Category: Pregnancy

Thirty-Four (and Thirty-Seven)

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014.  36w 6d. So yesterday was my thirty-fourth birthday.  I really didn’t do much to celebrate, since there is so much else happening at the moment, but it was a nice day regardless.  Some things were accomplished around the house and office, the husband sent me some gorgeous flowers, and I got

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A Post Script and an Infusion Update

I guess my post from yesterday riled a few people up, which was definitely not my intention.  If you don’t care to read my defense of that post, and prefer to read an update on our infusion therapy treatments, feel free to skip down to the second section for that.  🙂 I meant no offense

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Insurance Update – GOOD NEWS!!!

Dude.

They’re covering this treatment.

100% covered.

Holy tap-dancin’ Jesus on a bicycle, you guys…

Best news we’ve had in a long time.

I’ll update more when I know it, but infusion treatment should start as early as this week, and the antiviral meds will get started tomorrow!

THANK YOU to everyone for the thoughts, juju, prayers, and good vibes!  Keep it up, because it’s obviously making a difference!!

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A Result, an Update, and a Plan.

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014.  29w5d.

I know many of you have been waiting to hear the results of the amniocentesis that was done last week, to determine if the virus I have has crossed the placenta and possibly infected baby girl.  I appreciate your kind words, thoughts, prayers, happy vibes, good juju, and manic stalking more than you can ever know.  🙂

Our results came in earlier than expected – Friday afternoon, actually.  I do apologize that I kept some of you waiting, but before telling the whole world, we wanted to meet with doctors and gather some semblance of a plan.

I do hate blind results with no next steps in place…

*****

The amnio results were positive for CMV.  This means that the virus has crossed my placenta, and is currently in the baby’s blood stream.  Her urine, which is basically the amniotic fluid that was tested, is showing that she is shedding the virus.

I have it, she has it – and now what does that mean?

What this means is that we now have a higher chance for baby girl to be affected by the virus in utero, at birth, or beyond.  This could be in the form of mild central nervous system issues such as learning delays or mild hearing or vision loss, or more severe issues such as blindness, deafness, and mental retardation.

What this also means is that there is no real way to know if she will actually suffer any effects from the virus… There is just no way to be sure, aside from time and watching her carefully as she grows.  She could be perfect at birth and develop issues later, or she could just be perfectly healthy and grow up a normal, healthy, crazy kid.

At the moment, the ultrasounds are not showing anything greatly concerning, which the doctors say is encouraging.  They do say, however, that sometimes just because something is growing and looks appropriate via ultrasound does not always mean that it will function exactly the way it should.  We just can’t know what the future holds for this little one based on all of the data we have today.

The not knowing is excruciating.  It takes me back to the darkest days of infertility and not knowing if I’d ever be a mother.  This is different though, because there is an actual life, not a vision of a life, in the balance.

This is my child.  The one I feel kicking and squirming all day long.  This life is real and tangible, and in true danger of suffering anything from zero to mild to severe issues throughout her life due to a virus I couldn’t protect myself from, and could never have seen coming.

And so now, despite advice from my previous doctors to just wait it out, we push forward.  I’ve never been one to just “let things be”…

*****

My new doctor has recommended a two-pronged plan of attack on this virus, and the husband and I are fully on board.

She recommends a very high dosage of an oral anti-viral for me, to work on killing the virus that is in my system currently, and hopefully be some benefit to the baby as well.

She also recommends the “experimental” treatment I had mentioned previously, an immnoglobulin infusion, to be done once per month as soon as we can start.  Likely I would only be able to do the treatment twice before delivery considering how far along I am at this point – most women find out they are CMV positive much earlier in pregnancy than I did – but the doctor did say that despite the lateness of the treatment, she still sees the benefit in pursuing it.

So what is our time frame exactly?

We don’t know quite yet.  The one caveat in our treatment plan is that the immunoglobulin treatment is not something that is readily covered by insurance, and my doctor and her staff will have to fill out form after form, appeal after appeal, and plead with the insurance company to understand the necessity of paying for something that is not FDA approved for this use.

And paying for something so ungodly expensive.

These treatments, out of pocket, regularly cost around $20,000 each.  And I’m to have two.  Maybe three.

TWENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS.  PER TREATMENT.

I almost laughed, just because we somehow, by the grace of God, avoided having to pursue IVF at that cost… and now this?

The irony is there.  I see it.  It would almost be funny if it wasn’t so horrifying.

So despite having a plan in place, we wait yet again, this time on the insurance company and the amazing staff at University of Michigan’s Fetal Diagnostics Department.

May the odds be ever in their – and our – favor.

*****

And so that’s where we are.

Waiting.

Hopefully only for another couple of days… I’m told that we can move forward with treatment as soon as we have some kind of go-ahead from insurance, and from there, we hope and pray that the antivirals for me help kill off the virus, and that the immunoglobulin infusion treatment for baby helps boost her immune system so it can fight off any damage the virus could be causing to her system.

And still, we pray for the miracle that despite the virus, baby girl fights and stays strong and is born perfectly healthy.

I think that’s what every mother hopes for their child, but it’s a very real concern for me at the moment.

If you’re the type to send up a prayer, happy thought, or positive energy of any kind, please think of both the doctors who will be appealing our case to the insurance company, and doctors who work for the insurance company to have compassion for our situation.

Financially, this could be a huge blow, but considering there is no other choice but to do nothing, we will accept what we need to do to give our baby girl her best possible chance at a happy, healthy life.

…Even if she does have to sleep in a drawer.

*****

Again, thank you to everyone who has reached out with positive thoughts, success stories, caring words, and real and virtual hugs. 

You all are keeping us afloat, and we will need you even more in the coming days, weeks, and months.

Just… thank you.

*****

UPDATE, 10/14/14!!!

 

 

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Because You Asked… And Because I’m an Open Book: Details, the Baby Edition.

I’ve been asked a few times in the past couple of weeks what exactly is going on with my pregnancy.

Is the baby okay?  Are you okay?  Why are you going to the doctor so much? 

Is everything alright??

Short answer?  No.  It’s not.

However, the longer answer is that we’re well on our way to answers and possible solutions, and those are all very positive things.

Let me ‘splain.

…In great detail and at great length.  It’s been a long couple of weeks… you’ve been warned.  🙂

*****

Back  in August, I had a routine anatomy scan at 20 weeks.  Baby looked wonderful, just a little smaller than average, which didn’t much surprise me considering I am married to a hobbit.  🙂

My OB’s office said that because a couple measurements came back smaller than they’d like, they would prefer to send me over to Maternal Fetal Medicine for a follow-up scan, just to see how two weeks and a different machine looked with baby’s measurements.

No biggie, right?

Sure…

So I went to the follow-up, blissfully ignorant that anything would be wrong.  The sonographer was chipper and lovely and said my baby looked beautiful to her.  Once the scan was complete, a whole horde of doctors came into the room with a genetic counselor to talk to me about “my options”.

Uhh… what??

They told me that the ultrasound had showed not only some smaller measurements that were somewhat concerning, but also bright, or echogenic, areas in the bowel.  I was told that neither of these was terribly worrisome on their own, but together could be markers for all sorts of diagnoses like Down’s Syndrome, cystic fibrosis, and other genetic abnormalities.

I was offered more advanced genetic and infections testing, which I readily accepted.

Two weeks later, around 24 weeks at this point, I was told that my genetic testing had come back looking excellent, with very low odds for the baby having any of the main genetic abnormalities they test for, and that since I am not a carrier for cystic fibrosis, that was also not a concern.  My infections panel however, had come back positive for CMV, or cytomegalovirus.

You can research CMV in pregnancy all day long, and it will scare the pants off you.  It’s extremely common, and yet I’d never heard of it.

