Tuesday, October 23, 2007

IT’S A...

Before we get to that, there’s tons more to talk about.

First on the agenda: You Wonderful Folks.
Your support over the past couple of days has been unbelievable. I know I have said it countless times already, but I don’t know what I would do without you guys. It means so much to me that you are here for me- to lend a comforting word or some really thoughtful advice. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Point number two: Yesterday’s OB Appointment
Putting it all into perspective, if we eliminate the stress of the screen results, yesterday’s appointment was pretty standard and uneventful. Wait for eons, go into exam room, wait for a bit longer (but be thankful that I am not sitting there naked but for a sheet of paper), doctor enters, listens to beautiful heartbeat, the end.

So we got all that (oh, the wonderful heartbeat and movement sounds of our baby!!), plus a discussion of our screen results, which included some straight talk from the doctor.

And alas, third of all: The Decisions
I know I sounded pretty adamant in my last post about no further testing. Over the next day or so, I started to rethink my position. Your comments and email exchanges were really helpful in showing me various points of view. I began to understand something that I previously hadn’t thought about (until now I really had hoped I would never have to think about any of this…): I certainly wouldn’t love my baby less if he was born with Down’s, but it would be in my and his best interest to know and be prepared upon his birth.

This, coupled with our OB pointing out to us that the risk of miscarrying due to having the amnio was actually higher than our risk of Down’s started to make the picture very clear. Plus, our OB noted, the rate of miscarriage from amnio of the particular doctor who would be performing the test was actually in the range of 1/2000 to 1/3000. The doctor was able to fit us in this morning (moving our ultrasound up one week.) Our doctor also told us that we still had the evening to think about it some more: upon arrival at the ultrasound clinic we could inform them that we were just going to have the ultrasound and not the amnio.

Par for the course, I didn’t sleep all night. Though my husband and I had made up our minds, the thought of doing the procedure, and the possibility of miscarrying was weighing on me heavily. The way I have written it makes it seem like the process was straight-forward. In truth, the last 5 days have been a special sort of hell reminiscent of my years dealing with infertility. In the end (and I am saying this now, no matter what happens), I know that we made the decision that was best for us.

I won’t go into details about the procedure this morning- it’s something I would sooner rather forget (not so much due to the pain, but for the emotional upheaval.) I haven’t had any bleeding, fluid leaking, or strong cramps. I am feeling confident at this later time of the day that nothing bad is going to happen. Now we just have to sit tight for the results which won’t be available for another 2-4 weeks. Results which won’t change how much I love my baby, but will redirect my prenatal research from strollers and cloth diapers to, well, other more important things.

As for the actual ultrasound? Our sweet baby was a beautiful as ever: moving, waving, breathing and hiccupping. Everything measured perfectly; we saw his little bones growing, his 4 heart chambers and his brain hemispheres. The C also saw signs that he is already a fan of is soccer (er, football) team, Porto.

You may have noticed over the weeks that I have always used “him”, “he”, and “his” in a generic sort of way. Today we saw for sure. We will be painting our little room navy and lime, and my mother is already planning the bris. You all, of course, are invited.

And last: Thank you to my wonderful C. Your love and support are never ending, and for this I am eternally grateful. I know I couldn’t have made it through the past few days without you.

(Please, if you know me IRL, keep all this info to yourself. We don’t think that we are going to tell many people.)

Friday, October 19, 2007


It's interesting how most days start out the same way, and progress in the same manner, and then you go to sleep and start all over again. And then every once in a while something happens that stops this cycle short.

I received a phone call from my OB yesterday afternoon. It sent me into a tizzy.

Let's rewind a bit and have a look at some statistics. (Disclaimer: Some numbers may be a bit off- I am not a medical journal- so don't quote me on them.)

First things first: 1/6 of couples suffer from infertility. That's 16.7% of the population. Of those 40% are female related, 40% male related and 20% unexplained. My husband and I are lucky, we are both affected (though he much milder than I).

It's no secret: I suffer from PCOS. With pretty much all the symptoms. It is estimated that somewhere between 5%-30% of the female population exhibits symptoms of PCOS. From this group, about a third of women are annovulatory. Let's be generous and call that 10%. That's me.

The first course of treatment for an annovulatory woman who wishes to become pregnant is the prescription of Clomid. 80% of the women who take this route ovulate and conceive. I'm in the 20% that didn't.

If y'all are following along you will see that I fall into a 2% group of the population. Pretty slim chances of being affected the way that I am, but still, here I am living proof...

