6 Months Or So Later

First of all, an apology to all of you for just dropping off the edge of the world. Somehow, I just couldn’t sit down and write a post these past months.

Everything continued to go well with my pregnancy. We found out it was a girl and that this time, there was no notching in my uterine arteries. So my chances of not developing gestational hypertension or even pre-eclampsia were pretty high and I didn’t need any extra monitoring. That felt pretty strange – not having to go to extra checkups / ultrasounds.

In September, our little guy started Kindergarten (which in Germany starts at age 3 and ends when the kids go to school). It took him a while to get used to the new environment but pretty soon he started to love it and we’d have crying fits not at drop-off but at pick-up.

As I entered the third trimester, my bump kept getting bigger and heavier and the pregnancy felt more and more strenuous. Much sooner than it did with the Butzerl. I’d quit work early at about 28 weeks because I felt extremely stressed with Kindergarten (which was a bit farther away than the previous childcare place and required us to make breakfast and snack for the little guy to bring) and work. I was afraid of developing hypertension again and my general physician put me on medical leave.

In late November and early December we worked out some kind of “emergency childcare plan” for when the baby would come. My Mom would come to stay with us somewhere around January 10 and before then we would ask the little guy’s caretaker from his childcare to come babysit until hubby’s parents could be here.
I finally started to feel a little bit of the (in)famous nesting kick in and bought some used and new cloth diapers for newborns, some cute non-pink outfits (I’m definitely no the pink, girly girl type), some other stuff we wanted to replace and a backup car seat for the little guy (he’s riding in a reboarder seat, which doesn’t fit in all cars and is hell to install).

I also felt the occasional false labor contraction, but nothing too bad. Because of my “history”, we started doing CTGs at 31 weeks, but they and the checkups showed nothing unusual.
Baby girl was doing fine and growing well and was bigger and heavier than her big brother.
I caught a urinary tract infection, which made me feel miserable for a couple of days, and had to take antibiotics for 5 days.

Maternity leave started December 13, 6 weeks before the estimated due date on  January 13. I was feeling the strain of the third trimester, especially since I had gained a little more weight than with the little guy; but was nowhere near ready to wish for this pregnancy to be done and over with.
I also went in for a maternity shooting; or rather, two maternity shootings in one day – one session just me and the bump, the other session, me and my two guys.

image

Me, the bump and my new Didymos Cherry Blossoms baby wrap

image

We made some plans for the upcoming Christmas holidays (such as cleaning out as and re-organizing the diaper cabinet, deciding where to put the baby clothes etc), I went to Ikea to get some stuff needed for those tasks and did some final Christmas shopping in town.
I felt a little off all that week. It was much too warm for the season and I didn’t handle that well at all. Thursday I went in for my last checkup before the holidays. The CTG showed one small contractions, baby girl had grown well, and my cervix was still “long” and closed. So far, so good. The only thing  not good was my blood pressure, which was high enough to cause my ob/gyn to give me instructions on when to go in to see the doctors and midwives at the hospital.
I did some shopping and then went to see my GP for news on my thyroid medication. Turned out we had to increase my dose a bit. I was hoping I’d feel better once that was back in balance.
Because of our worries regarding my high blood pressure, hubby decided to work from home until Christmas.

Saturday morning  (at 35+0), I noticed some pinkish discharge and contacted my midwife. She said not to worry and attributed it to some irritations from Thursday’s checkup. I wasn’t feeling particularly well that day but didn’t have contractions, so I didn’t worry.
Sunday evening, the little guy wanted daddy only for bedtime so I went to sit down in front of the computer and research car seats for baby girl. At around 8:30 or 9 pm, I started feeling some light but regular contractions in my lower belly. I decided to get some practice using the contraction timer in my pregnancy app. The contractions came every 2-5 minutes and I thought it was false labor again (which I hadn’t really experienced with the little guy).
At around 10pm, hubby came downstairs and we sat down to discuss my car seat research. Half an our later, I got up to get a drink of water and as I way standing up, felt fluid leaking out of me and soaking my pants.
I went to the bathroom to check if it was the mucus plug. Once there, I felt more fluid leaking and decided to check the acidity of the fluid. Well, it wasn’t cervical mucus – my waters had broken early, at 35+1.

