Thursday, April 30, 2015


Baby's size: Kumquat (other sites say prune).

Next appointment: May 4.

Total weight gain: 6 lbs. So, up another 3 lbs. from last week. I honestly don't understand, because I've been even MORE conscious of what I'm eating. And I've been less hungry, too. Really hoping this turns out to be "Agony is on too many artificial hormones and so is packing on the water" weight.

Exercise: I am off restrictions! But Dr. Smiles was clear about me being "intelligent" about what I do, so I'm still not lifting anything over 10 lbs., and if I'm carrying anything I won't take the stairs at work (but will if I'm not carrying stuff). I just want to get out of the first trimester and then I can think about adding in some walking.

Sleep: I've been averaging about 8.5 hours a night. Pre-pregnancy, I was a solid 7 a night girl. There was one night I wanted to go to bed at like 8:30, but was afraid I'd get up in the middle of the night and mess up my whole schedule. In other words, I'm flipping TIRED.

Food cravings: Milk. I know that's technically a beverage and not a food, but I've been drinking at least one glass of milk a day.

Food aversions: None this week, though I've definitely not been eating salty/crunchy stuff like I typically do. Just haven't wanted it.

Symptoms: Pretty much the same. Barely any nausea, intermittent heartburn, vivid dreams. My boobs swing wildly from hurting so badly I want to cry to nothing at all, when I can mush them in my hand and don't feel a thing. I'm getting used to not having typical preggo symptoms.

What I'm loving: My anxiety level, which has been remarkably lower lately. I still get anxious the night before an ultrasound, but for the most part, I've been able to feel a little more normal.

What I'm not loving: The scale. I saw Quirky yesterday and we talked a lot about body image issues and food issues and weight issues. Her point was that if I'm eating mostly healthfully but having a peanut butter cup here and there (her words, not mine, though I do love me some PB cups), then I shouldn't be panicky. She said, "If you're eating 40 peanut butter cups in one sitting, then you have a problem." So I am trying not to freak out, especially since I know my body is very sensitive to the hormones and if the placenta is starting to produce estrogen and I'm still on estrace 3x/day, that could totally pack on fake weight that will hopefully start to come off once I'm off the meds. (Can you tell I think about this stuff a LOT?)

What I'm looking forward to: Graduation! Monday is my last appointment at Posh Clinic, and even though I love Dr. Smiles and his staff, the hour-long drives up and back have been wearing on me. Also: Supposed to get the MaterniT21 test drawn on Monday (though OB forgot to put my DX codes on the lab order, so GRUMBLE).

Best moment this week: That delicious little wave Jellybean gave us on Monday. I can't stop thinking about it. It was just the cutest thing.

Monday, April 27, 2015

smile and wave, jellybean. smile and wave.

Everything is absolutely perfect.

Jellybean measured 26 mm, which is one or two ahead of what they were expecting today. The baby is 9w4d today; the day/week measurement is 9w2d but Jellybean has been running 2-4 days behind the whole time. Today's heart rate was 169, and everything looks perfect.

K, the u/s tech we love, pointed out that Jellybean's arm was moving. YOU GUYS, THE BABY WAVED AT US. I thought Mr. Hope and I were going to start blubbering right there. We could see its big ol' head, its much-smaller body, its little arms and legs... Seriously, I felt like my heart was exploding.

It wasn't until I was getting dressed that Mr. Hope said, "She didn't say anything about the bleed!" I was like, "Oh, yeah, the bleed." And then, when we saw Dr. Smiles, he confirmed that the bleed is gone. I am off restrictions! We could even have sex if we wanted to, though later Mr. Hope and I decided it was better to wait until 13 weeks. (I said "better" not "easier," mind you.)

Mr. Hope told Dr. Smiles that the baby waved at us. Smiles said, "That wasn't his arm, that was his penis, flapping in the wind. Feel proud yet?" Seriously, I love my doctor. He's so weird, but in the best possible way.

As we left his office, I hugged him. I couldn't help it. I was bursting with happiness.

We go back next Monday for our final u/s at Posh Clinic, at which point we'll be released to the OB. We see her the following week, on a Tuesday.

Driving home from work, I was sort-of crying. Not sad crying - more like happy crying. I am so relieved. And grateful. And it's all so overwhelming, after all this time. 

It occurs to me that this is how "normal" preggos must feel. Happy. There is a baby growing inside of them. If they've never had a loss, they aren't really thinking about whether or not one will happen. They're thinking about the life inside of them, growing bigger and stronger every day. Dreaming of its future, of the life they will give birth to in a comparatively short number of months. They aren't fearing loss at every turn. Holding their breath for days at a time.

Or maybe they are. I don't know. All I know is that our little Jellybean looks fabulous. 

Today, I am happy. 


last-minute anxiety.

The night before my next ultrasound, I start to get really panicky about the baby. Like, I can be motoring along fine, and then WHAM! Instant fear. Why don't my boobs hurt as much as they did on Friday? Why haven't I had heartburn today? Where did the nausea go? Etc.

I hate this part of the process. I hate how one minute I can feel like a semi-normal pregnant woman and the next I'm playing out scenarios in my head, like how will I tell people that I've suffered a second miscarriage? Will they make me do it at home again, or can I ask the new OB for a D&C? And then I get mad at myself for being so morbid, which makes everything that much worse.

On the upside, I had a pretty good weekend. I finally finished Phase I of my freelance project (the relief of that was so intense I almost cried when I sent it off to the project manager, no joke) AND we had a great visit with Mini-Hope, too - only two threatened pouting sessions that she reeled back in rather quickly. So there's that.

I have to go into the office after this morning's appointment, so won't have time to update right away. But I promise I'll report back tonight so as not to worry anyone.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

the plight of the preggo in the one-bathroom house.

Mini-Hope is visiting for the weekend. She inherited her father's sensitivity to wheat and/or gluten, but refuses to give up refined flour. So, of course, she woke up with an upset tummy (mac-n-cheese does that to the wheat and/or gluten insensitive) and immediately took up residence in our small ranch house's one tiny bathroom.

You can probably guess what happens next.

When I wake up in the morning, I make a beeline for the bathroom. I did this even before I was pregnant, but now that I am with child, my bladder is even more sensitive. I HAVE TO PEE, DAMN IT.

Only, I can't, because there's Mini-Hope.

