Tuesday, February 23, 2010

NT Screening


We had our NT screening today.  It involved an ultrasound and bloodwork via a finger prick.  Ummmm....that finger prick hurt more than any needle I experienced though all my IVF cycles.  OUCH!  And it's all sore now as I type.  The bloodwork provides preliminary results in one week and then in 3 weeks I go for more blood work and in four weeks we'll have full results.

The ultrasound results (just part of the equation) was perfect!!  Everything measured well.  The neck was 1.6mm (at least I think it's mm, that makes sense when we're talking about a baby that's 2.5 inches long?) and they want to see it below 2.5 or it could be indicative of Down syndrome.  She said I had no markers for anything to worry about.  So we feel good even though we know the blood work still needs to come back. 

The sonographer was the best!!!  I wish she could do them all!  She answered questions and was really frank without making me nervous.  I like someone who is honest and realistic but who doesn't needless worry you.  She made an educated guess and thinks it's quite possible that it's a...........GIRL!  She showed us how the genitals are laying flat and how it's just how female parts look.  She said male genitals look way different.  She said that she's not always right, but she feels it's a good possibility.  She warned us to not buy anything yet, though, just in case.

OK, so now for a short disclaimer.  I really, truly will be happy no matter what we have.  Honestly.  At this point, it would be so selfish of me to even wish for anything but a healthy baby.  Even now, if asked I truly just want this baby to make it out, happy and healthy and I would be thrilled with a boy or girl.  Please do not misunderstand, a boy would not be disappointing or anything other than total joy.


The idea that I might have a little girl inside me is more than I can even think about.  To think that not only have I been blessed with a baby but that baby might be a little baby girl??!!  It's so far more than I ever could have hoped for.  I can't even wrap my mind around the possibility and thinking about it makes me cry.  So I guess I didn't realize how much I wanted a girl until today.  I mean my whole life all I ever talked about was having a little girl, so I don't know why I'm surprised that I feel this way.  In the past couple years I was just so used to praying for a baby that gender hadn't come into the picture.  I really had a feeling that it was a boy - and it could very well be.  Russ has thought girl the whole time.  A girl.  Is it possible?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Low Thyroid


So I get a call from my OB today...my blood work came back and my thyroid is low.  They want me to see an endocrinologist to get it checked out.  What does this mean? 

I made the appt for March 3, but I really want to get it checked out now.  Of course if they thought it was an emergency, they would tell me to come in immediately, right?  And I'm going to that fetal specialist on Tuesday for the NT screening so maybe he can ease my mind.

From what I've read, it's fairly common, but gone untreated can lead to poor brain development.  Dr. Oz's book said it could be a cause of miscarriage, but it was on a list of dozens of things that could potentially cause miscarriage and I think what it actually said is that when women have repeated miscarriages, one of the things they look at is thyroid so that not the same thing really.  You know that I don't like reading that word "miscarriage" though.  Ugh.

I'm not freaking out...I just wish someone would tell me "oh, that happens all the time, it's not a big deal"  So would someone out there just tell me that please?  You can lie, I don't mind.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A milestone


I have been waiting for this day for the last 8 weeks...if only I can make to 12 weeks, then I'll know that this is actually happening.  Well here I am and you know what I'm thinking?  That technically the 1st trimester goes to 13 weeks, so really next week is the milestone!  I can't give myself relief no matter what.  If I don't feel some weird feeling in my abdomen at least once every few hours, I assume the baby must have died.  I know that sounds harsh but it's really what goes through my head.  My husband has always accused me of always assuming the worst and I would argue that it wasn't true, but in this case it really is. 

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I'm all doom and gloom all day.  Most of the time I'm excited and talking about it and shopping for stuff and all that.  It's just when I allow myself to think about what could be happening that I get consumed with the possibilities and then it's all I think about until I get distracted (or release it here on this post - after which I'll read it back and think I'm being so silly). 

I really want a home doppler, but I've heard they can be unreliable and that some anxious moms (ME!) think the worst when they can't pick up the heartbeat and (LIKE ME) assume the baby must be gone.  I think it could open up a world of trouble for me.  But at the same time, I know that I won't be getting sonos every 2 weeks for much longer.  The sono keeps me happy for about one week (because I've just seen proof that it's in there) and then I start doubting it.  Once i have to wait a month I know I'll be a mess. 

