Friday, December 21, 2007

Ticket to Ride

I'll be leaving tonight for vacation in California with my SIL & BIL and their kids. First, though, we'll be staying at a resort in Palm Springs where I will be shopping, eating good food, and getting my first maternity massage. I can't wait. Admittedly, I'm a little nervous about something happening to Blobby, either from the flight itself or from the stress of travelling. Even though the stories you hear about radiation or lack of oxygen are probably just myths, I still worry. Just in case, my SIL gave me a couple of names of high-risk OBs so I have somewhere to go *just in case*. Also, I got copies of my medical chart to carry with me so if something *God forbid* were to happen, the doctors there would know exactly what was going on.

And just a couple of updates. We met with the genetic counselor at my hospital to discuss amnio. We went into the appointment quite undecided about having the amnio and left leaning more towards not having it. I know I'm of 'advanced maternal age', blah blah blah, but I'm not really sure how we would use the information we learn. I'll go into details at a later time. We have some time to decide for sure, and between now and when I would have to make a decision (around 20 weeks), I will be having another NT scan and an AFP blood test at 16 weeks. Plus, the day of the amnio, I am scheduled for a Level 2 ultrasound which should flag anything that appears to be not quite right.

Also, per my doctor's orders, I have been on a lowered dose of Prometrium for the past 6 days. I was on 200mg twice a day, and now I am on 100mg twice a day. Because I was so nervous about weaning off of the progesterone supplements, I went in for a blood draw yesterday. Thankfully, my p4 rose to over 50, so it seems like my placenta has started kicking in its own supply of progesterone. On Sunday, I will lower my dose once again to 100mg once a day and have my blood checked after I return from my trip. Hopefully, in two weeks, hormone supplements will be a thing of the past.

Lastly, we rented a doppler fetal monitor and I've been having a lot of fun playing around with it. I posted a link way down at the bottom of the page, to download Blobby's heartbeat if you're interested in hearing it. To me, it's the best sound in the world. Listening to it has an immediate calming effect and it has been a great way for me to continue to bond with my baby.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Strawberry Fields Forever

Today is December 8, 2007. John Lennon was killed 27 years ago today. I'm not quite sure what I want to say about this that hasn't already been said by millions of people. Except that he will always be one of the people I respect the most, for his music, his social activism, his love for his family, and his dedication to making this world a better place.

Every year on this day I become so melancholy, thinking about how such an amazing life ended so abruptly and way too early. This year I have been thinking mostly about how important it is that DH and I instill in our child the same values that John fought for.

With all the horrible wars and genocide and atrocities going on in the world today, it's often so scary to think that we will be responsible for bringing a new life into it. What will the world be like when our child is old enough to understand that there is something beyond his or her tiny universe? I shudder when I consider the answer to this question sometimes. All we can do as parents is to do whatever we can to try to make this world a better place, not just for our child, but for everyone.

"You may say that I'm a dreamer, But I'm not the only one, I hope someday you'll join us, And the world will live as one"

Just imagine. :-)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Mother Nature's Son

I do a lot of day-dreaming and mind-wandering as I shower. Sometimes I really have to concentrate on what I am doing so that I do not overlook the cleansing of any important body parts. This morning, I had an interesting internal discussion. And it's no wonder either; after so much research on genetic issues and screenings, and breathing a huge sigh of relief that so far everything looks good, my mind is clearly still focused on this issue.

I started thinking about how so many things can go wrong during pregnancy. I have come to know so many women who unfortunately have lost pregnancies at varying lengths of gestation. I have also read so many stories about babies who were born with various disorders. However, there are people in this world who parent perfectly normal, healthy children, and who dote on these 'perfect' children until the time comes when they find out that their child is gay, lesbian, or bisexual.

It just boggles the mind how anyone could look at any healthy child and not feel completely blessed to have had him or her, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. I can't understand how some wouldn't feel most fortunate to have been able to produce such a perfect offspring, especially considering how much can go wrong during a pregnancy. I just don't get it.