Well now I’m extremely well-versed and educated.  I know the important things, such as:

  • Most people have been exposed to CMV by the time they reach adulthood, and by then have formed antibodies to the virus, which is not dangerous in pregnancy.
  • The only time it’s really dangerous to have CMV is if you are exposed to it for the first time – a primary infection – during your first trimester of pregnancy.
  • If that happens, there is a much larger chance that the infection could cross into the amniotic fluid and infect the baby.
  • If a baby contracts CMV, it is called Congenital CMV or CCMV, and can have some serious effects on the baby, including blindness, deafness, and mental retardation.
  • There is a much higher chance that a baby born with CCMV will not be impacted by the virus, but one in six will suffer serious issues…
  • The only way to test a baby for infection is either through amniocentesis, or to wait until the baby is born and test her then.
  • There is no standard treatment for CCMV in babies, but there are some antiviral protocols being practiced by Pediatric Infectious Diseases Specialists nationwide.  These treatments cannot reverse serious issues caused by the infection, but can help in possibly preventing further damage from occurring.
  • There is one, somewhat experimental treatment being implemented with babies still in utero… And that treatment is showing excellent results in some large studies that have been and are currently being done.

My current Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist recommends the wait-and-see method, wherein we would just monitor the rest of the pregnancy and once the baby is born, she will be tested for the infection.

If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, or know me in person at all, then you know that I’m just not that type of gal.  No sir.

And so I’ve gone rogue.

Big surprise there, eh?

I have been reaching out to anyone who may be able to help me, including an amazing organization, Stop CMV, who was integral in connecting me with a wonderful doctor – one who is leading the national research being done on CMV in pregnancy.

This man, Dr. Adler, reached out to me and we spoke on the phone for a solid 20 minutes on Monday.  He gave me a metric crap-ton of information, including the names of some doctors in my area who may be able to see me and help me gain access to possible treatment while it can still be effective.

On Tuesday, I received a call from the University of Michigan’s Fetal Diagnostics Center, and they set me up for an appointment for an ultrasound and second-opinion consultation with one of their Maternal Fetal Medicine specialists.  They work fast over there!

On Wednesday – yesterday – I showed up to said appointment (I told you they work fast!) and had an ultrasound at 29 weeks to look over baby and all her measurements yet again.

The sonographer and two separate doctors confirmed that the echogenic bowel has disappeared.  There are no further signs of infection that they can see, except some somewhat smaller measurements – however, baby is just measuring a bit small overall – nothing scary.  Also, again, married to a hobbit.  So there’s that.

I was reassured that my baby looks healthy and great.  Her brain is even measuring a bit advanced for her age, so I’m going to assume she’s a smart little gal, too.  🙂

And that’s when the appointment got interesting.

The MFM doctor sat me down and told me that in her opinion (and in the opinions of the experts also studying this virus…), the only real way to confirm if baby has this infection while there is still a chance to possibly treat it is amniocentesis.

I nodded, hoping that she would want to talk about scheduling this procedure for sometime soon.  I’m eager to have these yes or no results in my hand so the husband and I can have either a.) the relief of knowing that our girl doesn’t have this possibly dangerous infection, or b.) knowing that she does, and having the ability to then pursue treatment and form a game plan.

This wonderful doctor then told me her plan:  to send me to get some lunch, and then have me come back upstairs for an amniocentesis.

That day.

In like an hour.

…I was a little stunned.  I mean, holy CRAP do they work fast!

So I took her up on it.

*****

In case you’re not familiar with what an amniocentesis actually is, I can give you a quick description.

A doctor takes a needle about eight inches long, and pokes it into your belly, through layers of muscle and fat, and into your uterus – all guided very carefully by ultrasound of course – to get a two-tablespoon sample of your amniotic fluid for testing.

Sounds fairly simple, but there’s soooooo much more than that.

In my case, baby was relaxing after lunch, taking a bit of a snooze upon our first investigation by ultrasound.  The doctor found a good spot to gather the fluid, and inserted the needle.

Sidenote:  When a needle is inserted into your skin, it stings.  When a needle is inserted into your uterus, you cramp up like you’re having a CONTRACTION.

Once the cramping subsided, the doctor started carefully watching the ultrasound so she could get a fluid sample.  Shouldn’t take more than a minute, she said.  Most babies, if they even notice, usually move away from the needle, so there’s really no danger to the baby, she said.

Apparently my baby is a curious little rebel, because she attempted to GRAB THE NEEDLE INSERTED INTO MY UTERUS.

There was never really any danger of her being harmed, as the doctor had the needle tip well out of her reach before she was close enough, but the whole situation caused the amnio to come to a screeching halt.  The needle was removed, no sample was taken, and I was told to breathe and relax for a few minutes and they would try again.

