Our Happy Ending

Our Happy Ending

It’s sort of an odd feeling knowing exactly when you are about to give birth. There’s a feeling of excitement and anxiousness in knowing that your life is about to change in ways in which you cannot fathom. The drive to the hospital was surreal as we knew this would be the last time we’d be “Jen and Mike”. The next time we would step foot in the car, we’d be mommy and daddy. It was thrilling and terrifying. We had done so much, tried so hard and finally… FINALLY…our wish was coming true. Both rides were emotional in their own right.

We had to check-in at the hospital bright and early. Our appointment was at 9am, so check-in time was 7am. We were escorted to a prep room where we were asked a variety of questions to close up any loose ends in the medical records. We changed into the latest hospital fashions — gowns, hair caps, scrubs, etc — and I got an IV of fluids to keep me hydrated during the procedure.

4269-MMS-1471442111460-attachment1-20160803_085238
All prepped for surgery!

The anesthesiologist came in to explain how the spinal would work. He was very thorough and had a pleasant personality that put me at ease about this part of the procedure. My doctor arrived and helped me get my wedding ring off. My fingers were swollen so bad, I wasn’t able to remove it myself. She said, “You’re going to swell up pretty bad after the surgery and this will be uncomfortable to have on your finger,” as she used some sort of fancy hospital gel to wiggle it right off my finger.

Soon after that I was wheeled into the operating room. Inside the operating room, I was met by a team of masked nurses buzzing around the room in prep for the main event. Everyone was very friendly and the vibe inside was very welcoming and positive. Although I was nervous on the way to the operating room, they all had a way of making me feel very comfortable and confident in their abilities during their prep. My doctor explained what everyone was doing as she held my hand. Not too long after getting to the room, I was getting the spinal and feeling numb from the chest down.

My c-section was planned to be a “gentle” or “family” c-section. A gentle c-section is one that incorporates the key moments found in a vaginal birth, but that are traditionally missing from a cesarean. The idea is to make major abdominal surgery feel more like a birth.

In a traditional c-section, mothers cannot see the birth and the babies are immediately whisked away for bathing, weight check, measurements, and other pediatric care before they are brought to mom. In my case, there was to be a clear drape so I could watch the entire procedure from start to finish. They also put a tube top on me so they could slide baby out of the womb and right onto my chest for skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding.

Unfortunately, the drugs made me so sick, I pretty much vomited throughout the entire procedure. The team did great giving me other drugs to help with the vomiting and nausea, but in the moment I decided to skip the clear drape. I figured we had all had enough vomiting for one day. Once they got started, it literally took only a few minutes to get baby out. I couldn’t believe how fast it went! Before I knew it, daddy was cutting the baby’s cord and she was placed into my tube top. As soon as she was settled, she started grabbing at my nose!

It took about 45 minutes to close me back up. I had plenty of skin-to-skin contact with baby before they took her for the various checks. We didn’t breastfeed as the positioning in that tube top really wasn’t conducive for it. Plus, I was still literally getting sick as I was holding her.

After being in recovery for a few hours, we made it back to our room and had the chance to spend time as a new family before visitors poured in. My husband and I were both emotional and teared up every time we looked at our beautiful daughter.

FSH080516aPhoebe09
Phoebe’s first photo taken by the hospital photographer

And there it was — the happy ending to a heartwrenching tale of two people that tried for years to have a baby. This day made all of the difficulties and heartaches associated with infertility immediately wash away. It was an unbelievable day.

I am excited to introduce you to our daughter, Phoebe! She was born on Wednesday, August 3, 2016 at 9:27am. She was 21″ long and weighed 8 lbs 10 oz. She is absolutely perfect and we are madly in love. ❤

*Family fun fact: My husband’s side of the family hasn’t added a female to the family for over 70 years. I guess you could say we broke the family curse!

