My Breast Feeding Nightmares

Clearly I need some down time. I mean the list of things I worry about is ridiculous. To top it off, I pulled my lower back out last night putting away laundry. I was proud of myself for actually putting it AWAY and this is what I get? And it couldn’t have come at a worse time. The agency I work for held its annual 5K Walk this morning and I had to be up at the crack of dawn to help set up. Fortunately Boo Husband came to the rescue and pitched in where needed; a back massage at 12 a.m. and sympathy groans on the hour as I made my way to the bathroom for pee breaks.

It’s hard enough peeing four times a night. Add excruciating back pain and a kicking baby to the mix and it’s downright cruel. Having survived the event we made it home to take fitful nap. Eric is now headed to Subway for sandwiches and I’m nursing this back until I can get to the chiropractor tomorrow.

Overall it’s been an interesting week. My doctor’s appointment on Wednesday revealed increased swelling of the feet and ankles which I’m to enjoy for the next eight weeks at varying levels of acuity as well as a five-pound weight gain. (My last appointment was two weeks prior.) I’m blaming it on the water retention along with Baby Djordjevic’s need to prove he’s above average.  It can’t possibly be the two pieces of key lime pie along with numerous helpings of random cookies and the like over the last two weeks. Please don’t judge me…I hit mile marker 39 and I’m preggers for the first time. Forty is going to rock!

I wonder if this back issue is my body’s way of side tracking my mind from things like breastfeeding nightmares in which my dog ‘stands in’ for the baby, thoughts about leaving my kid in a hot car to die, packing my bag for the hospital and being mired in debt for the rest of our lives. I’m pretty sure the first two are NEVER going to happen. I mean, if I start breastfeeding Louie then all hell will have broken loose and I should be committed to a place where I’ll never be let out.

The whole kid in the car thing has me freaked out. An article in the last issue of Parent magazine recapped two accounts of children dying after being left in a hot car for hours. The kicker? These were parents who loved their children. They were not deranged. Neither of them suffered from Munchausen by Proxy. They fully intended to pick up their beautiful children at the end of their workday. Except they forgot to drop them off at the caregiver in the first place. As incredibly sad as it was to read, I now know that anything can happen when we are distracted. I’m posting the link to the article “You’d Never Leave Your Child in the Car, Right?” because it’s that important.

For seasoned parents – what did you worry about that really didn’t matter in the long run?

For parents to be – what haunts you in the middle of the night, on weekends and generally every free moment you have time to think about how life will change when baby arrives?

 

 

30 Weeks and Counting

Steph and Jenn

 

My uterus is no longer ornery. It’s cooperated since early December, although begrudgingly. I have to say, I didn’t think we’d make it this far. I know. It’s terrible to think negative thoughts. But when you’ve tried for as long as we have they just seem to creep in. However, we’ve survived many of the pregnancy milestones we feared. Implantation. Genetic testing. We graduated,  not without drama of course, from first trimester to second and now to the third. We even avoided the gauntlet of preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. (Despite my addiction to all thing sweet.)

The best word I can come up with right now is grateful. Grateful. I’m so grateful to be here and to have this opportunity to be a Mom. I am tearing up right now just thinking about how amazing this journey for us has been and how much we have to look forward to. It makes me feel as if all of the pain we went through will be nothing in comparison to what we will receive.

Over the past several months I’ve thought about so many things. Will I be a good Mom? What if i can’t do it.  What if Eric and I fall apart or what if we can’t afford it. I give into those fears at times but then bounce back with more vigor. Because I won’t be pushed down no matter how hard it gets. I’ve also thought way more about how awesome it will be to take my baby boy to the park. To watch him as he gets his first bath. I am thrilled at the idea of seeing how him and Eric will bond and what his tiny little body will look like when he’s born. The positive images far outweigh the bad.

I have also wondered about other moms out there who are struggling to make it work; whether they are alone or married. What do they laugh about and what do they cry about. Will I do the same? I imagine I will. I’ve spent time talking to my son as I travel to and from work, in the shower – really anytime I have a moment alone to wonder and think out loud. I’m curious as to what he hears and if he picks up on my emotions. What DO babies feel/absorb/learn in utero anyway?

Eric and I have poured over parent magazines and endless lists of “must haves” trying to figure it all out.  We’ve talked about religion and beliefs on parenting. We have adult conversations about how to raise our offspring. A strange but exciting adventure! I’ve polled my parent friends on Facebook about color schemes, stroller options and vaccinations. I’m overwhelmed in many ways and yet all I can do is take it in and attempt to sort it out one day at a time.

No doubt about it though, this little boy has made me realize that anything is possible. Oh what the future may bring!