I hate that infertility has made me a crazy person.  On top of everything else, it's stolen some of my joy about being pg...but not all of it, thankfully.

On another note, do you buy maternity clothes in the same size you usually wear?  At Motherhood, I saw that jeans come in S, M, L, XL  What?  For jeans??  I don't get it. 

By the way, there is a ponytail holder holding my pants up today.  I looped it around the button, then through the button hole, and back around the button.  Gave me a good 3 extra inches that I need desperately and is quite comfortable.  I am afraid that it might break and pop off..if it does I just hope some of my friends are around because it will be hilarious!!!!  (and I hope it doesn't happen while I'm teaching class tonight...not so hilarious)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I know I have no right to complain since I have been off work for the past week (and then some) due to snow snow, but I'm back at work today and I'm exhausted!! Is it possible that pregnancy fatigue is just now hitting me?  I guess I'm still getting over my cold too.  I literally feel like I will not stay awake as I type this.  AND I have to be at school late tonight for a parent program (did you know I was a middle school counselor?) so I won't get home until at least 9:30.  Then up at 5 am to start all over again.  Man, I'm pooped.

And hungry.  I eat and get really full and an hour later it's like I haven't eaten.  Really crazy.  I'm trying to not eat too much, but I'm so hungry!  It wouldn't be so bad if I were eating super healthy, but I'm not.  At least I can stomach vegetables now...

So we went shopping on Saturday and Sunday.  Buy Buy Baby on Saturday and Babys R Us on Sunday.  What a difference between the two stores!  Buy Buy Baby was super crowded (with both people and merchandise) but the employees bent over backwards to help everyone and we got a great education about strollers.  Seriously, I would have paid for a seminar that was as informative as this guy was.  We're leaning toward the Baby Jogger City Mini or City Elite.  Babys R Us is a much easier store to manipulate, but no customer service that I was able to see.  That makes a big difference.  Didn't buy anything, but the process has begun.  Crib bedding is going to be the hardest I think.  Everything I see is awful.  I have not seen in person one thing I would even consider.  It looks cute on line but in person it's horrendous.  I think I'm getting old and picky.

This weekend I'm biting the bullet and am going out to buy some clothes that will actually fit me.  I don't feel like I look pregnant yet, just fatter.  But it seems stupid to buy bigger regular clothes when I'll need maternity soon.  I'm jsut afraid the maternity clothes will look strange since I'm not quite filling it out yet.  But I'll be so comfy!!!  I've been doing a belly band for the past couple weeks for a couple pairs of pants and freshly washed jeans, but I feel like eventually my pants start sagging and it stops working.  I'll be happy to get some new pants.

Next week we have the Nuchal Screening.  This is where they measure the baby's neck and other things and try to determine the chances of the baby having downs syndrome and/or other chromosomal problems.  There's a blood test involved too.  The results come back as a ratio.  For someone my age, I should have about a 1 in 105 chance of having something wrong with the baby (that can be detected chromosomally and through measurement).  This test will give a result that we can compare to that.  It might say there is a 1 in 3500 chance or it might say a 1 in 20 chance - even as high as 1 in 5 chance.  If we are found to be high risk, we can then move on to a more invasive test (like amnio) or just wait and see.  If it were high, we'd probably go ahead and do the amnio.  Again, it's not like we'd terminate, but if there is something wrong, it would be good to be able to plan and prepare for it.  Hopefully everything will be fine.  We go Tuesday, one week from today.  I'm already sensing the anxiety it could bring, but I know that I would worry anyway, so I think it's good to have information.  I hope I don't regret doing it.  My dr seemed to think it was fairly standard - especially since I'm so old =).