AGAIN.

So yes.  I basically had TWO amniocenteses yesterday.

SUCH FUN.

The second attempt at the procedure was quick and successful, though still very painful, and I was told to lay back and relax for a few minutes while they prepared my shot of Rhogam.

Oh yeah.  My blood type is negative, and the husband’s is positive, so anytime something like this occurs where there’s a chance that the baby’s blood could mix with mine, I get to have a really awesome shot with yet another giant needle.  My last shot was a week ago at my routine 28 week OB check-up where I was told as a reward for passing my glucose screening, I would get a shot in the arm.

YAY.  SHOTS!  And not the fun kind.

So today I feel somewhere in between a pincushion and a waterbed that’s been stabbed and patched.  Moving a little slowly, and overall just a bit sore.

The good news is that despite my tiny, big-brained, strong-willed child’s antics during the procedure, my amnio results should be in early next week.

If the results are positive, we can know that certainly the baby is exposed to, and likely has the infection, and we can start the process of pursuing treatment to help prevent the possibility of serious side-effects.

If the results are negative, we can breathe easy, knowing that baby will almost certainly not be born with, or be impacted by this infection.

Obviously we’re hoping for the latter, but if the results do come back positive, it’s nice to know that there’s a solid plan in place, and a doctor who very much supports our hopes for treatment, no matter if it is a bit experimental.

*****

And so that’s where we are today.

My apologies for writing such a novel, but the past few weeks have been quite a roller coaster ride, to say the least.  It only makes sense to keep those closest to us in the loop, and we will definitely update once we have next week’s results.

Thank you to all of you who have reached out, offered to help, listen, provided information, or just generally cared enough to be present during the craziness we’ve been trying to manage.

I know there’s only more crazy to come in the next few months, but it certainly helps to know that we have such an amazing support system, as always, and without fail.

I love you guys, and this kid will too.  🙂

Status

Viability and Uncertainty

Monday, September 15th, 2014.  25w4d.

I know it’s been quiet over here, and partially it’s just been because life, as it will do, has become so overwhelmingly busy the past few weeks that it’s taken every last ounce of effort on my part to even keep in touch with people who call or email me.  It’s been cuh-RAZY.

The other part has to do with the fact that there are some things happening that I’ve been trying to process, trying to work through, and attempting to handle completely within the confines of marriage, but I’m finding that I – we – may need help.

And so, as I always do, I’m turning to you, my readers and the wide reach of the interwebs, for help.

First, let me tell you the story of how something totally common I’d never even heard of is currently possibly endangering our precious Jelly Bean…

*****

Nearly six weeks ago at our 20-week anatomy scan, the doctor said that everything looked great with the baby, just that she was measuring a bit small in a couple of areas, including her head measurement.  Since neither the husband or I are particularly large people, we, and the doctor, chalked this up to genetics and were told it likely wasn’t a reason to worry.

Since Jelly Bean fell below a certain percentile in her head circumference, however, we were referred to Maternal Fetal Medicine for a follow-up scan two weeks later.  Every indication was that with the better machines, two full weeks, and a different sonographer, baby’s measurements would probably show up at the second scan well within range.

Well, that wasn’t the case.  Baby’s head measurement was still small, although her brain looks perfect, and there was an echogenic or bright area visible in her bowel.  These two findings can be markers for all sorts of genetic abnormalities, Downs Syndrome, cystic fibrosis, or signs of infection, as I was told when I was ambushed by three perinatologists and a genetic counselor moments after my ultrasound ended.

I was stunned that this was such a big deal, but carefully weighed through the options presented to me and ultimately decided to have a more advanced genetic screening panel (Verifi) and an infections TORCH panel done that day.

The Verifi results came back around a week later, and all indications are that this baby girl has an extremely low risk for trisomies and other genetic issues for which I was tested.  This is pretty much in line with what my first and second trimester screening labs showed, as well, so I was relieved.

The TORCH panel also showed that I am not infected with toxoplasmosis, parvovirus (the human version of this strain is commonly called Fifth’s Disease), or the other infections on the panel.