I immediately went to lie down on the guest room sofa, my but elevated on a couple of pillows, and went into “purely functioning” mode while hubby started  to panic. I told him to organize a babysitter (he reached his parents and asked them to get in the car immediately for the 2-hour drive) and get the things for my hospital bag, while I made the call to get an ambulance to take me to the hospital (baby girl was still too high up, so I had to be transported lying down).
Hubby helped them get me downstairs and they took me to the labor ward. Once there, I was hooked up to another CTG (I wasn’t feeling contractions any longer but was still leaking amniotic fluid).  After the CTG, I got to use the bed pan and the midwife checked me again afterwards. The cervix was still at 1-2cm length and closed. Baby girl had decended enough for me to be allowed to get up and move around. Hubby arrived as the ob/gyn on call finished the ultrasound exam (baby girl was fine and estimated at 2700g) and explained what was going to happen next: I was going to get antibiotics intravenously every 8 hours and we’d have to start inducing if labor didn’t start on its own within the next 12 hours.
We moved into our room (they weren’t full, so hubby could stay with me until they needed the bed for somebody else) and tried to get some sleep (I wasn’t very successful at that).

Of course, labor didn’t start on it’s own, so we had to start inducing late Monday morning. Thus the fun began – 2-3 hour-long CTGs, a Cytotec pill to swallow after the first 30-45 minutes, a break of about an hour, repeat. I had some contractions, but they weren’t  effective and never lasted.
Monday turned into Tuesday and nothing much had happened. So Tuesday morning, I got to take two Cytotec. A while later, just after lunch, I noticed regular contractions that seemed to be there to stay. We went down for another CTG just after 1pm.

By then, the contractions were still easy to handle but regular and strong enough that I didn’t have to take another Cytotec and only had to endure 30 minutes hooked up to the CTG. They asked as to come back at 4pm (or sooner if necessary).
We went back upstairs to our room and I started breathing through the contractions, which kept getting stronger. At 3:30 pm,  I decided it was time to go downstairs. By the time we’d made it to the staircase, I needed to “sound” through the contractions. As we entered the labor ward, I had another contraction right next to the Christmas tree. The midwife took one look at me and decided that we could move straight to a delivery room.
I was hooked up to the CTG again (for which I lay down on the delivery bed, pretty much in a stupor) and at 4pm the midwife did a quick cervical exam. The result was pretty discouraging – my cervix hadn’t been impressed by the contractions at all. It was still about 1cm (at least) long and the midwife could barely  insert one finger. The contractions were really painful by then and I got scared of the next hours. This was going to take a while.

I couldn’t stand lying down any more, so I decided to sit up. That only worked for a while, as the contractions gut even more painful. They hooked me up to a Paracetamol drip (which didn’t work at all) and the student midwife suggested I getting on all fours.  So I tried that for a couple of contractions. That wasn’t much better, either.

1 hour later, at 5pm, my cervix was at 4cm dilation and I felt a strong need to be standing. Contractions were hell and I was almost ready to ask for an epidural. The midwife suggested I try laughing gas. I agreed, as a last shot before the epidural. The laughing gas worked. The contractions were still hell but a little more bearable. 
After a few contractions, I felt a downwards pressure that kept increasing with every other contraction or so. The student midwife examined me as I was standing and announced that baby girl had decended to only a finger’s length from being born. The downwards pressure kept increasing and the head midwife examined me as well. She then ordered me back onto the bed as the baby’s head was putting too much pressure on my cervix (which still was far from being fully dilated). I remembered the extreme pain of the contractions I experienced on my back while in labor with the little guy and was definitely not looking good forward to that.

Just as I was trying to get back on the bed, with one leg on the bed and another still on the floor, another contraction came. This one was different – I felt baby girl decend even more and I felt the need to push. Besides the pain, I was irrationally afraid of her just slipping out and rationally knew I wasn’t allowed to push because I wasn’t fully dilated yet, so I tried to pant through the contraction and keep from pushing.

Once I had made it through the contraction and back onto the bed, the midwife examined me again and surprisingly announced that I was allowed to push now!
I was so surprised, I couldn’t immediately make the switch from sounding and panting to pushing but the student midwife coached me and helped get back on track. I asked hubby to get the hand mirror I had brought and watched as baby girl’s head tried to come out – that really helped with the pushing, too.