Last Day of Pregnancy

Last Day of Pregnancy

38 weeks + 6 days

Yesterday we had, what turned out to be, our final ultrasound appointment and prenatal check-up with my OB. It really never gets old seeing that sweet little bundle all tucked up inside there. This time we could see that she had more hair on her head. The ultrasound also revealed that baby is measuring at just over 40 weeks, in the 98th percentile for just about every measurement, and she’s estimated to weigh 9.2 pounds. She’s going to be a big girl (lots more to love!).

Based on these findings (which have been consistent since our 21 week scan), my doctor wanted to discuss our options for delivery at the prenatal check-up. We decided the best course of action was to move forward with a c-section. While there is a margin of error for ultrasounds and baby could be smaller and deliverable via vaginal delivery, there is also the chance that baby could be exactly what they suspect or even larger. Both of which are options that won’t work for my body physically.

We just didn’t think it was worth the risk to myself or baby to induce labor early or to wait until I go into labor naturally. A vaginal delivery could cause our larger baby to get stuck on the exit,  break a shoulder or worse. It could also due serious damage to my lady bits — damage that is so great it’s too uncomfortable to even type. There are other risks associated with a c-section and the recovery time isn’t ideal, but my only goal is, and always has been, that we both make it out of there alive and healthy. So, if a cesarean delivery is the best way to achieve that goal, then I have no problem with that.

Me39WeeksWe left the appointment feeling good about the decision we made. The surgical coordinator called about an hour later with the schedule. We’ve officially been called up for delivery tomorrow, bright and early! That means today is the last day of my pregnancy. My husband and I can’t wait to meet our DD (darling daughter). I know I should be going to bed early and trying to get as much sleep as I can tonight, but something tells me that it’ll be hard to get some shut eye.

This has literally been YEARS in the making. In fact, it was 2 years ago this month when my husband and I started fertility treatment. It seems like it was only yesterday that we were hanging out and drinking a few brewskis after my HSG appointment. In that past 2 years, we have experienced a great deal…

  • A massive cocktail of fertility meds
  • Over 200 self injected needles
  • 125 blood tests (if you include the glucose testing I’ve been doing the past couple of weeks)
  • 5 IUIs
  • 1 egg retrieval
  • 2 embryo transfers
  • 1 miscarriage
  • 1 pregnancy
  • Gained new friends and rekindled old ones
  • A newfound sense of self
  • A closer connection to my husband
  • A better understanding of my body
  • Acupuncture
  • Stress
  • Relaxation
  • Fear
  • Heartbreak and grief
  • Hope
  • Excitement
  • Anticipation

The road we took to get here wasn’t easy, but I’m so glad we stuck it out. Giving up when things got tough would have been way easier, but it would also have meant that we wouldn’t be where we are today. It’s been amazing to watch our little nugget of a blastocyst turn into a full grown fetus. Tomorrow we will get the official meet and greet. I can’t wait to see her smile, that button nose, to hear her coos, and even her cries. I’m excited to see what the future brings for our new little family.

As for the future of this blog… I’ll give you one last post to meet Baby F. After that I will be taking time away, at least until we start our next cycle. Luckily, we have one frozen embryo still in waiting, and we want to give that little nugget a shot at life, and for Baby F a shot at a little brother or sister.

If you’re reading this and still struggling, remember that with every cycle you have a fighting chance. Every cycle is worth all of your love and energy. Stay positive and keep hoping for the best, even during the darkest of times. At the end of the day, there isn’t much more we can do, but be happy with the choices we’ve made, knowing we gave it our all. ❤

Still Cookin

Still Cookin

38 weeks + 1 day

 

Checking my blood sugars 4 times a day hasn’t been so bad. I can do it fairly quickly and without any pinch or twinge of pain at this point. My sugars have been under the ranges they like to see for each reading, which is good. I will just keep going I guess until baby is born.

I finally got the results from the thyroid ultrasound I did 2 weeks ago. It was really a chore trying to learn this information. It took over 2 weeks to find out anything and no one from the clinic was returning my calls or emails through their patient portal. When a doctor tells you that there’s a lump on your body that needs to be checked out, and then you get it checked out, you want answers as quickly as possible. You most definitely don’t want to have to hound health care providers to find answers.

