October 31, 2005

P has a girlfriend!

Posted in Ramblings o' P at 11:05 am by Erin

On a happier note, P has a girlfriend at daycare 🙂  He and a little girl named Hannah have been there together since almost the same day, and she’s two weeks younger.  They’ve always been good friends and play together often.

The other day, I got there to pick P up and as soon as I walked in the door of their classroom, Hannah came over and glared at me.  I mean really glared–hands on hips and everything!  She was so mad at me for picking him up.  J says that she always comes running over and give him a big smile when he drops P off.  Figures.  She hates me already.  I thought that didn’t start until later.

This morning, I dropped off P since J had to be in court early.  As soon as we pulled up, P starts saying "Anna?  Anna?"  (H’s aren’t so big with him right now.)  Huge smile on his face when I say "Are you going to go play with Hannah?"  When we walked into their classroom, all the kids were sitting there listening to one of the teacher’s read a story.  Hannah gets up, climbs over 2 kids, and comes running over to P, who’s smiling to beat the band.  They sit down next to each other and cuddle together to listen.  It was so adorable!  My baby has his first girlfriend.  The little hussy 😉

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So many babies, so few are mine

Posted in TTC woes at 10:53 am by Erin

I swear that half the people I know are having babies.  I don’t know how that happens all at once…I wish it were in the water!  (Why do people say that?  It’s so stupid.)  My cousin, who also has PCOS, had b/g twins in July after Clomid.  Another friend is expecting IVF twins.  P and I went to visit a friend who had a baby just the other day.  One of our neighbors was having irregular contractions for hours last night, so close is she to giving birth to their baby girl.  A co-worker just had an IVF baby boy a few weeks ago, 4 months after adopting a toddler from Guatemala.  I just got word yesterday that another cousin and her husband are expecting their first.  And I’m not even including the students in my childbirth class!

I go through cycles with all of it.  I’m usually genuinely happy that people are expecting and/or have babies.  Most often, I can squash the little jealous bug.  But at other times, like lately, it makes me unbearably sad that I’m not one of them.  I see adorable little clothes and can no longer take pleasure in them.  There was a time while we were TTC P when I would pester J to let me buy baby clothes.  He always said no, not until I was actually pregnant.  Now I don’t even want to buy them because they just make me sad, knowing that they might sit in the closet indefinitely.  I lend out my maternity clothes, knowing that they’re just sitting in my basement otherwise.  My entire being feels consumed by my pathetic attempts to be fertile.  I read about a friend who’s experiencing morning sickness with her second pregnancy and feel no sympathy for her.  Another friend who had a repeat c-section, and I don’t feel bad that she’s having a slow recovery.  You know why?  Because they’re both having SECOND babies, and both got pregnant easily–one had a surprise baby and one was able to get pregnant while nursing.  I’ll never have a surprise baby, and I quit nursing P because the meds I need to get pregnant were making him sick.

I am a horrible person.  These are friends and family, people I care greatly about!  Some of them are online friends that I have met in person, who know about my fertility struggles–from TTC P all the way through today.  And despite that, and their genuine caring for me, I have no words for them.  I’ve removed myself, at least temporarily, from an online community full of people, many of whom I’ve actually met, that have supported me for nearly 4 years now.  I just can’t deal with their ability to be fruitful and multiply.  It’s not an IF community and there are a lot of babies popping up lately.  And lately, I just can’t be around that.

I am a horrible mom.  Why can’t I be happy with what I’ve got?  I have a beautiful, sweet little boy who’s growing into a wonderful toddler.  He’s so much fun and adorable, and I’m always getting compliments on how well-behaved he is–he’s a perfect kid.  The one I dreamed about for years.  So why isn’t that enough for me?  I find myself imagining P as a big brother and it makes me tear up, so sweet is the image of him saying "Baby!" and holding his baby brother or sister.  And then I tear up because I feel like it’s so hopeless to expect that to come true.

It may be that I’m depressed because I’m on d12 of my cycle and, while most people would be preparing to ovulate, I’ve got another two weeks before I do.  And yet, that’s still so much better than it was before the Metformin.  Clearly I am a horrible person since I can’t manage to be happy that at least that is better than it used to be.  Not that I’m any more pregnant than I was when I was ovulating on d40…

OK, that’s enough wallowing for now.  My dissertation awaiteth…

October 30, 2005

Almost Halloween

Posted in Ramblings o' P at 7:13 am by Erin

Tomorrow is Halloween, and P is going to be a pumpkin.  Actually, he was a pumpkin on Friday also since that was dress-up day at daycare.  Why they couldn’t have it on Halloween, I don’t know.  He looks really cute as a pumpkin, though.  Yesterday he got his first haircut and he no longer has a mullet.  The babies in my family are so bald that the fact that I have a child who not only has hair, but needed a haircut before he was 2 is amazing.  I basically had no hair until I was 2.  J’s family is far more hair-prolific, though, and since P is J’s clone, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.

