Monday, April 09, 2007
forward ho! (34 weeks)
So I'm still here. And still pregnant ... a fact which continues to amaze me when I wake up each morning, toss back the covers, discover that great big mountain of a belly -- my belly! -- hiding underneath the sheets. Mornings have become my favorite time. The aches of carrying all this extra weight have been temporarily cured by the night's sleep; the boy snuggles next to me, shifting closer or farther each time there's another kick or wriggle from the babies, depending on which side of the wake/sleep spectrum he wants to be in at the time. He says he doesn't know how I can fall asleep at all these days, with all that hubbub going on inside. Me, I love those pokes and pinches and weird rolling waves; on days when the babes are more quiet, I find I miss the action.
This makes me wonder what it'll be like, just a few weeks from now, when the action moves from inside to outside, and I'm no longer pregnant. I think I feel a little sad -- is that strange? -- that this will soon be over. Unlike my lucky friends who are now on pregnancies number two, this will likely be it for me. I'm so excited to find out what these babies of mine are like, but at the same time, these last few months have been among the happiest ever. For the first time since losing my ovaries, I find I'm not angry with my body anymore. We've made peace, my flawed insides and I. From the belly getting bigger and bigger and the boobs doing the same, to the not-so-fun stuff, like numb fingers and aching back, I can't stop marveling -- that my body can actually do this, grow two lovely tiny humans inside. Each ultrasound report that confirms this still feels like a small miracle.
So this pregnancy thing? It's been great. Somewhat to my surprise, things have gone relatively smoothly since those early scares; I feel healthy and strong and beautiful and good. Still, I've gotten so used to thinking one milestone at a time that looking ahead to the next stage feels strange. Thirteen weeks: end of first trimester. Twenty weeks: halfway there! Twenty-six weeks: babies born could still survive. And now 34 weeks: the point at which if labor starts, there'll be no attempt to stop it, since babies born after this point have a high chance of doing just fine.
34 weeks feels simultaneously reassuring, and scary as all get out. Because after all this time of focusing on getting pregnant, staying pregnant, helping these mysterious beings inside me grow big and strong, we're getting close to the thing that's been the goal all along: meeting our children, our two little girls. Becoming a mom. And I don't know if I'm ready.
There's a crib all set up in our bedroom; our apartment is an explosion of baby gear. We've done the prenatal classes, read stacks of books. But on weekend mornings as the boy and I lie lazily in bed, I think about how long it's been just him and me, and how good this life together has been. It's hard to picture what our lives will be like in just a few short weeks.
# posted by y @ 3:27 PM
Friday, October 06, 2006
make it a double (8 weeks)
It's one of those things you know is more than possible but still, when it takes this much just to get pregnant, it seems greedy to hope for it too much. But when we go in for our first ultrasound last week, the ultrasound tech asks, all low-key and chitchat like, So how big is your apartment?
Three bedrooms, I answer, trying to ignore the cold probe pinching at my insides as she twists it for a better view, Two are pretty small though.
Well, she continues, I hope you're ready to make some more space. She turns to us with a big smile and announces, You're having twins!
The boy squeezes my hand and grins; I'm shaking. Down by the machine, the tech continues to take her measurements, says she'll show us what she's seeing after she gets all the numbers (the boy is already leaning over to peek). Good as her word, she soon rotates the screen.
And there they are. Two tiny white blobs nestled in bigger black blobs, pulsing away.
o o o
The next day is our fifth wedding anniversary. We haven't planned much; between ivf stresses and new job stresses and moving to a new country stresses, the last thing either of us has felt like doing is planning some big elaborate getaway. The boy comes home early with a big bunch of fresh sunflowers; we make last-minute reservations for a nice dinner. We're plunked down on our bed in a warm lazy snuggle when I glance at the clock. I need to change, I say, disentangling myself reluctantly. So change, says the boy, uncooperatively continuing to hold tight. I need to pee first though, I announce. He laughs, So pee. Then lets me go.
On the toilet, I do my usual post-wipe inspection. At first I think I'm imagining it: a pinkish tinge. Get a fresh piece of toilet paper; wipe again. Look closer. Still pink. Don't panic, I tell myself. A few weeks ago I had light brown spotting; implantation bleeding, the nurse had said, totally normally, everything fine.