Except one.  Cytomegalovirus, or CMV, is the one infection for which I tested positive.  The two-part testing showed that I have been exposed in the past, but also that I have had either a recent infection or a resurgence of an old infection.  CMV is one of the herpes family of viruses like chicken pox or shingles, and can lie dormant in your system after exposure for a long time.  Occasionally, pregnancy can cause it to reemerge, and many times without symptoms.

I had never heard of this infection before.  I’ve heard of toxoplasmosis – that’s the one you can get if you are in contact with the cat litter while pregnant, and I’ve heard of parvovirus because our dog had it when I was in high school – although I didn’t realize there were different variations that humans could also get – and not from dogs, from each other.  But CMV?  Never heard of it.  So why were these doctors talking to me like I should be terrified?

Well, upon researching on my own, I discovered that when a woman is exposed to and infected with CMV for the first time during the first half of pregnancy, there is a 60% chance her unborn baby can also get the infection, called Congenital CMV.  There’s currently no real treatment (other than one that’s being done on a rather experimental level), and the infection in the baby can cause a range of things from hearing and vision loss, to profound mental and physical disabilities, to stillbirth and infant death.

It can also cause nothing.  There’s just no way to know.

There are odds and chances and percentages, but again, no way to know if the baby does, in fact,  have the infection until birth, and no real way to know how this infection, should she have it, will impact her life.

At some point, while all this was happening, I reached 24 weeks – viability.  Except, in this case… is it?  It’s hard to say.  Either way, I’m amazed to have made it this far, and I hope and pray every single day that the little lady ninja-kicking my spleen on the regular will be strong and healthy.  She’s a fighter like her mama, that much I know for the sheer fact that she even exists.

*****

So what now?

Good question.  Upon doing hours and hours of research, I found a resource with a children’s hospital in Texas that specializes in CMV in infants and in pregnant mothers.  I found that there is a blood test that can sometimes help determine if this particular infection is more than six months old, or less.  The test isn’t exact, so it may be inconclusive, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take.  I had the labs run almost two weeks ago, and the results should be in soon…

From there, if I’m able to determine that I likely contracted the illness prior to pregnancy, I can perhaps worry a bit less.  If the test shows that I likely did become infected during pregnancy, then I will have to move forward.

Forward with what?

I don’t know.  All I know is that I’m currently being seen by a very small hospital Maternal Fetal Medicine department, and not even with the hospital chain I wish to deliver with in this area.  There are some insurance politics at play here, but I may have to force the issue and skirt around my OB’s office to see a more regional specialist.  From there, I hope to secure treatment through a doctor and hospital with a high-level NICU, because my baby will have to go through a barrage of tests after birth to find out if she has this infection, and if so, what – if any – symptoms she may be showing.

Another thing to consider is that there is that little experimental treatment that I mentioned before.  It’s not done regularly – my doctor here had never even heard of it and assured me that no one in this area would attempt it (how he knows that is beyond me…) – but it IS done, and with great success and little risk, actually.  I would like to find a MFM doctor who might consider it, and I’m willing to commit to a hospital over an hour away from my home to make that happen, risky though it may be to consider having to travel that distance in the winter to deliver.

On one hand, I feel like I have zero options – wait until the baby is born, have her tested, and plan your life at that moment around those results and whatever unpredictable events may occur thereafter.

On the other, I feel like there are so many different directions I can go to search for help – and I do feel that I need to search for help, because I feel that I’m very clearly only getting the one “wait and see” option from my current providers.

All of this uncertainty and feeling that I’m left to advocate for myself, and my baby, completely on my own is so reminiscent of what I went through while struggling with infertility.  It’s familiar, and disheartening at the same time.

I blame myself, although the doctors say there’s no way for me to have known I was exposed to this virus.  I think they don’t realize that I blame myself more so for finally, after so long, just being happy.  I forgot all about that other shoe dropping, and when it did, I was completely broadsided.

*****

So here we are.  Like every pregnant mother, I’m hoping and praying for a healthy baby with an easy delivery, but unlike every mother, I’m also hoping and praying with every fiber of my being that this baby will test negative for an infection that could make her little life very difficult, and worse, even very short.

