getting contractions any time I stand for more than 20ish minutes. However, they aren't the painful kind and they go away if I lay down, so Dr. P isn't too concerned at this point. She advised me to continue limiting my activity since it's pretty clear that my body can't handle very much. :-/

I can now frequently see him moving my belly around. That is so weird! He's also starting to respond to loud noises -- Tracy whistled at my belly last night and he responded with a hard kick!

This week's stats:
Gestational Age: 24 weeks, 1 day
Baby's Weight: 1 lb 9 ounces
Heartrate: 145 bpm
Fruit comparison: Eggplant
My weight gain so far: 4 lbs

Friday, April 15, 2011

Ultrasound #12

Yesterday was ultrasound #12. This little guy has a huge array of pictures already, starting at 5 days post conception and then every other week (at least) until now. My sister made a beautiful baby shower signing board with some of the ultrasound photos. I can't wait to fill in the empty spot with a newborn shot in a few short months...

Everything continues to go well. Baby is growing normally and is as active as always. My blood pressure was at the lowest it's been yet, which made my nurse happy. I've had a few braxton hicks contractions, but those are perfectly normal and they are few and far between so far. Since I've gone 5 weeks without bleeding, I'm finally allowed to increase my activity level somewhat. Dr. P. said I can do light walking for 15 minutes, but then need to sit for 15 minutes. I'm pretty sure I can handle longer than that since a few of our recent shopping trips have been well over an hour (whoops).

Last weekend my mom, sister, grandmother, and aunt hosted a family baby shower for me. It went really well and I was really touched by how generous everyone was. Thank you all so much!!! Between the clothes my friends have given us and the baby shower gifts, this baby is going to be well-equipped. We squeezed as much stuff as we could into our soaker tub since it makes a great storage vessel now that I can't take hot baths. We have another pile of boxes along the wall in our bedroom. I'm looking forward to decorating the nursery in a couple of months. =)

This week's Stats:
Gestational Age: 22 weeks, 1 day
Fruit comparison: Papaya
Baby's Weight: 15 ounces
Heart Rate: 146 bpm
Kicking: Lots! Especially after I eat.
Cravings: Not too many. Gummy Bears are pretty tasty. =)
Aversions: Still chicken
Weight change: +2 pounds

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

19 weeks

Well, 18 weeks, 6 days, but close enough to say that I'm at least at the halfway point since I'll be induced at 38 weeks!

Today's ultrasound went well. The baby has finally moved up some and my belly is popping out a bit more. Fortunately this also means that the placenta previa has resolved and the edge of the placenta is far enough up that it shouldn't cause any more issues.


I overdid it on Saturday by walking around at the farmer's market and grocery store and had a minor bleed. Whoops. Today there's still a small amount of blood hanging around between the amniotic sac and the wall of the uterus. So, I'm still on modified activity for the next few weeks while it resolves. I really need to remember to cancel my gym membership since it's highly unlikely I'll be able to go again until after the birth...

Anyway, Dr. P. checked the baby's organs and took measurements again and everything still looks perfectly normal. There's no sign of cleft lip, club feet, or heart defects. And he's definitely still a 'he.' =)

Still a boy!
 Today's Stats:
Gestational Age: 18 weeks, 6 days
Baby's Weight: 9 ounces
Fruit Comparison: Mango
My Weight: -1 lb
Baby's heart rate: 145 bpm
Cravings: Chinese food
Aversions: Chicken and sometimes eggs
Next appointment: March 30th

Big, blurry feet!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

More complications

In my last update, I mentioned how I've been holding my breath waiting for something else to go wrong. Well, it did. On Tuesday afternoon, I had another scary bleeding episode.

It happened very much the same as last time. I was sitting at my desk when I felt a sudden gush of blood. I ran to the bathroom and lost bunch more all at once. After 5 minutes or so, it slowed to a trickle and I was able to call my OB's office. The nurse checked with the doctor on call and advised me to go home and get in bed until further notice and go to the ER if the bleeding got worse. Luckily, that wasn't necessary and by Wednesday morning the bleeding had stopped.

It was definitely unnerving to have so much blood again right when I thought everything was going to be smooth sailing! I didn't panic this time, however, especially since I was pretty sure I could still feel the baby moving. While I haven't been 100% confident that it's the baby I've been feeling every time, I've noticed enough activity in that area that some of it has to be him...