In July I finally fell on the right side of statistics when I became pregnant after my 5th cycle of Femara coupled with injectible gonadotropins, and coupled with an IUI (to help my husband's sperm along.) At my clinic the pregnancy rates after 5 cycles is just under 80%. For once I didn't fall into the unfortunate group.

I pretty much thought I had left all the bad stats behind.

Until yesterday's call.

My OB called to tell me that my Integrated Prenatal Screening came back positive for downs syndrome. She broke it down and put it all into perspective for me:
Chance of downs based on my age (32): 1/466
Cut off for a negative result in this range: 1/200 to 1/270
My result: 1/183

I stayed calm by grabbing my notepad and jotting down all the information. I tried to stay focused as words like genetic counselling and amniocentesis and termination were thrown at me.

I realized that there was silence on the phone. "Oh," I said, startled, "you want me to say something..."

I told my doctor that termination was not an option for my husband and I and our baby. So genetic counselling and the amnio were moot. My husband and I had discussed this previously as a "what if" scenario that we thought we would never have to entertain. Our baby is much loved now, and however he or she might be born.

The problem is that I am not the type to stop worrying about something just because it's out of my control. I am very concerned about the test results, and just can't stop thinking about the what ifs. I'm not sure that if I hadn't battled with IF that I would be concerned like this. After all, 1/183 is just slightly more than 0.5%. But one thing that lingers with me as I struggle (still!)to come to terms with my infertility is my ability to continuously fall on the wrong side of statistics.

(PS: Thanks Flygirl.)

Monday, October 15, 2007


Or: Things of no note whatsoever

It is safe to say that the following are currently not occurring:

-Any sort of visible baby belly, though when I lie flat on my back I can certainly feel something hard going on. It just seems that there is too much "padding" covering any would-be bump.

- Weight gain of any amount. As a matter of fact I have lost weight for the first time in two years since starting down the slippery slope of IF treatments. I have read that for someone of my, er, size, it is best to gain less than 15 pounds during pregnancy, and ideally no weight at all, though I fail to see how that can be possible. Therefore there has been no shopping of maternity wear. My current wardrobe may take me well into February at this rate.

-Movement of said baby that is supposed to be within said non-expanding stomach. (Though to be truthful, I thought I might have felt something while watching All Across the Universe the other night. And then maybe something the following day. And then yesterday I had too much gas, so I wasn't even going to try to distinguish between what may be movement, and what was definite stomach/intestine happenings. You're welcome for that image.) (Oh, and go see the movie, it was wonderful.)

-Sleep of any notable duration. I have to pee too often during the night. And last night I felt very uncomfortable. Even though, as mentioned, there is no belly to speak of, I felt really heavy. And so I find myself exhausted throughout the day.

-Nausea of any sort. Thank the lord that has passed (as mild as it was.) I still have major food aversions, as well as cravings for foods I previously have been less than enamoured by. I know this is normal, but still so weird.

Now, it is also safe to say that the following non-pregnancy-related things are occurred or are occurring this morning:

-Commencement on the demolition of my basement. Which will lead to the remodel of it. (Which is actually pregnancy related, because as gross as the basement was when we moved into our house three years ago we said we would wait to make it into the perfect playroom when the time came. Alas, the time is here.)

-The stealing of the licence plate off of my car parked in my driveway. Yes you read that right. Actually, the car is registered to my mother, and so I was up and at the police station reporting this "crime" at the crack of dawn. My mother is very concerned that the plate is going to be used in some criminal act and that she will get hauled off to jail. Later I have to go get a new plate (cuz right now I'm too busy blogging.)

-Drew Carey is making his debut on the Price is Right today. Are we all not whooping with excitement? Really I am! I can't wait to see the great sets that have been made for this new era in game shows!

Ok, I warned you these were items of minor note. Now back to your days.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


I am having a bit of trouble dealing with the concept of time these days. I'm not quite sure if it's passing too slow or too fast.

It struck me yesterday: Thanksgiving Day. It was October and I found myself wearing a jacket, scarf and socks. But how could it be October? It was just July yesterday! To the infertile the passing of months and seasons is always significant. We look back: last October I was just meeting my RE. We look forward: next Thanksgiving please let me have a real live baby in my arms.

It seems almost unreal that it has been a year since meeting our RE. Our conception struggles extend further back than last year, but our first appointment at the clinic made it all very real. From the point of starting treatment at the clinic our life became broken down down into smaller increments. Time wasn't measured in hours and days and months, but in cycles and injections and ultrasounds. And, of course, in two-week-waits. (Though this term includes the word "weeks" and is indeed a period of 14 days, the two week wait is very much its own special calculation of time.)