A couple of contractions later, baby girl was born, at 5:38pm on December 22 – 1 month and 1 day before her due date.
After hubby had cut the cord, she was wrapped in some towels and placed on my chest for some cuddles.

image

Then the pediatricians had to take her away to be examined. A few minutes later she came back to me for some more cuddling. The pediatricians announced that she was fine but needed the default glucose drip and cardio-respiratory monitoring, since despite her size and weight (48cm and 2690g) she was still technically a preemie.
They took her away to the on-site preemie/newborn ward and I was left to spend the next 2 hours in the labor room without my baby (the default post-delivery monitoring time).
After a few minutes, they asked hubby to come upstairs to the preemie ward to cuddle and calm down a very agitated baby girl.

I was stitched up and got up for that first post-delivery pee. It felt really strange to be a able to do that (with the little guy, I’d gotten an epidural  and couldn’t get up until much later) and to feel physically fit so soon after delivery.
After the 2 hours, I was brought upstairs to my room and after some more rest, asked a nurse to help me walk down the hallway to the preemie ward, which was to be baby girl’s home for the next week.

I began the task of settling into the hospital routine, physically fine expect for a hell of a case of hemorrhoids and wacky blood pressure, mentally struggling with the fact that my pregnancy had been cut short by almost 5 weeks and with the separation from my little guy, which was especially hard during the holidays.
One week later, December 29, we got to take baby girl home and start the task of helping the little guy get over the trauma of the past 10 days, and of getting used to life with the new family member.

image

image

The Past Two Weeks

I just checked my last post and realized I’d dropped off the screen for a bit over one month *blushing* Somehow, it feels even longer than that.

In the past month, I’ve not only struggled with the usual first trimester-related fatigue but also with my asthma (which is now back in control unless the weather is aggravating it – like today), the heat waves, and a return to sick bay. Two weekends ago, we were at my in-laws for the weekend because we’d been invited to a wedding nearby. It was smack in the middle of the heat wave, with temperatures  closing in on 40° Celsius. And the little guy picked just that weekend to develop an ear infection accompanied by a fever. He was doing ok but of course we could not send him to childcare. So I got to spend another 3 of my “child sick days” (leaving me with a meager 3 for the remaining 5.5 months of the year) and hubby spent part of his overtime to stay home for the remaining 2 days of the week. Those 3 days at home with the little guy were easily the most challenging days of this year. He was either extremely whiny and irritable because of the pain in his ears or sugar-high hyper after a dose of toddler ibuprofen. Because of the heat and his refusal to leave the apartment, I had a pretty bad case of cabin fever on the second day and was more than happy about the supermarket run I could do on my own because hubby at left work early. Going back to work on Thursday almost felt like paradise.

On Friday, my sister-in-law came to visit with her husband and 10-month-old daughter. Thankfully, the little guy was better and the heat outside had reduced to “normal” summertime temperatures. So we proceeded with our plan to go to the Zoo on Saturday. I’d started feeling a bit ill on Friday – the little guy had passed his cold on to me. This combined with the still hot weather and the exertion of walking around the Zoo all day finally made me feel pregnant. I hadn’t felt pregnant at all in the weeks before, ever since the nausea had stopped and the first trimester exhaustion had gotten better. That day, I felt my growing uterus grow “hard” quite a lot and was quite exhausted at the end of the day. Sunday was even worse and I spent as much time as possible on the sofa surrounded by the hubbub created by a 2,5-year-old defending his toys from a 10-month-old trying to copy his every move. That weekend had more than one moment that made me seriously question the wisdom of having another child.

At one point in the evening I decided I was feeling miserable enough to take my temperature and discovered I was running a slight fever. So I decided to go see my general practitioner in the morning after dropping the little guy of at healthcare. The doc heard me coughing as I was sitting in the waiting area and as entered the treatment room a couple of minutes later, he welcomed me with the comment: “Mrs RelaxedNoMore is coughing. And pregnant. So there’s nothing to do but order sick leave for you.” As I was still feeling pretty miserable, I was very glad to hear this, even though this meant another week away from work (I haven’t been exactly busy at work for several months now, so it doesn’t really matter. But I need to put in some overtime to save up for the weeks before my maternity leave starts).