I already had an appointment scheduled for Thursday afternoon, so Chad and I went in together. Dr. P. immediately went for the good ol' ultrasound probe (which I thought I'd totally graduated from weeks ago!) and started looking around. She quickly spotted a small clot sitting on top of my cervix, and noticed that I also have mild placenta previa (where the edge of the placenta is on top of the cervix). The previous SCH on the top edge of the placenta is also back; it's unclear whether or not I had a new bleed from that location or if it's still the original one that became visible again. Luckily the prognosis is good: the previa is mild and should resolve as my uterus stretches and the clots are very small. However, there's a good chance I'll have more bleeding episodes. Until the previa resolves, I'm to be on restricted activity and can't lift anything over 5 pounds. I have to stay on bed rest through this weekend and can go back to work on Monday if I don't have anymore bleeding.

Profile shot

Dr. P. also did a thorough anatomy scan of the baby to look for abnormalities. She measured his neck, brain, and femurs and examined his kidneys, spine, face, heart, and umbilical cord. Everything looked totally normal! We were especially interested in the heart since we have an increased risk of heart defects since I was born with one. Right now the baby's looks fine, but it will be checked again later in the pregnancy as well.

Why hello, 3rd leg

Gestational Age: 17 weeks, 1 day
Heart Rate: 152 bmp
Baby's Weight: 7 ounces
My Weight: -6 lbs (!)
Gender: 99.9% boy

I lost 6 pounds over the last two weeks somehow (I would have thought the totally decadent meal we had at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse last weekend would have made me gain 6 pounds, not lose it!). While it's not concerning yet since the baby's weight is spot on, Dr. P. told me to start eating small meals every 2 - 3 hours. The problem is that I'm just not very hungry lately, so I forget to eat or nothing sounds appealing.

Anyway, my next appointment is in 2 weeks. I'll update if anything interesting happens.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Combined screening results are in...

...And everything looks good! As you can imagine, I'm very relieved by this news. I've been holding my breath, waiting for something else to go wrong and give us a reason to do an amnio. However, with my results, there's no need as the risk of a major chromosomal issue is minuscule. It looks like we're finally in the clear! I can't believe we finally made it to this point...

Here are today's stats:

Pregnancy length so far: 16 weeks, 5 days
Fruit Comparison: Onion
Movement: Maybe? I feel lots of little twinges; it's hard to tell if they're kicks or not though...
Combined Screening Risks:
Down Syndrome: 1:1,100
Trisomy 18: 1:100,000
Neural Tube Defects: Negative
Next OB appointment: March 10th

Here's what's happening developmentally this week, courtesy of

The baby is about 6 1/2 inches long and weighs 4 ounces. The umbilical cord becomes stronger, thicker and longer as the weeks advance. It carries blood and nutrients to the growing baby. The baby’s sense of hearing is progressing as the ears move to their final position. The internal parts are well developed by now. The baby develops adipose tissue which helps in regulating the baby’s body temperature. The baby has distinctive features now and holds up the head more erect. The body and limbs of the baby are longer than the head by now making the whole body more proportionate. The baby develops pads on the tiny fingertips and toes. The eyes are well developed now but remain firmly closed.

Meconium or the excretory waste is formed which consists of a black gooey substance. If the baby is a male, the prostate glands start developing. The skeleton transforms from cartilage to bone and the bones remain flexible to be able to pass through the birth canal. The baby’s skin develops further but is still transparent. A protective cover starts developing around the baby’s skin called vernix. Brown fat deposits will start forming under the skin which will help to maintain body temperature during birth. The baby now weighs more than the placenta and loud noises can actually startle the baby.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

It's (probably) a boy!

Everything continues to go well for the most part. I'll be 15 weeks exactly tomorrow and I'm definitely starting to look it. I took advantage of the President's Day sales this past weekend and purchased a bunch of maternity clothes as my regular clothes are starting to get tight. I was a bit nervous buying clothes without knowing for sure that everything was still okay!

I'm also doing great in the weight department. I'm still down 1 pound from my pre-pregnancy weight, which is perfect since I'm only supposed to gain 15 - 20 pounds total. I think this week's return of morning sickness has helped. Now please go away already as I'm really sick of saltines for breakfast.

I had a little more brown spotting this past weekend, but it seems to have stopped. Dr. P. didn't see any obvious cause for it. The SCH seems to be gone now as well! So, there's no reason I can't go to Seattle this weekend. Yay!