I go back into the bedroom and say to Mr. Hope, "You're going to have to build me another bathroom."

He asks if I knocked on the door to let Mini-Hope know I have to use the bathroom, too. I didn't, because she embarrasses easily. But five minutes later, I can't afford to spare her feelings. I knock and say, "Hey, Mini-Hope. You almost done in there?"

"No," is her plaintive, 10-year-old response.


I say, "Okay, but remember - we only have the one bathroom, and I need to go, too."

She doesn't respond. I putter around the house. Feed Precious Pup. Put away some things in the kitchen. Try to forget that my bladder is a ginormous balloon about to pop.

I go back into our bedroom. "So about that second bathroom...."

And then we hear it. The glorious flush of the toilet.

When Mini-Hope emerges, she's clutching her stomach. "You feeling okay?" I ask.

"No," she tells me. "My stomach really hurts."

So I don't go into the bathroom. I go into the kitchen to get her a small glass of ginger ale.

Which is when Mr. Hope takes it upon himself to use my bathroom and take the world's longest pee.

When he emerges, I duck in...only to discover the roll of TP is almost used up. I go to the linen closet. No extra rolls of TP.

"Hope!" I say. "There's no toilet paper! Go be a husband and GET ME SOME."

He does.

At which point I'm finally allowed to relieve myself - literally twenty minutes after first waking up.

Did I mention that I really, really, really need a second bathroom?

Thursday, April 23, 2015


Baby's size: Grape (other sites say green olive).

Next appointment: April 27.

Total weight gain: 3 lbs. on the nose. Have honestly been trying to gain NOTHING in the first trimester, so a little bummed about this.

Exercise: Still on restrictions.

Sleep: Back to being more tired. The crappy part is that I almost never make it to my alarm without having to pee, but once I get up to pee, I can't get back to sleep.

Food cravings: The other day, I saw a commercial for a breakfast sandwich - sausage, egg, and cheese in between two pieces of French toast. Had to have it. HAD TO. So I did. And anything salty - cheese curls, pretzels, saltines. Although, to be fair, haven't had any of those three (just wanted them).

Food aversions: I tried to eat some lamb. Two bites in and I thought I was going to hurl. I've also been having mixed feelings about my daily breakfast (two pieces of Ezekial bread toasted and topped with half of a mashed avocado and two over-medium eggs - pasteurized, of course).

Symptoms: The excess saliva thing kicked in yesterday. So that's fun. Everything else comes and goes. Some days nausea is strong. Some days I get a lot of heartburn. Some days my boobs hurt really, really bad. Other days, none of the above.

What I'm loving: I made it to 9 weeks, and Jellybean looks GREAT. On Tuesday, the CRL was 18 mm (perfect) and the FHR was 161. Gumbo is betting it's a girl based on the FHR; the BFF keeps dreaming I'm having a boy.

What I'm not loving: My stupid SCH. It's benching me from travel, which is interfering with both of my jobs. Jellybean is worth it, of course, but it's kind of frustrating to have worked so hard and then have to miss all of this job-related stuff. I feel like it's a preview of what's to come. (Again, not saying it isn't worth it - just hard for this Type A girl to accept.)

What I'm looking forward to: Weaning off my meds. Although Dr. Smiles says I won't do that until 12 weeks. Not sure if he's going to stop me cold turkey or what. I won't even be his patient at that point; I stop seeing him right before 11 weeks.

Best moment this week: Tuesday's ultrasound. I wasn't really nervous, even though they day before my disappearing symptoms had me all freaked out. When K showed us the blinky-blink of the heartbeat and pointed out Jellybean's head and appendage buds, I just couldn't stop smiling.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

why does feeling good end up making me feel bad?

Got to see our little Jellybean yesterday. At 8w5d, she was measuring 18 mm, up five from five days ago (perfect). FHR was 161, and our favorite u/s tech, K, pointed out her head, her arm buds, her leg buds, and her itty bitty body. After a minor-league panic attack on Monday, after my nausea and heartburn had all but disappeared, this was all very reassuring.

Here's the weird thing: lately I've been feeling good about this pregnancy. My gestational sac is huge (as it should be). The amniotic sac is this perfect little bubble around Jellybean. The yolk sac, while still present, isn't enlarged like last time. My hormone levels seem to be good, the u/s have all been good, and except for that pesky little SCH (which, unfortunately, had grown a bit since Thursday), everything looks great.

But what happens is that I start to worry about feeling too good. I go on Pinterest and start pinning things like unique birth announcements and recommendations for nursery gliders to my secret "Future Baby" board, then think: am I getting too far ahead of myself?

Yesterday, when Dr. Smiles told me that the bleed had grown 5 mm since Thursday (in length, not width - it's back to looking like a skinny crescent shape), he said, "I'm sure you're probably terrified." But here's the thing: I wasn't. I haven't been bleeding red, and the spotting is so minor it's barely there. When he said that, though, all I could think was, "Should I be terrified?" And then he said, "Everything's going to be fine," but him saying that made me question whether or not it was.

Do you see how my brain works?

I had a prenatal counseling appointment with a nurse at the OB's office on Friday. Due to my weight and history of high BP and diabetes (type 2), both of which have been resolved for years, I have to do a series of 24-hour urine tests. This will check for pre-eclampsia and diabetes throughout the pregnancy. I think this first on was supposed to be like a baseline, but honestly, they didn't tell me much. In fact, I thought this was something all preggos did until I asked my friends and they were all, "I don't know what you're talking about."

If you don't know, the 24-hour test works like this: they give you an orange-brown jug in which to put your pee, and a "nun's hat" to catch your pee in the toilet. When you wake up, you flush your FMU, then catch everything after that. I drink a LOT of water, and I pee pretty frequently even when I'm not pregnant, so guess what? Filled that gallon jug after just 12 hours. Put it in the fridge and got prepared for them to tell me I'd have to redo the test later. (They didn't - turns out 3000 ml was enough pee to do the test.)

Taking the test got me thinking about all of the bad things that could happen after the first trimester. Gestational diabetes I'm not as worried about - you just have to be super careful with carbs, which I am to a certain degree already. But pre-eclampsia? One of the women on my secret FB group is dealing with that now and had to get induced at 34 weeks. It's so scary. And when you start reading up on the 24-hour urine test, you end up learning more about things like HELLP syndrome (one of the women in my old Resolve support group lost a baby at 24 weeks to HELLP).