Honey Will You Rub My Butt

I’m seriously done with these progesterone in oil shots. I’ve been doing them since our egg transfer on December 1 and they hurt! I KNOW it’s necessary. I just don’t LIKE  it. And Eric dislikes it even less – that is if he’s not miffed at me for some reason and then he gets slight pleasure out of jabbing me with a obnoxiously long needle. And then I cry and ask him if later he will “rub my butt.” This makes him smile.

A massage is necessary. You see, the lumps left behind by these shots impeded my ability to sit for any period of time in comfort. I also feel like I’ve been through the ringer at the gym when in all reality I haven’t stepped foot in one since the summer. Sad I know!

On the bright side, we are officially 7 weeks and 2 days pregnant! The journey, even the progesterone shots, has been all worth it. I wouldn’t trade a single moment.

The last couple of weeks have been interesting. Emotionally I’ve been up and down. A sufferer of mild depression, it has been difficult adjusting to increased pregnancy hormones flowing through my body. I stopped my low dose Prozac before egg retrieval as I didn’t want it in my system during the pregnancy. I pride myself of being fairly self aware and therefore try to set realistic expectations. It also helps to have a very understanding husband!

The most exciting and emotionally charged event thus far has been our first ultrasound. Leading up to this much anticipated event, both Eric and I were unsure, feeling a little detached. Was there really something in there? Until then we relied strictly on the blood work to confirm the pregnancy. Each test solidifying the results as my pregnancy hormones rose.  On December 30 we drove up to the clinic and worried the whole way. We promised each other that no matter what, we had each other.

ALL our fears were put to rest as soon as we saw the beautiful miracle of a beating heart! I can’t tell you what a relief that was. Eric kissed me and we cried a few tears. WOW. There really are no words…

On that note I think it’s’ time for me to get my rub down! Until next time.

Our Journey with IVF

It  has been a whirlwind since September! The Birdies for Babies event was a great success. We ended up with 72 golfers and a ton of people who came out to support us at the reception. We are so grateful for everyone who contributed. This part of our lives will never be forgotten!

Once the event was over we waited until October to start our first IVF round. On October 25 we began our cycle which officially thrust us into the world of IVF. It’s a unique process and I now have a new appreciation for women and couples who have gone through the process (and some multiple times) before us. Since that date in October we have been on an emotional and physical roller coaster of the likes we’ve not seen since Eric’s cancer diagnosis in January. Being new to the IVF world we were not sure what to expect however we quickly caught on! Here is a run down on what we’ve been through over the last couple of months:

October 25 – Our cycle begins – I call Advanced Fertility Clinic to let them know we are ready.

October 31 – I am scheduled for a hysteroscopy or “mock transfer” to make sure I don’t have uterine polyps which could interfere with implantation. During a hysteroscopy the doctor inserts a series of rods from smaller to larger in order to stretch cervix which allows the doctor to access the uterus with a small camera. In my case this procedure was extremely painful; to the point that the doctor asked halfway during the procedure if I wanted to come back and repeat it under anesthesia. We decide to push through – after all, we knew there would be more pain to come. Might as well keep going! To our delight the test is negative for polyps and my uterus deemed ready to go. (It’s all very clinical isn’t it?)

November 1 – 11 – We are asked to start high doses of Vitamin D since my levels are so low; one 50,000 IU tab for three weeks. I start taking one baby aspirin a day. We also order over $1,500 in medications including (Follistim, a follicle stimulating hormone, progesterone in oil, progesterone capsules, Estrace, an estrogen pill, Medrol and Doxycycline, both antibiotics to prevent infection, Crinone 8%, another form of progesterone taken vaginally, and HCG, Human Chorionic Gonadotropyn or “the trigger shot” which is taken when they are ready to begin retrieving eggs.) For the past several weeks we have been storing donated medication called Cetrotide which is used to stop eggs from releasing to early. We are overwhelmed when we receive a box through FedEx. In addition to the meds the box contains a sharps container for the BILLIONS of needles they sent us. Ouch.

November 14 – An ultrasound is scheduled to see where my follicle count is prior to injections. We get a count of 44. An extremely high number for someone my age. Yeah!

November 16 – Medications begin! The needles are so tiny and cute. I decide to use my stomach as a dartboard. Seems the easiest to do. I start with Follistim in the evening 216 iui.

November 17 – Continue Follistim (Morning dose and an evening dose). The pen is easy to use!

November 18 – Continue Follistim. An ultrasound is scheduled for November 19

November 19 – Our ultrasound confirms that follicles are responding well. Eric is by my side. We are asked to decrease the Follistim slightly. We take a shot of low dose HCG – 6 iui

November 20 – Follistim continues and I take a total of 225 iui. HCG dose remains at 6 iui.