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Two Years


Two years ago today, on Valentine's Day, we received the life-changing news that IVF was our best option if we wanted to have biological children (is that the right term? It sounds funny).  We had been trying for 3 years and my OB had sent me for some tests, but nothing major, and not even and HSG would have diagnosed me immediately.  We were definitely pokey about it and I was not at all aggressive about figuring it out.  I thought it would happen when it happened and life was good, so why mess it up with all this possible IF stuff?  The summer of 2007 I started taking my temp and tracking and all that stuff.  I could see that I ovulated normally (one OB had misdiagnosed me with PCOS, but I never believed it because I ovulated - I do look like a PCOS girl though - I have all tell-tale signs so i get why she thought it, but it's always bothered me that she was so quick to size me up and send me on the wrong track).  I had FINALLY read "Taking Charge of Your Fertility" (which my dear friend Bridget had given me YEARS before but I never read it - so regretful) and it was life changing.  I learned so much and I finally felt empowered to take the bull by the horns. 

In November 2007 I bit the bullet and called my IF clinic.  I found it on my own, on the internet!  They put us through the round of tests, including an HSG which at the time I thought was normal.  When I think back, I remember the dr making that fake smiley face as she tried to get the dye through my left tube.  She didn't want to tell me it was all 'effed up.  She wanted me to wait until valentines day.

So on February 14, 2008 we had our follow up where I fully expected she would tell us that we were perfect, but for some reason not conceiving.  I thought she'd say that we'll do some IUIs and, of course, it would work on the first or second try.  Up until that point I was on the side that said I would NEVER go through what it takes to do IVF.  I have a dear friend who went through 3 rounds (the lovely mommy of twins now, hi Katie!) and I witnessed the strength it required and i knew I didn't have it in me to go through that.  (this memory makes me literally LAUGH MY ASS OFF now that I think about it all - I would announce to people that there is no way we would ever do IVF...man, how things change)

So we sat down in the room with my dear Dr. Browne and she went through everything.  All of Russ's stuff was normal.  My hormones were normal, but she was slightly concerned about my elevated FSH level as it could indicate that my eggs were pooping out. Nothing to worry about yet, but just something to keep in the back of our mind.  Then she got to the HSG results.  Basically my left tube was shot (hydrosalphinx).  I would need surgery to fix it (though not likely it would repair) or remove it.  Considering this, she suggested surgery ASAP followed by IVF.  It felt like a death sentence.  I was so happy that I was so educated about it all at the time because I understood every word she said.  Russ didn't, so there was some explaining to do.  All of the sudden I just started sobbing right there at the table.  It was horrible.  I "knew" that I would never do IVF, so this meant that weren't having kids.  (I'm so extreme, I know)  I tried to get it together and we went out and scheduled a follow up to prepare for surgery and the ball got rolling.  In my mind, I didn't understand why we still wouldn't do IUI since I had one good tube left (or so I thought).  But I took it one step at a time and waited for the surgery to be scheduled.

When we left the office, I howled with tears at the elevator.  It was horrible.  They really need a crying room there.  Russ and I had come in separate cars, so it wasn't like we were leaving together.  I literally howled, that's the best way to describe it.  I don't ever remember crying like that before, although I certainly have since.  Happy Valentine's Day.

I'm not going to detail everything after that, just that surgery was April '08 and they blocked the left tube and discovered that I had so many adhesions that the right tube was useless.  IVF was truly the last resort and we just did it.  Over and over and over again.  I remember that spring being a time of grief.  Surrendering myself to IVF was extremely difficult.  It was so limiting and, I thought, scary.  Luckily we both have kick-ass insurance that has covered all 5 cycles, without which we wouldn't have been able to do any of it.  Of course, I quickly learned that IVF was quite manageable and not bad at all.  I know everyone says it, but it's not the shots.  For me, it's the detailed information and knowing way too much to the point where it makes you crazy during the initial stages, the fertilization report, the 2ww.  The emotional ups and downs were the worst part by far.  Who am i kidding?  They still are.  =)

And so here I am, 6 am on Valentine's Day, almost 12 weeks pregnant!  What a difference 2 years can make, right?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

To shop or not to shop


So technically I'm "in my 12th week" right?  On Thursday, 12 weeks will be complete.  I've also had 4 excellent ultrasounds and everything looks great.  Why am I pondering this?  Because I REALLY REALLY want to start shopping!!!  Not purchasing, but I want to start the preliminary looking around.  (for real this time) (and not just on-line which I have been doing for years) In my mind I told myself that we wouldn't go to the big baby store (we have a Babys R Us and a Buy Buy Baby - I want to go to Buy Buy Baby because they have every single stroller you can imagine on display; everything from a Gracco $129 to a $900 Bill and Teds - I am determined to learn the differences) until we were through the first trimester.  So I think it's a little early, but I want to go TODAY.  Or tomorrow.  It would be fun to celebrate Valentines Day there...