If you happen to find out that your child is lesbian, gay, or bisexual, please count your lucky stars that your child is healthy and has the potential to lead a happy, fulfilling life. Be supportive of his or her lifestyle. I for one, would be so grateful if my child is born healthy, with ten little fingers and ten little toes, and an unlimited potential for growth. If this baby turns out to be a girl, my wish for her is that she lead a fulfilling life and find love with whomever she pleases. And if I have a son, my greatest hope for him is that he lead a fulfilling life and find love with whomever he pleases. And if he becomes a famous stylist or fashion designer, that would be great too. ;P

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Do You Want to Know a Secret

I'd say that for the most part, the cat is out of the bag. That is, my big mouth couldn't stay shut any longer. I told my job last Thursday (only the people I work closely with), I told two of my close friends over the weekend, and sent out a mass email last night. My carefully thought-out plan to wait until after today's follow-up appointment at the OB went right down the crapper. After all, it's not like I was going to gain any more information about the pregnancy today. We had already seen the baby on ultrasound and had learned that so far, all genetic screenings came back fine. Today was just more like a touching base with my doctor. Plus, I gave the ok to my parents to tell whatever family members they wished. Which basically means that the entire family will know in a matter of minutes.

My doctor's appointment went pretty well today. First I was weighed. Strangely enough, I lost 3 pounds since the last time I was there three weeks ago. I had my blood pressure taken, which was normal. I had to PIAC (pee in a cup) so the nurse could dip those strips in and watch them turn various colors, indicating that my protein and glucose levels were also normal. I discussed with my doctor my primary concern which remains my fluctuating progesterone levels. Last time I saw her I was switched to the oral progesterone and I wanted to know if I would be weaned off of them, now that I am in the second trimester. She agreed to wean me off of them slowly, continuing with 200mg twice a day through the end of this week, then lowering the daily dose to 200mg once a day, after which I would have my levels checked. If it appears that the placenta is starting to kick in with its own supply of progesterone, I'll stay on 200mg/day for the next couple of weeks and then go down to 100mg/day for a bit and have my levels rechecked. I appreciate that she understands my concerns and is willing to monitor my levels before discontinuing the medication.

So my poor vein was attacked yet again. Two different nurses had to try to get some blood out of my one poor, collapsing vein. Neither could get anything so we had to go in the hand, which HURTS! The sweet nurse who was doing the torturing said such a nice thing to me. She said that I was already such a good mom because I was willing to sacrafice so much for the good of my baby. I thought that was just such a nice thing for her to say, as she bandaged my soon-to-be bruised, throbbing hand.

We also heard the heartbeat. It was the first time that the doppler was used, and it worked. Good to know. We will be renting one without a doubt. There's something about that swish swish sound that brings me just as much joy as the sound of my kitties purring.

So my due date of June 14, 2008 was confirmed. Of course, due to my myomectomy I would be going in for a scheduled C-section 7-10 days earlier. I'm not supposed to go into labor, which could put pressure on all of the healed incisions remaining from my prior surgery. I hope that nothing out of the ordinary happens before then. I would like (please, Whoever is in Charge of This) this to be a very uneventful pregnancy, thank you very much.

I almost forgot to mention that I got a call yesterday from my genetic counselor, who told me that the genetic sequencing I had done two weeks ago did not reveal any Tay-Sachs mutation anywhere on the gene. Thank you again. Things seem to still be going well for us, knock on wood, cross your fingers, poo poo hand to God.

Just please, let it continue.

EDITED TO ADD- Today's p4 level was only 21, so my doctor wants me to continue with 200mg of Prometrium twice a day instead of tapering off. I'm very glad that my doctor is being so proactive about this.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Hello, Goodbye

I spent the summer of 1978 in summer camp, as I had done every summer since 1976. Except 1978 was a special year. It was the year that the organizers of the annual Rah-Rah show decided that it would be an all-Beatles production. Each group in the camp was to learn a particular Beatles song and perform it at the show. Our group's song was Hello, Goodbye.

And so began my undying love for the music of the Beatles, and everything that followed from John, Paul, George, and Ringo. The typical camp songs we sang on the long bus rides were replaced with Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, Octopus's Garden, and Yellow Submarine. I ran out and bought the red and blue albums (album being the operative word here, since after all, this was 1978) and listened to them constantly. Camp was such a special place because it introduced me to new things that I might not have otherwise gotten to experience.

Camp will also always be very special because it was there that I met my friend, Tricia. Except she was always Patti back then. We went to camp together every summer from 1977 through 1985. We went to different schools during the year, but every summer were reunited as if we had never been separated. After camp ended, we went our separate ways to high school. Coincidentally, we ended up going to the same college and bumped into each other on occasion; but we were so different than the kids we had been at camp, and hung out with different crowds. Patti was a sorority girl and hung out at all the cool sorority bars, and I was so not the sorority girl. Even so, we had a long history together and acknowledged it whenever we met by accident.