November 21 – Another ultrasound is performed. The ultrasound tech says my follicles look like “beautiful flowers”. 🙂 We drop our dose of Follistim to 75 iui. We take 7 iui of HCG and one cartridge of Cetrotide at 10 p.m.

November 22 – Another ultrasound! They are watching very close now. I’m told to take 150 iui of Follistim, 7 iui of HCG and another round of Cetrotide.

November 23 – Ultrasound! I take 150 iui of Follistim, 8 iui of HCG and one cartridge of Cetrotide.

November 24 – Ultrasound! Man this is getting old – but all for a good cause! My follies look amazing. Eric and I ask for a “photo” of our potential future babies. The tech obliges. We get the call later in the day that we have been waiting for – we are asked to take one more dose of Follistim 150 iui and our “trigger shot” at 8 p.m.! Here we go. The egg retrieval will be exactly 36 hours later. . .

November 26 – I wake up early to make sure I take my progesterone capsule in time as instructed by our team. Vaginally. Really? We drive to the clinic filled with anticipation and joy. Is this really happening? My follicles look great! I feel the bloat as they are so large. How many eggs will they get we wonder. We arrive to the “back” of the clinic. We feel special now that we’ve ‘graduated’ to this step! I’m asked to come there with a full bladder; no picnic in the park let me tell you. We’re ushered into a small waiting area with a few chairs, a gurney and a small table. The nurse comes in and explains that they’ll walk me into the procedure room and put me under anesthesia. The process will take about 10 minutes or so and then I’ll be wheeled back to the room to rest for about an hour. Eric in the meantime gets “relax” with some movies, coffee and magazines! What a deal. I drop off to ‘sleep’ and a moment later am back in the waiting room with Eric waiting to hear how the retrieval went. We’re told they found 25 eggs! WOW – I guessed 13. Eric guessed 27. A few minutes goes by when a nurse pops her head back in and says they found a 26th egg. We rest up, pray to God, take a bunch of crazy photos, cry a little bit and text our families the amazing news. We pray some more. The nurse gives me instructions on medications I’ll be taking post retrieval and sends us on our way. Our parts will be combined later tonight – and we’ll find out the next day how many are fertilized! I stay at home the rest of the day. The evening brings horrible cramping and pain. I’m doubled over and thanking God I didn’t go back to work. Tonight I take one Doxycycline to prevention infection. I also take one dose of Medrol. Baby aspirin continues.

November 27 – I am in massive amounts of pain from the surgery. After all, 26 follicles were punctured and aspirated. Makes a lot of sense to me. I stay home another day. I get the call from the nurse that 16 of our beautiful eggs were fertilized.  The doc says we are good for a day 5 transfer which means our fertilized parts will be much more developed by the time we get them. Now the big guns come out. Progesterone in oil is a bitch but it has to be done. The needles are ridiculous and I’m not sure what to expect. I’m NOT looking forward to it. 8 p.m. rolls around and we prep for the shot. Eric gets the syringe ready and I prepare my backside with ice. We watch a YouTube video to make sure we’re doing this the right way. I lay down on the couch and prepare for the worst. A second goes by. And another. And I’m wondering what the hell Eric is doing back there. “Are you done,” I ask with a cringe? “Yep, all done,” he says. Wha? It’s that easy? I could get used to this. (Think again sister. . . just wait.) If all goes as planned I’ll be taking this shot once a day for the next 12 weeks. I also begin Estrace patches. Three every 48 hours. These annoying little suckers come off  in my sleep, and cause me much stress. I dump the patches and opt for the Estrace pill (3x per day). We adopt “All for a good cause” as our mantra.

November 28 – THANKSGIVING! I’m feeling much better except for the fact I have this lump on my backside and it feels a little sore where the progesterone was injected. At least I’m better to the point I can make stuffing and cranberry sauce for dinner at Moms. Eric focuses his energies on making a delicious roast. One that he has never cooked before. Hmmmm. All goes well and we gather at the Gregory household around 2 p.m. Steph, Chris, and our nephews show up around 3 p.m. We’re nearly ready to eat. And boy am I hungry! We have a lot to be thankful for this year.  Doxycycline (twice per day), Medrol (once per day), Estrace (3 times per day) and Baby aspirin continue. Progesterone, and Crinone are administered in the evening. The shot is given on the other side tonight and boy does it HURT. Mom, Steph and I decided to go Black Friday Shopping as if I didn’t have enough excitement for one week!

