Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Such a fun time, I'll never do it again

Did you know that if you sit on the subway with one hand, hidden behind your bag, gently stroking your lower pelvic area, you look like a pervert? Or at least feel like one?


Sorry for the lack of update. Blogger can bite me.

Went to the doctor this afternoon thinking it would be a quick in-and-out--she'd check my cervix, tell me it was Braxton-Hicks contractions and to drink lots of water, and that would be the end of it. Instead she looked grave, said "I knew this could happen but I didn't think it would be so soon," and generally alarmed the shit out of me. The concern, of course, being preterm labor, though technically it's not really considered preterm labor until 20 weeks (and I'm 15w2d today). Fortunately, internal exam revealed my cervix was firmly closed. Transabdominal scan showed Bat Boy happy as a clam in his/her amniotic bubble (is it confusing that I refer to the baby as Bat Boy but also as him/her? To me too, a little). Transvaginal scan (yes, I got both! a rare treat!) to measure my cervix showed it nice and long, 3.2 cm. But just in case, TheGoodDoc sent me over to the hospital (maternal-fetal evaluation dept.) to get a better measurement on their super duper ultrasound. She said that although everything looked fine, because of my unicornuate uterus she wanted to be extra careful. I almost hugged her.

At the hospital, I once again got both cootercam and transabdominal treatment. Cootercam showed the cervix long (3.4 cm) and closed--and I could actually see my cervix, unlike on the machine at the doctor's office, where I have to take it on faith that the blob TheGoodDoc is measuring is my cervix and not, say, my hip bone. Then, for a treat, the tech busted out the transabdominal thingumabob and the warm (oooohhhh) ultrasound gel and did quick measurements of Bat Boy's major anatomy--head, femur, upper arm, etc. Everything measured perfect for dates and both the tech and the maternal-fetal specialist said Bat Boy was quite cute, though I'm sure they say that to everyone. I got to hear the heartbeat and see Bat Boy, now looking like a real baby instead of a half-lizard alien, moving around (a LOT) on the big screen TV so thoughtfully mounted over the bed, and came home with two lovely pictures (or as the tech cheerfully said, "Here's the cute profile shot!").

Ah, but here's the booby prize: TheGoodDoc wants me working from home, on modified bed rest again, for the rest of the week. (And the usual no sex rule, which my husband is just thrilled about, let me tell you.) She said since my cervix looked okay, there wasn't much point in treating me for preterm labor, but I should drink lots of water and take magnesium supplements, which I guess is the DIY version of the magnesium sulfate IV they typically give in the hospital to slow preterm labor. I have my 16-week appointment next Tuesday and if I'm doing better (I guess meaning no more contractions) by then, I can go back to work. I am skeptical that staying off my feet will actually do anything other than drive me crazy, though I'm willing to go along with it as long as it's not full bed rest--if I get ordered onto full bed rest, I may have to raise a stink.

I guess the question is, why did I wait so long to go to the doctor? Considering I called in the past when I had, like, a minute of spotting, why did it take almost 24 hours of fairly frequent contractions before I finally called? It's not because I was afraid of not being taken seriously--every time I've had the slightest concern, my doctor's office has been incredibly responsive and understanding. (Though I do have a little medical-PTSD-by-proxy, where I've heard so many asshole doctor stories that I always expect the worst.) After much consideration, I have to say that it's because I was fearing exactly what happened: alarming talk, being sent home, fears fulfilled.

My husband used to tease me that I secretly liked having all kinds of things wrong with me--liked going to the doctor and getting special attention, liked juggling medications and medical records, liked importantly explaining medical conditions to other people. And, okay, while I would prefer not to have a pregnancy complication associated with such a high rate of fetal death, there is a tiny (like 0.00001%) part of me that is actually glad to have a reason to get extra attention during this pregnancy--to not be so normal that I get shuffled in with all the "it only took once!" fertiles. I know that sounds terrible, and I would not wish a pregnancy-threatening birth defect like mine on anyone. But if there were some very tiny, not particularly dangerous but mildly interesting complication that would necessitate biweekly ultrasounds--or heck, if ACOG simply mandated that all women who have gone through fertility treatment must get double the attention from their OBs--well, I wouldn't say no to that.