Eventually, I demanded to get answers from the poor receptionist. She was very helpful. She discovered the results had been sitting on the endocrinologist’s desk and he just “hasn’t had time to review and get back to you.” Seriously?! Turns out the nodule on my thyroid is 2cm, which means I’ll have to get a biopsy to rule out anything serious.

Dr. Google has a ton of information about these and for the most part they are harmless. The chance of it being thyroid cancer are very low, which makes me feel a little better. But just knowing there’s even a slight chance makes me want to get past this ASAP. Luckily, I have other things consuming my every waking moment… like this beautiful baby that will be entering the world literally any day!

Me37Weeks

Here we are – 38 weeks and baby is still cookin’! I had my weekly check-up yesterday and I’m not dilated. I haven’t had any Braxton Hicks contractions or cramps for the last couple of weeks, but baby is still moving and rolling around in there.

My doctor has said that if I don’t go into labor by Monday, then we may need to talk about scheduling a cesarean. On Monday, I have my final ultrasound to review the size of baby. About 3 weeks ago, she was measuring in the 90+ percentile and weighing in at an estimated 7.5 pounds. This time I predict she’ll be closer to 9 pounds.

Until then, I’ve been keeping vaginal birth on my mind — which sounds kind of funny, but I’m hoping the power of positive thinking on the subject and keeping it top-of-mind will help move things along. I’ve been talking with friends about their birth stories, reading up on how to make labor easier, what to expect in the delivery room and all the wives tales about bringing on labor. We will see how things pan out. More on Monday…

Count Down Begins

Count Down Begins

36 weeks + 1 day

Me36weeks

Well kids…unfortunately, I didn’t pass the second glucose test. I should have known right from the start because this time around the glucose drink didn’t taste half bad. 😉

I took the test on the Friday before Independence Day, so I figured I’d have to wait until Tuesday to get the results. My doctor called Tuesday morning to share the news. The range they like to see is somewhere between 70-139; mine was 154. Apparently she got the results later that day and decided to let me “enjoy the weekend” and “eat s’mores or whatever I wanted before having to make some changes to my diet.” I guess I would have preferred a call so that I would have skipped the virgin Pina Colada, Dairy Queen Blizzard and Culver’s Turtle Sundae over the weekend. Hey, no judgements. It was a long holiday hoopla of a weekend! #goodtimes

Since I was already almost 35 weeks, she recommended that I skip the 3-hour test and start testing my blood sugar. I was referred to the Endocrinology of Minneapolis clinic to meet with an endocrinologist and a diabetes nutrition educator. I didn’t get in to see them until yesterday.

Meeting with the endocrinologist was pretty short and sweet. He basically went through my medical history and checked my reflexes, breathing, heart rate, etc. He also felt my throat to feel my glands and thyroid. He found a small lump on my thyroid that he wanted me to have checked out through ultrasound. He said, “While these lumps are very common, and the majority of them are benign, I can’t ignore it.” He set-up my ultrasound appointment and then whisked away. He was in and out, and I was moved to the next appointment with the nutritionist so fast, that what he just told me didn’t really sink in until later.

Thyroid-Nodules

The hour long diabetes course went through the meal plans, what makes up carbs, how to count them, and how many I should be eating with every meal and snack. I also got training on how to prick my finger to test the level of sugars in my blood (yeah, more needles — just what every IVF-er wants). I have to check my sugars when I wake up before breakfast, 1-hour after breakfast, 1-hour after lunch and 1-hour after dinner. So far, every reading has been way below any type of maximum they want to see for these meals. I probably should have requested to do the 3-hour test to make sure all of this was even necessary.

Once I finally got home I had a mini-melt down. It was just a whole lot of information to soak in at once. I went there to get the training and info on the diet. I left with all that, plus the idea that I may, or may not, have a tumor sitting on my frickin’ thyroid! All of that on top of baby having dilated kidneys to worry about, the whole pending labor and delivery of my first born, possibly during my husband’s annual training for the Army Reserves, which is 2.5 hours away and in a different state (I have family staying with me but it’s not the same) I might add, was just too much to take and the hormones got the best of me. After a good cry, a few deep cleansing breaths and nice talk with my husband, I felt better.