I think I'm spotting, I tell the boy. Spotting? he asks. Spotting, I confirm, Just lightly, but it's not brown like the last time.
I'm still telling myself not to panic when I go to the bathroom again twenty minutes later. I wipe. And this time my heart's in my throat: Red blood. Like period blood. I'm bleeding, I whisper, Oh no, oh no, I'm bleeding.
I cry from the bathroom, the boy rushes in. Soon he's running downstairs to dig up my doctors' numbers. I'm calling the family doctor here in Toronto, my clinic back in Massachusetts, trying to figure out what this means, what I'm supposed to do, if one day after our happy ultrasound news it's all gone, all over. After calling and waiting, calling and waiting, hanging up and waiting some more, the consensus seems to be to sit tight. I'm told it could just be from having recently lowered my progesterone dosage and stopping the low-dose aspirin; it might also just be weird uterus stretching stuff. It's not uncommon, everyone assures me, don't go to the emergency room; take it easy, try to relax. (What's unspoken is that if the worst is what's happening, there's nothing anyone can do anyway. I know this rationally, but still, it's not much comfort.)
Which is why the boy and I spend our fifth-anniversary eating take-out Thai in bed, watching a really dumb comedy about paintball, trying not to think about what I'll find the next time I get up to go the bathroom.
As it turns out, the bleeding only lasts an hour, doesn't even soak the skimpy pantiliner I've slapped into my underwear. The red soon makes way for dark-brown; by the next morning, it's just medium brown spotting when I wipe. The brown lingers over the next few days; it gets lighter and lighter, starts to appear only after I've been moving around during the day.
When I finally go in for my follow-up ultrasound, the spotting's been gone for a couple of days. The little beans still look fine; measuring perfectly, all is well. There's a little bit of blood they can see behind the placenta; a subchorionic hematoma, incredibly common amongst IVF patients I'm told. Doesn't generally cause any problems with the babies, they assure me ... but add, there might be more spotting in the weeks to come.
So I'm trying not to worry too much, stress too much about what I'll find on the toilet paper next, overanalyze every tummy twinge. I' m eight weeks now, still pregnant, with twins, and this is cause for celebration, news to let myself enjoy.
# posted by y @ 8:09 AM
Friday, September 22, 2006
still going (6 weeks)
Maybe it's a testament to how good a job I'd been doing with the whole one-step-at-a-time philosophy. But when we told the family, it never even occurred to us that the family would then proceed to tell other folks. I was still so nervous; it had only been a little over a week. The night before my second beta, worry writhed its way in a dance marathon through my brain before I finally nodded off to a restless sleep, sometime past 3 in the morning, four hours of watching the numbers on my bedside clock advance ever more slowly forward. I panicked when something was weird. (What was that twinge?!?) I angsted when I didn't feel anything at all. (Why aren't I nauseous?) I couldn't bring myself to say the words "I'm" and "pregnant" together out loud, for fear that doing so might chase the good news away.
So when we turned up at the boy's cousin's wedding, I was in no way prepared. Congratulations! We heard the great news! We're so excited for you! As we made the rounds with aunts and uncles and cousins and second cousins, the well-wishers just kept on coming, a crush of squeals and hugs and big wide grins. And this was so sweet, and so lovely, that everyone was so obviously thrilled for us. But I? Was totally. Freaked. Out.
Everyone knows! I whispered to the boy. Everyone knows! The boy hugged me closer as we made our way to the next beaming set of relatives. I took a deep breath, put on my smile, got ready for another round of well-meaning congrats.
How are you feeling? Everyone wanted to know. And the first few times, all I could do was smile and nod and shrug my shoulders, say, We're so happy, so excited, it's wonderful. Which is true. But the thing is, that's only part of it. When it's taken all this to get to this still-precarious point, it's hard to suddenly stop worrying; experience has taught you too well that bad things can and do happen, most of all when you let your guard down. I'm not sure most of the boy's family fully gets this; they've always struck me as preternaturally fertile, new babies popping up here and there and everywhere. They're fortunate, and I don't begrudge them this fecundity. But when they ask me how I'm feeling, I'm not sure they have a clue just how loaded a question this is.
