Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The NT Scan: A cry of relief

I am so pleased to share that yesterday's NT scan went great! Berilac and I have taken some sighs of relief ... and not to mention, shed a few tears. What a day, what a big day.

At about noon yesterday my mom called, a tad frustrated and concerned that I hadn't called her with the NT results yet!! And then I reminded her that the appointment wasn't for another four hours ... we had to wait until 4:30 in the afternoon! So not only was I on pins and needles the whole day, but it sounds like others were too.

I'm not exactly sure how I got any sleep the night before or made it through the entire day without having a heart attack, but as the time drew closer my attention span moved further and further away. Berilac sped up to my work at 4PM to pick me up for the appointment and it wasn't until then that I realized I had forgotten my paperwork for the appointment ... POLLY!!!! ... I was pretty mad at myself, I had been all anal about making sure I had TWO copies of everything I needed and of course I don't remember either of them. ARGH!

We arrive to the hospital to find that there's a ... $6/hour parking fee ... umm, what? That ain't cool. We got it validated because we had an appointment, but we realized our poor family would have to be paying this fee when the baby is born, come December, in order to visit us ... so not cool! But, the saving grace is that they do have valet parking ... WHAT? And no, I'm not delivering in Beverly Hills ... good grief people!

This office had obviously done this work before ... they were like a well oiled machine. When we walked up to the counter they were expecting me and had my paperwork all ready to go! I had partially filled my bladder (as I'm no novice to this full bladder ultrasound experience!) and waited in the EMPTY waiting room. We were called back in minutes. (It's no wonder they make you pay for parking ... this place is on it!)

The ultrasound tech was a delight. She was an older woman who was sweet and sensitive. She had me lay down on the table and she tilted the whole thing back so that my feet were higher than my head (I guess they are used to uncooperative babies?) she had me scootching all over the table to get in just the right position. When she was squirting loads of gel all over my lower tummy I told her that this was our fifth pregnancy but our first living child, I asked her if she wouldn't mind establishing the heartbeat first. She gave a compassionate smile and responded with "of course."

The ultrasound started and immediately we saw a wiggling, back arching, squirming little baby with a regular heartbeat. The image was AMAZING - we could see EVERYTHING! The ultrasound tech told us what we were looking at with each shot: the heart and it's chambers, the entire spine, the brain and everything they expect to see inside the skull, the rib cage, the fingers and toes, the face and the profile.

She took lots of measurements too: the baby's size, my cervix length, and the nuchal fold. The baby was (as usual) measuring a day ahead, my cervix was nice and long and the nuchal fold came out exactly as it should. There was one point in which she took a picture of the empty uterine area above the kid's head and a second picture of the empty area below the kids feet - anybody know why they do that? We asked about the placental placement - I was curious if we had an anterior placenta - which would prohibit feeling the baby's kicks early. The tech told us that the placenta is so large at this point, it's practically everywhere! Then she showed us how it was wrapped from the front to the back.

When she was done the Perinatologist entered the room and retook the nuchal fold measurement and compared it to the tech's measurement - they were equal, the Peri was happy. They told us that our appointment went so quickly because we had the most cooperative baby of the day! Thank you Lord for a wiggling, happy, cooperative baby ... which helped to ease my nerves!

When she was done I was allowed to make an escape to the restroom and we were escorted to the hallway to learn the combined results of the blood test and the scan. Within minutes the Peri came out and told us our results: we are "very low risk" ... and we were happy. Immediately I started crying and Berilac held me while he chuckled a little and asked why I was crying - I told him they were tears of gratefulness and joy.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Monday's 12 1/2 Week Appt

Sorry for the delay in posting, I was busy and I kept leaving the ultrasound picture in inconvenient locations - at home, in the car, etc.

Last Saturday I was scared with a couple of episodes of cramping. The day before I had spent five hours on my feet and during that time had two large bottles of Gatorade, but I don't think that was enough - I was dehydrated for five days after that! And like I mentioned the next morning I had some scary cramps. Immediately, I got off my feet, drank a ton of water, went to the bathroom .. and they subsided ... until the second round came around dinner. I followed the same steps and things resolved much more quickly. Since then I haven't had any strange symptoms or feelings ... but I will say that it heightened the fear at my Monday morning appointment.

So last Monday (6/15) was our first appointment with our OB. It is scary because Berilac (for the last two appointments) has shown up later than me, so they walk me to the exam room alone and I get so worried that he's not going to make it in time - but he has both times. This past week was especially scary because they walked me back to the very first exam room I'd ever seen in their clinic - the one where I learned that the baby from our first pregnancy had died. I took a deep breath and entered the room.

They had me pee in a cup and my protein levels and sugar levels are fine. My blood pressure came in at a nice 110/70 and I haven't gained any weight since Colorado. Then the OB discreetly brought out the Doppler and gently pushed me to my back to place in on my stomach - I was in the middle of a sentence so I hardly recognized what she was doing ... not to mention I've never seen or used a Doppler before. As I lay there I could feel my heart pounding so hard against my ribs, I kept thinking she's not going to be able to find a heartbeat, what if she can't find a heartbeat!!?! ... And after a few minutes of probing around (and pretty low too) she said that all she could hear was my enormously loud heartbeat that was quickening in pace so she said - "let me get the ultrasound machine to calm you down."

When she left the room I put the inside crook of my elbow over my eyes and took deep breaths while Berilac prayed for us. It was so reminiscent of our first appointment there - at that appointment they had left us alone for a few minutes while they found someone else to prove that nobody could find a heartbeat. But this time, the appointment ended differently ... whew.