The doctors tell me there’s no use in worrying, and that 60% of babies don’t get the infection.  They tell me that the abnormalities that showed up on the ultrasounds they’ve seen could be things that just correct on their own and may not be directly related to the infection at all.  They tell me that I may end up with a perfectly healthy baby who has a perfectly normal life.

I wish I could just blindly accept that, but for me, as it’s always been, I can’t just sit back and live with those what-ifs.

If there’s something that can be done, even on an experimental level, I’m going to pursue it.  This baby is due in roughly 100 days, which means that I have around three months to do everything in my power as a mother and informed patient to ensure that she is given every chance at a normal life.

So here we are.  A new normal, yet again.

Different, but so familiar.

And yet, there’s so much more at stake now…

But one thing’s for sure – I will never, ever give up.

*****

If you have experience with CMV during pregnancy, or have a child impacted by Congenital CMV, please let me know.  Also, if you have, or know someone who has undergone the experimental treatment for CMV on babies in utero with Cytogam, please reach out.  I am desperate for information on both of these subjects. 

Thank you!

What Has Changed… And What Hasn’t.

Monday, July 28th, 2014.  18w 4d. Obviously becoming pregnant is a situation that is rife with change.  Your body changes, your lifestyle changes, your heart and soul change.  I’ve noticed some of the obvious changes in my waistline and bra size, yes, but there have been other, more subtle changes happening behind the scenes that

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Knocked Up: the Details

July 10th, 2014.  16w 0d.

***This is obviously a pregnancy-related and detail heavy post.***

  ***If you’re not in a place to read this right now, then this is your friendly warning.***

I know that there are those who probably want to know some of the down ‘n dirty details of this pregnancy, and those people are about to be either 1. very happy, or 2. very grossed out.

Here comes the TMI, ladies and gents.

I’m guessing we should start at the beginning.  In the first days, I didn’t feel like I was the walking embodiment of the miracle of life or anything.  The fact is that my only real “symptoms” were pretty much exactly what I would have been feeling had Aunt Flo not missed her bus that month.

Breast tenderness, check.  Wee bit o’ cramping, check.  Bloating, check.  Fatigue, check.  Normal stuff.

The only things that were different from what I’d usually experience happened well after I’d confirmed the pregnancy with the doctor’s office and eleventy thousand peesticks.  One was a very real and apparent need for food in the morning.  I was never nauseated per se, but if I didn’t get something – even liquid – into my stomach shortly after getting out of bed, I’d have a killer gag reflex and just feel sort of woozy until I rectified the situation.

The other fun little gift was far less talked about in the world of early pregnancy symptoms, and came in the form of an ungodly amount of cervical mucus.  I’m talking flash flood warning levels here.  SOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooo GROOOOOOOSSS.

I had a couple of teensy bouts of not-quite-spotting that were like beigey-orange mucus that happened at random times, and of course these occurrences sent me into anxiety spirals from which there was little escape.  I was constantly terrified in that first trimester, and things like this didn’t help.

And while we’re talking about gross things that have evacuated my body, let’s talk about gross things that refuse to evacuate my body.  Around 9 weeks, the doc told me to start taking an iron supplement, because I was slightly anemic.  No biggie, and I figured I’d work on upping iron in my diet as well.  Ever since then, I’ve basically been on Poop Watch 2014.  It’s like a blessed event when it does happen.  I figured out that cherry season (thank you, Michigan!!) is my friend, so that’s been helping.  Prunes?  No sir.  Apricots are just overkill, and we shall never speak of the events that occurred after my last consumption of that devil fruit.  Just let it go.

Around week 9 or 10, we went on a trip to California for a wedding.  In wine country.  Where the vegetarian menus were composed of lovely delicious things covered in OMGDANGER!! soft cheeses.  So that was an adventure, ha.  Flying was  a little nerve-wracking for me, as I wasn’t sure if I’d suddenly develop debilitating nausea on the plane, or if flying would cause me to spot… or worse.  It all turned out to be fine, however, and I managed to have plenty to eat at the veggie-events.

Sometime around 1o or 11 weeks, I dug the home fetal doppler I ordered a year and a half ago out of the bottom of my hope chest.  It had never even been opened, sadly.  I watched numerous videos online of women finding their babies’ heartbeats at like 9 weeks, so I was confident that I could do it, too.