So there's that. The "special" thing. The feeling that, having gone through IF, I shouldn't be treated like everyone else. But then there's the whole idea of normal. I was starting to almost enjoy the idea of being normal. I was thinking about cribs and color schemes. I was coming up on two weeks spotting-free. I was looking forward to maybe exercising, even (gasp!) maybe having sex again. There was a whiff of optimism in the air. I could see normal off in the distance, and I liked the look of it.

Now, bye-bye to normal. At least for now. That's what I was afraid of.


Interestingly, this whole time (the past few days), I have not been worried about Bat Boy. That is, I have been worried about Bat Boy, but I haven't been worried that he/she wasn't alive. I was worried that my uterus might prematurely expel him/her, but not that there was anything really wrong with the baby him/herself. I guess that marks a new stage in the evolution of worry for me.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Ho hum

Haven't posted all week because I've been very boring. Again, that's a good thing. No spotting, my energy level has improved radically, and I'm even able to look at (and EAT) seafood again!

Of course, this being me, I just had to cook up some excitement (read: freakout) to liven things up at the 15 week mark. Yesterday afternoon, I felt some pressure in my pelvis. I'd been running around Saturday (farmer's market, cleaning, going out to dinner) and the earlier part of Sunday (doing laundry, cooking for the first time in ages), so I figured I'd overdone it a bit and went to lie down. Now, every so often (couple times a week) for the past month or so, I've felt a tightening in my lower abdomen. It took me a while to figure out that the tightening was probably a uterine contraction (clue: I could feel the hard, rounded shape of my uterus when I placed my hand on my abdomen). They've been pretty rare, painless, and not accompanied by any spotting, so I figured they were normal. So yesterday, when I felt a contraction as I lay down, I didn't worry too much about it.

Until I felt another. And another. Hmm, I thought, that's funny. I drank lots of water and kept rough track of the contractions. They were pretty erratic and didn't appear more than 20 minutes apart--sometimes longer--so I tried to chill out. I knew that more than five contractions an hour is a sign of preterm labor, and I never had more than three or four an hour, so I thought I was probably safe. I also didn't have any bleeding or extra fluid. I tried to think of it as Bat Boy just fucking with my head. Maybe a good night's sleep will take care of it, I thought.

This morning I woke up (well, hit snooze four times before begrudgingly hauling my eyes open) and put my hand on my abdomen. After a minute, I felt the telltale hardening of my uterus, even more pronounced when lying on my back with an empty stomach. I've had my hand on my abdomen all day since, and when I got to work, started writing down the time when each contraction started. They were still at three or four an hour.

I finally called my doctor a little while ago. She was about to go into surgery, but wants me to come in tomorrow--as long as they continue to be erratic and no more than three or four an hour, I should be okay until then. If I have more than five in one hour, she said, I need to call them immediately, even if it's the middle of the night. I'm hoping this turns out to be nothing and I'm just overreacting. Weird, random contractions I can handle, even if they're frequent. But if it turns out the contractions are shortening my cervix, well, then it's a whole new ball game.

So, that was my boring old Sunday and Monday. Anyone else do anything fun?


I have a post brewing about "normal," inspired partly by Beth's recent post and partly by a heated...well, let's call it a "discussion," that my husband and I had the other night. Coming later this week, or whenever I can stop guzzling water and feeling myself up for contractions.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Nothing much to report

Which, in my world, is a good thing, I suppose.

I'm officially 14w2d today. After that one day of scare spotting last Thursday, I have been miraculously spot-free for the past 4.5 days (which statement should pretty well jinx me now). It has been two weeks and one day since my last ultrasound--the longest I've gone without US this whole pregnancy--and will be another two weeks until my next one. Absent any signs to the contrary, I assume I'm still pregnant and everything is going OK.

I decided not to get a doppler after all. No real rationale to the decision--just the realization that while hearing the heartbeat would probably make me feel a LOT better, it wouldn't actually change the outcome of anything. The (perhaps temporary, who knows?) cessation of spotting has made me feel more comfortable with the decision, at least for now. I figure I just need to hold out until my 16 week appointment and ultrasound, and then before my next US I ought to start feeling the baby move. However, I can't swear that in the next two weeks, I won't have another freakout and order a Baby Beat overnighted to me.