After I hung up the phone with my husband, I had to check-in with my trusted friend, Dr. Google. Like the endocrinologist said, these lumps are very, very common. There are more than 3 million cases each year and a very small percentage of those turn out to be cancerous. In fact, 1 in 12 women and 1 in 40 men have at least one.

My thyroid ultrasound was the next morning / yesterday. I haven’t heard how big it is yet, but if it’s 1 centimeter or larger, I will need to have it biopsied. Here’s to hoping it’s a little puff ball of tissue and nothing to worry about. I just have to stay positive. There’s so much to be thankful for and soon we’ll have our baby girl in our arms. I can’t let this news bring me down!

ANYWAY, back to baby… I also had my 36 week check-up and ultrasound with my OB yesterday afternoon. In the ultrasound we got to see baby again, which is always so amazing. She’s still a little chunker, measuring ahead of schedule. She’s estimated to weigh 7.5 pounds and her head is in the 98th percentile. My OB is worried that if I go the full 40 weeks that she will be closer to 10 pounds and way too big to deliver naturally. We decided to wait and see if I go into labor sometime over the next 2 weeks. If I haven’t gone into labor by August 1, I will be seen for an ultrasound and then will most likely schedule a c-section for that week, which would be about 38.5 weeks.

Getting a plan together has me giddy! The light is at the end of the tunnel and we can’t wait to finally meet this little lady! Won’t be long now.  ❤

 

Oh Baby!

Oh Baby!

33 weeks + 4 days

Me32Weeks
32 Week Photo

Last week I went in for my 32 week ultrasound to check on baby’s overall growth and kidneys. She’s still growing at a consistent rate and measuring a good 3 weeks ahead of schedule. Kidneys are both still dilated. They estimate her weight at 5 pounds, 10 ounces. Her head and midsection measurements are putting her in the 98th percentile.

There were 2 ultrasound techs that day because one was finishing up some new employee training before transferring to another clinic. I think they were both a little shocked to see such a big baby because one asked, “Are you still planning a vaginal delivery?” When I said that was still the plan she said, “That’a girl!” The other one followed-up with, “If you don’t go early, will you be induced?”

First of all, I don’t know that ultrasound techs are supposed to be asking these questions. Second, their tone could send the wrong woman into an anxious tizzy. As if the baby was so large vaginal delivery was going to be impossible — which may be the case, but we may not know until the day of. Plus, I didn’t get a chance to talk with my regular OB afterwards because she was out on delivery. I imagine options and various scenarios will be presented at my next appointment.

After the ultrasound, I saw another doctor who went through all the scans with me. She is worried that her size is caused by “secret” gestational diabetes (yes, she actually used the word secret) and wanted me to retake the glucose test. While I passed the test originally, I apparently just barely passed, which she said means I’m probably not quite processing sugar as well as I was before I got pregnant. She felt terrible making me do it again, but I told her, “I’ve had worse news, so this is no big deal. I can do it again.” I’ll be back in on Friday for 1-hour gestational diabetes test…again.

Baby33Weeks
Profile pic of baby at 32 Weeks

Last week was a busy one. We also had an appointment with a pediatric urologist to discuss baby F’s kidneys and the treatment plan for after birth. Doc had a very positive outlook on the situation. She didn’t have many concerns over baby’s enlarged kidneys being a long-term or severe issue. She explained that dilated kidneys are actually rather common in babies, especially for those of Western European decent like Irish and Scottish. This so happens to be what makes up the ancestry of my husband and I — he’s Irish; I’m Scottish.

She also liked the fact that both kidneys are only mild to moderately dilated, which is a good sign that the problem is not very severe. Her only concern was that it was affecting both kidneys, but even then, still not anything to be overly concerned with due to their size and level of dilation.