I was wrong.  I failed the first time I tried, and gave up on the grounds that it was too early.  Maybe a week later, in a fit of frustration, I tried it again, and was surprisingly, almost immediately successful.  It was such a great sound to hear – one we hadn’t heard since Jelly Bean’s first ultrasound at 7 weeks.

I’m now a pro at using the doppler at home, and while I know I shouldn’t abuse it, I often listen to baby’s heart before bed as reassurance that he or she is still in there, growing away.  I think that once I’m feeling regular movement, I’ll need the doppler less and less… Until then, it’s my crutch, but it’s helping my anxiety like you wouldn’t believe.

So really, that was it for the first trimester.  The fatigue got worse for a while, and then it got better around maybe 11 weeks.  The weird morning gaggy thing disappeared sometime around then as well, so I’m guessing that was the beginning of my transition into that fabled Second Trimester Honeymoon Phase that people talk about.

Oh, wait.  I mentioned the bloating earlier, but didn’t go into enough detail, clearly.

From about 7 weeks until probably 12, I was so bloated that my pants wouldn’t button – granted, many of them were getting a bit snug before my uterus started to expand, but still…  It was ridiculous and nothing I did changed it.  I was dressing to hide a bump that no one knew about yet.  I  felt like it was obvious to EVERYONE, although the handful of people that knew later on never said anything.

Around 12 weeks, the bloating faded a bit, but by that point my uterus had started its ascent into my abdomen.  By 13 weeks, simply unbuttoning my pants was no longer a comfortable option, and zipping them was becoming laughable as well.  I picked up a Bella Band around 14 weeks, and that’s helped a bit…

Yesterday, just shy of 16 weeks, I bought maternity pants.

Shit’s getting real up in here, folks.

Honestly, I think this little front-pudge looks like more burrito than baby, but I can tell that it’s on its way to a discernible bump.  Soon.  Very soon.

As for the next few milestone moments, what I’m looking forward to most is a tie between finding out this little Bean’s gender, and feeling regular movement.  I’ve noticed a few odd sensations at inconsistent intervals that have felt a bit like rolls I guess, but I have no clue if that was baby movement or sluggish bowel movement.  It’s a little early for that quite yet anyway, as I hear many don’t feel movement until after 20 weeks.

What will be nice is that we should be able to find out baby’s gender before the 20 week anatomy scan.  I had a cervical procedure many  years ago, and because of this, I’m being monitored by ultrasound for cervical shortening every two weeks from 16 to 24 weeks.  My first scan in that series is this Friday, and they’ve said that there’s a chance they’ll be able to tell the gender then.

I’m trying not to get my hopes up, but I’m really, REALLY hoping this kid cooperates and shows the goodies.  I NEED TO KNOW.

So anyway, that’s about it.  I’m not really letting myself get carried away with all the weekly updates and bump pics and that kind of thing because it’s not really me, and because I’m just not in a place yet where I feel I can let myself go with that kind of completely unbridled excitement.

Maybe someday.

I did check out a due date website that emails me things I apparently need to know, and they say that Jelly Bean is approximately the size of an avocado this week.

…Which is appropriate because if one more person asks me what we’ll name this kid, I’m going to tell them Avocado because it’s gender neutral, walk away, and leave them to wonder if I’m serious.

Mwahahaha.

Status

Survivor’s Guilt and the Future of This Blog

July 8th, 2014.  15w 5d.

I’ve been asked – more than once – and I’ve wondered myself for some time now what exactly will become of this blog now that I’m on my way to the “other side” of the infertility struggle.

In many ways, I just don’t know how to answer.

Yes, I want this to remain a resource for those who are struggling – and an outlet for myself, as I still struggle as well.

No, I don’t want to lose readers who just can’t bear to hear about pregnant life at this point in their journeys.

Yes, I want to continue to tell my story, the same way I always have – no holds barred, TMI ablaze.

No, I don’t want to stop writing… nor do I want to start a whole new blog at the moment.

Yes, I want to become a mommy.

No, I do not want to become a mommy blogger.

