#Microblog Mondays: If You Could Go Back…

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Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

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I try to make difficult life decisions by choosing the path of least regret. During IF treatment, what would I regret had I done, or not done? That way I can’t (hopefully) look back and say, “coulda, woulda, shoulda”. Obviously one can only make decisions based on the information they have, and sometimes it’s not all of the information, so what then?

I’ve been contacted by an up and coming fertility website to be a contributing writing, and I’m trying to tap the community to see what sort of information you wish you had during your IF struggles, or if you’re still in it, what are you looking for? What sorts of things did you find that helped you? I’m hoping to put out some original, and helpful content that maybe wasn’t there for you, or me but can be there for those who end up down this path, so my ears are open to suggestion!

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Six Degrees of (Infertility) Separation

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With the stats being 1 in 6 couples suffering from infertility (in Canada), chances are nearly everyone knows someone affected. They just may not know it. As it is not something that is openly discussed (for the most part), many of us suffer in silence. Over time I have found many sisters in infertility, but you don’t always know it about someone right off the bat. 

This week I took Baby Girl to see my coworkers, and say goodbye to them as I am moving to a different office when I return to work next week. While chatting with my former cubicle buddy she divulged that her daughter is getting “her tubes flushed” (I’m guessing an HSG) and that her and her long term boyfriend have been trying for the past three years (unbeknownst to her). Her daughter is around 36 years old, I’ve met her on multiple occasions, but don’t know her well. My coworker has made mention to me multiple times that she wants a grand baby. She even used to sometimes make comments to me about having a baby. I can only imagine how she goes on to her daughter about giving her a grand baby. When she would mention it to me, I would caution her not to push. She didn’t know what I was going through, and even after I got pregnant I didn’t discuss how it came to be with any of my office mates.

When my coworker told me about her daughters troubles, I told her it had taken us a long time to get pregnant too, and that I had had the same procedure to check my tubes. Needless to say, she was surprised to hear it. She then went on to say that her daughter doesn’t want to do IVF, and I told her that was how we got pregnant, again very surprised. We didn’t get into it much more than that but I couldn’t stop thinking about her daughter after I left.

I emailed my coworker when I got home, and told her to please tell her daughter to email me if she wants to chat, and that going through this is very hard, isolating, and difficult to understand unless you’re in it. I’m sure her daughter wouldn’t be overly pleased that her mother was discussing her fertility with me, so my coworker may have been hesitant to pass my contact info on. But I hope she did, and I hope I hear from her. Though I’m on “the other side”, the pain is still real and I just want to hug her, and tell her it will be ok. 

#Microblog Mondays: Infertility, the disease

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Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

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I was thinking back to when my mom first asked me about our infertility (I had started following an infertility board on pinterest and stupidly had my Face.book account linked so she saw it there). I was very vague with her, at the time J and I didn’t know much about what we were up against but we knew it wasn’t good ( we had just recently received his first SA back, with bad results). It was looking back on this, that got me considering infertility, thinking on it as a disease (which it is).

It’s tricky to categorize it as such though as the true definition of a disease is;

A particular abnormal condition, a disorder of a structure or function, that affects part or all of an organism.

But with infertility, I find it doesn’t fit as neatly into this box. The definition of infertility is even varied, and vague (I won’t post all of the different definitions, but you can check them out here). In some instances an infertility diagnoses is based on attempting conception for a specific period of time (and this time period can vary depending on your age). It can be more straightforward if there is a reason for your infertility, perhaps PCOS, MFI, blocked tube, ect. Makes it easier to have a reason, but doesn’t always make it easier to treat (and by easier, I mean it’s easier for a doctor to put you in the box “infertile”). It get’s tricky because it takes (at minimum) two people to make a baby, but when one person is given a diagnoses of infertile, it often applies to the other half of the baby making couple too. For example; in my case, the most likely cause given to us for our infertility was male factor. But notice, it is “our” infertility, not just his. As far as we know, my “bits” are all in working order, yet I still consider myself infertile.