Years later (1999), I was working at my first Audiology job. Strangely enough, in a weird sequence of events, I found out that Patti (now calling herself Tricia) was also an Audiologist and was working with a friend of mine. A very bizarre coincidence, especially considering that our college didn't even have an Audiology program and therefore we both had to go back to school to first take pre-requisites, and then earn our degrees. It was such a strange feeling, to know that the little girl I had befriended so many years ago ended up on the same path as I did. We got together a few times and reminisced about the good old days. Eventually, I switched jobs after much prodding from her and my other friend. Now we were working together and it was so great to see her (almost) every day and to know that we shared a special experience from our childhood.

Except that things weren't going so well for Tricia. She had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and was undergoing chemotherapy every week. Her full-time position at our company turned into part-time, when keeping up with medical appointments and overcoming the effects of the chemo and other various medications became too much for her. Eventually she quit when life became too overwhelming for her. She wasn't only trying to deal with her own illness, but was mourning the loss of her father in 2005 and subsequently, her mother in 2006. Nobody should have to go through the pain that she went through. It broke my heart.

Despite her own troubles and declining physical health, Tricia would talk to me about my infertility and was a great listener. She wanted to try to forget her own problems and would always ask me to tell her what was going on in my life. Of course, at that time, the only thing I could focus any attention on was my struggle to conceive. She told me all the time that she would pray for me. Tricia was a very faithful person, and even though I didn't believe that prayer would miraculously fix what was broken, I appreciated so much that she was taking the time to include me in her prayers, when she clearly had so many other things to worry about.

This past summer, Tricia got very sick. Her cancer spread to her lungs and her brain, and she was living in a hospice on the other side of the country. By the time we found out that her health had declined so drastically, her brain had already deteriorated so much that she couldn't carry on a conversation. I was just beginning my IVF cycle and couldn't talk to my dear friend, whom I knew would want to keep me in her prayers and hope for the best for me.

The day I had my third beta drawn and found out that I was indeed pregnant, I debated whether to somehow tell Tricia. By that point, she was barely conscious. I had attempted to talk to her the week before, but it was a difficult conversation. I had no idea if she was even understanding what was being said. However, the doctors were giving her no more than a couple of weeks more to live. I wanted her to know that her prayers had been answered. I also knew that if I waited, it might be too late. But I also struggled with the idea because the last thing I wanted to do was to make her more upset about her situation, since she wouldn't be around to see my baby born and subsequently grow up.

Knowing the kind of person Tricia was, I decided that it would make her happy to hear good news. She was always about wanting the best for her friends. So I emailed her aunt, who had been a loving and attentive caretaker in Tricia's final weeks. I told her aunt that if she noticed a moment when Tricia appeared to be lucid, to please pass along the message that I was pregnant. A couple of days later, I received a reply from her aunt, telling me that she sat down with Tricia and told her my news. Tricia smiled and nodded, and her aunt just knew that Tricia understood.

Five days later, Tricia passed away. It was a devastating day. Knowing that she would never know my child made it especially hard. However, I was somewhat comforted to know that somewhere in her deteriorating mind, Tricia understood. I was glad that I had made the decision to tell her, and she was the first of my friends to know.

I strongly believe that Tricia came back into my life for a reason. During the brief time that we were reunited as adults, she became a source of strength for me. Tricia was a little thing: short and thin and so delicate-appearing; but she was the strongest person I've ever known. What she endured, no one should have to endure. What she taught me is that no matter what is going on in your life, there's someone who is much worse off than you, so be thankful for what you have. Her situation helped put things in perspective for me. As I was struggling with my infertility, I kept reminding myself that in the grand scheme of things, I was so lucky. I was healthy, had a wonderful family, and was fulfilled in every other aspect of my life. Tricia was the model of a survivor. She was a fighter and hung on until the very end. I miss her so much. There was a reason that our paths crossed. They were meant to cross.

I feel like by the time we said Hello again after so many years, it was time to say Goodbye.

After her death, I asked her to be my baby's guardian angel and look after us. As I am typing this, I have made it to 12 weeks, and I just know that she is here, watching over my baby. I'm not a very religious person, but with so many odds against this pregnancy, I really don't have a better explanation for why our Little Embryo That Could is still hanging on. Our baby is so lucky to have the love of DH's mother Elaine, my grandparents Lillian and Isaac and Elizabeth, and now my dear friend Tricia, to see it safely through.