Anyway, I have to consider the fact that while I see the light, I am indeed not out of the woods yet.  If the worst happens, would having gone to the store make it any worse?  Maybe, but at that point isn't it just the absolute worst thing ever anyway?  Doesn't my joy now offset the pain then?  I think so!!  Plus I need to be like all these other fabulous IF PG women (is there a real acronym for that?  For those of us that have won the struggle?  We need one...) who are embracing their pregnancies and thinking nothing but positive positive positive.  But it's ME and I need to always be prepared for anything.  And I am trying.  And doing fairly well.  Buy Buy Baby is the last frontier.  And I really, really want to go.

Did I mention I have a horrendous cold?  Sucks.  I know that if I took Sudafed my world would change, but I'm not.  The paper (from what seems like 1990) my doctor gave me said it was fine, but my babycenter newsletter said it was a no no.  I can survive (and have been off on snow days for over a week!), but I sure feel crappy.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Just a little more drama...


Have you noticed my new little ticker on my page?  How cute!  (Thanks, Katie for the suggestion!)  Problem is it didn't update today.  It's still showing 10w4d.  Hmm...

So we went to the Dr today and, as always, there had to be some drama.  It won't sound like much, but for us it was torturous there for a minute.  I get there - and I just need to say again how very pleased I am with the office and everyone there.  They are quick and friendly and know what they're doing and I'm very, very happy.  So we get into the room and the Dr comes in with her doppler and immediately says that we're going to listen for the heartbeat.  I was so excited!  I didn't think we'd get a chance to hear or see anything today so it was a nice surprise to be able to verify once again that the little peanut is doing alright.  She did say that at 10and 1/2 weeks it might be hard to "find the heartbeat", so we were somewhat prepared for the 5 FULL MINUTES of her pressing so hard on my belly and finding NOTHING.  She kept moving super slowly across the same areas over and over again and nothing could be heard.  After what felt like an hour (five minutes), she said that they have an "archaic ultrasound machine" and that they'll use that to verify a heartbeat visually.  It was nice to know that in a pinch they do have an u/s machine even though it's not as high tech as the one in the radiology dept that we were at last week.  I asked if we should be worried and she said that we should not since last week we had a great u/s and everything looked good.  She said again that at this early, the doppler is often ineffective.  So they say that the room where the machine is is being used and that we'll just need to wait a few minutes.  Now you guys know me.  I was convinced the baby was gone.  I was fully preparing myself for going in there and finding nothing.  And of course the wait was only 15 minutes but it felt like hours.  Then we get into the room and she turns on this old machine and is again trying to find it and she says "there's your uterus"..."there's the baby"..."ok, now let's see...hmm..."  HMM?  Man I was sure that there was nothing there.  It felt like it took so long.  And then finally "See that little flicker?  That's the heartbeat"  HUGE sigh of relief!  I honestly can't say I saw it, but i didn't care.  I looked at her and I said "You swear to God that it's there and OK?"  She said it was.  And then we were able to see the little peanut practicing some sort of aerobatic routine.  He/she was twirling and flipping and having a ball in there.  The Dr was happy to see so much movement.  PHEW!  Poor Russ.  He really will be an alcoholic before this is all over... (not really, he hasn't actually started hitting the bottle...)

I have yet to make the connection between what I see on the ultrasound screen and the fact that the image I see is in ME.  I feel like I'm watching TV and "oh cute, look at the baby!".  It's incredible to me that I'm walking around with that all day.  Why don't we hear more people talk about how crazy miraculous all of this is? 