So when the boy's cousin J's wife threw her own well wishes our way, I wasn't expecting her to pause to add: Oh no, was that all right? Is this too much? Are you okay? And as it turned out, that was all I really needed; acknowledgment that I might be nervous, permission to let my crazy nagging worries out.
No, no, I told her truthfully, We're so excited. But yeah, it's hard.
And it is, but maybe that's not such a bad thing either. Because with every test that comes back with good numbers assuring me that everything actually is progressing exactly the way it should, I'm more aware than ever: I'm so, so lucky. Life can be amazing and lovely and good.
# posted by y @ 1:22 PM
Sunday, September 10, 2006
the best secret in the world
I'd debated it back-and-forth for days. Was I going to wait it out till the official Friday morning blood test or cheat with the pee stick? Twelve days isn't that long to wait, I kept telling myself; twelve days of being able to keep hoping, I knew, might be all I would get. But the more I thought about it and the longer each day seemed to get, the louder that pee stick sang its siren call. Every other step of this trying-to-get-pregnant process had involved so many other people; this one thing, I reasoned, was the one thing I could do all by myself.
So Tuesday afternoon, day 9 for those of us keeping track, I snuck out to the drugstore. Looked both ways out of the corners of my eyes, grabbed a pink hpt box, brought it up to the cash register feeling all furtive. Back home, though, I tucked it deep deep into the underwear drawer out of sight. I was still waffling; hope is a good thing; and no matter how many times I told myself it might still be too early to tell, I knew a big fat negative was going to be crushing, no way around it, no rationalizing would help. Tuesday night went by, and I said nothing about those pee sticks to the boy. I didn't know if I was ready; I wasn't sure what I'd do.
But Wednesday morning I wake up early for the first time since the progesterone shots began. (It's a cruel cruel trick: the progesterone makes me sleep terribly, but when I'm awake I'm just dead tired zonked-out.) The sun is low. The house is quiet. I have to pee.
In a rare brave moment, I pull the pink box out from my drawer, shuffle over to the bathroom. (No looking back now, kids.) Cold hands, jittery heart: I sit on the toilet tearing open the foil, popping off the pink cap, holding the white tip down. Let it go, let it go, let the bladder go: five-one-thousand, four-one-thousand, three-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, one-one-thousand. Done.
In the end, it doesn't even take the three minutes the box insert tells me to expect. Two lines. Two strong pink lines. And this, the handy key printed on the stick itself told me, is good.
You're so sneaky! the boy faux-chides when I show him not long after. Sneaky girl! I love you so much!
And from now until test day, the two of us have the best secret in the world. By the time the nurse rings up Friday afternoon with the good news -- test positive! hCG numbers great! -- the secret's out; it's no longer just ours alone. But still, the confirmation is good. And while the next few weeks there'll be more tests and more waiting and more hoping that things just keep going the way they're supposed to go, for now, at least, I guess it's official. I'm, um, pregnant.
# posted by y @ 2:19 PM
Monday, August 28, 2006
Watch that screen, she tells me, they'll be coming up in just a moment.
I'm flat on my back in a small, dim room, knees hooked up in stirrups, calves dangling down, swaddled in crisp white sheets for "modesty". There's a doctor down at the far end, an ultrasound technician to my right. The embryologist, who I've just met, has disappeared into the back hallway.
I turn my eyes to the TV screen, which is blue and blank.
The screen flickers.
And then they're there. Two little round embryos filled with little round cells, captured in all their black-and-white glory.
They're so cute! I breathe, looking over at A, who's smiling first at the screen, then at me.
And for those few seconds, everything is perfect. I'm not thinking about the doctors or the nurses or the vast team of other medical professionals who have helped us get to this point; I'm not noticing the machines, or the hospital bed, or the faint hum of the electrical equipment. I'm not even thinking about the two weeks that await, when I'll get tense, and anxious, and wonder whether our two little embryos are finding their new environs in my uterus to their liking, whether they'll grow and take root, settle in, make themselves comfortable. It's just me and A and a whole lot of hope.