Here are today's stats:
Crown to Rump Length: 9.25 cm
Fruit size comparison: Navel Orange
Heart Rate: 158 bmp
Gender: Boy (80% accuracy)
Food Cravings: Sushi, especially albacore tuna sushi (mmmm...)
Food Aversions: Chicken and eggs and gingerbread cookies (?!)

Pictures are pretty blurry, unfortunately.

Alien Brain!

I'm finally starting to relax and enjoy this pregnancy now that everything continues to look normal. I didn't get nearly as anxious before the ultrasound today as I have in the past (and my blood pressure was the lowest it's every been at that office). I still get a slight ripple of fear at the beginning of the ultrasound while we wait to see if it's moving and has a heartbeat...

I go back next tuesday for the second trimester screening test that checks for spina bifada and downs. We should get both those results and Chad's genetic testing results around the end of next week. Crossing my fingers those come back okay!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

First trimester screening results

I spoke to Lynn, the very nice nurse at my OB's office today. As we pretty much expected, the results from my first trimester screening blood test are good as everything came back normal. So, my preliminary risk for trisomies is the following:

Down Syndrome - 1:340
Trisomy 18 - 1:17,000

The DS cutoff for being considered at high risk is 1:100, and my age-related risk was 1:300. Once I have the second trimester screening in two weeks, we will have the final risk assessment numbers and be able to decide whether or not we want to do an amnio.

In other news, everything is going fine. My belly is definitely pooching out more and I had to go up a notch on my belt. I still think I look like I ate too many doughnuts though as all of the growth is below my belly button. I'm still having spotting from time to time and lately it has turned pink after going #2, so I was told to take Colace and continue limiting my activity. I've been chowing down on prunes and dried apricots with little effect. It's very weird for me to actually be constipated -- I don't think that's happened since before I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis 16 years ago.

I will be officially in the second trimester after Saturday. Crazy!

Friday, February 4, 2011

12 weeks, 2 days: NT scan

This week I am officially in the second trimester if you go by development. At this point, all of the major organs are formed and just have to grow and mature. I'll be in the second trimester by gestation in another week and a few days.

We visited my OB for genetic counseling and the Nuchal Translucency scan. We met with the geneticist first to go over all of the possible conditions we could have passed on to our baby and determine what tests we want to do. Luckily neither of us is aware of any genetic issues within our families, and our ancestors come from different parts of the world, so that should lower our risk some. In going over my labs from PRC, we learned that I've already been tested for being a carrier of Cystic Fibrosis (negative) and had sufficient chromosome testing to rule out 90% of chromosome issues. We decided to just test me for Fragile X at the moment since that can cause high FSH.

Chad hasn't had any testing done yet, so in light of our history of recurrent pregnancy loss, we were advised to do chromosome testing on him since it could offer another explanation for all of the losses if something is detected.

After meeting with the geneticist, we moved to the ultrasound room for the NT scan. I was super anxious about this test since an abnormal results frequently points to birth defects... I tossed and turned all night last night and was really nauseous all morning. I hope someday I'll be able to accept that everything really is okay and I don't need to be nervous before ultrasounds... :-/

Anyway, all the worrying was for naught as the baby appears to be totally normal! First, Dr. P. showed us the baby's head and pointed out that the nasal bone is, indeed, present. Next, she checked the heartbeat, which was at 160 bpm. Then she got a couple of shots of the back of the neck where the pocket of nuchal fluid is located. That measured 1.35mm, which is great! Anything under 3mm is normal. It was a bit difficult to get a clear picture of the baby as a whole since I have a fibroid in the way and my uterus is tilted towards the back, Eventually, she switched to a transvaginal probe to look for the SCH. It's still hanging around, but down to 1.5cm from around 2.5cm last week.

Pictures are pretty fuzzy this week. It looked way cuter in person!

We asked if she could tell anything about the gender this week. Of course the little guy was being shy and had its umbilical cord hiding the goods! One shot might have looked like a penis, but it could just have easily been the umbilicus. The baby was sleeping initially, so Dr. P. knocked on my belly a bunch of times to wake it up! Pretty funny since after that it started moving all around (but not enough to move the umbilical cord out of the way). Maybe we'll have better luck at my next appointment in 2 weeks.