So we discussed the chromosomal abnormality screenings and decided that we'll do the non-invasive tests and then move on from there in the event that something comes back negative.  My selfish reason for doing this is that it means I get another ultrasound within the next 2 weeks.  I have to go to a specialist for the test and still need to make the appt sometime before I'm 13 weeks.  She said I'd go back to the specialist for another thorough u/s at 19-20 weeks since I'm an IVF and "advanced maternal age" patient.  Man I feel old!  I like that they're taking special care of me - bring it on!!!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Decisions, decisions


Last week Thursday was my last day for the endometrin inserts and estrace pills.  I was worried that with the discontinuation of the meds, the baby would fall out.  So far so good =)  I know that they weren't what was making this stick, but you know me...All weekend I was going to the bathroom every 30 minutes just waiting for bad stuff to happen and all was good.  Starting yesterday I was feeling much more confident about it all and I think pregnancy enjoyment is right around the corner.

I have an appt with our OB tomorrow to discuss Fetal Chromosomal Abnormality Screening Tests.  Since I'm 36, they are letting us know our options, although it doesn't sound like they're pushing us to do anything.  I have 4 options, 2 are non-invasive and 2 are invasive.  From the little brochure they gave me (which looks like it's way old and has been reproduced 500 times), there are 3 things they are screening for:  Down syndrome (Trisomy 21), Trisomy 13, and Trisomy 18.  These chromosomal abnormalities can cause physical defects and cognitive delays (what the brochure calls mental retardation).  I strangely have not done any on-line research on these things (meaning the screening tools that are available to us).  I think I want to wait and speak with the doctor first.  OK, so here are my choices:

1.  Nuchal Translucency Screening
         This involves an ultrasound and blood test.  It's performed between 11w1d and 13w6d and it measures the fluid behind the neck.  From what I've read on the blog, I think many women get this done.  It has a 85% success rate at identifying Down syndrome, with a 5% false positive rate.

2.  Quad Screen
         This is a blood test performed between 16 and 18 weeks.  It also has a 85% success rate at identifying problems with a 7% false positive rate.

Now on to the ouchy stuff...

3.  Chorionic Villus Sampling
         This is performed between 10 and 12 weeks and a placental sample is obtained either through the cervix or abdomen (we're talking sticking needles in).  They say it's better than amniocentesis because it can be done so much earlier.  It's 99% accurate with a pregnancy loss rate of 0.6-0.8%.  I have many questions about this, primarily what the procedure involves specifically.  I don't like seeing any pregnancy loss rate, obviously it scares me.

4.  Amniocentesis
         This is done between 15 and 20 weeks and a needle is inserted into the abdomen to get a sample of the amniotic fluid.  There is a 99% accuracy rate with a 0.5% pregnancy loss rate.

OK, so here's my thing.  I can't think of anything they could possibly tell me that would make me say "OK, let's terminate".  And that's the whole point of the test right?  To find out if bad things are happening and terminating in case it's really bad.  I have heard way too many stories about women who were told that they're baby will be profoundly delayed or deformed or defected in some way and then they come out just fine.  I can't imagine a scenario where I would terminate, so why bother with the invasive tests?

Part of me is worried that since my IVF success rate was so very low - even with 3 rock star blasts, I only have one in there (for which I am so grateful!!), maybe it indicates that my eggs are bad and more prone to having chromosomal abnormalities (i sort of think the answer to that is a big DUH, of course there is).  So maybe something could be wrong with the baby in my case.  Does that make sense?  Or because it's now growing normally, I have the same chance of having issues as other women my age?  I'm not sure and I have to ask.  Again, I can't stop thinking that there's no way I'd terminate so what's the point?

What do you think???

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Beautiful Blogger Award!

Yay!!!  My girl Cilla nominated me for a Beautiful Bloger Award!  She rocks - THANKS Cilla!!!  She is the author of "It Only Takes One Time...NOT" and is happily and healthfully pregnant, four weeks ahead of me, after her second IVF cycle.  I weeped when she got her first positive beta results.  Check her out, you'll adore her.

So now that I have this award, I get to share with you the following:
Seven Interesting (?) Facts About Me:

OK...I've been stalling this post because I can't think of 7 even mildly interesting things about me and I think 36 hours is my limit for thinking about it.  So, here are 7 random things about me:

1.  While eating with too much enthusiasm, I've accidentally bitten my finger at least 3 times that I can remember over the years.  I thought this was normal until I discussed it with my friend the other day who made me feel like a freak.