The doctor came back with the ultrasound machine and for the first time used the abdominal wand. Very quickly she found the little one hanging out tucked back into the uterus. When she found the heartbeat (about 150bpm) - I cried and started breathing again. It was so emotional and I was so scared. Unlike the 10 week appointment the baby wasn't dancing - all the baby gave us was an arm swing which I like to think of as a wave.

In this picture you are looking at the close up head shot of the baby with his/her left arm lifted above his/her head - kind of like in a "Hi Mom!" kind of positioning. The crown of the baby's head is pointing toward the 10 o'clock - so it's not like the baby is straight up and down.

After the appointment we went downstairs for the integrated screening blood work. We should have the results back by Tuesday in the Peri's office, while we do the NT ultrasound.

When we left Berilac was pressing me for a smile. He was so happy that things turned out differently this time and that we found the baby's heartbeat. I shared with him that I was (and still am) a little nervous because our baby was so active last time, and so quiet and subdued this time. The OB kept trying to get the baby to move positions to get a good profile shot, but baby kept in the same spot and only moved to give a wave.

I'm glad, after this appointment, that there's only 8 days between ultrasounds. Our next appointment is on Tuesday at the Perinatologist's office - we will be getting a 1 hour scan where they will look at many different things - specifically measuring the nuchal fold at the back of the baby's neck and checking for a nasal bone. I'm sure they'll do other investigations, but I'm not exactly sure what.

Please keep praying for our little one.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

You've got "the walk!"

I was walking away from a meeting yesterday when a colleague of mine was trailing 20 or so feet behind and she yells down the hallway: "you've got the walk!" and of course I played innocent and said "what walk?" (like I didn't know, I was just hoping she was talking about my gangsa walk?? ... no such luck.) She scurried closer and said "from the back you're looking kind of ..." and she trailed off as she looked down to my belly and then she said "well from the front you look kind of ..." then she looked at me and smiled. I replied, "with child?" and she said "yes."

I told her the cat wasn't out of the bag and we were waiting a few more weeks for some more time and information (that totally went over her head) ... but she said "well you're not going to be able to keep the news a secret for long" and she looked at my belly and winked.

Now, come on ... how many people do you know that overtly ask a clearly NOT OBVIOUSLY pregnant woman ... if she's pregnant ... does she want to be slapped? Luckily for her, I am pregnant and I was delighted that I "look" pregnant.

It's a good thing I'm not sensitive about my weight or anything ... or else my hand might have made contact!


In other news, we had an ultrasound on Monday and I have yet to post the pics and the story - it was quite scary initially but ended up being good. All is well and we're nearly 13 weeks. Our NT scan is on Tuesday afternoon.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Milestone: Our longest pregnancy

This past weekend marked a huge milestone for us ... I can now say that this is our longest pregnancy.

I can't begin to describe the emotional process this has been.

As you've likely noticed, I haven't been as frequent with my posts as I once was. Not to worry, it doesn't mean I've been stressing out over everything, if anything I've been very detached from this pregnancy and this time away has allowed me to connect with "real life" rather than the WWW. For me, it's been an opportunity to get some distance between being on the Internet (and looking up scary things) and just trying to enjoy the day to day. I will say that I have been so grateful for each blood test and each ultrasound that has been reassuring, and the fact that we haven't experienced any bleeding (yet ... and let's hope we don't) we are beyond words grateful. The more time I spend in "real life" the more "normal" this pregnancy feels, if that makes sense.

A lot of women who are pregnant after infertility/loss talk about not knowing where they "fit in" are they infertiles are they fertiles? And I will say that in the beginning I knew exactly where I fit in ... on team infertile. I am a die hard loyalist. I would shock myself as I would look at a pregnant belly and think "she doesn't even know what a gift she's got!" (being completely judgemental and all ... heck, she could have spent years waiting for that belly) ... all the while stowing away my own little pregnant belly ... but I did not want to be "one of them." However, I know that one day (soon, I hope) I will have no choice but to join team fertile ... and even in that transition, you can count on me to represent our team well. When we jump in with both feet, I will not forget the place from where I came.

I spent Memorial Day weekend with some old friends, and as I prepared for the weekend, I took extra time to select cute outfits and matching shoes ... I even packed makeup! (It's been a LOOOOONG time since I've cared what I look like) and I made sure that we executed our schedule to a T, so that we would arrive on time to let the fun weekend begin (also not common for us ;-) ... and there I was, spending time with friends ... caring about my appearance, looking forward to seeing folks, engaging in conversations, getting energized by time with people - rather than being sapped and crying at every "alone" opportunity. You see, I was realizing that I was coming back to Polly. My personality was coming back, my zest for life was coming back, I was coming back. Only, I wasn't and I'm not ... the same Polly I had been 3 years ago. When my girlfriends asked me how I was doing, I didn't mean to breakdown in tears, but I did. I am so incredibly grateful to have my life (a life) back and I am so incredibly grateful for all of the wonderful things that have happened through this extremely painful journey, and I want to honor those experiences. But I also want to honor the major sense of loss that coming back to myself has pointed out. I am no longer the same woman. I am not sure if I'm angry about that or grateful for that. I can no longer look at people the same way. I can no longer experience life the same way. I am softened. I am compassionate. I am praying to God that this will continue to mold me and shape me to become more like him ... and that He will continue to move me further and further away from feelings of bitterness and betrayal.

I'm not sure how other women have navigated this. I know for me, it's been and it will continue to be a growth process that sharpens me ... there will be no light switch moment where I go from being infertile to fertile. But I know that each milestone carries me further and further into facing a change in my life.

I'm sorry I haven't shared this as much as I could have ... I hope to keep you in the loop better, once I jump in with both feet. Which, by the way, my OB has suggested I wait until 15 weeks to do, rather than 12 1/2 ... she's on vacation during my 14th week or else she would have suggested that ... bummer for postponing the all-out celebration.

Thanks for listening (again) ...