We should get the bloodwork results back in 1 - 2 weeks. At that point we will also get a risk assessment for the likelihood of Down's and Trisomy 18. At the moment, our thinking is that if the risk is around the same as the risk for miscarriage from an amnio (around 1:300), then we will go ahead and plan to do an amnio. My age related risk is around the same, so we'll see how much that changes based on today's tests.

In other news, since my SCH is shrinking, Dr. P. said most likely I'll be able to fly to Seattle in a few weeks!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

First OB visit

I was originally supposed to first see my OB next week for the NT scan, but instead I saw her today due to Monday's incident.

As it turns out, I have a small subchorionic hematoma that was visible on the ultrasound today. It's around 1 inch across but doesn't appear to be causing a problem at the moment. The baby was very active with a heart rate of 167 bpm. It's measuring a little ahead at 11 weeks, 5 days.

Of course I had a ton of questions for her:

Q: Why did this happen? Was it due to the Lovenox?
A: We don't know why. Sometimes these things just happen. The lovenox didn't cause it and it probably would have happened even if I wasn't on blood thinners. There is an increased risk of miscarriage until it resolves, but right now the baby looks great and is developing right on track.

Q: How long should I stay on Lovenox and baby aspirin?
A: For the entire pregnancy. Since we don't know 100% why I've lost so many pregnancies but I have moderately high anticardiolipin antibodies, it's best to just keep treating me as if that's the sole cause. I will switch to heparin around 34 weeks and we will schedule an induction about 10 days before my due date so we can take me off the blood thinners before hand. If I got into labor while on blood thinners, I won't be able to have an epidural! So, if all goes well, I will have the baby in the first week of August.

Q: How often will I be monitored?
A: Every other week until 32 weeks, then every week. Being high risk means lots of scans!

Q: How long do I have to stay on bed rest?
A: Through the weekend. I can go back to work on Monday assuming there is no more heavy bleeding.

Q: How long do I have to stay on pelvic rest?
A: At least 3 weeks, probably longer. This means no exercise beyond walking and no sex.

Q: Will I be able to fly to Seattle at the end of February?
A: Maybe. She will check me a couple of days beforehand and make a decision then.

Also, I lost 5 pounds in the last month! I'm elated since I've tried REALLY hard to not gain any weight yet. Since I'm starting out overweight, I need to keep my total weight gain between 15 and 25 pounds. I figured this would be difficult since I haven't been allowed to go to the gym in, like, 3 months. I guess nausea does have some benefits!

Best part for last; here are the latest pics of our little alien baby:
The SCH is the black spot on the left.

What a nice, alien-looking brain you have!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

11 weeks! Also bed rest, day 2

I'm 11 weeks today! This is exciting because out of 6 pregnancies, it's the farthest I've ever made it. I'd prefer if it was complication free, but hey -- you can't have everything.

I spent yesterday mostly lounging on the couch with the puppy. We watched some really fascinating tv shows like House Hunters and House Hunters International. If we ever decide to move to Norway, now I have a grasp on the local real estate market!

Anyway, the bleeding seemed to be over. Now I just have to contend with a lot of really gross brown discharge mucking things up. My uterus still felt pretty irritated and I had twinges anytime I stood up for more than a couple of minutes.

Today, I feel a lot more normal. I'm still laying low, but standing doesn't seem to be a problem anymore. I'm relaxing in bed with my iPad and a memoir about a man who taught school in the marshall islands for a year. Which I actually read a couple of months ago. Any suggestions on good reading material? :)

My big excitement for the day is going to be taking a shower! I'm still a bit blood stained in certain areas, so it will be wonderful to feel clean again.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Really scary afternoon...

I spoke too soon about having nothing to report today, unfortunately.

Around 4 this afternoon, I was sitting at my desk trying to resist the urge to buy some french fries as a snack. I shifted position and felt a major gush of blood let loose! I ran to the bathroom and my liner and underwear were soaked. I also passed a giant 2 inch clot that could have been blood, or could have been placenta. I've never had such heavy bleeding in my life and I quickly soaked through a thicker pad. I started having some occasional sharp cramps and I was sure I was losing the baby.

I called the clinic and they told me to go to the ER since the doctor had already left. I called Chad and he rushed over to pick me up (good think he works 5 minutes away). I asked the 1 coworker who knows I'm pregnant if he could keep an eye on my dog and tell my boss I was leaving, and I called my sister and her boyfriend and asked them if they could come pick the puppy up and take him home for me. I'm so thankful to have them here and so willing to help me out!!