Sometimes there is no reason found (so you have a disease, but no one knows why, or what to do about it). It’s not really recognized as a disease by those that don’t suffer from it. It’s seen more as a hurdle, a barrier, but nothing so serious as a physiological problem (which it generally is in some form or another).

Infertility is a slippery beast to pin down. I can understand why the general population has a hard time recognizing it as a disease, when the medical community doesn’t even provide a concise definition. It’s not talked about like a real disease, there are no well known “runs”, or fundraisers. But those of us who suffer from it know better. So here’s hoping for more recognition, more research, more hope and more understanding.

#Microblog Monday’s: Life Happens

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This was my last weekend before returning to work (today being a holiday, I don’t return until tomorrow). I had plans of fun, family activities, nice meals, and time spent together. While we did get some togetherness, it was not as relaxing as I had planned. Baby Girl got her one year immunizations this past Wednesday, all was well, we went home and got on with our day. The next morning, I noticed she had a bit of a rash on her upper thighs and lower belly, it was big red splotches and not raised up, but I figured it was just a minor reaction from her shots and it didn’t seem to be bothering her so I wasn’t worried. Thursday was also her first day of daycare. Since we were paying for the whole month of September I was going to take advantage of Thursday and Friday, and since I wasn’t back at work yet, it would be a good couple days to ease her in, and take her from 9am – 3pm as opposed to 7:30am – 5:30pm that will be her norm.

When I took her in, they were just getting the other kids ready to go out for a walk in the stroller so I unpacked all of her stuff, and they whisked her away.  I had planned on staying a bit so she could get used to me leaving so it was a bit like having a band-aid ripped off, and there were tears prickling in my eyes as I left the centre. I knew she would be fine, but it’s a tough milestone. I was, however, looking forward to my baby free day of shopping and getting a pedicure. I mentioned the rash to the daycare staff, but told them it was minor, and wasn’t bothering her.

I headed to a mall very nearby her daycare centre (just happens to be the largest mall in the city, and maybe 5 minutes from daycare) and spent several hours cursing my boyish hips and short torso as I tried to find dress pants that fit. After finding several tops, a dress, one pair of pants and a skirt, I was ready to finish my day with a pedicure. I stepped off the escalator to head to the nail salon and my phone rang; the daycare’s number. The director advised me that the rash had spread and I would need to come pick Baby Girl up, in case it was anything contagious.

I left the mall immediately, and reached the daycare quickly. When I got there I could see she was covered in red welts and spots, but still seemed in good spirits otherwise. I called her pediatrician’s office but they weren’t able to get us in as it was already so late in the day. J and I decided to take her to the children’s hospital that is very near our house (and the same hospital as her ped’s office). After spending a few hours there, we left with her having received a dose a Benadryl and a diagnoses of reaction to the immunization. She had no fever, was still eating and drinking and otherwise fine so we went home, intending for her to go back to daycare the following day.

The next morning the rash was worse, her eyes were red and swollen and it had turned from a rash to bruising in several areas. I called our health hotline (it’s a province-wide health advice line staffed with nurses) and the nurse suggested we should take her back to the doctor due to the progression of the rash. I managed to get an appointment at my ped’s office, with another doctor, as her own ped was not in. When we took her in the doctor asked the same questions everyone had the day before; any new foods, changes in laundry detergent, anything else that could have caused it? It just happened that the pediatric dermatologist was doing rounds in their clinic that afternoon, and she came in as a second opinion. Everyone was very surprised at the severity of her rash, plus her wrists and ankles had now swollen and she was refusing to crawl, seeming to indicate it was causing her pain.

With all of the doctors conferring, they figured it was most likely an allergic reaction to something in the vaccines, as opposed to presentation of a mild case of the diseases that vaccines immunize for, but they also wanted to run blood work and urine for a few other more serious things it could be. In the meantime, they prescribed her pred.nisone (a very heavy-duty steroid) to combat the rash and the swelling, which they thought was also affecting her joints, given that she wouldn’t crawl. So after spending a few more hours in the hospital, and getting her testing done we went home with the steroids and appointment to come back on Thrursday to check on her condition.