# posted by y @ 6:53 AM
Thursday, August 24, 2006
I'd been doing a good job of remaining cool thus far. hCG shot delivered Tuesday: check. (With minor confusion prefacing, but still.) First PIO: easy-breezy. So maybe this is what happens when things go just a little too smoothly. Because as A and I sit outside waiting for news of R's egg retrieval this morning, I feel calm, I feel collected, I feel sure that things are going exactly the way things are supposed to go. I feel good.
Then we get the news: they've aspirated five of the big follicles on one side. And nada. No eggs. Zip, zero, zilch. Nothing. I'm going numb. A puts his arm around me, tries to look at me; I stare at the far corner of the room.
Zero is the emptiest feeling in the world.
Did the shot go all right? the nurse asks. Was there a problem mixing? Every once in awhile, patients have issues with the mixing, or with the batch itself; it's very rare, but it happens; we're checking her hCG levels now. I'm only half listening as she tries to reassure me. A patient this happened to a few months back is pregnant now. This only makes me feel worse: I'm sure it's not going to happen for me.
The nurse is so kind; she looks like the women in the boy's family, jolly and solid and comfortingly round. We'll know more soon, she says. And then she's gone.
I have no body; I can't feel my arms, my legs, my head, my heart. Nothing, nothing, nothing. Let's go for a walk, the boy says, guiding my elbow, holding me close.
And so we walk. Down the stairs, out the door, past the other anxious couples who are trying not to look at me now. (The tears have started.) And because we still have to wait for R to drive her home (how will I face her? I'm sure she must be feeling awful too) we're stuck there at the clinic, hugging in the parking lot, walking concrete circles. The sky is blue; the sun is bright. And this is the worst view in the world.
Then, my cell phone rings. It's my mom (who's been waiting with R; they're close; when I'd asked R a couple of days earlier if she wanted anyone else with her on retrieval day, she'd requested my mom without missing a beat). The doctor's looking for you, Mom says. Then pauses. Says softer, Good news.
And so we race back into the clinic, ask for the doctor, get hustled straight into his office.
Ten eggs, he says, smiling.
And my heart that was somewhere in my stomach seems to be back where it's supposed to be, beating again, thump thump, thump thump. I'm so tired, and the next couple of days will be hard, hard, hard. But we're still in the game. One more step forward. And this is good.
# posted by y @ 1:18 PM
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
It's not that I'm superstitious, not really, not usually, I swear. But each time I've signed in here the past few weeks to give the update, I've chickened out. I think I'm afraid that if I think too much, say things too loud, get my hopes up too high, that's when things will go crash. So I've been moving with toes inching forward, holding my breath, hoarding my thoughts in a great big knot in the stomach.
But yeah, I'm still here. And things are going. Really going. I'm back in Boston doing my cycle.
For the past couple of weeks, I've been dutifully popping tiny purple Estrace tabs left and right, knocking back folic acid and low-dose aspirin, turning up for occasional blood draw jabs and ultrasounds at ungodly early hours of the morning. To be honest, it's all been so easy on my part that things haven't felt quite real; most of what needs to happen has been happening to our donor. (Who's proved to be amazing, a total trooper, though it's obvious seeing how tired she's looked since starting the Follistim that this is all hard, hard work for her.) Meanwhile I'm the understudy, twiddling my thumbs in the wings, hoping I'll get to step up and take over soon.
So each afternoon after she's been in for tests, I sit by the phone between 2 and 5, waiting, waiting, waiting, for the latest report. E2's and follicle counts and more words and numbers that are only now starting to make some semblance of sense to me. My perch, by the coffee table, is awash in hastily scrawed post-it notes.
This afternoon though, the latest news: a whole heap of follicles are looking ready to go. Tonight we help her with the hCG trigger shot, which I'm studying up on (IVF newbie that I am, the whole world of powders and diluents and needles still freaks me out). All of which means that come Thursday, with any luck, we'll be gathering us some eggs at last.
Knock on wood, fingers crossed, keeping that bubble of hope close to my heart as we tiptoe one step closer still...
# posted by y @ 11:57 AM