I've been invited to a baby shower, for my friend R. I guess I am just a petty person, because the invite gave me the same pang that her belly shots did. I'm really not sure if I can do it. It's not that I don't want to celebrate and be happy for her--I'm just not sure if I can stand being in a roomful of normals talking about pregnancy for that long. I might make up some excuse and skip it, I haven't decided yet.


I went out this weekend and bought that B@by B@rg@ins book. Holy crap, is that a terrifying tome. But it does allow me to pretend that I'm going to have a real live baby at the end of this. And also to shift my obsessing from "Is it still alive?" to what stroller we might want to purchase (in Big City, a decision that apparently makes a major statement about who you are as a human being), or where the hell we're going to put all the crap that is currently in what eventually, maybe, probably, will be the baby's room.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The pg side effects no one prepares you for

Like I think most pregnant-after-infertility people, I welcome pregnancy symptoms as a sign that this whole business is actually working. Nausea, cravings, sore boobs, yes, but also the weirder the better. Dizziness? Bat Boy can have all the oxygen he/she wants. Acne? Sucks, but if it means my progesterone levels are high, I'll slap on the concealer and deal. Nosebleeds? Bring 'em on.

But there are a couple of symptoms/side effects that I could probably do without. First, the hairiness. I have never been a very hairy girl, even with PCOS--I am Asian, after all. But in the last couple months my belly has sprouted a luxurious growth of hair. It's practically a pelt. Seriously, people, the hair around my navel is denser than the hair on my legs. It is not pleasant. I assume it's a byproduct of the same changes that lead to thicker hair on your head, but I have yet to experience the actual DESIRABLE effect.

Then there's the gas. Oh, the gas. Let's just say that my poor husband, who deserves a medal for continuing to share a bed with me each night, has taken to calling me the "fart factory." It is a testament either to his great love of me or (more likely) his great deprivation over the last 12 weeks that he still plaintively asks me all the time when we will be allowed to have sex again.

How come no one ever told me about this stuff before?


I went all day yesterday and all day the day before with NO SPOTTING! I was so excited that when I went out to dinner with a friend last night (first time I'd gone out in AGES), I felt good enough to stroll around downtown for awhile. Nothing major--from the restaurant to a gelato shop to the subway--but I guess I must have overdone it, because this morning I was spotting again, and have had a bit of intermittent spotting this afternoon. It's nothing I haven't had before--just a little pale brown--but of course I feel horribly guilty. I calculated this morning that the "little stroll" I took actually totalled a little over a mile. Damn.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Finding my normal

Ornery had a really smart comment on my last post, about figuring out what's normal for you and your pregnancy and learning to live with it. And that is what I've been trying to do over this past week or so--coming to terms with my normal.

It has become clear to me that I am simply going to be one of those pregnant women who spots ALL THE DAMN TIME and there's nothing I can do about it. In fact, I have continued to spot every single day since my last post, 6 days ago, with no signs of stopping. However, since the spotting has remained scant in quantity and light brown in color, and since I had spotting the entire previous week with no apparent ill effects (other than on my sanity), I have decided not to panic unless it turns red again or increases dramatically in quantity, per Dr. Awesome's instructions. I went back to work on Thursday, and have even been taking the subway roundtrip, with no increase in spotting that I can tell. So for now, this is my normal.

(It helped that late last week, it finally occurred to me to go to the IVF C0nnecti0ns boards and do a search for "spotting," which turned up a vast number of reassuring posts from women who spotted throughout their first trimesters and sometimes well into the second, with live take-home babies at the end. Yes, I skipped the posts with not-so-happy endings.)