The past few days the rash has improved drastically, though yesterday she seemed incredibly itchy, which was odd because prior to that she didn’t seem to be bothered whatsoever. She never had a full blown fever, she got slightly warm a few times but nothing indicating a true fever, and she still ate and drank with gusto. We’ve had some nights of bad sleep, including Saturday night in which she was awake from 12am -4am despite nursing, patting, shushing, holding, eating a snack, cuddling, going for a drive and a walk. I was in tears, and we were at our wit’s end. She would throw a fit any time we put her back in the crib, was happy to play in the living room but was yawning like crazy. J finally tried putting her down one last time (otherwise we were just going to start our day) and she finally passed out. Still woke up at her usual time of 7am, so Sunday was a long day for all of us.

Today is the first normal-ish day we’re having so I am making a nice fall meal of lasagna and apple crisp. We’ll enjoy our family time today, and begin living for the weekends tomorrow. I’m nervous to start work, to figure out our new normal, and meet my new coworkers (at my new office), but things are always in flux, and life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

**For the record, I am pro vaccine, and believe the reaction she had is less severe than if she were to not be vaccinated and contract a potantially deadly (preventable) disease.

#Microblog Mondays: Scattered

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I started writing this post last night before bed to be all prompt and schedule it for this morning. Well I wrote it and deleted it twice before giving up and going to bed. So here I am again, in bed, trying to finish writing it but my thoughts are buzzing, too scattered and I can’t pin any one thing at the moment. 

What to do about a crumbling relationship (not mine) in which one or both parties are seriously considering throwing in the towel? I feel powerless (because ultimately I am). 

Why is my husband so grumpy lately (it seems like more than grumpy but comes in flashes)? Work (again…or still), his continued sleeplessness (this, too, is an ongoing problem), new parental stresses? 

How can I learn to be a better partner, but also ask the same of him? 

How can my days feel so busy, yet at times boring and filled with nothingness (I feel badly that time with my daughter can be boring but entertaining an infant day in and day out is not always fun)?

The future is blurry, not unlike how it was while we were struggling with IF. I’m still adjusting to this new life, and new role. Sometimes I feel great, we have a rhythm and everything just clicks. Other times I feel foggy and uncertain, which makes actions and decisions take longer, with more difficulty. 

For now, I lay it all down. I hear a helicopter overhead, no doubt landing at the hospital mere blocks from my home. So I’ll just be thankful for my safe and healthy family today, and go to bed. 

Scooped

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In my office there has not been a pregnancy for nearly 4 years. I know this because the child of the last person to be pregnant is 3 1/2 now (“accidental” pregnancy). It has been a blessing not to have to face other pregnant women at work. In my department nearly everyone I work with is old enough to be my mother, and their children are grown. Or in the case of my boss, she had one and is done (though she is still relatively “young* enough” that she could have another if she wanted). There are young women in other departments but luckily (for me) none of them are in a position of becoming pregnant (not intentionally at least).

In the beginning of January we had a new assistant manager start at our office. He previously worked for the company in a different office but then went on paternal leave for 6 months when his wife went back to work 6 months after the birth of their child (the perks of parental leave in Canada, woop woop!). He is part-time in our office, and part-time in another so I don’t see him all that often. Last Wednesday he came into the office asking everyone “boy or girl?”. I didn’t know why he was asking, so I just said boy. After he had polled everyone, he announced that him and his wife had learned the gender of the baby they were expecting, and it was a girl. I didn’t even know they were having another baby, but I guess he had mentioned it previously as it seemed most people did know. I may have not been around and he didn’t go making a huge deal of it.

They are due in August but had done some additional genetic testing (I’d guess CVS) that also revealed the gender. So they’re not really that much farther along than I am. If he had announced it to the office already I would guess they are due in early August, or he’s just one of those people who tells everyone right away. Eye roll.