It makes me think that you're never safe. That until you strap that baby into the car seat, your pregnancy could still end at any time.

And yet.

I feel this totally un-Agony-like calm right now. Like everything is going to be okay. I don't have God in my life, so this isn't the result of prayer. It's not even the result of being a super-chill person (obvi). I just feel like this time it's real. This time I'm going to get my take-home baby.

And the minute I articulate that, I think: OH, SHIT. HUBRIS IS COMING FOR YOU. DUCK AND COVER.

Why can't I just feel good? Why can't I stop feeling bad?

Will I ever be okay?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

you are not alone.

I spent most of my twenties fearing the end of my fertility, in part because I knew my mother entered menopause early. I also knew it took her mother, my grandmother, nearly a decade to conceive my mom, and that in the end she was only able to do so with the help of whatever fertility drugs were being prescribed in the early 1950s.

And yet, when my husband and I first received our infertility diagnosis, our RE declared me "fine." The problem, he said, was the testosterone supplement my husband's urologist had surgically implanted in his thigh: it had rendered him sterile.

The relief I felt in the time that we waited for my husband's sperm to come back is indescribable. I was fine! I could make a baby! According to the RE (the one I've not-so-affectionately dubbed Dr. God Complex), a year wouldn't make a difference in my fertility - in his mind, the line between 35 and 36 wasn't as dire as the charts seem to make it.

Ten months after being declared "fine," I was rushed to the ER for the recurring pain I had nearly every time I ovulated. I'd been complaining about these episodes for years, but my gyno had dismissed my complaints as mittelschmerz and basically called me a cry baby. I didn't think this sounded like typical female pain, though. I would simultaneously feel like I had to poop, pee, and vomit, and then I'd writhe in bed, clutching my lower abdomen and sweating, until some anti-anxiety medicine would kick in and put me to sleep. 

For two years this happened, nearly every single cycle, until it started to get worse. I started to have the episodes outside of ovulation. Two weeks apart, just before my period, on a random Tuesday. One of the worst times it happened was the day of a close friend's funeral. She'd died young, unexpectedly, from complications with an autoimmune disorder. I was delivering one of the eulogies. The attack came on after I'd already put on my makeup, and I just kept moaning no, not today, please, God, not today.

Miraculously, my body pulled it together long enough for me to deliver the eulogy, but the pain returned during the last third of the funeral. I handed my dish off to a friend and went straight home, where I sweated and writhed and cried for hours.

The trip to the ER happened not long after that - less than a week. The attacks were coming too close together. For the first time, someone decided to use a transvaginal ultrasound to see what was going on in there. That's when they discovered the 10 cm dermoid cyst taking up residence on my left ovary.

I lost the ovary in the surgery meant to remove only the cyst. My surgeon liked to cut things. He prided himself on how quickly he was in and out of my body. Speedy Gonzalez didn't think I needed that ovary anyway. I was still planning on doing IVF, due to my husband's low sperm count, and I had another ovary. One would be plenty.

In the years following, I've come to form a theory of my own: there was a reason I almost always ovulated from the left ovary. That's where all of the good eggs were. The ovary that was left behind was lazy. In the wake of surgery, it took a long time becoming active. In every attempt at ART, we could only coax one decent follicle from the right ovary. Every. Single. Time. When my AMH was finally tested, it was <.16 - undetectable.

The depression that followed my IF diagnosis was so deep and so intense that my therapist asked me if I would consider attending a Resolve support group. It would be good for me, she said, to connect with others in my situation. I had attended support groups before, for people with loved ones who had mental illness, and found them to be less-than-helpful. They were bleak, these meetings. I never left feeling hopeful. 

But my therapist was insistent, so to the Resolve support group we went. My husband and I sat in a room of other couples and some women flying solo. I told our story to a group of strangers and listened as they told me theirs. I cried along with the young woman who'd just gotten her diagnosis of cervical cancer. They would harvest her eggs, but she'd never be able to carry a child. The pain she was in was so palpable, I just wanted to hug her.

It was cathartic, attending that group, and we returned, month after month, for the first year after our diagnosis. I formed a couple of friendships with women I met in that group, one a fellow DOR gal like myself (Kindred). The meeting facilitator formed a secret Facebook group for us to keep in touch in between meetings. I felt like I'd found my people.

Later, I'd move on from those meetings to my secret Facebook group of women pursuing donor embryos. It's an active group, more than 530 members strong, comprised of women from all over the world. They have answered my questions, cheered me on through two cycles, consoled me after my first-ever pregnancy turned into a miscarriage. They have followed me through my current pregnancy, and a satellite group - one focused solely on anxiety/depression stemming from IF/ART - has held my hand through every fear I've had about losing another baby.

In short, these women are my lifeline. 

I've made a lot of good friends thanks to my infertility. Some of the strongest, most resilient women I've ever met. My fellow infertiles, I call them. We share a bond that only another woman who's struggled to achieve (and sustain) a pregnancy can understand. 

That circle has expanded in the past seven months, after I started this blog and started spending time reading/commenting on other people's blogs. Women I've never met in "real" life, who I may never meet face to face, send me Facebook messages and leave me comments before every follow up appointment. "Thinking of you," they'll say. "Let me know how it goes." I do the same for them.

I am not alone. I am far from alone. And I am grateful to everyone in my support system, from the women I met in my Resolve group to the blogger whose story I just discovered last week. If you want to know how people survive infertility, this is it: through the camaraderie of fellow infertiles. People who've walked the path you're on. It doesn't matter if they're still in the thick of it or have reached the other side - these are your people. They will help you get through it.

I'm not fully "out" in terms of my infertility, but I will be. All along I've said that when I reach the other side - whether it be through a take-home baby or making the decision to live child-free - I will tell my story. I'll tell the story of my miscarriage, too, because that's another thing that needs to be talked about more openly. 

Why not now? you wonder. I'm just not ready. I'm still in the trenches, fighting my way toward the family my husband and I so desperately want. I'm not ashamed of what I've been through. I'm not embarrassed. Biology is what it is. A doctor put hormones in my  husband without counseling him that they would render him sterile. A surgeon stole my good ovary and patted himself on the back because of his speediness. I can't change any of these things.