In the same spirit, I am trying out a new attitude, of assume-the-best (NBHH) instead of assume-the-worst-and-slide-into-endless-DBT-spiral. So when, sitting at my desk on Thursday, my first day back at work, I felt a sharp, stabbing sensation in my lower pelvis, I told myself that it was a sign of round ligament pain, not impending doom. (And guess what? The pain stopped, as quickly as it appeared, and I did not bleed or even have increased spotting afterward.) I tell myself that the improvement in my skin, increase in energy, and decrease in nausea are all NORMAL manifestations of my body adjusting to the pregnancy hormonal soup as I end the first trimester (13 weeks yesterday!), and do NOT signal a precipitous drop in progesterone and certain impending doom.

It is hard--pregnancy-related optimism does not come naturally--but I'm trying.


One of the hardest things for me to come to terms with over the course of the past couple months has been the knowledge that I am not going to be one of those women for whom pregnancy is easy and hassle-free. Perhaps I was snowed by Dr. SF's parting wish for me, at my last appointment with him: "It was so easy to get you pregnant," [easy from an RE's perpective, I suppose] "hopefully you'll have an easy pregnancy, too." I guess I just thought that once I actually got pregnant, I'd be like other women I know, continuing my rigorous power yoga routine right up to delivery, keeping as busy as before, traveling around as much as possible. And I was really upset that I wasn't.

But I don't know why I thought I would be. It's obvious, when you take a moment to think about it, that I am not built for birthing babies. Now, don't get all upset--I'm not saying that I don't deserve to be pregnant, or that old favorite troll comment, "maybe you weren't meant to have children." I'm just saying that if you were to create a woman perfectly designed for conception, pregnancy, and childbirth, you could probably do a lot better than irregularly-ovulating, one-fallopian-tubed, half-a-uterus-having, narrow-hipped, flat-chested me. That doesn't mean I shouldn't be pregnant, but it does mean that it's okay for me not to be one of those give-birth-in-the-fields-and-keep-on-truckin' types. It's okay to baby myself a little, and to be more careful and cautious than "normal" people. It really is okay.


We have taken to calling the baby "Bat Boy." Not because we think it's a boy (in fact, early on I was pretty convinced of the opposite), and not in homage to another famous fetus. In the ultrasound picture from last week where TheGoodDoc measured my cervix, you can just see the baby's head at the corner of the image. I think it's a view from above, but whatever the angle, the combination of head/ears/whatever appendages those are gives the outline more than a passing resemblance to Bat Boy.

In the real looking-at-baby images, it more closely resembles the half-alien lizard baby from "V" (remember, we got full-frontal shots, not those cute snub-nosed profiles), but "half-alien lizard baby from V" just isn't as catchy a nickname as "Bat Boy."


Thanks for all your input on the doppler. I still haven't made up my mind one way or the other, but I'll let you know.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Life is...ridiculous

Um, yeah. So yesterday afternoon, I started spotting again. I swore, then called the doctor's office. Dr. Awesome said that it was probably irritation from the pelvic exam I'd had--my doctor used a swab to dab at my cervix looking for blood, so I was sort of assuming that was it. (Speaking of which, I realized I don't have a nickname for my doctor...let's call her TheGoodDoc for now.) I asked her, since I'm clearly just going to be spotting all the time, should I chill out on calling unless it's something major? She said, basically, yes--call if the quantity or quality changes, i.e. if it turns red and there's a lot of it.

By the way, are you all bored with this yet? Are you sick of endless updates saying, "I'm bleeding again!"? Because I sure as hell am.

Spotting continued (a little) this morning and seems to have stopped now, but I decided to put off going back to work for another day. Just to be on the safe side. I mean, why not, right?

Although initially I resisted renting a doppler because I thought I would freak myself out if I couldn't find the heartbeat, I'm now thinking it may not be such a bad idea, especially if I'm going to be spotting all the damn time. So I have a question for you: Which one should I get? What company's doppler are you using/have you used--or do you have a better memory than me and remember this discussion on some other blog in the past and can point me there? (I remember someone posted asking about this like a year ago and got lots of good advice, but I can't remember who and I can't remember what the consensus was.)

Then I just have to convince my husband that it's a good idea and not a sign of neuroticism gone overboard...