Even though I, too, am pregnant I was still a bit taken aback. It was unexpected, I guess because I don’t know him too well but also being that his first child is just over one, and he’s a man, he wasn’t really on my pregnancy radar. I still haven’t told my coworkers about my pregnancy, and I am happy just keeping quiet about it for now but my stomach protrudes a lot more now after meals, and I’m going to have to say something sooner rather than later. Even though I’m not quite ready yet, I felt a little like I got scooped by our assistant manager.

Part of the issue is, we had just found out the gender of our baby the night before, so I was still reeling with that information and here he is sharing the same news about his baby the next day. Infertility has definitely warped the way I see a lot of things now. But, that’s his news, I have mine, I’ll share it when the time is right and the two things really have nothing to do with each other.

The more important (but still not the be-all-end-all) is that we found out the gender of our baby! It is around 99% accurate so long as the blood sample was handled correctly (it was done at a licensed blood lab, so I’m thinking yes…). It didn’t test for anything but gender, it was not the comprehensive Harmony testing. I just really wanted to know the gender as soon as possible (besides doing PGD). I can’t really explain why, because either way I would still be just as happy that I am pregnant. We haven’t told the  grandparents-to-be yet, and we’re not doing any big gender reveal. I just needed to know.

I think because so little of this process has been in our control, we could at least control when we find out. I also hate surprises, so waiting until birth was never going to happen. I also think that because I have this fear that something is going to go wrong with this pregnancy, I wanted the gender so I could bond, and day-dream about a little boy or girl, not just gender neutrality. Plus, I am a planner, and my thought was  I could work on the nursery and baby items once I knew the gender but now I find myself standing still, for fear of getting ahead of myself.

I’ve always wanted a little girl, as does J. I don’t know what to do with little boys, though I know I’d figure it out given the opportunity. I’ve always just been a girly girl, but also independent and adventurous and I always hoped I’d have a little girl to share that with (again, could be done with either gender, it’s just my preference). I sent my blood work to the genetics centre on Feb. 11, and it takes seven business days to process and provide results. I was trying to be patient, figuring if they received it on Feb. 12 that day didn’t count, plus Feb. 16 was a stat holiday in Alberta and Ontario (where the lab is), and I wasn’t sure if they would send it on the seventh day, or after the seventh day. I waited until Feb. 24 to call and ask when I could expect results and when the receptionist checked my file she advised me that it had been sent (via email) on Feb. 21. I had her verify the email and resend it, and she asked me if I wanted the results over the phone. I told her, no, thank you. I would wait until I got home with my husband. It took all my willpower to hang up the phone without finding out.

I checked my email, and still didn’t see anything. I decided to check my junk mail, despite the fact that I had received other emails from the same company, and my filters are usually very good. I popped over to junk mail, and there sat two emails, one from Feb. 21, and one from Feb. 24. Again, sheer willpower to click away without opening it.

All day those two emails were just yearning to be read. I knew I couldn’t do it without J, though. It felt like the longest day, and when I finally got home J was just sitting calmly on the couch. I skipped down the hall screeching that I didn’t know how he could be so mellow! We went into the spare bedroom, to-be nursery and opened the email. It didn’t just say “boy”, or “girl” it explained that it tests for the presence of Y chromosomes, which would indicate a male fetus. And then the results….

Negative for the presence of Y chromosome DNA in the maternal plasma sample.

Our girl!!!

I read a lot faster than J so I knew almost immediately and just stared at him to wait for him to realise what it meant. We hugged, and freaked out, it made everything seem simultaneously more real, and more surreal. We’ve had a girl’s name picked out for a couple of years now, so for once I was able to attach it to a living being. Whenever I spoke about our future child (before we got pregnant) I would use our girls name, as though she was a real person that we were just waiting for. So when we found out we were getting our girl, I was able to use the name, and say that {she} was coming home. The name is staying between J and I until the birth, it is one thing we are not open to sharing.

I love knowing the gender, and I love knowing I’m carrying our little girl. But the best news of last week was the results of the nuchal translucency. After chasing my OB’s office for results (that got sent to the fertility clinic, but not my OB) the nurse called and told me everything looked normal. I know it’s not a guarantee for everything to be perfect, but it’s another milestone, and another hurdle crossed.