For now, I tell my story anonymously, through this blog, because I want others to feel less alone. And it's working. Recently, a woman found my blog after researching the too-small gestational sac that led to her miscarriage. She told me that reading about my experience with the same thing helped her come to terms with her situation.

I cried when I read that. Because I can't tell you how many times I've done the same exact thing - found someone out there, through an online or in-person support group, or through the blogosphere, and said YOU, YES YOU, YOU ARE MY PEOPLE. THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR STORY.

This post was written in response to Resolve's National Infertility Awareness Week. Click here to learn more about the disease of infertility. To read more stories of hope, check out the NAIW 2015 Blogroll.

Thursday, April 16, 2015


Baby's size: Kidney bean.

Next appointment: Prenatal counseling with OB nurse tomorrow; next appt. with RE is April 21.

Total weight gain: .8 lbs. (so, down about 2 lbs. from last week, but oddly, up about 1.2 lbs. from yesterday - was it the spaetzle we had for dinner?)

Exercise: None allowed, but I'm cleared to go back to work as of Monday! Still can't lift things, walk too much, have sex/orgasms, etc. But at least I'm off house arrest.

Sleep: Sometimes I get really tired in the middle of the day. Sometimes my body craves 8-9 hours a night. Sometimes I wake up before the alarm after 7 hours. It's all very rando.

Food cravings: Starting to have oddly specific ones. Like, I really want this eggplant dish from a local restaurant I love. Or like one night, I emailed Mr. Hope out of nowhere and said, "Do they have cake at your office? I really want some cake." (They have food parties, like, daily where he works.)

Food aversions: Sometimes the thought of a food or dish makes my stomach turn a little, but then I'm fine eating it. It's hard to explain.

Symptoms: Brown spotting has lessened considerably since I went off the Lovenox. Vivid dreams abound; the other night I dreamed I was married to James Franco. I was really disappointed because he's so weird, but then he started redoing my master bathroom and I was like, "Oh, good, I wanted someone handy!" (Sorry, honey.) Also: My super-sniffer has kicked in BIG TIME. Everything smells gross to me. The kitchen. The bathroom. A t-shirt. And, yes, I finally started to get some nausea. It's mild, but it's definitely a thing and not me imagining something because I want to feel more pregnant.

What I'm loving: The baby looks great! CRL was 13 mm today, so up 3 mm from Monday (perfect). FHR was in the 150s. Best of all, THE BLEED HAS SHRUNK! It's so small you can barely see it now.

What I'm not loving: My RE's office staff. I requested they send the OB some paperwork more than two weeks ago, filled out a form and everything, and the OB still hasn't gotten it. They close so early I couldn't even call and ask them to fax it. Will have to do that at 8 a.m. for my 9:30 a.m. counseling appointment. It's all a little stressful.

What I'm looking forward to: Making it past 9 weeks. Lately it's come up a couple of times, with a couple of different people, that even though this pregnancy seems nothing like the one I had with Nugget, we're still approaching the point at which we lost her - between weeks 8 and 9. So maybe passing that mark will help alleviate some of my anxiety. (Though, like I said, it's been a LOT better since my session with Quirky.)

Best moment this week: This is silly, but when Dr. Smiles said no exercise, no sex, and no orgasms, he said, "I'll be doing all three, in your honor." In my head, I couldn't help but think he was going to pour one out for his homie. It gave me the giggles for hours. Why is this my best moment? It was the lightest, happiest appointment I've had with him EVER. For the first time, I left feeling downright giddy. Now that's something to celebrate!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

plodding along.

I should have written this update Monday, after I got back from seeing Smiles. I know there are a few lovely people who've been following my story and I honestly didn't mean to worry anyone by not reporting back. I am very sorry. 

Here's what's been going on:

Went back to Posh Clinic on Monday. They took me back for blood work while Mr. Hope was still parking the car. I see a piece of paper on the top of my file with an hCG number. It was in the 67k range. I don't  know if this was from Wednesday or Friday, as I had blood draws at the satellite clinic both days. But I do know the number is low, especially since the previous Monday it had been in the 56k range. Immediately feel sick to my stomach.

In the waiting room, start running numbers through a doubling calculator on my phone. I know at this stage that it's normal for it to take up to three and a half days to double. If the 67k draw was on Wednesday, it had a doubling time of seven and a half days. If on Friday, fifteen days. Neither one looks good.

I look at hCG ranges by week. I'm still in a great range, number-wise. Even my chart had a "HIGH" flag on it. But I'm less concerned with the overall number than I am doubling time. I know this is because my numbers never doubled properly with the last pregnancy - that it's now an anxiety trigger for me. I figure I will ask Smiles about it when I see him.

We go back for the u/s. As I'm pulling down my pants I tell Mr. Hope that I have a bad feeling. He asks me why. I tell him I don't know; I just do. He gives me sad face. My heart is racing. I'm sure it's over. I am "sure" it's over before every u/s, but this time I'm really sure.

K, our favorite u/s tech, gets right down to it. Within seconds, we see Jellybean's heartbeat. I blurt out, "OH THANK GOD," and Mr. Hope squeezes my hand. I start asking questions. "Give me a minute," she says, not unkindly. 

Heart rate is 137. I panic for a second before she assures me this is a great number for where we're at. The crown-rump length is 10 mm, only one off from where they'd predicted last Monday. These are all good things.

The bleed has gotten slightly bigger and changed shape. It's no longer a pencil eraser but a long, skinny banana. Like a crescent, or the back end of parentheses. K tells us that it's in a good place for a bleed, behind the baby and not on top of it. This is reassuring.

We don't wait long to see Dr. Smiles. I am still a ball of nerves. When I walk into his office I say, "You know I'm about to lose my shit, right? You know this is happening." (Have I mentioned how much I love my doctor?)

He goes over my meds with me and decides to discontinue the lovenox (blood thinner) to see if it will help. Then he tells me that I'm still on bed rest.

I say, "Can we talk about this for a second? What are the advantages of full bed rest over modified?"

"None," he says. 

Um, okay.

He tells me that he's sure I've Googled enough to know that bed rest can't prevent a miscarriage, but to him, resting when there's a bleed seems intuitive. I ask about sitting with my feet up so I can work. He didn't realize that I can work from home, and when he does, he says, "If you're telling me all you're doing is moving from the couch to a chair with bathroom breaks, I'm fine with that." No standing too long, no cooking, no lifting, no walking the dog, no anything other than laying on the couch or sitting in a chair or using the potty.