Monday, August 07, 2006

Life is good

Baby is doing just fine. Heart pumping away, bobbing around refusing to align itself at a good angle for viewing. My doctor started out looking with the abdominal ultrasound, found the kiddo, then switched to cootercam for a better look. We could see arms and legs. It has arms and legs! Then, when we finally got a good view, rather than turning onto its side for that fetching profile shot, the baby gave us a full frontal view, so we now have two excellent shots of its weird alien face.

My spotting had stopped completely over the weekend, and a pelvic exam yielded not a trace of blood. So the good doctor said I can resume my normal level of activity, a week ahead of schedule (though no sex or exercise for two more weeks). I can even go back to work--tomorrow, she said, but I'm thinking Wednesday, just to be safe. And I'm going to force myself to work shorter hours for the next couple of weeks, too. My big question: where the hell did all the blood come from? My doctor said it was most likely from the placenta burrowing into the uterine lining--it probably hit a blood vessel, hence the bleeding.

Other good stuff...I convinced the doctor to measure my cervix (shortening cervix can be a warning sign of incompetent cervix or preterm labor--after consulting with folks at The UU Sisterhood, I determined that if I wasn't going to be seeing a high-risk specialist, getting a cervical measurement would at least ease my mind). It was 3.6 cm, which is comfortably average, putting my mind at ease somewhat. And my doctor said that, given my risk profile, she'll be doing internal exams starting at 20 weeks to check for preterm labor--fun!

Also, blood tests say I am not immune to toxoplasmosis, so my husband still has to clean the litterbox--and he was right there in the room when she said that, so HA! And I don't have syphilis. Woohoo! (Not that I thought I did--I just thought it was kind of funny, the long list of STDs she rattled off that I'd tested negative for.)

So I'm feeling pretty good, at least for today. Maybe I'll even start thinking about baby gear. Thanks for all the support over the last painful week. (And don't worry, I will take it easy! I am not eager to have a repeat of this drama.)

Friday, August 04, 2006

The shut-in's life

Being at home this week hasn't been as crazy-making as I thought it would be. Mostly, I'm relieved. Relieved that I don't have to be sitting at the office unable to concentrate on anything but the contents of my underwear (one of the joys of infertility that I get to carry with me into pregnancy! hooray!), relieved that I have not had to go out in the approximately 100-degree heat the past three days. In fact, I have not left my apartment for approximately 93 hours and counting.

I'm also lucky that I'm not on full bedrest, which I think would be crazy-making. I spend a good portion of every day in my home office--unfortunately the one room in the apartment that is not air-conditioned, but I crank up the AC in the other rooms and try to get a little airflow going--propped at a decidedly unergonomic reclining angle at my computer. I take a break every hour or two and lie down for 15-45 minutes, depending on how long I've been sitting up. I ordered in groceries and my husband cooks dinner every night, but I can handle being on my feet long enough to fix myself some cereal or a sandwich during the day.

Everyone at work has been great. I asked my supervisors to keep the news as low-key as possible, so only they, my good work friend, and my assistant know, that I know of. My boss sent me a really nice email congratulating me and telling me that I shouldn't worry about being away from the office and that I should let them know whatever I need. Also that when she was pregnant with her son, she had bleeding at about this stage and was terrified she was losing the pregnancy, so she can totally relate.

Oh, the important part: I'm still spotting, but it seems to be dwindling in quantity and is dark brown, no red. I have my regular 12-week OB appointment on Monday, and I'd better get an ultrasound or I will have to raise hell. I'm also entertaining myself, when I'm not working, by stressing out about every pregnancy-related symptom--is it decreasing? increasing? I'd almost welcome a good bout of vomiting, if only to sort-of reassure myself that things are still cranking along. It doesn't help that nausea and sore boobs are naturally supposed to subside around now, so I can't tell if I should be worried or not. I'm even sometimes afraid to go to the bathroom, for fear that I will poop the baby out. I know it's totally irrational--if I could poop the baby out, that would mean my cervix was so wide open there would be no way I could hang on to the kidlet--but there you have it.

I've also been getting these weird panicky feelings in my chest--like my heart is clenching up. It's not a full-blown panic attack, but it happens often enough that I'm definitely going to mention it to my doctor on Monday.

Three more days and I'll get to see my baby again. Hang in there, little one.