Oh lord, the Halloween candy has been calling my name.  It’s truly evil that they sell this stuff at Sam’s Club.  We only ever get maybe 20 kids.  So I bought an enormous bag of candy.  Maybe we’ll have more kids this time!  You have to be prepared…  (Is anyone buying this?)

October 28, 2005

So now what???

Posted in TTC woes at 9:06 am by Erin

P is the perfect little boy.  He was a gorgeous baby and has turned into a beautiful little boy, happy, only cried when he needed something, and even from the beginning, he had distinct cries for when he was hungry, needed changing, or just wanted to be held.  We didn’t co-sleep because we have a waterbed, although there were plenty of times that it would have been awfully nice to be able to just nurse him while dozing.  Actually, I fell asleep while nursing plenty of times, but since I was in the rocking chair, I woke up with a very stiff neck each time.  Good thing I never dropped him!

Now P is nearly 2, and J and I wanted our kids spaced 2 years apart.  Yeah, ’cause the planning thing worked so well the first time around.  So we stopped the minipill when P was 11 months old, AF came back at 13 1/2 months post-partum (just in time for my birthday, lucky me), and a few months after that, I went back on Metformin.  And here I sit.

Sometimes, I feel very depressed about the whole thing.  My sister, who never wants to have children, has a cycle as regular as the moon.  Other people I know get pg just by thinking about it–or not thinking about it, as the case may be.  And they expect me to commiserate with them when "they don’t know what to do"!  Barking up the wrong tree, gals!

We didn’t tell anyone IRL when we were TTC P, except for one work friend of mine who’s dealing with unexplained IF, and has been for nearly 4 years now.  For the whole 16 months, through the uncertainty, the pain, the testing (blessedly little of it though there was), the depression, we told no one in our families.  In fact, we deliberately misled people who were trying to push us into having kids because I know my family and I didn’t want to be constantly hearing "So, do you have any news for us?" or want to constantly have to update them on what steps we were taking.  Maybe that makes me a bad infertile.  I’ve often heard, and thought it myself, that   I deliberately avoided any opportunity I could take to educate other people about IF, about what they could say and how they could help.  But that felt right then, so that’s what we did.  And guess what?  We’re doing it again.  Actually my sister knows that we’re TTC, and I think my mom knows (she knows I’m back on Metformin and knows that we needed that last time, so it’s not too much of a stretch), which means my dad and my aunt, and possibly my other aunt and uncle, maybe a grandmother…well hell, is this a surprise to anyone?!?!

Anyway, even with as few people "know" this time, I’m still getting comments on things, and that makes me even more reluctant to share with others.  I can do it anonymously online–that doesn’t bother me.  But I don’t like talking about it to family.  Maybe I’m just shy about the fact that it clearly means that we’re having a lot of sex, and I record each and ever time on my chart.  Quite honestly, I can’t imagine telling my mom "Well, we timed things well this month, we’ll know soon".  Gaaaaaaaah!  Maybe the next time we’re walking on the beach and I tell her that I’m not feeling so fresh down there, but until then, not a chance.

So what do you think?  Is this something that’s better to be shared, in the hopes of educating people?  Or should I just keep my sex life private for now?

October 26, 2005

P becomes real!

Posted in Happiness is a true gift at 8:32 am by Erin

I always knew that I wanted to do natural childbirth, although the HSG almost made me think differently.  My mom did, and I’m insanely competitive and figured that if she could do it, I could do it (I swear, my mom and I get along pretty well now–the fact that she didn’t kick me out as a teenager speaks to her incredible character and mothering!).  My OB was great and non-interventive, quite laid-back.  I decided that we should take Bradley Method classes because then J would have to get involved more.  He very much wanted the baby but was a "call me on the golf course" type of guy and was very squeamish.  I didn’t actually tell him we had any other options 😉  So I signed us up for a 12-week class.  He had to be dragged to the first couple classes, but soon I realized that I didn’t have to keep forcing him there.  And soon after that, he was as involved and committed as any dad could be–he says it’s because he learned so much that he wasn’t scared anymore.  Classes ended just before Thanksgiving.