This is an enormous relief to me, because the stress of not being able to work wasn't doing me a damned bit of good.

I ask about the hCGs and how they're not doubling any more. He tells me he doesn't care about that, because they plateau at a certain point anyway. But he didn't care about my ridiculously low hCG last time around, and we all know how that ended.

So then I say, "Be straight with me. What are the chances that this baby is going to make it?"

He chews this over for a second, then says, "Ninety-eight percent." 

"Really?" I say. "You're that confident?"

"Yes," he says. "I am."

As we leave the clinic, Mr. Hope says, "Those are really good odds." And he's right; they are. If someone told me I had a 98% chance of winning the lottery, I'd buy a ticket, no questions asked.

And yet the broken part of my brain thinks, "How can he be so sure?" and "What if I'm in the other 2%?" and "Why am I still terrified I'm going to lose this kid?"

At home I log onto my work laptop and see that I have 550+ emails backed up. This is with me checking sporadically on bed rest. We have a big event scheduled for the next day and I dive right in. Initially I think I'll work for two hours and then rest, but I don't. I work for five hours straight before feeling so exhausted that I have to lay down on the couch. 

I figure I'll update my blog in the morning. But when I wake up, the day of the event, I log on early and just never get off. I work steadily, with only a short break for a therapy appointment with Quirky and another to talk to Mr. Hope when he gets home for work, until eight o'clock. Seriously, it was 8 p.m. when I finally logged off. I got on the couch and was passing out within a couple of hours. 

So that brings us to today. Tomorrow morning, it's back to the clinic for another scan. I will say that I've had less discharge the past two days on modified bed rest than I did on the four and a half days of full bed rest. I hope this means the blood is reabsorbing or working its way out. I can handle modified bed rest, but during my session with Quirky I apparently talked without breathing for 20 minutes (I know she was thinking MANIC). I think this is because I went from working in an office where I'm in meetings with different people all day to being at home all by myself for most of the time. I think I miss interaction.

I'm starting to catch up on day job but am still behind on the freelance project. The project manager is getting antsy. She knows my history and I told her about being on bed rest but now being on modified. Her response was "Great! How far have you gotten?" Since I lost almost a full week, and went on bed rest literally the day after she asked for the last status update, the answer is NOT BLOODY FAR. But I didn't really say this. I just told her I was plodding along.

This is kind of how I feel about my life right now. I am plodding along. I get up, I do some stuff, I go to bed. Waiting for something to happen, or to not happen. Time moves slowly and quickly all at the same time.

I don't know what it will take for me to feel comfortable with this pregnancy. I felt good for two days after we saw the heartbeat and then I gushed red. So now I feel like nothing is guaranteed, it could end any second, and feeling comfortable just means setting yourself up for disappointment. It's not healthy, but it's where I am.

Tomorrow I will be eight weeks. We lost Nugget between weeks 8 and 9, but the weight week ultrasound already showed a slower heartbeat and signs of lagging growth. The gestational sac was too small, the yolk sac too big. All of my sacs are appropriately sized right now. So, maybe tomorrow. Maybe if the growth is appropriate and the heart is beating strong and there's no sign that Jellybean is going the way of the Nugget, maybe then I'll feel better?


Sunday, April 12, 2015

the big bleed.

I'm attempting to write this post on my iPad, since I'm currently confined to prone positions not conducive to using a laptop, so apologies in advance for any formatting errors.

Let me start by saying that I have been overdoing things. I take responsibility for this. When I went out of town for Easter, I did a lot of walking. I did it slowly, without raising my heart rate, but it was more than I should have been walking. When I cart my company-issued laptop back and forth to work, I'm carrying well over my 10 lb. limit. I feel dumb taking the elevator to the second floor at work, so on Wednesday, I did the stairs three times.

Then, around 12:30, I was working at my desk, coughed hard, and felt a gush of wetness. To be honest, I thought I may have peed myself a little. So I went to the bathroom, even though I'd just gone  maybe 10 minutes prior.

In the stall, I pulled up my skirt and pulled down my underwear. That's when I saw it: The crotch soaked through with bright red blood.

It was one of those strange, out-of-body experiences. I remained very calm. I took wads of toilet paper and cleaned myself up. I put another big wad in my underpants as a makeshift pad. I stood up and saw that there was blood on the toilet seat. I spit on more TP to clean it up. Flushed again, washed my hands thoroughly, checked the back of my skirt for a spot, found none.

I walked into my office, shut the door, and called the RE's office. "I need to speak with a nurse or Dr. Smiles," I said. The receptionist asked if she could take a message. I told her I was bleeding bright red, enough to soak through my underpants, and I didn't know if I was supposed to go to the ER or what. She put me on hold. When she came back on the line, she told me that they wanted to see me and could I come in?

I put on my Out of Office message, shut down my laptop, and started packing up. Calmly filled my empty water bottle. Climbed into my car. Took a quick work call. When that was over, I started to cry.

I'm skipping steps here. I messaged Mr. Hope, of course. We talked briefly. I messaged the BFF and Gumbo. I let a couple of close coworkers know what happened. I had to email Quirky, too, as I was supposed to be meeting with her the same time I ended up driving to the clinic. I took a towel from my trunk and put it on my seat before I got into the car, to make sure that I didn't bleed through. We just bought the damned thing, after all. Haven't even put a thousand miles on it yet.

Halfway into the hourlong drive, I started to feel crampy. I hadn't had cramps before then. I felt wetness. I was convinced this was the end. Sure, it could've been a subchorionic hematoma (SCH). I knew from my FB group that they're common in IVF pregnancies. But there was a lot of cramping. Too much cramping. It was over. I could just feel it.

This is how convinced I was: When I arrived at the clinic (one of Posh Clinic's satellite offices), I had to pee. I always have to pee. I asked where the rest room was. Then I leaned in and said, "I'm bleeding and cramping. Can I have a specimen cup in case something comes out?"

There was some fresh red on my makeshift pad, but only a watery pink when I wiped. I took a pad from the clinic's supply and put it in. Still no spot on my skirt. This felt reassuring.