2.  Growing up, I used to resent the fact that I wasn't 100% Italian - only 1/2 and I was not lucky enough to get the "good" last name (because my mom is the Italian one, not my dad).

3.  I once stalked Prince outside his home in Minneapolis and his Paisley Park studios where I danced in front of the security camera in hopes that he'd see me and invite me in.  This behavior was supported 100% by my husband by the way who was with me at the time...another reason why he's the greatest guy ever.  Needless to say, Prince did not see me and therefore did not decide that he needed me to tour with him.  

4.  When I was born, my family lived on a street called Tracey Lane.  They then decided to name me Tracey and claim that it didn't occur to them that they named me after the street we lived on.  Really?  Sounds suspect to me and I think my name was the result of someone losing a bet or something.

5. My favorite movie of all time is Dirty Dancing and I can recite most of the dialogue which annoys others as they try to watch it with me in the room.

6.  My right eye is a different color than my left and neither are an actual color.  They're sorta diarrhea green, but my left is much more brown.

7.  I just made the BEST spare ribs ever!!!  Being snowed in isn't so bad after all...
OK, so now onto my Beautiful Blogger nominations!!  (most of whom were already nominated, but whatever...)  I nominate the following:

Jo at MoJo Working
Emily at A Hope and A Wish For a Gift From a Petri Dish
Sonja at On (In)Fertile Ground
Kim at the A.R.T. of Baby Making
Hannah at Life Happens When You're Making Other Plans
Em at Bean Stalk Ballads

These IF sisters have made this whole process much more bearable and I'm indebted to them and all of the others who have helped me get through it all.  Much love to everyone reading this!!!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Finding Nemo

9w4d or is 5d?

What a day!!  Long story (read on) short:  all is well!

I got up and went to work so that I could get a couple things done in anticipation of not being there at some point during the day.  So I call my OB as soon as they turned the phones on at 8:45 am.  I get the desk immediately and tell the girl about my weekend.  (By the way, I realized that I wasn't very clear on my last post.  The bleeding only went on Saturday night...by Sunday morning it was all gone and never returned)  The girl was sooo nice and fit me in right away without having me speak to the nurse to "approve" my appointment.  She tells me to get there in an hour.  I left work, met Russ at home and off we went.

They took us back right away, weighed me, took my BP, etc.  The doctor (not the one I had the appt with on Thursday, but a different one - actually it was the one who diagnosed me as an "aggressive wiper" - see previous post from the fall) examined me and said it all looked good, my cervix is closed and I even got a pap to boot!  Then they sent me for an ultrasound.  My OB office is in a hospital and they do ultrasounds in the radiology dept.  Unfortunately, the u/s appt was 2 hours away so we went and tried to get me a preservative-free seasonal flu shot (already have H1N1), but couldn't find one...that might be a challenge. 

Went back for the u/s.  They did both types and we heard the heartbeat!!!  BOOM!BOOM!BOOM!  It was so loud and clear!!!  And then we saw our little peanut who looked just like Nemo.  It was moving it's little teeny arms all around!!!  There is a BABY in there!!!  Heartbeat was strong (159bpm) and I am measuring 9w5d.  That's one day ahead of where I actually am.  I always thought with IVF it was so exact, but now does it mean I actually am a day ahead or is it just that little Nemo is big? 

Anyway, it was a wonderful afternoon.  The doctor wants us back in one week to discuss screening for chromosomal abnormalities, so I have all that to think about...  Russ said he needs a stiff drink (haha, he doesn't drink at all) and confessed that this weekend was the most difficult time he can remember.  He's such a rock, I would have never known he was so nervous.  I am so happy with the doctor and office staff.  They never made me feel like I was over-reacting and I feel like they gave me special attention which I thoroughly enjoyed.  And I forgot, after the u/s, I sat in a results room where my dr called to tell me what she thinks and she said everything looks perfect. They don't know where the blood was coming from, but that there is no sign of any pooling or anything wrong to explain, so it's all good and that if it happens the same way again to just monitor it and call if get worse.  She also said that based on everything, the chances of miscarriage are extremely low.  Relief.