I sing in my college’s chorus and we had concerts scheduled for December 5th and 6th.  The night of December 1st, I was talking to my director and he looked at me and said "Your water’s not going to break on stage, is it?"  I blithely reassured him that I wasn’t due for weeks, that first babies are always late anyway, blah blah blah.  I’m also in grad school for science and had planned to do no experiments past 38 weeks that would require me to be there the next day, since I knew the baby could come whenever.  On December 2nd, my advisor looked at me and, knowing that I had a major experiment planned for the next day, said "Well, if you’re not going to be here tomorrow, just let me know."  I repeated everything I’d said to my director the night before. 

I had choir rehearsal again that night and didn’t get home, after a day that had started around 6 a.m. (after a night of very little sleep–late pg sleep is not good sleep), until after 10 p.m.  I ate a little and J and I decided to go to bed at about 11.  So there I am in the bathroom and POP!  A gush, and a CLUNK of the baby’s head as it engaged (it’s not supposed to clunk–but P’s head clunked hard enough that I worried that he’d hurt himself), and I was in shock.  What did these two men know that I didn’t know?  My water broke an hour an a half after rehearsal.  I wasn’t going to be in the lab the next day.

I came out and said "Um, what about not going to bed and going to the hospital instead?"  And J, not to be outdone by his reaction at the beginning of the pg (falling asleep when I told him I was finally pg), said "Do I have a choice?  I’d like to go to bed."  We called the dr and got ourselves ready to go.  Actually, I paced around and agitated about how this wasn’t supposed to happen, I was supposed to go into labor first and it wasn’t supposed to be for weeks, that first babies are supposed to be 8 days late on average, that my packing list was on my computer at work, that we didn’t even have the carseat installed, that one of the dogs had had major surgery the week before and couldn’t even go out by himself (which ruined our smug plan of my going into labor and not even having to worry about the dogs, who have the entire basement (complete with a couch for their sleeping pleasures), garage, and a dog door out to the fenced backyard).  I e-mailed my boss and director that I was off to the hospital to have a baby, and we left the house.

Off we went to the hospital and got there at 2:30 a.m. on December 3, 2003 (we took our time, there was no hurry since I wasn’t in labor yet), where I was 3 cm dilated, 80% effaced, and the baby was at 0 station.  That clunk really was the baby engaging!  (We didn’t know the baby was P yet, as we’d decided that we wanted to be surprised by the gender at birth.  But I knew it was a boy.)  I did what I had to do to go into labor without Pitocin and did so before 4 a.m.  While I won’t share my whole birth story here, I was completely dilated and ready to push by 1 p.m.  Only 9 real hours of contractions, 8 of them very manageable! 

Finally, P was born at 3:29 p.m. and we found out he was a boy–my first reaction was "Of course he is–give him to me!"  J was a fabulous coach and I did the whole thing with no meds, no interventions, no tears or stitches or anything.  6 lb 11 oz of beautiful, strawberry-blond peach-fuzzy, cone-headed baby boy.  A peanut!  He was so tiny, but perfect.  16 days early.  We have different blood types and that gave him some jaundice, so he was on home phototherapy for 5 days after we came home, but other than that, he was perfectly healthy.  Breastfeeding went wonderfully after a slightly rough start, and I nursed him until he was 18 months.

I took the mini-pill (why I bothered, I don’t know) until November and AF came back in January 2005 (P was 13 1/2 months old), which means that I probably had a regular cycle after stopping the pill–around 80 days.  I had another cycle after that which was about 60 days, and one more of about 50 days, and then went back to my OB.  Soon after, I quit nursing for two reasons: P was down to only twice a day anyway, and also we’d decided to have another baby and I went back on Metformin in May (which was making him sick to his stomach).  I figured that we knew what was wrong, I’d be pg in no time.  We’d technically been TTC since November 2004 but now that I was back on Metformin, I’d have no trouble and get pg quickly.  Heh heh, famous last words.