They took me back for the ultrasound pretty quickly. It was a tech I'd never worked with before. She was very straight-faced, no emotion showing whatsoever. She stuck the probe in me and very quickly found the heartbeat, strong as it was on Monday. Jellybean had grown 2 mm in two days: perfect. I started sobbing on the table, enough to make it hard for her to do the scan. I kept apologizing, but I couldn't stop crying. I had been so sure it was over.

There was a bleed. A small one, the size of a pencil eraser, on the outer edge of the gestational sac. Not far from the yolk sac. It hadn't been there two days ago, at least not that they knew of. I asked if it was an SCH. She said no.

When I saw Dr. Smiles, I started crying again. He calmly handed me tissues. He told me that the bleeds were really common. That the endometrial layer bled easily. There was a lot going on, what with the placenta attaching and all. "I'm not nervous," he said.

"I'm glad YOU'RE not," I said.

And this is when he put me on bed rest. I was surprised. I asked about sitting in a chair with my feet up, thinking that I could work from home. "No," he said. "I need you laying down."

I let Mr. Hope know that this was the plan. I told him I'd need a babysitter. There was the dog to contend with. I was really freaked out. If I'm being put on bed rest, it must be serious, right?

I talked to Quirky on the way home. She was confused that the u/s tech had said it wasn't an SCH. Like me, she thought it was the very definition of an SCH. She was surprised that Dr. Smiles had put me on bed rest. Typically, she says, doctors will just tell you to take it easy.

We talked a lot about my anxiety. About how I was completely certain that I'd lost the baby. How my infertility PTSD has pretty much fucked my ability to enjoy any part of this pregnancy. She told me again that my intellect is my worst enemy. That I needed to stop Googling things. That I had to stop seeking data to try to figure out what's going to happen next.

"There's no way to know," she said. "Your numbers were great but that doesn't guarantee anything."

TBH, the whole conversation bummed me out. Mostly because I knew she was right.

I drove home. I got on the couch, laying on my left side. I asked my boss to call me. He did. "I didn't want to have this conversation yet, but I'm 7 weeks pregnant...."

"First of all," he said, "congratulations."

"Oh. Right. Thanks."

We talked about some logistics. I'm supposed to be going on a work trip this week, just a one-day thing into the city, but we both assumed (correctly, as it turned out) that I wouldn't be able to go. We talked about a longer trip scheduled for this summer. No, I wouldn't be too far along then. I could still go. (Knock on wood.)

The next day, the BFF came over to Agony-sit me. It was so sweet. And so appreciated. We talked. We laughed. She picked up a banging lunch. She walked Precious Pup. I made a couple of conference calls. Most of my meetings had gotten canceled, courtesy of the boss. Glam Coworker said, "He's worried about you. He doesn't want anyone bothering you." It was sweet, but at the same time, a little disturbing. I really don't want anyone thinking that I can't do my job.

I hadn't had any red blood since I'd gone to the clinic. Until about five minutes before the BFF was scheduled to leave, that is. It was just one smear of bright red, but it was enough to make me feel sick to my stomach.

The next day, after a glorious shower, I resumed my couch position. I watched something on the DVR that made me think of my mom. I bawled my eyes out. I was convinced that when we went back to the clinic, I'd find out Jellybean was gone.

Right before 11, the BFF showed up. I drove to the clinic. The closer we got, the more terrified I felt. I had her come back with me for the u/s. It was the same poker-faced woman from Wednesday. I pointed out to the BFF what I thought was Jellybean. The u/s tech corrected me. "That's the yolk sac," she said. "I don't have the embryo in focus yet."

But then there was Jellybean, heart still beating. And there was the tiny hematoma. I'd really been hoping it would have resolved itself.

The baby had only grown 1 mm in two days. It should have grown 2 mm. When the tech didn't give me a print out of the u/s, I started to worry. Was the yolk sac enlarged? Was something wrong?

"Everything looks beautiful," Mini Smiles told me when I saw her. The bleed was really small, she said. Nothing to worry about. I asked Dr. Smiles if it was an SCH. "It's sort of the same," he said. But not entirely. It has something to do with the placement. Like, a true SCH has to be under the placenta or something. Whatever you call it, it was keeping me benched for a few more days.

I've been riding the couch all weekend. And have been trying to write this post for literally days. On your side isn't a great angle for typing on the iPad. And Blogger's mobile site kind of sucks.

Tomorrow morning we go back for our fifth ultrasound. I haven't had fresh red since that one small smear Thursday night, but I am still spotting tanish brown with a little dark brown from time to time. I thought the spotting would have stopped once they took me off of the progesterone suppositories (I now take 200 mg of oral progesterone each night before bed). Is it from the hematoma? Is it from something else?

I know that symptoms come and go in early pregnancy, but my symptoms have been practically nonexistent. My right boob is sore, but my left one isn't. I used to have heartburn but don't really any more. I feel a little sick when I'm hungry. I am hungry, like, all the time right now. The past few days I've been stuffing my face and not gaining any weight. First real pregnancy bonus, but not a hardcore symptom.

So of course I have all of this anxiety about tomorrow. Will Jellybean have grown appropriately? What will the heart rate be? No one's measured it yet, just said it was strong. Will the bleed be resolved or will it have gotten bigger? Why am I still spotting? Can anyone tell me if this baby is going to make it? Seriously, Smiles, just pull out your MD crystal ball already.

Sometimes I start to cry out of nowhere, because I'm so convinced that this will end in loss like the last one. That I will never be a mother. That maybe I'm not meant to be a mother.

I know these are self-destructive thought patterns, but I don't know how to stop them. Plus, hi, bed rest is so dead boring. All I do is watch TV, read, or think. Lather, rinse, repeat.


Thursday, April 9, 2015


Baby's size: Blueberry

Next appointment: April 10th

Total weight gain: 2.8 lbs. (not sure how accurate that is, though - ended up drinking a mug of milk and eating a slice of leftover pizza at 5 a.m.)

Exercise: I AM ON BED REST. No, this isn't a joke. I'll write a separate post about it later, but yesterday I coughed at work and gushed bright red, enough to soak through my underpants. Went in to the RE's office for a scan and blood work. Jellybean had grown 2 mm in two days (so, perfect) and still had a strong heartbeat. But I am now on bed rest. Like, the kind where I'm not even supposed to sit up in a chair with my feet elevated - I'm literally supposed to be prone at all times.

Sleep: About the same.

Food cravings: Cheese. I have been craving all kinds of cheese. And chicken.