UrologyIllustrationThe primary concern is kidney infection, so after the baby is born she will be put on a very low dose of antibiotics. Four weeks after birth, baby will get a pediatric ultrasound to enable us to see how her kidneys are coming along. If the kidneys are still too big, it could be that the ureters (tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder) are kinked or urine is being kicked back from the bladder to the kidneys (aka Vesicoureteral Reflux).

If the ultrasound shows no signs of kinked tubes, then we would need to do what’s called a Voiding Cystourethrogram (VCUG). In this procedure a catheter is placed in  baby’s urethra (eek!) and the bladder is filled with a liquid dye that can be seen in an x-ray. They will then take images of the bladder filling and emptying to see if there is any reverse flow of urine into the ureters and kidneys. The severity of the reflux will determine the next course of action. However, she said in both cases (kinking and reflux), the issue is typically resolved over time and extreme measures are not usually necessary. Knowing more about the issue and putting a plan together helped but both my husband and I at ease, but we’re really hoping to be able to skip the whole VCUG thing.

So for now, the nesting continues and we keep trucking along…

Busy Bees

Busy Bees

32 weeks + 5 days

709bec6a4de8dacc484048ad841d6ca0

This photo cracks me up! It’s the perfect way to describe my current state. This is exactly how I feel trying to get out of bed every morning… or out of a car… or out of our comfy living room chair. My belly has gotten to be a pretty decent size, which is making it difficult to do little things like that. It’s also hard to pick up things off the floor, tie my shoes or even put on a pair of pants. Sleeping has also been a challenge. There are a few days a week that I can’t seem to sleep through the night. I either can’t get comfortable, feel too hot, need to pee (again!) or am making a mental To Do list of items that I want to get done before baby arrives. After a couple of days of that nonsense, I tend to get a hearty 8-hours of uninterrupted, heavenly sleep.

Besides that, everything is still going as planned and I’m feeling great. My gym attendance has taken a turn for the worst the last few weeks, but I’ve been doing a lot of walking outside as the weather permits. I don’t have proper gym attire as I’ve grown out of all my workout gear. Plus, we lost our dog Daisy to cancer soon after my last blog entry, so keeping our walking routine has oddly enough been very comforting.

The past few weeks have been a blur of getting the nursery together (pics to come once it’s complete) and getting the house organized. We’ve made several trips to the Good Will to drop off donations and it’s been a great feeling to purge all the crap we’ve been meaning to get rid of for so long. We painted the nursery, put together the crib and dresser and purchased a few decor items that still need to be hung in place. The grand nesting plan is coming together!

We also managed to squeeze in birthing and breastfeeding class, as well as a hospital tour. The class provided tons of really helpful information in preparing for the last stages of the pregnancy and first few weeks of baby’s life. The hospital tour, on the other hand, made everything become more of a reality — like this is actually happening people!

I started the tour feeling super excited. They took us to where we will be checking in upon arrival on the big day and then proceeded to walk us through labor, delivery, stay and discharge. We saw the newly remodeled labor rooms now equipped with labor tubs, birthing balls and other doohickeys to assist in labor. We saw triage, the operating and recovery rooms, NICU, nursery and then finally the resident room where we will say until being discharged.

By the time the tour ended I felt overwhelmed and emotional. I honestly didn’t know whether to do a little dance or to burst into tears! First of all, it’s been quite the journey to get to here and sometimes I can’t believe it’s actually going to happen. I pinch myself and thank the lucky stars for being granted such a gift. Then the whole notion of knowing that this precious little bundle, that was once a microscopic nugget of a blastocyst I saw only on a piece of paper, will be the size of a watermelon and is going to have to make it’s way out of my body! The idea leaves me feeling terrified and excited all at the same time! I’m keeping an open mind and trying to have zero expectations. No matter what happens, we will leave the hospital with a prize — our little baby girl! I know all of us will be in good hands.