And so life passed in time I measured between appointments with the wand, by counting bruises on my belly, and with the arrival of my period. Yes, it could have been the 7th day of Chanukah, but to me it was the day my period arrived after my first injectible cycle. And it may have been Valentine's Day, but more importantly it was CD 16, the day I was to trigger.

And then one day (not a Tuesday, but a 12do) I peed on a stick and the second line appeared. And so began a time that is passing quite unlike any I have ever known.

My anxiety and neuroses punctuated the first 9 or so weeks of pregnancy. Time was still measured in ultrasound increments, which were done weekly. Thankfully time also signified growth of the fetus. But seeing the growth only kept me happy for a day or so, and then it was back on the roller coaster of terror until the next appointment.

Somewhere around week 12 I finally started chill. The days that were previously lasting like eons seemed more like, well, days. I went on vacation and the baby was still alive. I had my NT scan and everything looked good. Each day without spotting seemed like a monumental occasion. I heard the baby's heartbeat at my 13 week OB appointment. Sure as time was telling, all seemed to be fine.

A couple of weeks ago I felt another interesting change. Could it be that time was moving way too fast? It occurred to me that throughout my first trimester I was wishing this to be a speedy pregnancy because I wanted to be rid of all the fear and worry. At that moment I realized two important things. One, that this might be my only shot at pregnancy, so I should really savour each moment (even as unsavoury as some moments are!) And two, that my life is going to change in such a drastic way in 6 (short) months so I should really take time to enjoy them.

I'd say that for a week I was pretty hunky dory (how awful an expression is that??!). The infertile in me would never let me become smug pregnant woman, but a certain excitement overcame me. Don't get me wrong, it's not like I was announcing my pregnancy from the rooftops or anything. But I was feeling quietly at ease.

Enter week 16. I realize that although I am measuring my time in weeks, the time increment that matters most now is time between OB appointments. Today I am 3 weeks and 3 days past my last one, and one week and 4 days until the next. Here-in lies the problem: time is being a bitch. As much as I want to enjoy, I need my appointment now.

As well as I thought I was doing, I realized that this has been the longest period of time I have gone without hearing a sign of life from my baby. I am ashamed to say it, but the old paranoia is settling back in. I know deep down that I very well may be crazy. But that doesn't stop my head from spinning with dead baby thoughts.

You see, it seems to me that nothing much is happening. I know that I am well into my second trimester, and all is supposed to be great, but I fear that it's not. Being sick the past couple of weeks has drained me of my energy. Time pretty much is standing still. All the things I am supposed to be experiencing now: nada. No cute baby bump, no clothes that don't fit, no flutter of movement, and certainly no energy spurt. All this adds up to only one thing in my mind... And, really, what if it's that? I mean, what if...

Oy, if you have made it this far, I give you much credit. Ramble, ramble, complain, complain. These thoughts have been swirling in my head for days and they just needed to get out. I’ll keep you posted on whether or not this has been cathartic.

In the meantime, I reward you with some Canadian Thanksgiving photos. Proof that even if time is standing still for me right now, the world keeps turning.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


It’s been a tough couple of weeks. Apparently being sick and pregnant concurrently does not agree with me. After innumerable boxes of Kleenex (my husband says he should buy shares in the company), countless coughing fits, and a migraine that just about made me want to cut my head off yesterday, it seems that I may finally be on the mend.

So let us return to our regularly scheduled program.

I promised the reactions to my pregnancy… and I shall deliver. The comments run the gamut from thoughtful and supportive to what the fuck. I will try not to editorialize so that you can draw your own conclusions…

Without further ado:

Friend 1
The C and I are out for Chinese with F1. Our fortune cookies come:
Me (cracking open cookie and reading): You will have a baby in March
F1 (looking a bit horrified, because that’s a pretty evil fortune for her infertile friend): Oh, well…
Me: Well what?
F1: Well… that’s not even possible… (feeling really bad about having this conversation, wondering perhaps if I am enjoying this torture)
Me: Why not?
F1: Because that would mean that you would have to be… OH MY GOD!


Friend 1 (a few minutes later)
F1: This is great, now I can talk to you about all the pregnant people we know!