Monday afternoon I took the little guy to the pediatrician to have some blood drawn for a screening for diabetes type I that is being offered for free through some kind of state-wide study. He was very brave, showing the doctor’s assistant which finger to prick and not shedding a single tear. I was very proud of him! Afterwards, we went to the toy store strategically located on the ground floor of the doctor’s office building. He selected 3 Playmobil figurines – 1 for himself, 1 for me and 1 one for his dad ;-)

On Thursday, I was already feeling better and enjoyed the walk through the park as I was walking from the bus station to my ob/gyn’s office. I was glad to learn my blood pressure was low enough to be in the normal range even in the doctor’s office (it’d always been in the normal range at home but usually is higher at the doctor’s office) and that at least on the doctor’s scales, I had barely gained weight in the past 4 weeks. Unfortunately, I’m already up 3-4kg from my lowest pre-pregnancy weight, about twice as much as at the same time during the pregnancy with the Butzerl. The US then showed a hale and hopefully healthy baby measuring at 75.7mm crown-rump-length, which the computer translated to 13+0 – 1cm more at 12+5 than the little guy had at 13+1. Then again, “Baby Lu” is probably a couple of days older than its calculated age. This is definitely an upside of IVF: knowing the exact date of conception.  The US also showed that I’ve got an anterior placenta again. So it will be awhile until I feel Baby Lu’s kicks.

I celebrated the good news by visiting my friend at her babywearing store, having lunch at one of our favorite bistro restaurants and buying some fresh fruit from the market. When I got home at about 2 o’clock, with 1.5 hours left before I had to pick up the little guy at childcare, I was pretty beat and promptly fell asleep on the sofa. Luckily not before setting the alarm on my cellphone. The little guy was a happy but slightly tired little camper when I picked him up – they were outside in the yard running through the sprinkler to cool off.

A couple of hours later, at dinner time, he refused to eat and I noticed that he was pretty hot to the touch. I took his temperature and discovered he was running a fever. Again. I thought it might be due to the heat and him not drinking enough, especially since he asked for a double serving of milk instead of dinner. I gave him some toddler ibuprofen  so he could sleep. Sometime during the night I gave him another dose since the fever had returned and he’d gotten quite restless. He was okay almost all through the morning, and then the fever returned once more, again running up to 39 Celsius within a rather short time making. We took him to see the pediatrician since I feared another ear infection. His ears were fine though, and the doc quickly diagnosed scarlet fever. Yay. Not. Again, the little guy’s timing proofed perfect since today was the childcare place’s summer party, which we’d all been looking forward to. The doc prescribed penicillin and told as to give him toddler ibuprofen for the pain. Unfortunately, the little guy refused to take the ibuprofen and so he suffered throughout the afternoon. His fever ran up to 40 Celsius and he spend almost all the time sleeping and drowsing on my lap. This would have been quite comfy if we hadn’t been smack in the middle of another heat wave. Nobody needs a toddler running 40-degree fever on her lap when it’s 27 Celsius inside the apartment. Sometime during the late afternoon/early evening he got a headache (the first of his young life) and after some time finally agreed to take some ibuprofen. 30 minutes later he was no longer a little zombie but a lively kid. Of course, this also meant he wouldn’t sleep until 10pm. This morning showed that the Penicillin was doing its work pretty well – while the little guy was still clearly not ok yet, at least the fever was gone.

As for me, I’m still not over my cold. The sniffles are better but the cough isn’t. As if that wasn’t bad enough, today the weather is really humid, making my asthma act up in a most annoying way. Nevertheless, it will be back to work on Monday. We’ll keep the little guy home from daycare but thankfully my in-laws aren’t working this week and can make the 200km journey to take care of him while I go to the office or work from home.

Oh, by the way: how the heck can I be in the second trimester already? I still haven’t fully realized I’m actually pregnant, with a live baby in my belly.

 

#Microblog Mondays: Pregnancy News and Clothes Shopping

Microblog_MondaysFirst, for all waiting on pregnancy-related news: I had an appointment with my ob/gyn last Wednesday and the US scan showed a right-sized embryo with a heartbeat. I haven’t had the energy to blog about it right away since  I was battling nausea and exhaustion. The former almost disappeared ever since I started taking Nausema (a Vitamin B supplement designed to help with pregnancy nausea), the latter keeps coming and going. This Thursday I get to go to the university hospitals “gestosis clinic” for a consult – I’m definitely not looking forward to it since I expect it to cost me the entire morning. A week later I’ll have my next ob/gyn appointment.