Though I’m ecstatic about our baby girl, I’m sure I’ll live to regret that wish when she’s a pouty toddler, a mouthy preteen, and a rebellious teenage. But for now, I’m still just happy we’re pregnant.

*I say she is still young enough to have another child yet we know youth is not a guarantee of fertility (me being case and point)

Steady Reassurance

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Wednesday I had the first appointment with my OB (who I randomly picked after googling and trying to find a doctor who delivered at the hospital I wish to use). She had some mixed reviews online, so I wasn’t sure what to think but too late now, at this point it would be tricky for me to be referred elsewhere. That’s the thing with public healthcare, you can’t always be super choosy. I’m lucky I got to pick at all, but the doctor that did my 2nd beta (from a walk in clinic) asked me if I had any preference.

From the dealings I’ve had with the OBs office leading up to this appointment I knew it was a very busy practice (there are 5 doctors in total, and each one has their own receptionist). When I first checked in with my doctors receptionist she pointed to a jar with little pieces of paper in it, asked me to take one, and pee on the little boxes to check for protein in my urine. So I had to show her after, and then turf it. It looks as though I’ll be doing this every time, as several other ladies were doing the same.

They were running behind, which I had read was a peeve of people who complained online. To me, that’s par for the course at most any doctors office, so I wasn’t all that bothered (plus I had a day off so didn’t have to worry about getting to work). J came with me, and I think they time delay bothered him (he’s a stickler for punctuality), plus he did have to go to work after so he missed almost a half day. We were taken back by a nurse who asked several questions about my family medical history and my own, took my weight and my blood pressure. From there we were taken to an exam room and told the doctor would see us soon, but in the interim a medical student would come in and ask me some questions.

The medical student came in and asked me about medications I was taking, and a bit more medical history. It is noted on my file that I am an IVF pregnancy, and he asked us how long it took to conceive. I don’t like to think about it too hard, but I swallowed and told him near 2 1/2 years. He congratulated us, and gave me the rundown of some of the do’s and don’ts (most of which were obvious, or already known to me). I asked him if we would get to hear the heartbeat at this appointment, and he told me usually they don’t check with a doppler earlier than 12 or 13 weeks because it’s not always possible to hear. But he seemed excited at the opportunity, and had a little doppler machine in his pocket so he said he’d give it a try. I laid back on the table and he started moving the probe across my stomach. He wasn’t having any luck but there were some swooshing noises and he said there was definitely something moving around in there (perhaps my breakfast…). He was quite high up on my stomach (I didn’t even have to un-do my jeans) but what do I know about where the heartbeat would be? He didn’t have any luck but I wasn’t overly bothered as I knew it might not have been possible anyways.

After a bit more discussion about prenatals, proper nutrition and exercise he left to get our OB. They came back a short time later, and Dr. A introduced herself to J and I with a firm, hearty handshake. She offered her congratulations as well, and asked a bit more about our history. She asked if there was any determination for our infertility, or whether we were unexplained. I’ve seen my chart at the fertility clinic, and technically we are listed as “unexplained”. I suppose because our motility and morphology were not as such that it should have prevented us from getting pregnant, after all the time we tried naturally plus IUIs they consider us unexplained. I would still say MFI, but I suppose it’s neither here nor there now.

She gave us a bit of a run down similar to her med student, and he mentioned to her that he had tried to find the heartbeat earlier but couldn’t. She had me lie back again for her to give it a go. This time she had me undo my jeans, and fold them down a bit so she could put the transducer just above my pelvic bone. She said normally this early in pregnancy she wouldn’t even offer to try but because I am thin, it could be possible. It took her all of about 6 seconds before we heard the steady whooshing thrum of the heartbeat. It sounded slower than last time, but I suppose back at 7 weeks the rudimentary heart could pump pretty quickly seeing as it would be pushing blood in a much smaller volume. It was fantastic to hear it again, just as a reassurance that there is still something living in there. I think the med student was a bit shy and didn’t really want to have me undo my pants for him (if he’s going into obstetrics pretty sure he’s going to have to get more comfortable).