Food aversions: Nothing at the moment.

Symptoms: Brown spotting persists. Heartburn comes and goes (it's definitely been less of an issue this week). Still get twinges and a little cramping. Oh, and have had a couple of nights of really vivid dreams.

What I'm loving: The BFF, who took today and tomorrow off from work so that she could Agony-sit while I'm on bed rest. I am always humbled by the love she shows me.

What I'm not loving: The aforementioned bed rest. My anxiety level, which is through the roof. The creeping of the scale. I know I will need to gain weight but I should only gain about 15 lbs. total this pregnancy, so to be at +3 lbs. when I'm not even out of the first trimester has me wigged.

What I'm looking forward to: Getting off of bed rest. Not just getting off of it but knowing that I am getting off of it because things are okay.

Best moment this week: Seeing the fast blink of Jellybean's heartbeat on Monday. Hang in there, Jellybean! You are so very wanted.

Monday, April 6, 2015

houston, we have a heartbeat!

Today we went back for our second ultrasound. I'm 6w4d, so I knew they were expecting to see a heartbeat. I'm not going to lie; I was nervous. I'd been Googling things like "high hCG no heartbeat" because I was convinced we weren't going to see one. This is me, I kept thinking. Of course it won't work out.

Okay, so that makes me sound insufferable. And I'm sorry for that. It's just - and I'm sure a lot of you reading this can relate - when it comes to my fertility, nothing has ever worked out the way it was supposed to. Like, ever.

So, yeah, I was nervous. Mr. Hope was, too. This is like the perpetual state in which we live these days. It ranges anywhere from mild twitchiness to deep-seated panic. It's awesome (not).

When K, the u/s tech came into the room, she said, "Oh, you're nervous, aren't you?" Normally I would've made a joke. This time I didn't. I just said yes. She asked me if I was bleeding. I told her about the brown spotting, said I knew that was normal, and then added, "You know what we've been through."

"Yes," she said. "I do."

She got right down to it. And there it was: the blinking light of a heartbeat. Too small for the machine to measure, but K assured me it was strong.

"I've been doing this for years," she said. "I'd tell you if it was slow. I wouldn't want to give you false hope. That is a strong heartbeat. Things are looking good."

I cried on the table.

Mr. Hope kept saying, "I can't believe it looks like a jellybean! It really is a jellybean!" It's true. The "gorgeously sized" gestational sac is shaped like a freaking jellybean.

The Physician's Assistant, Smiles Jr., was the one who called it gorgeously sized, after I mentioned how that was one of the markers last time around. I have to say, I like Smiles Jr. She knows I'm a freak but she doesn't make fun of me or dismiss me or anything. She's very patient. She's learned from Dr. Smiles. He's kind of like that, too.

But anyway, before we saw Smiles Jr., K left the exam room and I got up, shaking, and sobbed into Mr. Hope's shoulder. I don't think I realized how scared I was until that point. I sincerely was expecting bad news.

So then I got dressed and we went into another little waiting room. There are like three on the physician side. All were filled, but we snagged seats in the one you usually sit in before you get your u/s done. A woman and her mother came in. The women was blond and looked younger than me. She was also really upset. She got called back for a scan and didn't understand why. When she came back, she was saying all of this stuff to her mom about how she should've canceled this cycle and why is this happening to her and she really wants to use intralipids next time and she hopes they'll let her.

I knew she'd just had a miscarriage. I could just tell. And her mother, while trying to be well-meaning, kept saying all of the wrong things. It made me itchy. I felt so horrible for her. I wanted to say, "It gets better, I swear."

Instead, I went to the bathroom and when I got back, I dragged Mr. Hope to the third waiting room, the one that had been too full before. "That was so sad," he whispered to me, once we got there.

"I know," I said. "I'm sorry, I just couldn't sit there. It was too hard."

Finally, we saw Smiles Jr. She gleefully told us that with today's heartbeat our risk of miscarriage dropped to 5%. She told me that they weren't going to give me my hCG results any more, because they were so high last time that now they really only needed to pay attention to the u/s. (For the record, I knew it needed to be between 65,187 and 130,390, though the odds of a 48-hour doubling time with a number this high is unrealistic.) They'd only call if there was a problem.

Guess what? The office is now closed and I didn't get a call. So, yay!

I asked Smiles Jr. why I haven't had really bad nausea. I know a lot of women who are currently pregnant or were recently pregnant, and they ALL have horrible nausea. Is it because I tend to have lower estrogen? Or what?

Smiles Jr. said it had nothing to do with my E2 and that it was more likely to be caused by hCG. Some women just don't get sick, she told me. You should be thankful. It's really awful when it happens. She also said that sickness isn't correlated to how healthy or unhealthy a pregnancy is. "I've seen women miscarry and stay sick as dogs because of the amount of hCG in their system," she said.

I've had fleeting nausea, but honestly, it mostly feels like hunger. Like when you haven't eaten in too long and you feel sort of queasy and sick, and then you eat and an hour later you feel better. That's what I get. I even have that right now, as I type this. It's been about four hours since I had lunch so that makes sense. But thus far I haven't felt so sick that I couldn't eat anything. I tend to be a grazer anyway, and eat a lot of protein and healthy fat (like avocado), so maybe my diet itself is helping the nausea?

Of course, on the way to checking out and making our next appointment, I bumped into Dr. Colleague, the one who did my final egg retrieval and helped me through my miscarriage. She asked how I was doing and I told her we were six and a half weeks. "You don't look six and a half weeks," she said. When I made a puzzled face (because really, who shows this early?), she explained, "Usually you're green around the face at that time."

I thought Smiles Jr. was going to deck her. After all, she'd JUST gotten me calmed down.

But it was okay. I am okay. I made my next appointment and we drove home. I updated everyone who needed updating. And then I did a little bit of work, made a quick trip to the grocery store, and then passed out on the couch for a much-needed nap.

So, there you have it. Still pregnant, and it looks like this one might stick around for a while.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

avoiding the big O.

On Friday I made not one but TWO appointments with the new OB. The first is for Friday; the practice likes to do a "prenatal counseling" session before your first official visit. The second is for May 12, when I will be close to 12 weeks. But yay! I have an OB! And appointments with said OB!

This is progress, folks.