Friend 2
Phone rings at midnight (I go to bed around 10, and the world knows this.)
Me (looks at call display and freaks out because WTF is F2 doing calling me at this hour?!) Hi, is everything ok?
F2: Yes, of course it is! I just read your blog!!
Me: Oh ya?
F2: Ya! I’m so excited! You’re pregnant! I’m crying!
Me (waking up a bit): YOU are CRYING??!! (Note: F2 is the least emotional person in the world- no exaggeration.)
F2: Well, this is just so great!
Me: Well ummm… I’m happy you’re excited!
(Having posted about the positive pee stick seconds after it occurred, I wasn’t prepared for reactions from people IRL… this conversation was so surreal on many levels.)


My Parents
They know something is up- they were aware of our IUI, and also seemed to be aware that we hadn’t started another round of treatments. We invite them over for dinner, and draw the whole ordeal out. They are about to leave, and The C tells them they should have a seat in the living room.
The C: We have some news.
Parents: (expectant looks on their faces)
The C: We’re pregnant.
My father: Well we were wondering when you were going to tell us.


The C’s Parents
I ask him to call them in advance of their visit here as I wanted them to know that I was on modified bed rest. I am ever-paranoid about my mother-in-law thinking that I’m lazy.
The C (after many minutes of pleasantries): So, we’re pregnant
MIL: (something to the tune of) That’s nice. (In Portuguese, and I don’t speak much Portuguese.)
End of conversation.


The C’s Parents (A few days later, they are here to visit)
Me: Ola! (That’s Hello! in Portuguese)
Them: Ola!
(I know I said that I wouldn’t editorialize, but really, that was the extent of our conversation. I understand my in-laws don’t speak much English, and I even less Portuguese, but I assure you that I know the Portuguese word for congratulations.)


The C's Sister and Her Husband and their teenage kids
We have made the 6 hour car ride to visit them, and we are excited to tell them our news. Minutes prior to our visit The C’s parents inform us that even though we asked them not to tell anyone about the pregnancy, that (surprise to me!) they were so excited that they couldn’t wait and have told SIL and BIL and the kids.
Us (following lunch): We have some news!
SIL: Oh, yes. Mom and Dad told us weeks ago.
Crickets and tumbleweed…
End of conversation.


My Grandparents
(Who are a little hard of hearing)
The C: So what are you guys doing in March?
My Grandmother doesn’t even hear the question
My Grandfather: I was thinking of going on a cruise.
(He’s 83 and can’t travel)
The C: Oh ya? To where? England? (My grandfather loves to tell the story of his trip over to England when he was in the Air Force during WWII)
My Grandfather: Oh! That seems like a good idea, I hadn’t thought of there
My Grandmother: Who’s going on a cruise?
Me: Ok, we are getting a bit off topic here…
The C: Right. Ok, seriously what are your plans for March?
My Grandfather: I told you, I’m going on a cruise.
The C (thinking: crazy old man): Well you might have to cancel it to go to a bris or baby naming.
My Grandfather: Oh! That’s great news! Oh wow! Another March birthday! Mazel Tov!
Minutes pass…
My Grandmother: Who’s making a bris?
The C and I: Well we might in March
My Grandmother (jumping up to hug us): Oh! Mazel Tov! Oh what great news! Oh! I’m crying!!
And a bit later… My Grandmother: So what was all that about a cruise?


The C’s old friend and his wife
The C: We’re pregnant!
Wife: Oh wonderful! Congratulations! That’s such great news! How are you feeling?
Old Friend: Congratulations! We had a bet going, and I win!


The C's Old Friend (later in the evening)
OF: You know, I was just talking to my sister the other day, and we were wondering if the reason you guys didn’t have kids yet was because they cut off a bit too much when you had the ol’ snip snip done.
(The “ol’ snip snip" refers to The C’s circumcision he had done when he converted to Judaism 5 years ago.)


Niece 1 (10 years old, but with the soul of an old lady)
After hearing my father tell his aunt and uncle the news at Rosh Hashana
N1 (to my mother): Ms. C’s going to have a baby?
My mother: Yes! Isn’t that exciting?
N1: I guess so…
N1: J (her uncle on the other side’s girlfriend) had a baby in her belly and the baby died. It was really little (shows size with her hands).
My mother: Well, that won’t happen to Ms. C’s baby, we hope.
N1 (still looks worried… a child after my own heart indeed.)


Niece 2 (9 years old)
N2: Hey, when is the baby going to come out of your belly?
Me: In March. Maybe on Niece 1’s birthday!
N2: I want it to be born in September, on MY birthday.
Me: Well maybe the next baby.
N2: No! I want THIS ONE on my birthday.
Me: …


So there you have it. At this point so many people know that I have lost track. There are the reactions that stick out most in my memory. Now I want to know what you think of the reactions! I know you guys will have yoour own editorials- do not let me down!