So that’s where I am.  Halfway between where I’m headed and where I’ve spent the last five-ish years.

Limbo is a sucky place to be.

I don’t want to turn away anyone who isn’t in a place to hear pregnancy updates, and I understand that some will have to back away from my posts for exactly that reason.  I do understand, truly.  I’ve had to do the same at points in my journey as well… It comes with the territory, and I can only hope that my story offers some light at the end of the tunnel for those who are still in the trenches – even if they’re not in a place to read it.

I also don’t want to stop blogging details of my life, because the infertility struggle doesn’t just stop when you become pregnant.  If anything, it can come crashing back as hardcore as it ever was in the beginning, and the need for support and an outlet is even greater than before.

An Infertile once is an Infertile always, despite success or resolution.

I do feel a large amount of survivor’s guilt as well.  I feel it when I post something on my personal Facebook, knowing that I have friends who are struggling.  I try to remain sensitive to that and not blast my news feed with ultrasound or bump pics.  I tried to be sensitive when we officially “came out” a couple of weeks back, emailing those friends I knew were struggling before posting the announcement photo.  I wanted them to have a heads-up, as I know I’ve appreciated having one in the past.

I feel badly that I am allowing myself to be happy.  I have been such a steadfast and reliably infertile confidante for so many over the years, that now when I’ve sort of crossed over, I worry that those who relied on me won’t have the same support I was able to offer before.

Part of this worry comes from being fiercely protective of my support group, and worrying that I won’t be able to carry the torch for them for much longer… at least not without an obvious and growing abdominal-area distraction which could cause discomfort for all in its presence.  I want them to continue, and to be well taken care of by whoever comes forward to take over hosting (or co-hosting) duties.  Most of all, I don’t want to be a drain on the complete openness we’ve managed to accomplish at our meetings and in our little online group.

Basically, I’m a woman stuck between two worlds.

My heart still leaps to my throat when I see a pregnancy announcement.  I feel dread and fear and jealousy before I am able to tell myself that it’s okay, and that I’m there too now.

I worry more now than I ever did in the past.  I have this precious thing now, and I feel like every time I do something that’s considered a big step in a normal pregnancy journey (like starting a baby registry… YIKES), I feel like I’m tempting fate and waiting for that other shoe to come down on my head.  Hard.  With a pile of bricks in its wake.

I have two baby name books in my possession.  My mom bought me one, and I picked up the other… I’ve wanted to have one for years, but always felt it too jinx-y to actually own one.  Now that I have them, I can’t bring myself to highlight them.  Any step like that feels like a step toward a permanence I’m terrified to look forward to.

People want to plan baby showers, and they ask me about nursery colors and bedding designs and baby names, and it’s all I do to quell that inner voice that’s screaming “OH MY GOD STOP!  THE MORE WE TALK ABOUT THIS, THE MORE I SPIRAL INTO INCAPACITATING WORRY THAT IT WILL NEVER ACTUALLY HAPPEN!!!”

Infertility is terrifying.

Miscarriage is terrifying.

Pregnancy is terrifying.

Those two pink lines do not in any way solve every problem infertility causes.  While I thank God every single day for the reason that I’m so damn terrified all the time, and while I know how unbelievably lucky I am to be here right now, I still struggle.

I think I always will.

And that’s why I need this space.  Badly.

I need to write, and I need all of you.

I want you to know that if you need to back away at this time, I completely understand.  I’ve done it, too.  It’s what you need, and that’s perfectly fine.

As for me, I will be here.  I will be sharing what I can without blasting pregnancy crap down your throats.  I will struggle and I’ll take you with me, and I will (hopefully) triumph and you’ll be there too.

So there it is.  I’m staying here.

Steadfast, terrified, confused, worried, and so happy in those small moments in between.

You can be here, too.  If you want, and when you want.

I’m here for me, but I’m here for you as well.

Stick around if you can… I get the feeling that this ride’s just getting started.

The Big Fat Confession

I’ve been sitting on a secret. It’s kind of a big one. I’ve struggled with keeping it, but ultimately, I stand by my decision as it kept others from suffering, and allowed the husband and me time to process and deal with some things… So, without further ado, here’s my confession. ***** Back at the

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