Yesterday was odd in that I was exhausted until about 3:30 p.m. Like, could barely keep my eyes open, falling asleep every five minutes, etc. And then I got my second wind (more like my first wind, but whatever) and I launched into about three hours of work on the freelance project. I banged out a good chunk, and then, toward the end, I realized I was feeling rather frisky. Not because of the freelance project, but you know, in general.

Dr. Smiles' PA told me no intercourse until I had four consecutive days of no spotting. Another doctor in the practice says no nookie, no orgasms until you're out of the first trimester. I'd been planning on the latter just to be safe. But yesterday, in all of my friskiness, I wondered if I could maybe get away with a little me time, so to speak.

But of course I had to take it to Google. And of course I was immediately bombarded with stories of women who miscarried within hours of masturbating or having sex that finished with an orgasm. One woman went into premature labor at 22 weeks and lost her child. Another lost not one but TWO babies, from two separate pregnancies, because she crossed the finish line. Now she won't have sex during at all while she's pregnant.

Now, I'm a relatively smart person, and I get that this was all anecdotal "evidence." And I read plenty of posts by women who swear they screwed themselves silly while they were pregnant and went on to birth 10 lb. babies that came out swinging like Popeye.


The main touchstone that I and a few of my infertile friends use is this:

"If I do X and Y happens, can I live with the regret?"

So, like, if I take a shower and then, five minutes later, I lose the baby, I'm not going to regret it. There's no way the shower would have caused a miscarriage. I don't even like super-hot showers. So, my normal-hot shower would just be basic cleanliness/grooming. No regrets.

But if I ate a hot dog and lost the baby the next day, I would so totally regret it. Because I didn't need that hot dog. That would be me flaunting conventional wisdom for a momentary craving. And even though it would not be likely that the hot dog caused the miscarriage, there would always be a part of me that would wonder, "What would have happened if I had a salad instead?" So, yeah. Probably a regret.

Play this out with me: If I had an orgasm - a real one, and not the kind that sometimes happens when we're sleeping - and then lost the baby, there would be nothing but regret. And shame. And I'd probably never have sex again, or if I did, I wouldn't be able to enjoy it. Because all I would be able to think is that masturbation/sex/whatever killed my baby. Rational or not, that's how I'd feel.

After my miscarriage, there was one large clot left behind. The u/s tech told me I'd likely pass it in the next couple of days. I didn't, not right away. When I finally did, it was almost a week later and immediately after having an orgasm. No joke. I'd been sex-free for almost three months at that point (remember, Dr. Eyeore was all "no sex, no orgasms" the first trimester). I was also in a lot of emotional pain. So I indulged and poof! Clot passed.

"No wonder they say no sex, no orgasms in the first trimester," I thought to myself after it happened.

So, there you have it. No big O for Agony any time soon. And I'm okay with it. Because I'd rather be a little frustrated in that department than having to deal with the fallout from a second miscarriage that I could possibly convince myself I caused, no matter how true or untrue it may be.

Friday, April 3, 2015

embracing the book.

On December 13, 2008, I placed an order on for the fourth edition of What to Expect When You're Expecting. Mr. Hope and I had been engaged for a little over five months and we decided I would discontinue my Depo Provera shot, since we knew it could take up to a year for fertility to be restored after stopping it.

We were planning for the future.

Life conspired against us. Our wedding got delayed and then got delayed again. Mr. Hope lost a dear family member. There were health issues. Lots and lots of health issues.

In January 2011, we went for a preconception appointment at the gynocologist. This was at the recommendation of What to Expect, a book that, in the two-plus years of owning it, I'd never made it past the first chapter - the one about planning. My gyno told me that based on my age, it could take me six months or so to get pregnant.

Y'all know how that story goes.

When I got pregnant in December 2014, I had to hunt down the book. What to Expect. I couldn't remember where it got stashed. Mr. Hope found it in a cabinet in his office. I took the book into my office but couldn't bring myself to read it. Instead, I shoved it in a drawer with my unopened What to Expect workout DVD and unwritten-in pregnancy journal.

I never did read the book, or work out to the DVD, or write in the journal. Things went downhill pretty quickly.

But earlier this week, after the u/s and beta, I dug up the book. I curled up with it on the couch, and I started reading. And then I read it again the next night. And the next.

There's something oddly liberating about feeling okay enough to read this book that I've had for literally six years and some change. Sort of like how I finally got it together enough to identify an OB I think I want to work with, and call to make an appointment.

I go back and forth between feeling excited and wanting to tell the world and semi-certain that if I get too excited or tell too many people it will all be over tomorrow. Chance, my former therapist, called this superstition. I think it's just the result of too many years of infertility, too many years of things going wrong, of easy things being hard.

Or maybe it's a little of both?

Thursday, April 2, 2015


Baby's size: Lentil

Next appointment: April 6th

Total weight gain: .4 lb.

Exercise: Took the dog for a long walk on Monday, but due to brown spotting, RE now has me on exercise restriction. Yesterday I felt guilty taking the stairs at work! So am using the elevator until I have four continuous days of no spotting.

Sleep: Still pretty exhausted. Have a tendency to pass out on the couch. Last night, though, Mr. Hope conked out before I did, and I actually read a few chapters before bed. It was nice!

Food cravings: Still nothing out of the ordinary - peanut butter, Cadbury Mini Eggs, black pepper popcorn. I have been thinking a lot about a Korean dish I had for the first time two weeks ago; might have to get it for lunch this weekend.

Food aversions: Anything too sweet. I am down to one bump of stevia in my decaf and tea, because two feels ridiculously sweet and even chemical-y. Mr. Hope brought home a bag of the Dark Chocolate Mini Eggs but they have MORE sugar than the Milk Chocolate ones (if you can believe it) and I can't eat them. Gross.

Symptoms: Same as last week, only with more heartburn. I have a bag of Tums in my purse now. Also the brown spotting thing started a few days ago. Likely the result of an irritated cervix but there were a couple of days when I was panicked because I was certain miscarriage was impending, even though I know spotting (especially brown) is normal. Will feel much better when that goes away!

What I'm loving: 12%. This is what the PA put our miscarriage risk at.

What I'm looking forward to: Our next ultrasound, which should confirm the heartbeat.

Best moment this week: That gorgeously high beta. Even after the ultrasound confirmed a yolk sac, it still didn't feel real enough until I heard the number and worked out the doubling time. Yay for a healthy placenta!