November 29 – I’m glad I’ve taken these extra days off from work. I need to rest and relax. Estrogen, aspirin, Medrol and Doxycycline continue. Progesterone in oil is not my friend. No one is my friend. My emotions are all over the place. Eric is sad he has to do this for me but I think he is secretly loving this! 🙂

November 30 – We’re one day a way from our ET (Egg Transfer) experience! We can hardly contain ourselves. We have  no idea what to expect and what will happen. I ask Eric to make sure we take a video. Doxy and Medrol are stopped. Aspirin continues as does Estrace and Poopy Progesterone in Oil.  December 1 is TOMORROW. Our big day!

December 1 – We have to be at the clinic at 10:30 a.m. Today is much better than retrieval day. I don’t have to arrive with a full bladder and I don’t have to go under anesthesia. Today is when we welcome our little blastocysts! We’re having a Womb Welcoming Party! Upon arrival we enter our same waiting room and wait for the nurse to draw blood. The blood work she says is to check estrogen and progesterone levels. A cushy, warm lining is important! I am prepped for transfer and Eric and I walk back to the same room we did the retrieval in. The room is hot and a bit humid like a sunny beach in Florida at midday. Apparently embryos like the heat. After a few preparations, the doctor informs us we have two embryos he’d like to implant HOWEVER, he is gives us the option to implant three due to our age and a few other factors. Eric and I huddle for a brief moment and agree to three hoping we’ll get one beautiful baby out of the deal. (May the odds forever be in our favor!) The doctor obtains the blasts from the embryologist and deposits them in a small dish which he moves under a high-powered scope. Eric hangs back to videotape the TV which features our three tiny blastocysts. We can hardly believe they belong to us! In just a split second they are scooped up by a thin needle attached to a catheter and gently placed in what we hope will be their home for the next nine months. The process is surreal, inspiring, exciting and anxiety ridden. Again we pray that our little blasts will find their way around. Ushered back to our waiting room we hang out for another hour or so before we leave. We fawn over the photos of our embryos and send a flurry of texts to friends and family to update them on our progress. When the hour is up we exit the door from where we entered. We walk to the car and Eric opens the door. I take a seat knowing I hold special cargo; the ride home we fill with comments about God’s grace and about how blessed we are.

December 2 – We wait in agony! How are the blastocysts doing in there? Did they fall out? Will they fall out if they didn’t already? How small are they? Now what do we do? Fortunately my progesterone and estrogen numbers look wonderful. A victory! We will know tomorrow how many blasts are eligible for freezing. We both work through the day to keep our minds off the process. Progesterone in Oil shots continue and Crinone 8% begins.

December 3 – A phone call from the clinic lets me know if we have any blastocysts left over for freezing. One, the nurse says. A very good quality one. But one. For some reason I am disappointed and I immediately feel remorse. We are blessed to be here at all I remind myself. I call Eric to give him the news and we talk about what might be growing inside me as we speak. Today is hard. My fears, despite my faith, get the best of me. I wonder if our cycle worked and I cry myself to sleep. Progesterone, Estrace and Crinone continue.

December 4 – 9 – The next several days are filled with moments of extreme doubt, hope, fear, wild excitement and physical pain. The progesterone shots are doing a number on me and the pain only serves to remind all that we are going through. Most evenings, during and after the shot, I cry as Eric does his best to keep the pain at a minimum. By this time the progesterone has built up in the muscle in lumps that need to be massaged flat. It literally feels  as if I’ve been attacked by someone with a baseball bat. We struggle through our work days and come home to comfort each other through the unknown. It is out of our hands and yet we continue to worry and wonder. It’s the nature of being human I suppose. On Thursday December 5 I return to the clinic for blood work. The doctor is monitoring my progesterone and estrogen levels closely. Sometime on Friday December 6 I start to feel what I like to call “twinges”. They are minor and intermittent. They are below my belly and I notice them as being different. I am cramping as I would with my cycle about to start but the twinges keep me intrigued. I tell Eric something is going on. His face lights up and I see a smile cross his face. What is it he asks? Do you think you are pregnant? I think so. My heart does not leap however. I am cautiously optimistic. I refuse to get my hopes up so high only to see them smashed on the floor. I know it sounds drastic but this is what infertility is about. The ups and downs and all that is in between.