That GD Test

That GD Test

29 weeks + 1 day

Tuesday was the dreaded day — glucose screening day! This screening is designed to measure my blood sugar levels an hour after drinking a special beverage chalk-full of pure glucose. If those first test results are higher than normal, then a second test is done to actually diagnose gestational diabetes (GD).

The second test sounds like a doozy. You have to drink even more of the special glucose beverage (which contains even more glucose than the first one) and 3 more tests are run over the span of 3 hours. If you fail 2 of the 3 tests, then they can make the diagnosis.

In talking with my OB, she said a few more interesting things about the test. It doesn’t matter what your size is, how you eat, or how much weight you’ve gained during pregnancy, gestational diabetes does not discriminate based on your health or way of living. If you are thin, eat a well-balanced diet and are active during pregnancy, it does not necessarily mean you are going to pass. If you are overweight or gained a lot of weight during pregnancy and eat a ton of junk food, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to fail.

It comes down to how well your body compensates for the insulin that is being blocked while the hormones produced by the placenta prevent the mother from developing low blood sugar. Typically the mother’s body will compensate by producing more insulin, but that’s not always the case.

Gestational diabetes affects 1 in 10 pregnant women. So while gestational diabetes is one of the more common pregnancy complications, it is also one of the most manageable. If a diagnosis is made, then you meet with a nutritionist to learn about your new diet and you will need to measure your blood sugar levels multiple times a day throughout the rest of your pregnancy. GD typically goes away soon after giving birth.

The most common risk to the baby if you have GD is a big baby. Extra glucose in the mother’s bloodstream crosses the placenta and triggers baby’s pancreas to make extra insulin, which makes it grow too large. A big baby could translate into needing a c-section.

On testing day, I had to slam a soda-like concoction of lemon-lime flavored syrup. It sort of tasted like a flat Sprite, but the level of glucose in it made it thicker than soda. I don’t drink soda anymore, so at first it was kind of a treat. After a few sips, it got to be way too much and really heavy in my belly. I fought my way through it until the final last gulp, which was completely nasty. I felt really full afterwards and pretty much burped my way to the appointment.

Here are a few ways I tried to make the drinking experience a little better…

  • Drink it chilled! Unfortunately you can’t pour this drink over ice because the ice will dilute the mixture as it melts. I highly recommend putting it in the fridge for an hour or so before you have to drink it. I haven’t had it warm before, but I think it would be really gross at room temperature.
  • Drink it in a glass! Since I had to drink this at work, I used one of our red plastic cups. If I were at home, I probably would have had more fun with it and put it in a wine glass. The little plastic bottle my glucose bevvie came in reminded me of the cough syrup we used to have to keep in the fridge when I was a kid.
  • Take large gulps! I had to drink the stuff within 5-10 minutes about 30 minutes before my appointment, so it helped to drink it in about 5 big gulps. The larger the gulp, the quicker your way through it in the time required. Otherwise, I think it would take way too long to drink just due to taste and consistency.

I made it to the appointment and had my regular prenatal check-up with my OB before they drew my blood. I also got the Tdap shot, which contains the vaccines for 3 potentially life-threatening bacterial diseases: tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough). I opted to get this shot to pass the antibodies to Baby F before she’s born. The antibodies will help protect her in the first few months of her life. I know not everyone is on the same page when it comes to vaccines, so do what you feel is best for you and your baby. I will say, that if you do decide to get this shot, or any other one while pregnant for that matter, get it in your RIGHT arm. I picked the left and couldn’t sleep on my left side for 2-days because it hurt so bad.

The doctor at my last appointment at the Fetal Medicine Center, where I have been going for ultrasounds to monitor baby’s kidneys, was convinced I had gestational diabetes based on the baby’s size. If we’re just looking at her size, then I figured it could go either way, especially since my husband was the smallest of his brothers at 8.5 lbs at birth.

I didn’t have to wait too long for the results, as they were in on Wednesday morning. I am happy to report that I passed! WOO!

That night I celebrated with a mini Royal Oreo Blizzard from Dairy Queen. It was divine.