Now it’s nearly November 2005.  I just finished my 5th cycle on Metformin, and I’m O’ing between days 20-25.  Better than before, but now there are new issues.  I’ve started spotting earlier and earlier before AF, to the point that last cycle, I started spotting a week after O and didn’t stop.  So back to my OB, who recommended a post-O progesterone test and then low-dose Clomid (which can be quite successful in combination with Metformin).  That’s where we stand now.  I’ll O in a few weeks and then do my progesterone test, then start Clomid next cycle.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that we’re dealing with recurring infertility, all of it female-factor.  I’ve also started talking to J about international adoption.  I want more children–we’d planned on 4.  Actually, J would like more than that but is willing to compromise at 4, which I think sounds perfect.  But if I’ve got to go through more and more complicated things to get pg each time, I don’t know how much I’m willing to go through.  Not much.  I’ve been blessed with a biological child, who is the perfect image of the blond-haired little boy who looks just like his daddy that I dreamed about for years before I got pg.  I desperately want to be pg again, to feel those feelings and movements, to go through labor and birth again (and yes, I did actually enjoy going through it and am actually teaching Bradley Method classes with J now since natural childbirth has become so important to us), to nurse another baby, to figure out whether the baby has my features or J’s (P is almost a clone of J, but he does have my eyes), and all of the joy that goes along with it.  But if I can’t do it without extreme interventions, I don’t want to do it right now.  We don’t have the money to do both ART and adoption and if we’re going to spend tens of thousands of dollars, I want a baby at the end of it.  I want more children.  Whether they come into my life by pg or by adoption matters surprisingly little to me, but J needs some time to figure out whether that’s something he can deal with.  Right now, he’s in a bit of denial about my fertility–he insists that I’m just being pessimistic about my chances of getting pg again.  Maybe I am.  Maybe it’ll happen in a cycle or two, and Clomid will be our miracle drug this time.  But we’re already increasing the medical aspect of me getting pg, and I know ART are not far down the line.  If this is what it’ll take to have even a second child, who knows what miracle it would take to have a third or a fourth?  I don’t think I want to go through all of that now.  So adoption is almost definitely in our future for growing our family, and I want to get used to that now.  It’s not a last resort or a second choice.  It’s pretty much a given fact if we want a large family.  I hope J will get used to it or we may well be a single-child family, and I know how much both of us want more children.  Just last night, I mentioned it in passing and he rolled his eyes and mentioned pessimism again.

Getting started

Posted in TTC woes at 7:39 am by Erin

It’s hard to know where to start, so I guess I’ll just type whatever comes to mind.  I’m Erin, I’ve been married to J for over 6 years, and we have a beautiful little boy named P.  P’s almost 2 and is the most amazing thing that has ever happened in my life.  He was a long time coming, though, and I guess I’ll start with that.

J and I wanted kids, but it was a "we’ll have kids someday" kind of thing.  Then we started thinking about it more, talking about it more.  I found a message board called Waiting To Try and started posting there as both of us started having stronger baby fever.  J was in law school and I was in grad school, and we figured that we had to wait until at least one of us was out of school before having kids.  Then we ended up moving to Atlanta and J was only a few months from finishing law school.  We looked at the calendar, figured that he’d be long done with the bar exam by the time we had a baby, and made the decision that I would stop taking birth control pills in January 2002.  So I did, and we eagerly embarked on the TTC journey.  I started charting about two weeks after going off the pill (because I’m anal and a control freak like that).  And we kept TTC.  And TTC.  I faithfully took my temperature every morning and recorded that and CM and our love life on my chart.  And finally, 57 days after stopping BCP, I ovulated.  And 13 days after that, I got the first AF of our TTC journey. 

To be honest, that first cycle was so long that I was just happy to have it over with.  It was already the end of March by then, and I was strongly reminded that before starting BCP, I’d endured several years of really long cycles and dr’s saying that it would regulate itself sooner or later and not to worry.  But I figured "Hey, I’m only 24.  It was just a weird first cycle off BCP.  They’ll get regular!  Most people don’t get pg right away."  So we continued.  And continued, and that cycle, I O’d on day 43.  Hey, it was 2 weeks earlier–I was happy!  But AF showed up and then it was suddenly nearly June. 

I’d had my annual GYN appt a few weeks earlier and mentioned that we were TTC.  The dr said "Oh, congratulations.  How’s it going?"  When I mentioned that we’d been TTC for nearly 5 months and I was on my second cycle, she was rather alarmed and told me to make an appt with a reproductive endocrinologist if I wasn’t pg the next cycle.  That one was only 48 days long, with O on day 36, so that was quite an improvement (unbeknownst to me, that was as much improvement as I’d ever see without intervention).

Since I wasn’t pg, I called and made an appt for mid-August, as that was the first one they had available.  I brought my charts and showed them to the RE, who recommended an HSG and some d3 bloodwork to check hormone levels, then said she wanted to put me on Clomid to get me O’ing earlier.  The HSG was insanely painful for me–they put a tube through your cervix and inject dye, then take pictures.  The dye flows through the uterus and out through the Fallopian tubes.  I almost passed out.  Fortunately everything was clear and my d3 bloodwork looked fine, so I started Clomid at the beginning of my next cycle, cycle 6 (mid-September).