We got to the ER at just the right time with only 1 person in the waiting room ahead of us. Within 30 minutes they did a quick ultrasound and we got to see that the baby was moving around and looked fine. Eventually they took me back for a more in depth ultrasound and after 30 mins of searching, the tech couldn't see any cause for my bleeding. She thought maybe I'd had a cyst burst. The little bean was incredibly active with a heart rate of 165 and measured 11 wks 3 days. It was crazy seeing the little thing dancing and wiggling so much. You'd never know anything was wrong from the way it was behaving.

Anyway, the ER doctor said to rest and see my OB asap tomorrow to check things out again. I was discharged around 3.5 hours after arriving and given a stack of paperwork to bring to my doctor.

I'm still pretty unnerved by the whole experience, but at least the baby looks okay for now. The bleeding has slowed down to a watery red consistency at least. I'll be staying home tomorrow or until my OB says I can go back to work. I'm supposed to take it easy for the next 3 weeks: pelvic rest, no lifting, and no exercise. It looks like I'll be catching up on some trash TV tomorrow.

10 weeks, 5 days

There's nothing much to report today. I decided not to see the RE for another ultrasound this afternoon since we've been having to wait for 45 minutes to an hour every time. So, I won't have any new pics until the NT scan on Feb 4th.

Everything appears to be going well. I'm still experiencing varying degrees of nausea and fatigue. Saturday was tough -- I ended up sleeping for almost the entire afternoon! Last night I was pretty restless and at one point I flopped over suddenly and felt a quick stabbing/stretching sensation in my belly. This morning I've had a little red spotting. Hopefully it stops soon...

As a reminder to those who receive my blog as an email update, please do your best to keep quiet about my pregnancy for the time being. I totally understand that you guys are over the moon about this one looking good so far. But, even though we think there is truly a really good chance things will work out, there's still a decent chance that it won't. As someone who has experienced so many losses in the past, I'm really not comfortable talking about this yet. So, please wait until I let you know when it's safe to tell the world. Thanks for understanding! =)

In other news, this is what's happening this week courtesy of

"Your baby, just over 1 1/2 inches long and about the size of a fig, is now almost fully formed. Her hands will soon open and close into fists, tiny tooth buds are beginning to appear under her gums, and some of her bones are beginning to harden.
She's already busy kicking and stretching, and her tiny movements are so effortless they look like water ballet. These movements will become more frequent as her body grows and becomes more developed and functional. You won't feel your baby's acrobatics for another month or two — nor will you notice the hiccupping that may be happening now that her diaphragm is forming."

Still looking like an alien!

Monday, January 17, 2011

9 weeks, 5 days

I had my fourth ultrasound today and everything is still going well! The baby is keeping up with development and was even waving its arms around. Its heartbeat is a strong 174 bpm.

I graduated from the RE and will see my OB in 2.5 weeks for the nuchal translucency scan. I also only have to continue the awful progesterone injections just until the end of this week since the placenta has started producing it. I can't wait to be done with those shots!

Monday, January 10, 2011

8 weeks, 5 days

All is well. I can hardly believe it.

The baby is a week larger and is starting to look more recognizable. Nice, strong heartbeat at 181 bmp.

I was a little worried since my nausea has mostly subsided, but my spotting seems to have stopped over the last few days. I'm still pretty fatigued and have been getting REALLY hungry every 3 hours or so.

Even with everything on track so far, I don't think I'll be able to relax about this pregnancy until we make sure it's chromosomally healthy. Even then, I suspect I'll be somewhat anxious about it until I'm actually holding it in my arms...

1 more week until I graduate to the OB.
3 more weeks until the second trimester.

Monday, January 3, 2011

1 beautiful baby...

Chad was very relieved to see that we're not in fact having twins -- Baby B has been growing like crazy and has taken over all available space. No wonder I've been feeling so sick! Anyway, I'm totally fine with 1 baby.  Since I'm high risk to begin with, I was getting pretty nervous about all the potential complications with twins.

Our baby measured 1.32 cm / 7 weeks, 4 days, which is about right on track (I'm actually 7 wks, 5 days, but there's a couple day margin of error in the measurements).

The heart rate was a great 171 bpm.

I'll continue to be monitored weekly at the fertility clinic until 10 weeks. Next ultrasound is scheduled for next monday at 2!