December 10 – TODAY is the day we have been waiting for! We wake early while it’s still dark. We’re anxious to hear the results of our first experience with an IVF cycle. Would our hard work pay off? Will we be heartbroken or walking on Cloud 9 later today? Eric heats up the car and we take off for the clinic at 6:30 a.m. for a 7 a.m. blood test. This is it. I tell Eric during the drive that something woke me in the night and told me it would be okay. I can’t pinpoint what it was, I said, but it was definite and it brought me a sense of peace. I wrapped my arms around my belly the night, cradling what I knew was in there. The blood test was routine. We were back on the road in no time, zipping towards home, towards work, towards the life we have lived together for the past 14 years. We held hands as we exited the highway. The sun shone on our faces and we began to cry together. We have been through so much this year with Eric’s cancer diagnosis and our infertility woes. We were NOT feeling sorry for ourselves but rather grateful for the gifts we had been given. We had to give this over to God and let him take over. And that’s what we did.

We head off to work and wait. Hours go by. I sit at my desk, a co-worker by my side. The phone rings and she looks at me and says, “Isn’t that your doctor?” Yes! It is. But I hesitate. I’m afraid to hear what the caller will say and yet filled with hope. I find a quiet place to answer the phone. Yes? “Hi Jennifer, this is Megan from Advanced Fertility Clinic and I have your results. I’m happy to say you are pregnant!” Her voice blurs as I take in the news. I have no words. The crush of anxiety washes over me and reappears as pure joy. I ask if I can call back. I need to call Eric immediately I say. Thank you so much I tell her. Thank you. Thank you. My tears come tumbling out as I place the call to Eric. Hi picks up and immediately asks if everything is okay. I ask him, “Are you ready to be a daddy?” The voice on the other end of the phone is one of relief and pure excitement. “Are you serious?” Eric says. This is our new reality!

Update. . .

I have to say that Poopy Progesterone in Oil will be with me for several more weeks but at this point I don’t care! We are pregnant – another beta test today, December 13, confirmed our upward trajectory towards a healthy pregnancy. We couldn’t be happier or feel more blessed. Eric’s 10 month oncology appointment is coming up next week and we continue to grateful that he has been given clean results. We now have a better understanding of where God wants us to be. We have work to do and we better get to it!

We are now officially 4.5 weeks pregnant which means our little one (or ones) are about the size of a peppercorn. As we continue down this path I will be changing my blog to reflect our journey through pregnancy and parenting. I hope you will stay with me! Encouragement and advice are welcome!

Birdies For Babies

We have sweltered in the heat long enough. These 100 degree temps have got to go. And I mean now. To catch you up, I am on CD12. I will pull out the LH test packs and start monitoring this week. I wonder if those tiny little test strips work. Trillions are made so they better be accurate! I will wait patiently for the double line and hope we time everything right. Pray!

I mentioned Birdies for Babies last time I posted. Started by Melissa and Todd Trader of Naperville, this event raises money for couples who are struggling financially to pay for IVF. They have a daunting story of infertility. The couple married in 2000 and struggled to get pregnant. Their daughter Jordan was conceived after several attempts with IVF. Todd and Melissa spent close to $150,000 in out-of-pocket expenses to achieve their dream of having a child. Their son Breckin was conceived a few years later with out the help of IVF. (There is always hope!)

They understand the struggle. Both in the golf industry, Melissa and Todd decided to host a golf event (enter Birdies for Babies) to raise money for couples, much like themselves, who have tried unsuccessfully to start a family. Each year, the Trader’s review grant essays from couples who wish to start a family but need financial help. If selected, the couple has the opportunity to receive up to $20,000 to pay for IVF. What I like about the process is that Melissa and Todd ask that the chosen couple become involved in planning the event. Couples can help get sponsors, donations, raffle prizes, and secure participation. The joint effort brings everyone together for a common cause.

I first ran across Birdies for Babies early this year. I was interested in applying but hesitated because Eric and I had not yet done our first IUI. I felt there might be other couples who had tried much harder than us and they deserved the chance.

I let the application deadline come and go but I kept abreast of what Birdies for Babies was doing. Interested in volunteering for the 2012 event, I reached out to Todd. Much to my delight he e-mailed back and said he’d be glad to have extra help. I won’t be able to participate in the committee meetings but I will help the day of the event. I can also promote the cause prior to the event through my blog, Facebook and other avenues. Mom is also on board to help at the event. She has been quietly rooting for Eric and I to get pregnant and I’m glad she’ll be doing this with me!

Last  year’s recipients have twins on the way! Katie and Patrick Davis are expecting the birth of their girls any time now. I hope to meet them at the outing on September 29th. Katie’s blog Our IVF Journey (http://katieandpatsivfjourney.blogspot.com/) is thrilling to read because it gives the rest of us hope. Take a look if you get a chance.

To learn more about Birdies for Babies visit their Facebook page – http://tinyurl.com/cfry4bo. Come out and join us or send in a donation if you can afford to help. Every little bit counts!