We’re invited to a wedding on July 4th. The wedding starts in the afternoon, the dress code is “formal evening wear”. Needless to say, I now longer own any pieces of clothing even remotely fitting that description that still fit me. The last time I had the occasion to wear something of that type was my own wedding 5 years and about 15 pounds ago.

I’d been planning to wear a simple light-blue silk maxi dress I bought during my pregnancy with the Butzerl and “pimp” it with a blazer or a scarf. When I tried it on two days ago, I found that while it still fits, it makes me look about 7-8 months pregnant. Not a look I’ll want to go with when I won’t even be out of the first trimester.

I’d planned to do some online shopping today but on a whim went to our local department store on my way home from work. I left with another silk maxi dress that while not hiding my paunch, at least makes it less obvious because it’s not solid color but with a large paisley-like pattern; a matching scarf; a light beige half-sleeved blazer to go with the dress; a matching clutch bag; a  necklace and bracelet.

I don’t know if I’ll keep everything – I’m thinking of returning the scarf (if one of my solid-color scarves goes with the dress or I find one somewhere else), the blazer, or the necklace and bracelet (if I decide my pearls look better). The entire purchase put me back almost 400€  – definitely not something I can effort. Still, it was the first time in ages since I’ve bought nice clothes for myself and it definitely made me feel better.

So far so good

I’ve been feeling pretty much like s.hit for the past couple of days. And it’s not because I’m pregnant but because I caught some of nasty bug my kid brought home from child care. He’s barely suffering more than a runny nose and a little cough every now and then but I’ve had a mean cold since late Sunday evening. Monday was a public holiday so I could spend most of the day on the sofa while hubby was entertaining the little guy. Monday evening I decided to call in sick and stay home from work another two days. I’m feeling a bit better, at least my temperature is back to normal, but I’m still contemplating staying home for another day.

After taking the kid to daycare yesterday morning, I went back home for breakfast, a shower and some rest and the headed back out to go to my ob/gyn appointment. I’d had an appointment for my annual PAP smear last week Monday but postponed it to this week when my period didn’t show up in time and I thought I’d still be bleeding on Monday. Well, you all know why it didn’t show up :-) I still went by there on my way to work to tell the receptionist about my surprise pregnancy and discuss what to do with the appointment. We decided to keep the appointment for this week but move it up from Thursday afternoon to Tuesday morning. She took a look at my temp chart, agreed with my interpretation and asked me to keep on taking my temperature until my appointment: “You don’t need to take a home pregnancy test, just keeping on taking your temp.”

Of course, you can’t take the infertile out of the pregnant, so I couldn’t stop myself from peeing on several sticks of decreasing sensitivity over the course of the week. They all kept saying the same: “pregnant”. The last one I peed on was on Sunday (at 5+1), when my temp scared me a bit by dropping a little. It was a Clearblue Digital with week indicator and said “pregnant 3+”. I think I don’t have to tell you how relieved I was to see this.

So yesterday was big day #1. I was pretty calm despite being worried about the drop in temperature. The nervousness came when I was sitting in the waiting area. After the preliminaries, I was called in to the doc. We first did the PAP smear and then came the date with Ol’ Wandy. The first couple of seconds we could see nothing on the screen but uterus, so I was pretty tense. But then he found the right spot and we could see: the amniotic cavity containing a yolk sac and  a teeny tiny embryo that we guessed at more than we saw it. Since in my pregnancy with the little guy, we hadn’t been able to see anything at all at 5+2, I was more than relieved to see everything we were supposed to be seeing.

We filled out my maternity card and since I’d suffered from preeclampsia the last time around, the doc gave me a referral to the university hospital’s risk pregnancy clinic.

I’m barely pregnant and the stress of doctor’s appointments is already starting. But I’m not complaining – if there’s something I can do to increase my chances at a complication-free pregnancy, I’ll definitely do it.

So now comes the making and waiting for doctor’s appointments, the looking for a midwife, the booking of maternity classes. And for the next two weeks: hoping to see a heartbeat at my next ob/gyn appointment.