Dr. A told us she does all of her own day deliveries (the hospital is literally right across the street from her office) so occasionally she has to rush out on her daily appointments to deliver someone’s baby. For night deliveries, her and the other 4 doctors share a rotation, which from what I gather is pretty standard so I am trying not to get completely attached to the idea of our doctor doing the delivery (or even think that far ahead).

She asked me on two separate occasions whether I had any questions and I tried, I really racked my brain before we went as to what I could ask her but I really couldn’t think of anything pressing. I’m still trying to take things slow, and not get ahead of myself so I didn’t want to get into questions about delivery, ect. She told me the timeline in which I’ll see her; every 4 weeks until 28 weeks, and then every two weeks, until I am closer to delivery then it will be once a week. She congratulated us again before she left, and that was it.

I got a pretty good vibe from her, she’s very different from my GP (whom I dislike). She doesn’t seem super polished, she has a brash raspy voice and talks quite loudly (we could hear her through the wall when she was in with another patient), but she seemed kind, and caring, even if a bit rushed. I felt comfortable, and I guess that’s what matters.

In other news, I stopped all fertility meds (progesterone, estrogen and ASA) last week and it was awesome. No more wearing panty liners, getting up early, and staying up late to take meds (7am, 3pm, 11pm, that was my schedule). I finished my pack of progesterone, and then…nothing bad happened. I was a bit freaked out to stop, but I’m sure they keep you on it longer than necessary just to be safe.

Baby is officially a fetus now, past 10 weeks (11w2d today). I still have some mild nausea but I find eating breakfast as soon as I get up helps. I get tired really easily, and I’m generally hungry near all the time. I baked a cake the other night just because I really wanted a piece of cake. Most of the time I am really into fruit, I went to the grocery store just to get oranges, apples, grapes and kiwis. I guess it’s good that they’re healthy options but of course everything I want is out of season and twice as expensive right now. My weird dreams have subsided somewhat, my skin is still awful and sleeping is so so. I really don’t have to pee any more than I used to, and I don’t get up in the night. That could be because I have a hard time staying hydrated, and because I am mostly off caffeine which is a diuretic which would have me running to the bathroom often.

We have our nuchal translucency testing next week, and the following weekend we plan to tell the parents. I’m nervous, and sort of just want to keep it a big secret forever and not make a big deal. I mean I know it is a big deal to us, and our families but being pregnant just makes me feel so awkward, with all of the unncessary attention that will be paid to me (though I do enjoy that hubby is waiting on me hand and foot). I still can’t bring myself to even step foot into a Babies’R’Us or look up any baby items I might want/need. My best friend has offered up any of her left over baby items (she has two boys, 2 and a half, and 8 months).

J and I went into the spare bedroom last night to discuss nursery organization but it was a brief, very theoretical conversation. It’s starting to feel real, but still hard to wrap my brain around. J has been adorable with everything, he gets the same baby centre updates that I do, so he’ll say to be “did you know that such and such is happening with the baby this week?”. I love that he is following along, and he has really stepped up around the house; making dinners, cleaning and taking care of the dogs when I am feeling tired or unwell.

The last, and one of the most exciting things to me right now is that we submitted my bloodwork for early gender testing. I am sooo impatient and to many people who have been through IVF I know they want to keep the gender a surprise because so much mystery has been taken out of the whole process. We should have it back somewhere around Feb. 23 and it is somewhere in the neighborhood of 95% accuracy. They test the maternal blood for the presence of Y chromosomes, indicating a male, if none are found, they assume female by process of elimination. It’s not something covered by provincial healthcare, so I did have to shell out a good chunk of money for it, but to me it’s worth not having to wait.

Slowing we are building confidence with every step of the way, but the fear of being blindsided is still there. I think the weight of pregnancy is going to become more solid in the coming weeks, looking forward to it all.