Started Clomid, days 3-7, 50 mg.  O’d on d32.  No improvement, so up the dose next cycle to 100 mg.  O’d on d19–hooray!!!  But AF showed up on schedule, so we stuck with 100 mg for the next cycle.  I had a horrible time getting the prescription called in and was generally unimpressed with my RE, so I made an appt with another RE.  Good thing too, as I didn’t O until d31 even with Clomid and had started doing some research.

Most people lose weight after going off BCP.  Mine had slowly started to creep up–I’ve always been curvy but slender, but I’d suddenly put on 10 lb in a year despite the fact that I was eating well and working out regularly.  My cycles were incredibly irregular.  I had long stretches of fertile-quality CM but no O.  I’m resistant to Clomid.  And all these things seemed to point to possibly having polycystic ovarian syndrome, which my first RE had never even mentioned.  It’s a metabolic syndrome and women with it have these (and other, though I don’t have many of the other) symptoms.

My new RE’s appt was at the end of January 2003 (I had just started c9 after just over a year), and J and I went together.  My RE took one look at my chart and asked if I’d been tested for PCOS.  He also had J do a semen analysis–J says it was the most fun he’s ever had at a dr’s appt ;-).  But then he drops a bomb that I hadn’t expected: I had surgery when I was 12 to correct a birth defect between the kidneys and bladder.  The RE says that "everything’s pretty close together in there and there may have been some damage to my Fallopian tubes that we don’t know about and can’t test for".  He says that if I go the rest of the year and am not pg, he thinks that IVF is our only option.  IVF?!?!  I just have weird cycles, why can’t we just fix that?!

The blood test came back and sure enough, I have PCOS.  J’s SA was excellent, so it’s completely female-factor infertility.  While I knew that I was probably the reason that we weren’t pg, having that label on it made me feel…I don’t know, guilty, sad, a million things but glad that J was OK.  Somehow it’s easier to deal with when I know it’s my fault.  So anyway, I get a prescription for Metformin and start that.  I O on d25–hey, some improvement already!  But AF shows as expected, at the end of February.  For once, though, I’m not depressed since clearly the Metformin is already working.

We schedule an impromptu vacation because we haven’t had one since our honeymoon–a 4-day cruise at the end of March.  And wait.  Finally, we’re on our way to Tampa and I say (as I’m now on d32 and haven’t O’d yet, and am pretty depressed) "We’re not talking about infertility or kids on this trip.  We need a break!"  And we agreed to do so.  Not an hour later, I feel O pains strong enough that I hold my stomach–mine are always strong but these were painful!  And J, who knows me better than anyone else in the world, looks at me and says "Are you O’ing?"  And that’s the last we mention anything until after our cruise…although we take advantage of it.

I have some spotting a week later, but think nothing of it.  And 13 days after O, I take my temperature and notice it go…up.  It should have bottomed out that day.  So, like anyone who’s been TTC for 16 months, I have a pack of HPT in the cabinet.  What the hell, I think, I’ll use one and then I won’t get depressed when she shows up tomorrow because I’ll know.  But there’s a second line.  A very faint one.  So faint that I have to squint to see it.  I spend half an hour trying to convince myself that I’m getting my hopes up for nothing–we’d had a false positive once earlier.  But then I go in and wake up J and say "I have good news!"  And his response, after I tell him that 16 months and two RE’s have finally been successful, is "Mrmph" as he falls back to sleep.

Anyway, I start spotting again the next day and go in for my first beta the day after.  The student health center dr becomes alarmed at the spotting and my extremely low bp and dizziness–apparently, these are signs of an ectopic pg.  So he sends me immediately to the OB I’ve chosen, who takes one look at my beta (89 at 15dpo) and says, as abruptly as possible, knowing nothing about our struggle to get pg in the first place, "Your hormone levels are too low.  This is not a viable pg."  Fortunately, I also had a copy of the report and pointed out that for 2 weeks pg, my levels are right in the 50-100 range that it says RIGHT THERE.  She says "No, you’re 4 weeks pg".  I explained that I know that they date them that way, but I’m only 2 weeks post-conception and the chart of where the levels should be clearly start with the week after conception because you don’t have hCG until after conception.  She is incredibly stubborn and insists that she’s right, I’m going to miscarry.

Never seeing her again.  I have two more betas, 357 at 18dpo and 952 at 20dpo.  Perfectly perfect.  I schedule an appt with a new OB and have my first one at 7w4d pg.  We see what the dr insists is a baby–we think it’s a weather system.  But it has a heartbeat, and the u/s tech writes "Hi, Mom and Dad!" on the picture.  After the first bad OB and a first trimester that was incredibly exhausting, I have an easy pg and am due December 19th.  And I’ll continue the rest with another post.