A Most Incredible Miracle

It feels so incredibly surreal.
7 weeks and 1 day after my 42nd birthday. 6 weeks after my third failed IVF cycle within the past 11 months ended.
4 days before my first appointment with a new RE.
As I’m in the process of reconciling myself with the end of my fertility and thinking about how to get hubby to agree to an egg donor cycle abroad and how to scratch up the money.
3 days after my menses were to show up after my usual short luteal phase (11 days at the most).

At 5:30 a.m. today, I got to hold this in my hands:

image

Grieving and Soul Searching

The last couple of days vacillated between “hell” and “ok”.  I started spotting Thursday afternoon (the weirdest spotting I’ve ever had), and all remaining hope died with the full-blown arrival of my period early Friday morning. The days since were filled with some open crying, lots of suppressed crying, suppressed anger at my husband (who I feel has not supported my efforts at having another child sufficiently, mostly because he’s drinking at least one beer almost every day), doubts and soul-searching. And of course, wonderful moments with my beautiful son.

I could see myself pregnant, “feel” a baby kicking inside me, see myself giving birth. See my son with this little brother or sister. In those moments, the grief hit me full-on and I cursed my lazy ovaries and my old, broken eggs.

I panicked at the thought of handling two small children on my own, of getting them ready in the morning and taking them to two different daycare places, all on my own. In those moments, I doubted my desire to have another child and felt renewed anger at my husband for not fulfilling his promise of getting a job here.

I talked to my almost 2,5-year old about how his best friend at daycare was about to be a big brother soon because his little brother would come out of his mom’s belly soon. And fought back the tears as he told me that he, too, had a baby in his belly and that his baby would come out soon. And that he would then need a big bicycle and a baby trailer for the bicycle so he could take his baby for a ride.

I almost started crying as I dropped the little guy off at daycare and the wonderful ladies there carefully inquired whether it had worked this time.

I nearly lost it as I called my RE’s place to let them know it hadn’t worked. Again.

I did research on egg donor programs in the Czech Republic.

I wrote emails in my mind to me RE asking him if and how we could increase my chances for success should we give my eggs another chance.

I hugged and cuddled my son a lot and thought about how I would miss those just-him-and-me moments of cuddling up on the sofa reading to him and talking if there was another child demanding my attention.

I proudly watched my son ride his tricycle to daycare and thought about how way too soon he would go to Kindergarten (daycare for over 3-6 year-olds) and would want to spend less and less time cuddling with his old mom.

"I want to ride my bicycle"

“I want to ride my bicycle”

I felt myself mired in my desires and fears, my anger and grief.

Yesterday morning, the owner of our daycare place told me that my friend’s waters had broken earlier in the morning and that they had dropped my son’s friend off to go to the hospital.

During the day, I felt the fog of indecision slowly lift.

This morning, I got a text message from my friend telling me that her second son had been born yesterday evening.

Somehow that was the trigger I needed to come out of my funk. I realized that yes, I want to be pregnant again, I want another baby. I’m not yet ready to give up. F.uck my ovaries and my insecurities. When my year of maternity leave was coming to an end, I panicked at the thought of getting the little guy ready in the morning, getting him to daycare and getting to work on time. All on my own. We worked it out and while it’s tough at times, mostly we got our groove together and it works just fine. The same would happen if there was a second child. Even if my husband was still commuting to work and away from home for 13 hours almost every day, the two kids and I would find our groove and would make it work.

So now comes the hard part: deciding on whether to give my eggs another chance or whether to go the donor route (a donor cycle in the Czech Republic is more expensive than an IVF cycle with my own eggs here – but the chance obviously are way higher, especially since most clinics offer certain guarantees with their donor programs). Doing the math and scratching up the money.

And the hardest part: convincing my husband.

Blehrg.

Still Negative

Both pee sticks (Clearblue Digital and Clearblue Digital with Conception Indicator) agreed on “not pregnant”. My temp is a bit higher, but says the same.
I’m not too disappointed, since I expected this. Too many people on my online board had the same experience.
It still sucks.
Maybe there was implantation but the embryo didn’t develop further. I’ll never know.
But I’d rather have it this way than a low beta followed by weeks of uncertainty and fear.

Still don’t know whether to fight on and try again with my own eggs, whether to go abroad and try with an egg donor, or whether to give up. But I don’t have to know now.